The submission thing is broken, so please follow this cute liddle link I made for you all. :)
July 14th, 2004, 03:56 PM
Now this is interesting.
I like the story. The characters. The setting is nice, there's mood.
I'm not really sure what. There's something about it that's just a little bit off, and I initially had a lot of problems figuring out what. This is something a lot of people are going to disagree with, but it's all IMHO, and as many of you know my own tastes run towards a different kind of prose.
I think your sentence structure is too consistent. Also, I think there's a distance (dare I say, omniscience) to the style that prevents really getting close to the characters. PoV jumps from narrator to Daniel to Jacob to John and back to Daniel within the first few pages, and there's no real transition. You do a lot of telling, rather than showing, which to me has more of a dated, epic feel to it. Instead of expressing that he's gazing, or hungry, or tired, or thinking this or feeling this, you should demonstrate it with his actions.
A few examples (because I'm doing a piss-poor job of explaining myself):
* He was relieved to have returned and laughed to himself about....
* ...enjoying the quiet noise of the water lapping against the shore.
* He continued along the beach in a lighter mood, once again enjoying the quiet solitude of the bay.
[Indeed, this whole segue where he's walking down the beach is a prime example of what I mean. Just show him walking. Let his reactions and the tone of your prose and his mental monologue show his descent to black thoughts, and his rise back to happier ones]
Examples of where you've done it much better:
* Daniel shivered: as much with anxiety as with the cold. If ever there were a place for spirits, it was along this remote coast.
Just one more nitpick. You have a tendency to start your dialogue with a statement. ie:
* Tom looked forlorn. “My mother...
* Daniel felt sympathy for the boy. “I’m sorry...
Good in moderation, but try to be more creative with placement and use. You could easily change the second example to a much more effective:
"I'm sorry..." Daniel said, finding that he meant it, "blah blah blah..."
I like the story. Your writing is excellent. What remains, I feel, is examining your prose, isolating your "style" and just retooling it a little bit.
July 14th, 2004, 05:36 PM
Thanks Pax. Thats really good feedback, being honest, positive and including constructing criticism. I really appeciate that kind of review.
July 15th, 2004, 06:37 AM
I enjoyed your story. I think ghost stories are great when the setting involved is somewhere near the sea. And I like the way you did it, I wouldn't have guessed at the start that Daniel was actually dead, but when I went back after I read the end, it still makes sense.
I agree with Pax about the whole showing, not telling too much thing, because that's what people have told me several times. It sounds a lot better and provides readers with more to think about.
I also like your descriptions of the people and surroundings, it helps with the mood. Keep up the good work! ;)
July 15th, 2004, 01:12 PM
Thank you for posting that story, James. I really enjoyed it. I mean that. Excellent ending. Very good closure.
Two things to think about:
Dialogue. Daniel's was okay. Tom's wasn't bad. The rest was a little too wooden. The minor characters had a tendancy to sound like narrators, rather than people; and twice that's exactly what they were. You might want to find another way to introduce the background than conveniently having you main character overhear it.
Prose. And this is the big one. Too indistinct. You're not getting enough punch out of your nouns and verbs. Too often you use an adjective followed by a nonspecific noun or a weak noun alone - sailor, ship, modest houses. How about fisherman, fishing troller, cottages? Use nouns and verbs that create a picture without even needing a modifier. You did this fairly well in the scenes in and around the lighthouse. I think you had the strongest mental picture of those. The rest was very hazy, hard for the reader to visualize. How hazy?
I'm not even certain what century this story took place in. What country? What time of year?
Look at what you wrote at the lighthouse and apply that to the other scenes. Use stronger words. This should go a long way toward bringing the atmosphere up to the admirable level of the plot.
July 22nd, 2004, 10:50 PM
In short, your prose is much too passive, filled with too many forms of be, far too many prepositional phrases, and never ignites because of this dull approach to writing. I won't bore you with details, but go back and print your story, then circle each time you use a prepositional phrase, each time you use 'was' or 'were' and each time you use 'it'. You'll find the albatross.
Keep on it...you have talent.
July 24th, 2004, 11:57 AM
Thanks for the feedback guys, all appreciated. I see you haven't spotted the 'deliberate' mistake. Read the gravestone: the girl is kinda 9 :o (I meant 19. I can't count!)