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  1. #1
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    Critique me, please?

    ...writing will become your own personal drug, your ecstacy. "Breathe life into your dreams, and your dreams will breathe life into you."
    I sat in the frosty chill of a black, Scandinavian night, striving mightily to melt the frost from the fallen log beneath me. I stared into the flames of a warming fire licking hapless snowflakes from the misty air. The emerging blade to my left alarmed me at first, the lethal, single fang of iron glowing yellow with need. A stout sharpening stone was drawn along the already razor-sharp edge.
    "You move like a clumsy stag through the trees," I said, choking back the first-fear which had constricted my throat. The dark, hulking figure shuddered with what I hoped was a silent laugh. "If you were ready for me, then why do you quake in fear like a woman?", said my arrogant, yet lethal wraith. "I created you," I said, my composure regained. "I can hear the rush of blood through your veins...the life that I gave you. I have grown to love you like a brother, but have a care! You embark upon no quest not already concieved by me; no woman rakes her nails across your chest whose ears have not first been warmed by my whispered seductions. No coins clink in your pouch that I have not rained down upon you. Your lungs are filled with my breath, your path I have cleared before you. It is wise to make pleasant fellowship with your maker".
    "True, that", said my brooding companion. "You gave me life, indeed. And yet, do you not, even now, feel the strain upon these feeble restraints which bind me? How much longer might I be contained? You have carried me as an infant; now my need for succor is diminished. Cling fast to ME, now, maker, for a wild ride lies before us. You gave me life, true, but I revel in that life, growing stronger, with every stroke of your pen upon the page of possibility."
    He stood, gazing down at me, firelight burning from his deep-set eyes, and I knew then it was true. He had taken on a life of his own. I was both dismayed and delighted at the same time. What had been unleashed upon this world I had made? The answering hiss of his blade returning to the velvet refuge of the scabbard evaporated the icy fear in my belly. As I looked up at him, he smiled, then bowed before me. His mount whinnied just behind us in the darkness. "Where to now, my father?", he asked, kissing my hand in reverence. I stood, grunting, as I tried to heft him to his feet. "To struggles against impossible odds...to astonishing feats of heroism which will put the old gods to shame; to bitter enemies who will be taught a new way; to women who will want you, yet know your heart belongs to another."
    He turns abruptly. "Come", he says brusquely, "I hear the call." We vanished together into a world of black and cold, swirling white.

  2. #2
    Seesquared
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    Hi sifutofu,

    Please bear with me as this is the first critique I have officially posted.

    I'm definitely interested in where this story is going - my first impression is that in this passage you are introducing the antagonists, as I get a sense of evil from both of them, although perhaps the beast more than the master. The dialogue seems a little too grandiose and verbose, as if both characters are delivering majestic monologues. Of course, depending on the era in which this is taking place and the mood you want to create, this may be appropriate, but it's hard to tell out of context.

    One sentence stuck out at me: "What had been unleashed upon this world I had made?" - Did you mean to imply that he has made the whole world?

  3. #3
    Author and Game Designer Taramoc's Avatar
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    Hi Sifutofu,
    first critic for me too I guess your story is moving us first timers...

    I tend to agree with seesquared, I'm very interested in the story. I find the way you treated the creation of a sideckick (wraith in your case) very intriguing and I definitively want to know what's going to happen to them, but the style is too verbose (I'm guilty of the same thing often, so I can relate). IMHO is too distracting, too the point that I'm not sure I believe anymore that their future adventures will be THAT extraordinary.

  4. #4
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    ...an explanation...

    Seesquared, Tamaroc...
    The scene I wrote depicts MYSELF speaking to my main character. I sit upon a log within the world I had created for him.
    Has he taken on a life of his own? Is he my follower, or, having grown so powerful, am I now following HIM? Just who holds the reins, here?
    Stephen King suggested in, "On Writing...A Memoir of the Craft", that if a writer works very hard to flesh out a character, this character may seem to take on a life of his/her own. I also know of at least one author who scoffs at the idea. Me? I'm not so sure...
    I thought it would be interesting to write such a scene. Here, my character has become so real to me that fear gnaws at my belly as he sharpens his sword. I am very aware of just how lethal he can be, yet reassured when he sheathes his blade.
    Read "Servant of the Bones", by Anne Rice, if you get the chance. In it, a writer who enjoys holing up in a mountain cabin in order to pursue his craft encounters a very intriguing character. This character dictates his life/un-life to the nervous writer...and the book, "Servant of the Bones" is produced.
    My little story is the same; however, the writer is a real person...yours truly, Sifutofu.
    I enjoy writing in the verbose manner. Source material I researched for my main character had been written in just such a way, though moreso.
    My phrasing is reminiscent of various books and movies I've ingested..."Gladiator", with Russell Crowe, etc. Have you ever asked yourself why certain movies are made where the characters speak with an English accent, with phrasing of the same? Is this some homage paid to Shakespeare? If you know, please tell me. Why did the characters of "Gladiator" speak with English accents? Who decides these things, and why? I know Ridley Scott, the director, is English (or speaks with the accent). The story was set in or near the European continent. However, would this movie have been just as interesting if they spoke with no accent at all? I don't think so.
    Regardless, thank you for your critique. I hope to recieve more from yourselves, and others, as well. I may soon continue the account of this meeting between writer and main character.
    Last edited by sifutofu; December 6th, 2006 at 01:51 PM. Reason: organized confusion...

  5. #5
    Illusions Of Silence grechzoo's Avatar
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    thats quite deep (your explanation)

    so yeah, very clever,

    but i agree its too verbose, even if it was your intention.

    it becomes less accessible and maybe a little less personal when it is written in such a way. this is my opinion as a reader.

  6. #6
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    too verbose...

    Grechzoo...
    I can see where you guys are coming from on the issue of this piece being too verbose.
    However, you might understand why I wrote it this way were you to peruse the actual, historical account of the person which inspired this character. Obviously, the character I'm conversing with is likely a viking. Check out, "The Heimskringla", and you may understand my motivations.
    Remember "Xena, Warrior Princess"? How about Kevin Sorbo's crack at "Krull, the Conquerer"? Especially in the latter, this same style of writing tended to reveal itself. In contrast, Ares, the God of War, played by Kevin Smith (in both Xena, WP, and Hercules...) used dialogue in relating to the other characters that was simple street language. He sounded like an arrogant jock. Now, we're talking about the small screen here, not literature, and this was a regular series. I was fascinated by this choice which had obviously been made. Being Greek gods, shouldn't they speak a bit differently than some guy selling falafel on a corner in Carthage? Some ancient falafel vendor, upset because someone openly doubted the quality of his food, might have replied in typical New York fashion with "Oh, yeah? Den bite DIS, 'ya maggot!" This characterization may inject some comedy into the scene. Comedy, however, wasn't my intention. Grandiosity was. The percieved verbosity doesn't have to dominate the dialogue throughout the tale (it would, admittedly, get quite laborious...), but I still believe it has it's uses. Think of the way Tolkien wrote "LOTR". It was rendered much in this fashion.
    You can relax, however; I will never use the word, "mayhaps", or, "forsooth". "Twas" will be strictly verboten (although this one did appear in "Gladiator"...).

  7. #7
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    too verbose...

    Grechzoo...
    I can see where you guys are coming from on the issue of this piece being too verbose.
    However, you might understand why I wrote it this way were you to peruse the actual, historical account of the person which inspired this character. Obviously, the character I'm conversing with is likely a viking. Check out, "The Heimskringla", and you may understand my motivations.
    Remember "Xena, Warrior Princess"? How about Kevin Sorbo's crack at "Krull, the Conquerer"? Especially in the latter, this same style of writing tended to reveal itself. In contrast, Ares, the God of War, played by Kevin Smith (in both Xena, WP, and Hercules...) used dialogue in relating to the other characters that was simple street language. He sounded like an arrogant jock. Now, we're talking about the small screen here, not literature, and this was a regular series. I was fascinated by this choice which had obviously been made. Being Greek gods, shouldn't they speak a bit differently than some guy selling falafel on a corner in Carthage? Some ancient falafel vendor, upset because someone openly doubted the quality of his food, might have replied in typical New York fashion with "Oh, yeah? Den bite DIS, 'ya maggot!" This characterization may inject some comedy into the scene. Comedy, however, wasn't my intention. Grandiosity was. The percieved verbosity doesn't have to dominate the dialogue throughout the tale (it would, admittedly, get quite laborious...), but I still believe it has it's uses. Think of the way Tolkien wrote "LOTR". It was rendered much in this fashion, and he did alright, didn't he (of course, his fame arrived well after he had died...).
    You can relax, however; I will never use the word, "mayhaps", or, "forsooth". "Twas" will be strictly verboten (although this one did appear in "Gladiator"...). You will find these expressions in "The Heimskringla", however.

  8. #8
    Illusions Of Silence grechzoo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sifutofu View Post
    Grechzoo...
    I can see where you guys are coming from on the issue of this piece being too verbose.
    However, you might understand why I wrote it this way were you to peruse the actual, historical account of the person which inspired this character. Obviously, the character I'm conversing with is likely a viking. Check out, "The Heimskringla", and you may understand my motivations.
    Remember "Xena, Warrior Princess"? How about Kevin Sorbo's crack at "Krull, the Conquerer"? Especially in the latter, this same style of writing tended to reveal itself. In contrast, Ares, the God of War, played by Kevin Smith (in both Xena, WP, and Hercules...) used dialogue in relating to the other characters that was simple street language. He sounded like an arrogant jock. Now, we're talking about the small screen here, not literature, and this was a regular series. I was fascinated by this choice which had obviously been made. Being Greek gods, shouldn't they speak a bit differently than some guy selling falafel on a corner in Carthage? Some ancient falafel vendor, upset because someone openly doubted the quality of his food, might have replied in typical New York fashion with "Oh, yeah? Den bite DIS, 'ya maggot!" This characterization may inject some comedy into the scene. Comedy, however, wasn't my intention. Grandiosity was. The percieved verbosity doesn't have to dominate the dialogue throughout the tale (it would, admittedly, get quite laborious...), but I still believe it has it's uses. Think of the way Tolkien wrote "LOTR". It was rendered much in this fashion, and he did alright, didn't he (of course, his fame arrived well after he had died...).
    You can relax, however; I will never use the word, "mayhaps", or, "forsooth". "Twas" will be strictly verboten (although this one did appear in "Gladiator"...). You will find these expressions in "The Heimskringla", however.

    As I sai in my post. I do realise you purposely did this. It is done well.

    However it is simply my personal preference that I find verbose passages (even if done on purpose) too unaccessible.

  9. #9
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    ...just curious

    Have you read Tolkien? Did you enjoy it?
    Thanks for your critique.
    In response to the sword-bearer's question, "where to now, Father", the text does get woefully verbose...a bit corny, in fact. However, I see a great opportunity for inserting humor here. I'll rewrite this, and hopefully you might take another look.
    I realize Lord of the Rings was written quite a while ago, and the appeal of nostalgia is inaccessible to my story (unless it might be read fify years from now...).
    Last edited by sifutofu; December 7th, 2006 at 05:42 AM.

  10. #10
    Master Obfuscator Dawnstorm's Avatar
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    Hi,

    I did realise you wrote yourself into the scene, but then I first read the scene in the other thread where you talked about writing and used it to illustrate the point. Hehe.

    I find it interesting that you fictionalise yourself to point out that your creation has taken on a life of its own. That way, the whole scene has a more dreamlike quality.

    I don't mind the verbosity. Words are, on the whole, well chosen. I'm wondering at "first-fear" (one word?), which seems a bit out of style (I don't detect many other neologisms like this one).

    Dialogue punctuation: "X," he said. "X?" he asked. (and so on) The punctuation marks are always between the quotation marks.

    ***

    The way Tolkien wrote in the LotR... I never managed to read the whole of it, but some of the parts I read were... unintentionally funny (as when Sam enters Shelob's lair: teaparty with a grumpy spider). The problem I have with LotR is that I can't find a reading mode. He creates this detailed world and tries for a certain degree of psychological realism, but he doesn't abandon heroic hyperbole. I find this quite an uneven read, and annoying to boot. I wouldn't suggest emulating Tolkien's prose.

    ***

    Gladiator and accents: I haven't been able to watch the film in the original (I'm Austrian, where the default are odious dubbed German versions), but I'd love to. Considering that the film was about the Roman empire, where people come from all over the place a diversity of dialects wouldn't have been amiss (although, if Richard Harris is related to Joaquin Phoenix, they can't really keep their native tongues without achieving a comical effect...).

  11. #11
    Illusions Of Silence grechzoo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sifutofu View Post
    Have you read Tolkien? Did you enjoy it?
    Thanks for your critique.
    In response to the sword-bearer's question, "where to now, Father", the text does get woefully verbose...a bit corny, in fact. However, I see a great opportunity for inserting humor here. I'll rewrite this, and hopefully you might take another look.
    I realize Lord of the Rings was written quite a while ago, and the appeal of nostalgia is inaccessible to my story (unless it might be read fify years from now...).
    To be honest I have not read all of the LOTR.

    I did get through the first book and half of TTT.

    The difference with the LOTR and your passage is that Tolkien is verbose about mostly the surroundings and scene and not really when he is telling the story. I don't find this as bad.

    It just seems for every action you describe, you spend twice the amount of words describing in what way that action was done. People like that i know. As it adds to the imagery. However I personally think it slows the pace down.

    Please don't take it as criticism, it is not. it is my personal preference and nothing else.

    You do have talent. If I ignore my petty taste i can honestly say it is a very clever passage
    Last edited by grechzoo; December 7th, 2006 at 06:46 AM.

  12. #12
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    ...need for revisions

    Thank you all for your help in critiquing my spur-of-the-moment story. You have raised some very interesting questions in my mind. In addition, you have also enabled me to see some things through new eyes. This has been quite a learning experience for me, and I hope to submit other works for your speculation very soon.

  13. #13
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    Dear Gentle Reader...

    Quote Originally Posted by Seesquared View Post
    Hi sifutofu,
    One sentence stuck out at me: "What had been unleashed upon this world I had made?" - Did you mean to imply that he has made the whole world?
    I meant that he had created the whole world by being the writer...he could write the world as being in any state he wanted.

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