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Thread: Critique: Shadows of mind
May 7th, 2010, 02:47 AM #1
Critique: Shadows of mind
Hi everybody, do you mind taking a look?
The man stared out through the windows. They stretched from floor to ceiling, these windows. For the light. The oak-clad office would be as dark as night, hadnít it been for the windows. The man appreciated that.
Outside, the rain was falling ever so softly, and the banners waving ever so slowly in the accompanying breeze. His banners, with his symbol. The man felt a sudden... twinge.
- Is it really necessary?
He spoke to the empty room. Suddenly, a shadow behind the corner of a bookshelf shifted, shortened, widened, took form. It answered with a deep, silk-smooth tone, the kind that came from a naked woman.
- Of course it is. They were expendable.
The man swallowed. A single droplet of sweat eased itself down from his temple into his collar. The rain became stronger.
- Why... are they?
- Because those are the rules, my dear partner.
Floorboards started creaking. Other shapes took form in the dark corners, horned beasts, fanged serpents. The man started to cry. His shoulders shook, the rain becoming stronger.
- Why canít you just leave me alone?
The faintest of whispers. The shadow heard it like a bellow.
- What did you say? Are you wishing me gone? Are you tired of this now?
The man sobbed. The rain intensified.
- Itís just... I donít want to be responsible.
- Oh, but you are, my partner. You wanted power. Power comes at a price. Right now, that price is every soul of the Chosen People. When they are gone, you will see me no more.
The man looked up, out at the rain. A single flash of lightning bolted across the sky.
- Can I... pay you... in any other way? Please? Not these people. All of those men, women and children...
The man turned, fury rising in his face.
- YOU ARE HERE ON MY SUMMON!
The shadow grew. The silk in its voice fell off.
- AND WHAT IS THAT? MY LEASH? DO YOU THINK YOU CAN CONTROL ME?
Lightning spread a flashing white light across the room. The shadows encircled the man, surrounding him. A figure stepped forward, flames twirling in his dark figure.
- You invade my privacy, you offer me a deal that I can not refuse, and now you think you can just send me AWAY?!
The man fell on his back. Fear painted its pale colour onto his skin.
- I did not want... any of this-
- Shut up, fool, I know exactly what you want! You want gold and riches, whores and feasts! Banquets and orgies, tournaments and POWER! ALWAYS POWER!!
Lightning struck the building. The rods on the roof sizzled with energy. The man broke down.
- I... c-cannot... do thi-this...
Tears streamed down his face. The shadow smiled, revealing his moulding teeth and decaying gums.
- Exactly my opinion.
The shadows closed in.
- Mein FŁhrer? Is everything all right in there?
The guard was nervous now. He had heard shouting, and then a horrible scream had emanated from the other side of the door. His hand trembled as it gripped the handle.
It was opened from the inside. The office was dark, what he could see through the gap, but smelled strangely. Suddenly, the FŁhrer appeared in the opening.
- What is it?!
The guard didnít like this. Herr Hitler never sounded like this. At least not what he had heard. He cleared his throat.
- Well, I heard voices and I-
- Voices, private? Donít be daft, thereís no-one in here with me.
- I know herr, but if you would be so kind as to let me search the room-
- I think not! Good evening!
The FŁhrer slammed the door in the guardís face. He stood so for a few moments before moving. The smell still lingered, a sweet one of old fruit and overgrown gardens. He snapped to attention and went back to his post across the hall.
ARGRGRH FEEDBACK ARRAGRGRAH!
May 7th, 2010, 06:01 AM #2
- Join Date
- Apr 2008
- Gauteng, South Africa
I'll have a look over the weekend - hope you can wait till Monday!!!
May 7th, 2010, 06:13 AM #3
First thing that jumped out at me: I'd replace "the man" with "he". For some reason, "the man" makes it feel like the reader is being held at arm's length, while "he" seems more inviting. And since the other character is an "it", there wouldn't be any confusion as to who's being referred to.
May 7th, 2010, 08:23 AM #4
- Join Date
- Feb 2009
- Mebane, North Carolina
I think the opening scene works quite well. The major issue I have with it, actually... why no double quotes for the dialog? I thought perhaps you were trying to denote some sort of internal speech between the two characters (ie, telepathy), but, after reading the second section, I can see this is not the case.
In the second scene you give a name to the character in the opening scene: Mein Fuhrer. Are you trying to make Hitler a sympathetic character, or are you using the more generic German meaning of the word Fuhrer? If the prior, that's an immense leap that you're expecting the reader to make, and I don't think many would want to come along for the ride. If the latter, well, I'd use a different terminology to avoid association.
Also: I assume this is just the opening chapter/prologue, correct?
May 7th, 2010, 08:27 AM #5
First, I want to say it drew me in. I had a strong visual and was pulled into the scene and the character.
Some critiques; I think there are a few places where you could change the phrasing, such as
Outside, the rain was falling ever so softly, and the banners waving ever so slowly in the accompanying breeze.
To "...and the banners wove ever so slowly..."
hadnít it been for the windows
the other critique is I don't think you need as many of these "..." in the narrative; I think the hesitation and fear comes across in the words without them.
May 7th, 2010, 08:32 AM #6
Yep, "the man" got me too, and for me this is a red flag that screams "prop alert!" In other words, you don't have characters here at all. You have props that carry the story forward as dictated without real emotion, feelings, or motivations. The reader immediately gravitates toward a character, wanting to be that person and live through them. Can't do that with a prop. You might want to grab Orson Scott Card's "Elements of Writing Fiction - Characters and Viewpoint" and check out how he does it.
I like some of your descriptive nuances with the sweat and banners. Watch the repetition such as "ever so" though.
Other than that, we have a few grammatical oops, such ashe oak-clad office would be as dark as night, hadnít it been for the windows.Other shapes took form in the dark corners, horned beasts, fanged serpents.
Finally, after I walk back a bit and look at this from afar, I really don't see anything original here - sorry, but Heir Hitler has been done to death...and beyond. Right down to various Faustian bargains, to be sure. Also, queued weather effects are a bit, shall we say, over the top. Good for melodrama and comedy, but not necessarily much else.
Still, this would be a great short story for learning your craft, and on that basis I would encourage you to finish this work Then, submit it to your peers as one would a fresh lamb chop to wolves and see where you can improve.
May 9th, 2010, 05:18 PM #7
Thank you all for a swift report on this, much appreciated.
@DailyRich: Yeah, good point.
@Sterling13: This is a reference to Hitler. I wrote it late at night after typing "Hitler demon" into Google and working with the results. And, as this implies, I didn't go further on the subject.
@ElinIsabel: Thanks, I appreciate this type of critique, it's easier to edit
@kmtolan: So, we meet again, Kerry *Nemesis Pose!*
Question: Are you a published writer? You give a very nice aura of it here ;-)
Anyways, glad to see you giving me very strong and constructive feedback, I appreciate the gesture.
As you can see from my above response, I didn't really put any efforts of originality into this, just ran with a (deeply dry-milked) subject. That, IMHO, covers for the cueued weather :-P
Overall, thanks for some good critique!
May 9th, 2010, 07:23 PM #8