Hey, all, I've finished a story and figured out how to post it in the community section. It's called Hunter/Hunted and my name is Michael Dusseault. If you want to check it out and let me know what you think, I would appreciate it greatly. Thank you.
March 18th, 2005, 02:40 PM
Better chances for feedback, if you provide a link (http://www.sffworld.com/community/story/352p0.html)
March 18th, 2005, 02:43 PM
Right! Thanks, Dawnstorm.
March 20th, 2005, 06:09 PM
Not bad for a first story.
The good news is that the foundation of your writing -- the grammar -- isn't awful. You have a few issues with tenses (past when it should probably be past perfect, etc), a few toungue twisters. Nothing major. Try to speak the words you write alound and a lot of that stuff should take care of itself with a little more practice. Now, about the salt.
Every major 'noun' in the story needs to be more descriptive. The people, the places, the things, all need a stiff injection of vibrancy. For instance, the hero goes into a house; what kind of house? Was this a farm cottage? What did it look like? What did anything in the story look like? He runs through a forest; what kind of forest? Was there moss on the ground? Leaves? Underbrush? As for the character himself, he seemed awfully calm for someone seriously wounded and running for his life. A little emotion might help the reader better relate to him.
Describing people, breaking them down into their essential traits for the reader is skill that just takes time (and helps to notice how other authors do it). The rest is easy. If you're writing fantasy, go to the library and grab a couple books on the life and medieval life. Look at how the writer describes the surroundings, then take the descriptions and rephrase them for your own needs. Maybe one author in 10 is truly original. The rest of us are scavengers. Do some scavenging and you can add some much needed flavor to a solid, but not spectacular story.
March 20th, 2005, 07:45 PM
You tell us just about everything instead of showing us. Why not back up a bit and show us this sherrif suddenly shooting a stranger with a bow and arrow, then pursueing the man when the arrow doesn't drop him? That sets the scene nicely.
You can then use dialog to reduce the info dump. You know the posse's wondering why the sherrif's after this man.
March 20th, 2005, 08:02 PM
Thank you, Ironchef and Expendable. Reading aloud helps tremendously and my tenses can be improved. You both bring up good points that will help a lot in my works to come.
March 21st, 2005, 05:08 AM
Agree with what's been said. One thing that might help is make a Point-of-View-plan:
I read once that you should know your scenes in detail, down to last dust moat, and then send your characters through the scene, and only mention what they notice.
Find out, what you want to do, first:
1. Is this a vivid account of events? Do you want to draw your readers straight into the story?
- Most likely, you'll want to use 3rd person limited (a characters PoV relayed by a narrator).
- Possibly 1st person (but that has it's disadvantages; getting more than one PoV across is harder, especially in "action-scenes" characters tend to not think in words...).
- Another approach would be an objectivist PoV (imagine having a camera and describe only what you can see and hear).
If the emphasis is on an evaluation of the decisions, there are a number of possibilities, too.
- 1st person narration would be a possibility. Your character could start out "licking his wounds" after the story finishes and think back on it... "Shouldn't have done that... what was I thinking... serves them right...". This would limit you to your protagonists PoV; but you could get the antagonist in through the back door:
You could have your character decide to let him live a while and take him. You could start your scene with your character continually wounding him to keep him from re-gaining strength. The reason he'd do that could be to see things from the "enemy's" perspective. Would fit in with the 1st person approach.
- Or you could use a 3rd person omniscient narrator. Basically, the author's voice (though fictionalised to some extent). Tell what happens, explain things when you need to, comment on the decisions. You don't evaluate your characters' PoV from his own perspective, but from a "moral" one.
- You could use 2nd person narration, practically forcing the reader to make the decisions him/herself. It's hard to pull off. In a way, it's like 3rd omniscient, only the narrator isn't talking to the reader but to the character. Or it's like 1st person, and the narrator keeps referring to himself in second person. Usually, this method works best in short sections, or when set off with other methods, say 3rd limited.
As you can probably tell, I feel that PoV-wise your story lacks a concept. Now, how did I arrive at that impression? At times your explaining things like a 3rd person omniscient narrator would, then you have a character think out things that would be instinct by now... This is, vague, I know, so here are two examples:
1. You use the word "evil", but it is not clear in what ways the various characters react to the word. I get the feeling of a "universal" concept of evil; that the word means the same thing to all of them.
It appears to me (correct me if I'm wrong) that the two jehandi think of themselves as "originally evil" because of their creation. While Avalin rejects the "fate" (but is still haunted by it), Kriol appears to embrace it. If this aspect is important, a more controlled PoV could well help getting this out better. Watch how you're using the word.
2. More specifically, there's this sentence:
Darkness took him for a while, and he was glad, for he did not have to see the jehandiís beautifully terrifying face.
Glad? He was out; how could he have been glad.
The scene's from Tym's PoV. This is 3rd person limited. After "darkness took him", this scene would have to end, as there is no PoV left. Even the "for a while" is too much. Everything after "darkness took him" hints at a 3rd person omniscient narrator. The word "glad" would be the interpretation of an omniscient narrator; kind of short for "he would have been glad if he had been aware of being unaware".
Practise Point of View. Re-write the same scene from various PoV's. See what changes. PoV is a very basic tool for a writer. You need to get a feel for it.
March 21st, 2005, 07:37 AM
Dawnstorm, you've been exceptionally helpful. I write with tunnel vision a lot; I know what's happening, and it doesn't occur to me that others do not. When I'm proof-reading I think I need to take a step back and pretend I don't know these characters, as difficult as that may be. You're right about my Point of View issues as well; a little bit of a mess there.
When I originally wrote this piece in a Word document, I used italics for my characters' thoughts. This did not translate into the SFFWorld page. Would it have helped at all seeing their thoughts that way? I know when I read it without the italics, it felt different for me.
Anyway, thanks a lot for your input. I will do a lot of Point of View exercises this week!
March 21st, 2005, 09:12 AM
I write with tunnel vision a lot; I know what's happening, and it doesn't occur to me that others do not.
Isn't that the most intricate part about writing? Give the reader too little, and s/he won't get into the stroy. Give them too much and they'll be bored. They need teasers, and they need holes for their imaginationation to sink in. How little is too little? How much is too much?
When I originally wrote this piece in a Word document, I used italics for my characters' thoughts. This did not translate into the SFFWorld page. Would it have helped at all seeing their thoughts that way?