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January 30th, 2005, 03:54 PM
Hello all,

I have recently posted a pair of short stories in the community area under science fiction. One is an old try of mine from over 4 years ago entitled "Breakdown", the other "Hero- Armor's Tale" I had written this past week. I would certainly welcome any feedback and/or criticism that is offered. Especially in the areas of what was done incorrectly, and where I did things right so I can strengthen my craft. Thanks for your time! :)

Stephen Shinn

ironchef texmex
February 1st, 2005, 08:14 PM
I always knew Nixon was one of them!

Interesting story, Badge. Funny when it tries to be. Confusing in that it spends a lot of time not trying to be.

For the most part the prose is good. Some of your sentences are a little short on punctuation. Things like "...to fly forward smashing into the windshield." (and their are several like this) Either need a comma after forward, or should be a seperate sentence. Also, end dialogue with a comma when " he said. or something like it follows the quotation marks, not a period.

But the main issue is the inconsistency of mood. At some point the story needs to declare itself as either a horror story or a comedy and stop trying to be both. My recommendation would be to do it when they come to the ship.

"A spaceship, for lack of a proper description. Not a typical flying saucer, nor even like a craft seen on Star Wars or Star Trek. It appeared to be a fusion of a metallic substance and some sort of living organism. Shiny unearthly alloys combined with a dark, slimy, hide-like substance. Derrick sat transfixed as he watched the organic parts writhing as if the craft were actually breathing. The main portion of the ship resembled the finished product of a tarantula and hedgehog ground together in a food processor. Massive spiky protusions gave the ship an even more menacing arachnid-like appearance. The sheer size of the craft was forbidding, rivaling the diameter of Wrigley Field. Derrick managed to pull his gaze from the craft toward Farmer Nixon, who surely must have passed out from the horror floating before them. But the driver of the old truck was grinning like he was just elected president!"

If you want to make it comedy change the scene:

He would have called it a theme restaurant if he could have imagined people ordering food from inside the colon of a dead whale. "Derrick (oh, and change a few of these Derrick's to just plain ol' HE, we all know it's him) sat transfixed as he watched the organic parts writhing as if the craft were actually breathing... "Dude if this is some kind of reality TV show, your premise sucks!"

If you want to go horror you'll need to gear the scene toward suspense. Say what he sees, how he feels about it, then make the word spaceship come as a punchline at the end. Of course if you do that you'll need to take out "I am not a crook" and "I hope that bastard is stuck in that stinking minimum wage job for a long, long time..." And that would be too bad since both are laugh-out-loud funny. I'd definately go humor, but you need to shift the writing in a number of paragraphs, not necesarily to strip out all the gore or suspense, just to give it a hint of the ironic, some sliver of wit to connect it to the general mood of the piece.

That's it for Breakdown. I'll give you some thoughts on your other story in a day or two.

February 1st, 2005, 08:38 PM
Hey, thanks a million for reponding! I really appreciate you taking the time to critique it, and I'm glad you found it funny in parts. The most difficult part before posting it was that everyone who saw it was a buddy or relative, so of course I couldn't get any idea where I was going astray. Your thoughtful reply gives me some solid ground to do some revision. I am hoping to possibly take a couple writing courses once my work schedule tones down near the end of the year. My main goal at this time is to just get the ideas on paper(or my hard drive :)) and do most of the revisions when I have a better grasp of the craft. Thanks again for taking the time to post!



ironchef texmex
February 4th, 2005, 02:37 PM
"Hero- Armor's Tale"

First off, I love the topic. I'm sure a million comic-book stories have been written in the past, but that's actually the first one I've read on this site so it felt new and interesting to me. Again, the prose is smooth and efficient and it's a pleasant overall read. I thought the first section with the newscast was a nice touch. Good opening line.

Your fight scene could have been better. As you write more, one of the things I think you will come to realize is that you can't lend equal weight to every part of the story. What I mean is that a good writer uses his sentences to stress certain aspects of a story, and deemphasize other aspects. There's a million ways to do this. For a story built around a battle scene one of the most common is to start using shorter sentences as the action rises. This gives the reader an impression of increased tension and gets them into the "mood" of the scene. Also, the last paragraph was anticlimactic; not in terms of what happened, but rather in terms of the somewhat cold, distant narration, rather than letting the reader watch the character's reaction and let them momentarily stand in his shoes.

February 4th, 2005, 09:12 PM
Hi Tex,

Thanks again for taking the time to read my work, and for the thoughtful critique. Its good to know the areas that I am weak in, but I am grateful that you are telling me what you like as well. I will definitely do some touch up on both stories. Hopefully after a few classes, I will smooth out some of the rough edges as I write. It is really great to get a neutral opinion of my work, and I really do appreciate it.