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RangerJim
March 16th, 2003, 11:33 AM
I don't know how many of you read my first efforts; MYSTERY OF THE GHOST CREWS and HOT TIME IN THE HEIGHTS, both of which combine elements of the Hardy Boys Mysteries, Alien, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, and a detective story into one. In these and the next one to come rubber ball like alien life forms are used as the alien life form featured in this series, the last of which, ALIEN INVASION, THE SECOND WAVE, has been submitted. The idea for these had been kicking around in my head for no less than a couple decades and it is a wierd one at that I got to admit. Each time I have gone past an open manhole with one of those pump like machines with yellow hose arcing down into it, I could not help but imagine a ghost crew attending it, the ghost crew usually being several pairs of work pants worn by these rubber ball like aliens, which communicate with one another by some sort of telepathic means via the stick like antennae associated with these ball like aliens which operate in pairs, and to make up ghost crews, have to. I hope those have read them have enjoyed my venture into a sci fi wierdness unlike anything you may have seen before. Have a great day all.

Cadfael
March 17th, 2003, 12:19 AM
Hi RJ...

I am moving this to the writing section, you will get a better response there...

and Welcome!!!

John
March 18th, 2003, 12:42 AM
Hey RangerJim

The link to the first story is found above for anyone interested. Link to the other story is in the left bar.
http://www.sffworld.com/authors/m/mancuso_james/fiction/mysteryofghostcrews1.html

Your story is quite good for a first attempt. I especially liked the aliens as the description you gave was different from all the other aliens I’ve encountered in other books.

When you decide to write your next story here are some suggestions so I will enjoy reading your stories more. You don’t have to follow them if you don’t agree.

Firstly, you might put a block of explanation that gives background to the story somewhere near the start. This helps the reader understand what you’ve already told them and helps them understand what you are going to tell them.

It would have been helpful if there was a paragraph saying, who were the Hansen Boys, what their jobs were, what were the ghost crews, how the ghost crews fit in with the Hansen Boys and why the ghost crews need to be exterminated. You had the information spread out throughout the story, making it more difficult to pick up.

Secondly, the way you write makes characters seem bored. This can be fixed in a number of ways or a combination of them. You can tell the reader what the characters are feeling, you can add descriptions of the surroundings/objects/people that generate mood (eg creepy horror etc), and you can use more varied words to describe the dialogue.

I noticed in your story you used “said” constantly. Here’s a list of words that can add more interesting mood and feeling to dialogue.
http://www.geocities.com/EnchantedForest/Mountain/9112/saidisdead.html

Anyway hope what I’ve said is helpful.

John

mistri
March 18th, 2003, 06:11 AM
Actually haven't read the story, but just want to say that I think it's fine to use the word said as many times as you want. Like 'the' and 'a' it's almost an invisible word that to readers (not critiquers who are reading it more closely) will barely be noticeable.

A friend who works in publishing hates it when writers are afraid to use the word said and say things like 'rasped, accused, enunciated, interjected' all the time. Used very sparingly, they can add texture, but otherwise they can pull the reader out of the story.

Said is a good word. Use it.

RangerJim
March 20th, 2003, 08:15 AM
John; Your suggestions were so good that I printed myself a copy for future reference. I did put a cast of characters in the next story, ALIEN INVASION- THE SECOND WAVE, which should be showing up here soon. I am considering doing at least one more story along those lines, since these are alien beings unlike anything else seen here before. I got the idea for these from the following: Personal observations, the movie Aliens, The Hardy Boys Mysteries, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, to name a few.
Thanks for your ideas, they are most appreciated.

ceros
March 21st, 2003, 03:07 AM
I started to read your story, but got about three sentences in when I realised there were no line breaks in the dialogue. Use them, it'll make it so much easier to read. Also, the dialogue seems forced and unnatural, like reading a speech. Nobody says "however" unless they're reading a prepared speech, and people use contractions like "don't" and "won't".

These guys really don't sound like a group of friends sitting around a greasy lunch and chatting. It's more like giving a report. A lot of the information you have in the dialogue is redundant and said over and over again, and in far too many words. Also, throw a joke or two in there, it'll liven the scene up.

As for the word "said", you can never have to many. I read a very-short story which had 37 he said/she said dialogue tags within 250 words, but it read so naturally you would swear there were only half a dozen. In your story, however, I did find it a little annoying when the "said" came before what was spoken.

John
March 21st, 2003, 04:53 AM
The feedback was no problem RangerJim. I'm glad you found it useful.

Now I thought it was just that Mistri misunderstood me, but it appears that there's a general misunderstanding from Ceros’ comment.

Using "said" is just fine. I didn't notice the constant use of said when I was reading it the first time. However, after I read the story I wondered why none of the characters appeared to have emotion. So instead of just saying something like, your characters talk like robots, and leaving it as that. I tried giving ways on how to improve. When I skimmed through the stories a 2nd time I only saw “said” and “replied”. So I figure he could get pointed towards that link I pasted to improve his vocabulary.

My point was, which I didn’t make clear, to give characters more emotion. I was suggesting one of the ways RangerJim could do this would be to use more varied words other than said.

My main quibble with Mistri and Ceros’ comments was they discourage RangerJim from improving his vocabulary. This is definitely important for amateur writers. Back in primary school our teacher wrote “said is dead” on the blackboard. This isn’t to say you can’t use said any more, it’s more to push people to use more varied words where they can. The website I pasted actually says that if you had bothered to read it. :P

If RangerJim comes along next time using “injected” all the time, or using words that are inappropriate like “rasped” (people rarely rasp, unless they’ve got a really dry throat), then we can point out that problem. The problems Mistri and Ceros pointed out in relation to said, actually come with lack of vocabulary and trying to use the same big words repeatively or any bigs words to make up for it.

Oh yeah RangerJim, another cool thing you can do with dialogue is add a little action so it doesn't sound so flat.

"Gosh he's fast!" Simon said panting heavily.

John

mistri
March 21st, 2003, 05:10 AM
Originally posted by John

My main quibble with Mistri and Ceros’ comments was they discourage RangerJim from improving his vocabulary. This is definitely important for amateur writers. Back in primary school our teacher wrote “said is dead” on the blackboard. This isn’t to say you can’t use said any more, it’s more to push people to use more varied words where they can. The website I pasted actually says that if you had bothered to read it. :P

If RangerJim comes along next time using “injected” all the time, or using words that are inappropriate like “rasped” (people rarely rasp, unless they’ve got a really dry throat), then we can point out that problem. The problems Mistri and Ceros pointed out in relation to said, actually come with lack of vocabulary and trying to use the same big words repeatively or any bigs words to make up for it.

John

I'm not against people improving their vocabulary, and I did read the website you suggested. Unfortunately I felt that many of the words they suggested, used too frequently (this does not necessarily mean the same word repeated) word put a reader off the story. Also, I would bear in mind that often primary school teachers (e.g. the one who said 'said is dead') are usually trying to increase vocabulary rather than create good, strong fiction. Amateur writers should try and increase vocabulary, but I don't know if writers who are trying to break into professional markets (i.e. some of the people on this board) should be writing by rules set down by primary schools.

There are ways to increase use of vocabularly without doing it through dialogue tags. I'm not totally against using words other than 'said' in dialogue, but I was concerned that your post came across as advice to writers in general suggesting that they should try not to use said, when it's perfectly fine to do so, and when other words ill-used can break up the flow of the dialogue. Also, bear in mind that you don't always need tags - dialogue should work so that you can tell who's speaking anyway.

Let me draw your attention to another website, where someone implores writers not to ignore 'said'. It explains what I believe much better than I can.

http://www.writing-world.com/fiction/said.html

If I get time later, maybe I should move this discussion to a fresh thread on dialogue tags, rather than on a thread about someone's specific work.

Also, little disclaimer: This is all in my opinion only, I'm not telling writers what and what not to do. I'm just letting them know my individual opinion on saidisms.

John
March 21st, 2003, 07:41 AM
Hey Mistri,

I read that site, and you probably have a point, but first let me clear up some misunderstanding.

Mistri, what I'm saying has yet to contradict your opinions. I never said never to use "said", I was pushing to build vocabulary. If you read back, I never even tried to tell RangerJim that using said in a story was wrong. In fact only using said can be part of a writers writing style, which is why I carefully avoided doing that.

I think I'm going to write in point form so I can't be misunderstood. Sorry RangerJim, I don't mean any offence with things I say next. I usually write so I don't step on people's toes by accident, but it's impossible in point form. Point form is usually very blunt. However, I don't want to get misunderstood again.

Summary of what I've said
* I read RangerJim's story
* I gave 3 suggestions on improving emotion/mood
* I clearly stated he could use one or a combination of what I suggested
* One of the 3 suggested ideas was replacing "said"
* I thought RangerJim wasn't entirely aware of the possibility of using words other than said
* RangerJim should improve his vocabulary if this is the case
* The "said is dead" website was the best word list I could find
* Both me and the website are not making a rule
* The website are trying to discourage exclusive use of the word said
* My stance is, if RangerJim only uses said, he should learn more words
* This whole augment started because I was giving suggestions on how to improve flat dialogue


I was concerned that your post came across as advice to writers in general suggesting that they should try not to use said, when it's perfectly fine to do so
* I wouldn't trust myself to give general advice.
* I've gotten into too much trouble before trying to do that and learnt that lesson a few years ago.
* Because of that, all suggestions I've made are on a case by case biases.
* It sounded general, because I trying to avoid making the criticism sound like direct problems with RangerJim's story.
* This was because I didn't want to offend RangerJim by making my criticism seem too strong

My thoughts on "said bookism"
* I'm going to have a discussion with you not an argument
* I didn't understand what you meant by "said bookism" before
* I agree it can be a problem
* The article, mistri pasted, addresses the issue of overuse or misuse
* Professional writers are far more prone to "said bookism" than lack of vocabulary, which is why editors complain about that
* Nothing is black and white and you need to think grey
* "said bookism" and "said is dead" are just referencing two opposing extremes that can cause problems
* A good writer could write without using said and without "said bookisms"
* A good writer will use said, because it's better sometimes
* A good writer often doesn't use said, because they've extra things they want to say
* I'm a prolific reader
* When I first started reading adult books "said bookisms" annoyed me
* I become indifferent after constant exposure
* Possibility that some other readers are indifferent to it too
* I think I have a little "said bookisms" in my writing from the all constant exposure
* Thanks Mistri for pointing it out as I intend to watch out for it in my amateur writing

Now I hope this clears it all up.

John

John
March 21st, 2003, 08:02 AM
And no I don't read that kind of adult books!

John

*glares around daring anyone to misunderstand him*