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Author Topic: OWW Critiques & Discussion ***
cperry
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Hey KE,

I emailed you already. Don't know why you didn't get it. I'll try again.

Edit: Oooh, I'm alpha! (Darn, but it's a mindless one. Wish it had been something really insightful or witty. Alas.)

[ March 26, 2005, 06:13 PM: Message edited by: cperry ]

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kenmeer livermaile
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Warning: I’m brusque. My opinions are only my opinions, after all, so why not pronounce them as if they were the Word of God?

“At the chairman s curt nod affirmative, with surprising dexterity for a man with thick fingers, he nimbly plucked out a cigar. Then, while the chairman prepared the end of his cigar with a gold-plated clipper, he bit off the end of his, pulled out a well-worn Zippo and applying the flame to the end puffed it to life.”

I’m good at critiquing my most common sins. The first is a wee technical boo-boo: is his curt nod surprisingly dexterous or his cigar plucking? Context says pluck, but syntax says nod. Thus I would place his surprising dexterity after the nimble pluck:

‘At the chairman s curt nod affirmative, he nimbly plucked out a cigar with surprising dexterity for a man with thick fingers.’

Immediately afterward:

“Then, while the chairman prepared the end of his cigar with a gold-plated clipper, he bit off the end of his, pulled out a well-worn Zippo and applying the flame to the end puffed it to life.”

I suggest you drop “applying the flame to the end”. One assumes he didn’t hold it to his nose. I suffer the urge to write every action in a cinematic sweep, relishing the continuity of verbal action. But wiser heads have taught me to leave out as much as possible. Folks’ heads actually fill in the blanks faster, more smoothly, and with better images, than they can read the 'screenplay'.

In order to justify the gold-plating of a cigar clipper employed by ‘brass’, I suggest you either add a qualifier like ‘an annoyingly’ gold-plated clipper or replace “prepared the end of his cigar” with some deflecting term ranging from the too cute ‘circumcised’, since some times a cigar IS just a cigar, or ‘fussed’ or…. After all, real men carry a pocketknife so sharp it can snip a cigar tip with one slice.

“ It s not going to be easy with this president in the White House, he said exhaling and watching a breath of blue smoke rise toward the ceiling.“

On the one hand, it’s too easy to clutter a narrative with too much wryly commenting allegory or metaphor or simile, but on the other hand, watching him watch a puff of blue smoke rise upward is a bit too much like watching an author attempt to paint background. Yet background needs be sufficiently lined out to give a reader’s mind’s eye something to fill in.

So long as one doesn’t overdo it, such background details can be disguised by putting them to work:

“…he said exhaling and watching a breath of blue smoke rise toward the ceiling LIKE…” The LIKE ideally reflects something about the plot, but does so itself by metaphor. Example... I'm thinking... LIKE... can't. It's too soon in the story. Not enough plot development. But you get the idea?

“President Jessup R. Kincaid s religious views were no secret. He d been raised Baptist and had run on a platform of Christian family values and morality. Given his well known religious beliefs, his landslide victory was widely hailed as a mandate to bring the country back to its Christian roots. Always vocal about his beliefs he d become even more outspoken since the death of his wife. The nation mourned when he lost her to cancer, the previous year.“

Awesome paragraph. Drop “He’d been raised” before Baptist nad “and had” to ‘he’d’ and it’s perfect, sez I.

“Since that time he d begun” = ‘He’d since begun’

“Personally, he could not conceive of a god that would allow the pain and suffering he d seen, endured, and even inflicted over the years.”

“even inflicted” is great. It creates a point of reference you can hammer again and again: the president seeking to redeem his former bad-ass self.

“Pretty convenient coincident! ”= ‘Pretty convenient!’

“the vice chairman asked flicking his cigar ash in a nearby ashtray, careful to keep it off his dress uniform.“

Have him flick it TOWARD the ashtray? Careful of his uniform but careless of the rug? Suggest some nuance of character or inherent joint chiefs rivalry? It’s not HIS office but it’s his uniform.

“Both men were in their best dress uniforms, and adorned in all the ribbons, metals and citations they had won and earned over their many years of service to the country. Though not part of either man s usual attire, protocol dictated they wear them when attending the meeting called for by the president at 1600 hours.”

I’m wanting something like ‘awkward but proud’. It sucks to wear a tie, so to speak, but when one has the coolest tie in town…

“ No, not yet, the chairman said, checking his watch. But rest assured I'll think of something by the time we meet with the president. I ll be damned if I ll let that temporary politician in the White House turn over my country to some damn alien claiming to be ****ing Jesus Christ! ”

To which the vice-chairman replies, “Some of us can’t tell the difference.”

“The principal purpose of the President s Cabinet (drawn from Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution) was to advise the President”= ‘as required by…’

If one is going to trouble the reader with a civics lesson, make it mandatory. Saying ‘as required by’ explains why you mention it.

“Seated at his immediate right was the Secretary of the newly formed Office of Cultural Affairs, the honorable Reverend William Lee Matthews. Seated to the right of the Reverend were the Secretaries of Defense, of Homeland Security, of State, the Attorney General, and at the far end of the table the Vice President. The President s Chief of Staff sat at the his immediate left, and next to him sat the president s science advisor, Mrs. Janet Curry, the only lady present. Next to her sat Chairman Malin and the rest of the Joint Chiefs occupied the remainder of seats on that side of the table.“

I have enough difficulty remembering names and titles without also remembering where they should sit. ‘Seated with him were’ should suffice?

“He paused for the obligatory nods and noises of agreement around the table.”

Drop it, sez I, ESPECIALLY after the grave locking of eyes in turn, which works very effectively. Which reminds me: you’ve placed the guest of honor at the head of a table described in more depth than the prez. You’ve surrounded him with a detailed guest list/seating arrangement. We know nothing yet about those eyes locking the fellas in place. It would be tricky to directly describe them beforehand, but since they’re principal actors introducing his first body language, I think a description is in order of the cat from whose head they gaze out just a tad strangely. Give us the PREZ!

Read read read…. Yup. You got a way with dialogue. I’m jealous.

Read read read… one quibble. You’ve inadvertently introduced a ‘dummy plot’ device where one isn’t needed. A dummy plot is where the suspension of belief requires the protagonists to be dumb in a critical way. Not see the obvious. IN horror, such a device is often essential, but the victim need not be stupid per se as just too brave or whatever. But in other entertainments, the main protagonists must be able to ignore something otherwise obvious long enough for that obviousness to pass by or be buried in details.

So: were I at that long mahogany table, I would early on have said, “A civilization able to convincingly imitate the Second Coming must surely be able to read the Bible and stage events accordingly.”

“ Mimicking? Billy Lee erupted. Blasphemy!

Bull****! The Chairman jumped to his feet and faced the preacher. Call it what you want, Reverend! But I speak the truth! ”

Here your sure touch of dialogue succumbs to low high drama, i.e. inadvertent campiness. Harsh, but I speak the truth.

“ So, Billy Lee interrupted, what you are saying Mrs. Curry is that you have no idea what is up there?

Mrs. Curry eyed the reverend silently. Unwilling, or unable to respond to his sarcasm. “

THAT’S more like it! But why give Billy Lee all the good lines and make the generals harrumph like impotent mandarins? We all KNOW that President Bush-clone is gonna side with Billy Lee Jesus anyway.

“ So,, we ve had television signals beaming out into space since Hitler and the 36 Olympics. Hell, we ve had twenty-four-hour Christian stations like yours beaming television signals out into space for decades! How hard do you think it would it be for an alien to get hold of all that information and duplicate biblical events? “

There it is! But it needs to come in earlier and nastier, aimed at Billy Lee, with some crack about cargo cult exploitations by beings of intelligence great enough to delude superstitious earth quacks.

“ I hope you re not insinuating that I would become some kind of puppet, Mr. Chairman, the president said glaring at the chairman.

No, sir, he said returning the president s glare. Of course not. “

He should say, “No sir. I AM saying that as a good Christian, you would never disobey the Word of God. Or do I misunderstand your faith?”

“ Yes, sir! He said and addressed the president and the assembled experts and officials. As you know, he cleared his throat, every major country on the planet is on war footing at this time. We have contingency plans for each country and every possibility, but the possible scenarios are many and varied. And they are subject to change when and if hostilities begin. It s a very fluid and volatile situation, Mr. President.

Yes, said the president, I agree it s a very volatile situation. I ve met, or been in contact with most of the world powers and all of the religious leaders. Needless to say they are not happy. Many of them have assured me that there will be dire consequences if we acknowledge the alien, as they refer to him, as the Son of God. “

I know that’s how the military cabinet is supposed to speak, but I hate it. How would a Heinleinian general say it? That’s how my ears want to read this (my eyes want to hear Stravinsky at the moment;). Not that I’m a Heinlein freak, but his mode is the obvious template for this tale. How would Lazarus Long say this?

“ I'm not going to tell you again, Mr. Chairman, the president said tersely. Answer my question in regard to foreign terrestrial powers. Exactly what can we expect in the way of reprisals from the rest of the world? What are our contingency plans and options?

The chairman stared at the president, shocked at the implication of his words. The president seemed to be saying that it was a foregone conclusion that the alien was Jesus Christ“

I don’t see that implication. I just hear the Prez asking a what if. Some additional something is needed for the reader to infer what the chairman infers.

“ More blasphemy! Jesus says the way to know him is by his works! Billy Lee interjected.

Why? Why couldn t he perform a miracle if he is Jesus? The Chairman asked. Something only God or Jesus could do? “

I want him to say that miracles were THE work of JC. After Billy Lee sputtered a bit more about faith and belief, I’d want the chairman to say that faith and belief are of the individual. The nation was of pure simple fact. “Frankly, Jesus can walk His talk… preferably on water… or he can walk the plank, Mr. President.” (ignoring the rev and going to the cutoff man)

“ Nano-bots... Mrs. Curry said looking at the president. She hoped he hadn t overstepped his bounds by mentioning a top-secret project. Surely all the men present had top-secret security clearance.“

Can nano-bots resurrect a man’s memory? Without a resurrection including a man’s soul, it wouldn’t be a religious miracle, only very advanced microbiology.

“ Are you suggesting that I ve been brainwashed? the president asked. If they have that kind of power why wouldn t they just brainwash the entire population? Why not you, general? Or are you somehow more resistant than I? “

I would reply, “With all due respect, Mr. President, the answer is obviously YES. You’re a believer; I am not. Your mind WANTS to believe; my minds needs to be convinced.”

“ That s right, Mr. Chairman. The President retorted, bristling at the word elect. If they come before the signs. But as I ve said, the signs have come to pass. “

“elect…bristle”

Hee-hee!

Read read read… excellent twist/denouement. But I think you should have the Prez take the bullet after all, and be… reanimated, only this time ABSOLUTELY under alien nanobotic control, with his memories still intact because he is not yet brain dead. And I think you shouldn’t ‘explain’ what the event meant, as in:

“Chairman Malin looked around the room at the awestruck faces. He couldn t feel the nano-bots running through his veins, and soon he wouldn t question them, or care, but in that moment he realized that he had given the alien the very thing he d been striving to avoid; he was the miracle that would give them the world.”

You should let the implications speak for themselves. Let the ending echo in the wind, not in the general’s mind. The general’s mind should, at that point, be overwhelmed by the miracle he is experiencing. His disbelief should be briefly suspended, and he should be succumbing to a lifetime’s indoctrination of a Christian culture, and should be kneeling at Jesus’ feet, weeping ands peeing his britches.

And then, perhaps, you could end with Jesus ET’s thought:

‘He hadn’t really expected the nanobots to work so fast or so well. Terran biology was so QUICK. It was almost like a miracle…’

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kenmeer livermaile
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"only this time ABSOLUTELY under alien nanobotic control, with his memories still intact"

Sorry, KE: don't know how I missed your obvious implication that 'Chaiorman Lazarus' would soon be under nanobotic zombie control.

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KnightEnder
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Okay, this is getting a little complicated. I think most everybody has read my (KE) and Canadians original offerings, and everybody should have receiced RickyB's first couple of pages. So, I'm going to send out the story KL just sent me (everybody should have received it by not) and I think we should work on these, Ricky and KL's in the next coming week.

I will hold off on sending out any new work I get sent in(except the next few pages from RickyB since his was pretty short and I know people are looking forward to his next installment) until the end of next week. I don't want to overwhelm the members, so I think I'm just going to send out a couple of stories a week, and archive the rest I receive, disseminating them in order of arrival. How does that sound to everyone?

I'm starting to get an even greater appreciation for the OM. It is complicated keeping up with everything, and quite a responisibility. But I love it so keep it up. Let me know what y'all think about keeping it to a couple of stories a week?

KE

[ March 27, 2005, 01:16 AM: Message edited by: KnightEnder ]

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Adam Lassek
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quote:
“And if that is the case, then this, alien, is not Jesus Christ!”
What's up with all the commas? If you're trying to do what I think you are, it would look better as:

quote:
"And if that is the case, then this... alien is not Jesus Christ!"

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Adam Lassek
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@KL: Wow. You really have a way with words (bald ferret taking a nap. Hah! [Big Grin] ). A little reminiscent of Tom Robbins.

Judging by the notes at the end, I eagerly await the rest of the story.

(P.S. your story reminded me of this USENET post I think you'll enjoy.)

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RickyB
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KE, thanks for the comments. I'm at work and haven't had time to go over all of them yet.

As for Etnarch - I'll do something about that, you're right.

As for Carnal - literature from the period implies that Agrippas the II and his sister did indeed have an incestuous relationship (that's what the "memories of sinful youth" towards the end of the first page is getting at). However, the carnal gaze is not to emphasize that so much as to make it clear that this woman is an intensely sexual being....it becomes clear later on - both she and her mother were trained in the traditions of a matriarchal cult.

As for the "dumb broad" - like I told Canadian, slang is a motif in my story.

Now, an important note: Only the first page is the prologue. I screwed up by not making this clear, but the page that begins with "Tiberius Drusus is dead" is the beginning of chapter 1. I'll send more as soon as I get home. Shall I send all of the first chapter at once, or just a scene or two at a time?

And much, much thanks to y'all for your warm reception. It means a lot to me [Smile]

[ March 27, 2005, 09:51 AM: Message edited by: RickyB ]

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kenmeer livermaile
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"If anyone is wondering the guest essay on this site called "Just War Theory and the War on [T]error" is mine."

I've been meaning to read that. Guess I'll tackle it this week.

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kenmeer livermaile
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"If you have any anal retentiveness over 'paragraph length', read Joyce with a monoparagraphic parabollock on the juvenile penis erectus (by a woman, if I remember correctly [Eek!] ) or Proust who uses a multi-page paragraph to turn a fugging doorknob. Don't obsess over it. One long paragraph in a brilliant short story will NOT turn off a reader. An occasional long paragraph is here a sign of strength, not pedantry."

(Take it from a guy who regularly turns sentences into paragraphs. One thumb rule for deciding whether a paragraph should remain whole or fractured is to it in parentheses. Parentheses confer a private relevance to their contained text. If the text within the parentheses feels like two persons whispering, the paragraph probably should be cut?) See:

(Take it from a guy who regularly turns sentences into paragraphs. One thumb rule for deciding whether a paragraph should remain whole or fractured is to it in parentheses.)

(Parentheses confer a private relevance to their contained text. If the text within the parentheses feels like two persons whispering, the paragraph probably should be cut?)

Obviously, th above should remain one paragraph.

The other consideration I employ is eye/brain strain. Even if the ideas in a paragraph are 'contiguously continuous' (to strike a phrase lost in its own woods), their comprehension may require more brain work than can be sustained while ferreting out sentences from a paragraph bloock.

Then I like to separate by salient transitions and, if useful, isolate single sentences that state a crucial idea strikingly.

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kenmeer livermaile
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"(P.S. your story reminded me of this USENET post I think you'll enjoy.)"

I am writing a sex scene and my hero is now crossing the room while fully erect. So, basically, his stiff dick is bobbing like a demented conductors baton as he crosses the room ... however, one cannot simply write, 'He crossed the room, his stiff dick bobbing like ... '

I am ALWAYS painfully, murderously jealous when someone shows such facility for description. Yet I salvage my pride when I realise they, too, tend to waste their prowess flaunting same.

Fact is, his first simile was right on. A demented conductor's baton indeed. Couple that with Chant 'boingy, boingy, boingy' as he
approaches
and it makes a perfect wrap. If one thinks an aspect of an event is ludicrous by nature, describe it as such. A reader can easily relate to the absurdity of being naked and horny and insanely attracted to these bizarre body parts, and can slather the following action with lust if the writer lets them:

'He stopped in front of her, proudly embarrassed, his dick throbbing now not from his stride but from a heart rate approaching hysteria.

'Her bemusement transformed into serious lust.' (A little study here could make this a facial event to focus the reader's POV onto the fella, or could enter her consciousness indirectly by focusing on her apparent enjoyment of the following): 'She slurped him in and the thing commenced. He wanted to watch but true surrender required he close his eyes. Just as well. She'd forgotten he was there.'

My feeling for erotica is that it is best described hit and run. 'Words get in the way', so one slings a string of descriptives, then states a few facts ('She slurped him in and the thing commenced'), then perhaps make a few oblique observations on the way to afterglow. Make the reader hard/wet and then shut up.

Funny. I don't normally write sex/love. I'm generally more abstract. But pornographic writing introduced me to 'fine writing'. While I grew up a bookworm, and had read by 8th my share of Twain and Heinlein and what high school curricula taught as literature (To Kill A Mockingbird, Catcher in the Rye stuff), it wasn't until I was a sophomore that I grabbed a big black book off the library shlef (I was at an age where size mattered). The book promptly opened to sa dirty passage, and I was enthralled by the combination of eros and magical language. Nabokov's ADA, chapter 19.

Here is Nabokov's description of key penile behavior:

The tall clock struck an anonymous quarter, and Ada was presently watching, cheek on fist, the impressive, though oddly morose, stirrings, steady clockwise launch, and ponderous upswing of virile revival.

Now THAT'S a demented conductor's baton resurrecting itself from the dead...

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RickyB
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10 more pages of Agrippas have been sent. Next installment when you say you're ready.
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kenmeer livermaile
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"As for the "dumb broad" - like I told Canadian, slang is a motif in my story. "

I haven't read your stuff yet, but 'dumb broad' is fine. Dumb broad is effectively timeless in our milieu (although today's mean streets cultural wannabes prefer 'dumb bitch').

It's not like you can render it in the idiom of the time. 'dumbass broadus' doesn't quite work. Have them speai in today's vernacular so long as that vernacular doesn't betray technological advance. (For example, nothing ever 'turned on' until threaded valves and electrical twisat knobs became ubiquitous.)

But 'broad', as in broad hipped, probably goes back to Ur of the Chaldees, at least, I'll wager.

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KnightEnder
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The installment from Ricky is the last story I plan on sending until next Saturday.

I hope that will give everybody a week to read the two stories and comment on them. I'm doing this in hopes that we can all participate at this speed and not get overwhelmed. Unless a majority of y'all feel that is too slow? This is a good problem to have as I was worried at the beginning of the group that it might die for lack
of stories. It doesn't look like that will happen. We have a creative group.

During this week I will be sending updates of KL and Ricky's stories if they send me copies they have edited due to group critiques or whatever. Hopefully everybody will read and critique their stories as quickly as possible so they can edit them and get them back to us for one more look before the week is up and we move on to another story. Of course anybody can comment on any story at any time no matter how long ago it was sent out, in case they didn't have time to read it or something new occurs to them.

Does everybody agree that a week is the right amount of time for the majority of us to read and comment on two stories? Let me know.

KE

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kenmeer livermaile
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"Does everybody agree that a week is the right amount of time for the majority of us to read and comment on two stories? Let me know.'

I think so.

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cperry
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I'm dying to contribute and actually read the 3 stories KE sent me. BUt I may not get responses to you as soon as you'd like. Part of it is that I really don't have time to give the response I'd like AND read everyone else's, so that I'm not entirely redundant. And this new piece that has me consumed. And a boatload of work backing up because I'm not in the office. Okay, they're all excuses. I'll try.
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cperry
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Heya. I hate disclaimers, but I'm going to offer a sort of one anyway. I taught English for 16 years before I moved to central office. Mostly high school, some middle school. Advised newspaper for 9 years. Lit mag for 6. Taught creative writing for 3. You can imagine how many papers I've read and responded to, no?

Now try to imagine how many AWFUL papers I've read and responded to.

So, my fear when embarking on this adventure was that I'd be back in that desperate quest to find one good thing to work with, one positive comment to offer.

Thank goodness that is not the case. I had such fun reading the 3 pieces KE sent me, not only because they were good but also because they were so different from each other. Entertainment! Now that was fun.

I will not edit your piece unless you ask me to or unless I see something that really annoys me. If you ask me to, I will edit it in the text and send that directly to you. I can't do what Richard did with KE's great writing/comma disaster.

I also recommend that you send in your email or on the text of your stories YOUR questions for your readers. For instance, what worries you? With what are you still struggling? With what part are you most satisfied? This will give your readers a place to focus. And I suspect we might need this when pieces start coming in quickly and furiously.

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kenmeer livermaile
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"I also recommend that you send in your email or on the text of your stories YOUR questions for your readers. For instance, what worries you? With what are you still struggling? With what part are you most satisfied? This will give your readers a place to focus. And I suspect we might need this when pieces start coming in quickly and furiously."

For mine, I wonder where I'll take it. It's been months since I've touched it, so I;ve lost sight of the will o'the wisp one follows through the narrative swamp. This doesn't mean I can't navigate to the stories end, but having to break out a compass and sextant and make 'trigonemetric readings' to reclaim my last bearings is DULL. SO I'm hoping that others might offer a flash of what they think should happen to my hero, his wife, and his lovely succubus. Any suggestions are recommended to ignore my notes to myself... UNLESS one jumps out and grabs ye.

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Richard Dey
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This is a critique of I think KL's untitled 'scene-lay' ooops sorry, 'scream-play' oops sorry, whatever it is [Wink] :

There are few plots I enjoy more than ‘man’s sex life goes to rack and ruin’. In this one, Galatea the sexpotbot drives Pygmalion ... [plot incomplete].

Dream and fantasy sequencing is very difficult. This one is using tenses almost at random where I think it would be much improved if tenses were used 'deliberately' to facilitate the illusions created by or for a sexually dissatisfied husband. Such is very difficult writing. Here the statue with which the artist falls in love becomes a pornographic icon. Optional endings are provided but, since they are not in obligatory [brackets] [Mad] , I can only presume that they are author's notes for continuation rather than opus pars.

Many interesting evocations of the male visual sexuality (a sex-specific function).

The colloquial language needs to be more-artfully laid out to prevent making the process even more complicated grammatically than it is psychologically. Another difficult task -- and not another one that editors will take on for free (!).

Excellent imagery, but several need polishing.

churchyards still survived indicates that it won’t for long?
women’s elbow SR woman’s elbow
“I was walking the fog.” Nice pathetic fallacy. Is that Morrison?
last name was Moore SR were
stud wishing a SR stud wishing that a (yes it is the main character speaking but
it’s followed by a long compound dependent clause w/o a cause)
sound of him breathing SR his (not his voice)
“The optical focus has reversed from many eyes seeing the one or at most few,
to one or at most few seeing the many.” There’s a good image hiding here, but
not in this unfocused rendition.
“... he would see hallucinations, in the dark, of ...” to see hallucinations is
redundant; has he been bonked on the head, see double in concusion? Also, the
commas, even if breathers, ‘do not further the text’ (I urp up at the phrase, so do
leave them in!). Actually, I see no reason to clarify this whole paragraph; the
reader isn’t having the hallucinations, he is.
The same happens in the overture of the next paragraph. In the process of
losing control of his wand, the music gets confused in tenses and sources. If you
are suggesting that he’s lost control, now is the time to suggest to whom it is
being lost or you run the risk of having the images (per se) become the
motivators. That is the pathetic fallacy. If the pathetic fallacy IS the motivator,
then now you ought to hint that. (Object takes over Subject as in *The Invasion of
the Snatcher Bodies or whatever it was.) You refer to ‘the sirens of pornography’;
is that whom you are suggesting as the animator/snatchers? Whatever, this is a
pivotal scene and ought to reflect that.
sated. For they were (the preposition here is just distracting, really has to go)

(he see her ...) Why the lowercase paragraph?
offers wisdom (insights?)
to damage. This isn’t right. that could damage?
reader’s SR readers’
Women don’t ‘prefer’ foreplay; they have multiple orgasms during foreplay and husband just won’t give them to her after he's got is one? (and, indeed, why should he!!!)
“... thoroughly, if not addicted than at least diligently committed, to’” This is more
convoluted than jerking off at the office [Wink] .
“... it would not try and” is just a provincialism, and, if you switch to “... it would
not try to” you aggravate the pathetic fallacy (i.e., that the computer is taking over
his mind -- by offering greater satisfaction than his wife? Is that where this is going?). Ditto “knew him as only a password”. This is the deus ex machina fallacy --...-- but I TRUST you ...!
men’s room (check this search area)
he would prefer no SR he would prefer that no
enough. But SR enough, but
“... to try a different something different.” ?
feather bed SR feather-bed (modifying trampoline)
and advocated SR and had advocated
ensorcelled!
peep show or Peep Show (choose one)

This has great promise -- but a caveat. Using pinwheels to suggest a descent into madness may be gone, and using sexual objectification as an objectified provocateur is not novel (there is the famous statue, you know!), I know of none that used the time factor successfully. Therefore, if tenses are going to be merely fluid, you will drive the reader crazy before before you drive the protagonist crazy; and there is always the danger of turning your protagonist into an antagonist. Of course I should prefer is becoming a hero, but in that you have set a high and difficult task in a feminist age! Pornography offends females; that part of the brain is missing; it doesn’t serve their reproductive purposes. I would play that out.

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RickyB
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KL - I toyed with "dumb wench", but wench has been done to death in period pieces, and I do want something that will be immediately recognizable as slang. "bitch" is too harsh for the purposes of the exchange in question, so I find myself stuck with "broad".

As for the rest of you - where's the critique of the second installment? I need attention! Must have attention! I'm meeeeeeelting!!!!!!!!!1 [Big Grin]

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Richard Dey
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RB:

How can one judge A Fabulous Trip if the reader doesn't know where the trip is to? Evaluation comes only after a full reading, then editing takes another reading, then proofing takes another reading (et al.). I already know you can write; what we need is a synopsis. What if we praised the opening, which I could -- and got to the finale and discovered that it no longer worked?

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kenmeer livermaile
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"Therefore, if tenses are going to be merely fluid, you will drive the reader crazy before before you drive the protagonist crazy; and there is always the danger of turning your protagonist into an antagonist."

Tenses usually give me grief because, I think, I tend to write stories in stories from a protagonsit's point of view. Which also perhaps explains my other great tripping point: I LIKE to intrude the author into the tale. I'm breaking the habit but only because other folks don't like it.

Nabokov did it a lot and I always liked feeling his herring-bone wool shoulder rub against mine.

BY the way, what does SR mean?

"Pornography offends females; that part of the brain is missing; it doesn’t serve their reproductive purposes. I would play that out."

Aye. I think this story is for the likes of Playboy, not Ms. (Although, once they got into it a ways, they would enjoy seeing the fella fall drowning in his own onanism.

Pornography offends females but erotica is their secret love. Pornography is a golemization of prostitution, while erotica, yea, even erotice involving moving pictures of couples getting it on, is a telling of a very lovely but 'dirty' story.

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kenmeer livermaile
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"I already know you can write; what we need is a synopsis."

I tell myself that all the time, RD. Synopses escape me. I swim through the fog with the greatest of difficulty...

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RickyB
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RD - Then I'd know that the opening works and that I need to re-work the ending :-)
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Richard Dey
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RB:

Whichever, of course. All publisher would need from you is a synopsis and a 1st chapter -- and, yes .... Lots of writers have no idea where the story or the characters are going; submitting full MSs is the price that those who follow their noses must pay for their art [Eek!] .

On a personal note (and I almost never voice them, as you know) I tend to prefer writers who follow their noses, but I only know that from rare autos and a few biographies. Some writers, I've been told, were thoroughly ashamed that they didn't work their stories out in advance -- and more yet embarrassed that they were compulsive writers (rather than readers, perhaps [Wink] ).

You did get my 'bimbo' suggestion, I hope. Give it at least a consideration. I'm a bit mixed up on the chronology, but calling her a Messalina might work; she certainly was one! I think her name was actually Valeria Messalina; Clausius' 2nd wife? But then, you'd like Agrippina, wouldn't you ...; she was no bimbo!

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Richard Dey
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Tenses.

Nothing I have more trouble with than tenses -- and very much for the same reason all great writers like ourselves [Smile] have trouble with them. We try to get inside the brains of the characters we're delineating, only to discover that they're sense of time is like Lucille Ball trying to get cakes from an assembly line into boxes, trying to make plans for the future now in the present using things that happened in the past.

Now, you remember in Canadian's taut text how we were thrown into 'the simple life' of 'the simple folk' by 'the simple tactic' of using 'the simple sentence'. I was catapulted into the simple world of the half-ton truck, the red-plaid hunting jacket, and the trailer camp; for me, this is as exotic as Shangri-La, and I am always a sucker for low life and Hammet. Honestly, I think Canadian did a better job with his short lines than Golding did in *Lord of the Flies (which I still think was a bad book that went worse).

Your situation is MUCH more complicated because the situation itself is playing a leading role.

I think I mentioned the issue of vanity. On this pivot, there is no equality between the sexes; it really isn't allowed. When an actress is vain, we adore it; when an actor is vain, we find it a disgusting joke. Pornography is a fascinating example of this inequality in the sexes and why the inequality is not only accepted but ENFORCED.

If I suggested -- like some right-wing Christian -- that vanity in women is disgusting, RB would jump up and declare me a misogynist! If I were to suggest that Mr Trump's vanity is legitimate and, perhaps, underplayed, OPL would LOL at me! It's a very touchy subject

-- and here you've decided to sit on the knife-edge of a critical human failing: the very Massada of sexual equality: the aesthetic. To equalize the feminine and masculine aesthetic, classical Greeks had to ban women from the theatre, the stadium, and almost everything of importance to western civilization!

Here you have the chance to equalize female vanity and male self-indulgence -- and you've got this guy with (1) a willing wife and (2) an affordable prostitute, beginning to prefer a 3rd choice of sexual satisfaction which is, frankly, a virtually untested vehicle. The Christian right wing -- and Orthodox rabbis who stick their little things into holes in a sheet to have sex, may well consider this dangerous thinking and potentially blasphemous.

You know full well that my major charity is research into multiple orgasms for males. It's the only serious effort for world peace that I contribute to, actually.

I am not saying, KL, that you don't have a right to use all the tenses in a single sentence** -- if you think that will further the text; I'm just wondering how the movie version is going to act it out. As a director, I'd be completely confused -- and reach for the pinwheels.

My assumption here is that the hero is seeking absolutely lucidity by experiencing absolute bliss, i.e., a high level of orgasmic intensity unassailed by competition, pain, hunger, fear, dread (and all those fun things). Why else was it made so brief?

** "I shot him, and then had second thoughts because now I know that tomorrow I will be having regrets in the electric chair -- if, of course, I don't get a miracle call from Albany." One MIGHT consider that that furthers the story, but I'm still saying that in the degeneration of your character the tenses should be used intentionally -- ESPECIALLY if they can be used at the end of the story to reconstruct him.

Of your choices, BTW, whether his onanism (1) leads to a lightyear in hell with hair on his palms, (3) whether he's cured of it by his wife and the gynobot having a lesbian affair, or (3) whether his onanism leads him to solipsistic autogenesis and supreme genius, I have no clue yet. That's another reason I need an outline or synopsis. An editor needs to know, in 2nd reading, if the tenses, vocabulary, characterization, et al., are playing their respective roles in the purpose of the text. Red herrings are derigueur but in the final edit they need to be seen as such.

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kenmeer livermaile
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I think that for me the tenses will be most practically worked out by rewriting the thing in small single clause sentences, then reconstructing from there.

Whereas before I was so enraptured, by the fact that I could pull compelling images and situations forth from my brain, that I could scarcely change a jot or tittle and instead would pile more and more and... now I think I'm finally confident that my muse (that dumb broad) really does love me. Thus I'm willing to tear a thing apart without it tearing my heart apart.

In so doing, I should be able to make more effective linkages between temporal points of view.

Either way, I had GREAT fun inventing the crankonanic pecker peepers... my fave touch in the whole thing is him being surprised in his dream by the object of his dream and standing there with his little knobby-horse dangling by it's bridle...

Regarding tenses: the opening sentences betray this discomfort:

"Alone after hours at the office, Jack had dreamed
himself to sleep at his computer. Hand on his hard-on, head in his hard drive, he’d ejaculated into a handkerchief and promptly fallen asleep. The movie, fellatio porn, continued on for several minutes until its scenes deflated."

It occurs to me that the only reason I wrote "had dreamed' rather than 'dreamed' is because I was seeing it from the perspective of the dream. I already saw him asleep and waking up to a winking succubus. I betray MY sense of temporal perspective as a writer than the actual temporality of the tale?

So:

"Alone after hours at the office, Jack dreamed
himself to sleep at his computer. Hand on his hard-on, head in his hard drive, he ejaculated into a handkerchief and promptly fell asleep. The movie, fellatio porn, continued on for several minutes until its scenes deflated."

Works just as well, eh?

Thanks, RD, I think I learned something here. I think tenses will work much better from here on. I owe you. I'll share MOna with you, OK? She's really sweet;)

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Richard Dey
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KE:

Re: management

I agree a couple a week are about as many as the busiest of us can handle, ergo that would be a good limit. Likewise, 2nd submissions and all that should be ltd so that 1st-timers have a chance to submit.

It doesn't take time to critique something with a line like "This crap sux" or "Fabulous! Send to Knopf ASAP!" Any piece worth anything takes a little time to think about, to cf to others, etc. Therefore, I would prefer, if I would not request, that we did only 1 'finished' draft a week and, perhaps, 1 'unfinished' draft a week.

I don't comment on incomplete (as opposed to unfinished) work; I think it's unfair to the author, and I certainly know it is unfair to the work.

I knew an author who erstwhile received rave reviews from several houses on the 1st three chapters of a novel that he never finished -- nor ever finished another. People don't pay $29.95 for unfinished work anymore; only libraries do.

SR = 'ought to read', 'should read', 'you meant: ...?', 'whaddayouz talkin', huh, huh ...?'

MR = 'might (better) read' (sometimes MBR), 'must read' (i.e., xerox MR Xerox).

FU = Fugg you! [Wink] [delicately puts monogrammed pink-linen napkin to corner of mouth, and farts voluminously].

[High-piched voice:] Only the peasants hold that correctionism has gone too far, Millicent. You'll agree with me, won't you, that it's not gone nearly far enough ...!

[Low-pitched voice, spattering succotash all over her Limoges charger:] My deah! Especially in words. I'm beginning to believe that most all words should be banned! They're so misleading, don't you know ....

[High-pitch voice, low-pitched fart:] Quite so ..., quite so .... We have a chocolate stuffed Head of John the Baptist for dessert, darlings ..., so do save some room!

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cperry
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Well, I'm slow, but I finally sent some responses to KE. I'll start working on another one today.
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Richard Dey
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KL: Yes, yes, and yes! (And use the perfect tenses perfectly -- so the reader can comprehend what state of undress, duress, and success he's in [Wink] .
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Richard Dey
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KE:

How about setting up a shipping and receiving department?

Reception will receive 1 of each genre per week, say 1 short story, 1 poem, 1 1-act screenplay, 1 essay, 1 whatever. (Or any other number that is handable).

Shipping will send out X number of reviews to the writer, some fewer number to the thread as the writer allows. That might cut down a little on what I perceive could expand to a great deal of traffic.

The basic principle might remain the same:-- that 'pre-publication' appearance be allowed here while the writer retains all subsequent submission and publication rights which will require (inevitably) removal from this site. I think the savvier publishers will find that rather a boon -- since they're obtaining free readings of submissions and, frankly, a few guaranteed sales.

I certainly am not going to pass by seeing somebody I correspond with in print without picking up the book! What a conversation piece for my coffee table [Wink] .

"Oh yes, I. M. Ornery! Marvelous writer. Have you read him? I know him, actually. Yes, yes, we've even discussed his work together. I know lots and lots of famous people, my dear .... Another Madeira, Medea ...?"

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KnightEnder
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Rich,

To be honest I don't know how to do what you ask, and I would be concerned that due to my financial sitution and failure to as yet send in any of my writings that I couldn't handle the job. Would you consider taking on that resonsibility for the group? Or is there anybody else that feels they would be right for this task?

KE

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KnightEnder
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***ATTENTION: GROUP NOTICE ***

It has been brought to my attention that some submissions might be found offensive to some members and I ask that if you think anything in your submission might be the least bit offensive to even the most prudish member, please preface your story, poetry, etc. with a warning. I don't read everything before I send it out, and I would hate to be the one that decides what might be offensive. So, I think it is best if we police ourselves on this matter. I apologize I didn't even think of this aspect, luckily someone else did.

For example I should have prefaced mine with the following warning.

ATTENTION: My story contains religious content and discussion of religion.

Simple, no?

Thanks everybody, keep up the good work.

KE

[ March 31, 2005, 02:26 PM: Message edited by: KnightEnder ]

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RickyB
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I have no problem with disclaimers. Even porn story sites have them. However, in an ideal world it would be only fair to have disclaimers attached to whoever might be offended by stuff. I put far greater stock in people who aren't offended easily :-)

Seriously, though, in adult fiction sites they have a pretty effecient system of shorthand for various motifs and subjects that people may look for or look to avoid. Perhaps we should develop one here?

Ob - obsecneties and vulgar language

GS - graphic sexual content

Rgn - discussion of religion

P.P. - highly partisan politics (stories that have a high element of political pamphletering)


Anything else?

As for publishing and such - I wouldn't mind the option but that's not what I seek in this group and would rather anyone recieving my stuff and the stuff of others here dedicate their time and energy to critique, so we can improve as writers. Still, if others want to do that kind of stuff more power to them, and I may one day be thankful for it.

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RickyB
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KL, just finished your story (well, about 85% of one, to pick a nit) last night. Sorry it took a while.

I loved what there is, but I'll beg to be excused of addressing the notes, at this point anyway. I have no doubt you shop at the finest groceries and butchers, and use only the freshest produce. Show me dinner and I'll comment on it at length. [Big Grin]

Reminded me of a story written by this woman I know, called "Loretta, Whore of the Revolution". If she ever finds the english version and allows me, I'll send it to you.

It's long, so I'll have to skim it again for mistakes and stuff. Didn't really notice any glaring ones the first time over, though. I love the fact that you use Morrison (that's the unreconstructed counter-culturenick in me). However, your choice of quotes, and your context, is sophisticated enough to enjoy without feeling it's guilty pleasure, the way you might enjoy something very dated or cheesy. Then again, I always did take JM seriously as a poet (Hell, I seriously contend the Bob Dylan is the most important English language poet of the 20th century, but the truth is that I'm not really into most poetry. I appreciate poetry the most when it's woven into proze or set to music).

Anyway, very good stuff. Very interesting thoughts. Gimme more.

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kenmeer livermaile
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"I love the fact that you use Morrison (that's the unreconstructed counter-culturenick in me). However, your choice of quotes, and your context, is sophisticated enough to enjoy without feeling it's guilty pleasure, the way you might enjoy something very dated or cheesy. Then again, I always did take JM seriously as a poet"

I was pleasantly saurprised to dicover how fine a poet Jim was, since The Doors were, in my opinion, rather pedestrian (with a few outstanding accomplishments, to be sure).

I used his quotes as brain pitons to point the way up a sheer cliff of ploit whose summit still remains out of sight.

I've got to settle down and critique yours and candian's efforts tonight. I've been having too much fun swinging on Ornery's monkey bars. Time to get serious. (sound of chimpanzee howling and smashing typewriter onto floor repeatedly...)

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Richard Dey
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Just to back off on an issue: I did not mean to suggest that OOW become either a publisher or an agent. That's a very serious step, so serious that it might be discussed [Wink] . My concern was with traffic central, i.e., at this point only KE -- who could easily get swamped.

OTOH, I suspect that I would generally oppose the idea of an on-line OOW journal. I edit 3 journals but I would never consider submitting to them. It's not immoral or anything, but it is taking advantage of one's position as independent 3rd party, judge, and jury. Journal editors get paid, one way or another.

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kenmeer livermaile
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“I slowly became aware of the camp smell”

What’s a camp smell? Oh, sleeping bag… but I don’t get any meaning from it. Anyway…

Your story is very good. I’m impressed and would be envious if long ago I hadn’t realized that some ways of looking at life were beyond me.

That said, it needs a lot of work. This is a compliment. Beethoven’s 7th (my personal fave) probably needed a lot of work. Really good things usually need a lot of work.

Methinks you have the opposite flaw of mine: your prose is so brief it cuts itself off at every other pass. Even so, it breathes big spaces: blue mountain air, angry human faces, heat, dust, windshields hot in the sun…

Whereas my prose suffocates itself from overly luxuriant foliage, yours is all bloom and stalk. So many flowers one can’t see them all – and they’re all necessary because they tell the story.

For example:

“A stew of cells. Giant, white cottony cells that eat your disease. Red retro beanbag chairs hauling oxygen till they give up the ghost. Hemoglobin and iron. Red. You could spend all day describing that red. Platelets. Their job is to keep it all in. Secret. Don't waste it! Don't spill! “

Just as I try to put too much into a sentence, you try to put too much into a paragraph. Ease it out. If you want to avoid a growing word count, which I think is wise considering the market’s preferences for shorties, then edit some imagery. Like the retro bean bag chairs. (One of the worst tropes of the piece, in my opinion, and it is a piece FULL of EXCELLENT tropes.)

“Spill enough and you're dead. “

Do you want to reveal that this is a life and death tale so soon? If you buried this sentence rather than singled it out, I think you’d provoke sufficient reader interest. But perhaps you want to commence the dread right away? Like said, some aspects of story-telling are beyond me.

“He'd been fishing. Missed lunch. I'd forgotten to make a head count. Stupid of me. Ryan, it's all right, there's still some left. No luck with the fish? Well, maybe this evening, hey?

He's upset. I see him wipe his eyes as he goes over to the pot.

Hey, Phil...

I don't want to confront him. He resents me being smarter than him.”

This is vague. It took a reread or three for me to figure out what was happening.

Other times, you abruptly switch gears, like here:

“It takes me a few moments to register. I was listening to his radio. A woman was dispatching cars. She sounded panicked. Okay.

Phil had strapped on his knife. The sheath was a deep brown leather. Nice. I guess the knife was about five inches long. He was always sharpening it. “

Without a hitch, as they say. One instantly realizes we’re ‘back at the camp’. I recommend you study the difference between this transition and the ‘vague’ one above and see how the second one works so well without openly telling you you’ve switched scenes, while the other one -- about Ryan and comfort and not wanting to make Phil feel bad – stays in the same setting but gets lost.

I bet you’ll learn something.

I noticed you have a feel for the resonance of recurrent motifs, like:

“I thought it looked like a gill. but his eyes actually glazed. Like a fish. Ryan’s eyes glazed like a fish” He’d been fishing. (Also, this clause:
“I thought maybe that only happened in books,” is perfect for the use of “maybe”. It places the teller and the reader in the same ambiguous state.)

Wherever you see a lot of single words, or 2-3 word phrases, in one paragraph or a close series of paragraphs, Kenmeer says: don’t place so many fences (periods) between these words. Give them room. Your story is, to me, the rare exception. It doesn’t need to be whittled down; it needs to be stretched out. (Even then, of course, paring is called for. Editing is surgical. Even organ transplants require the carving out of the old.)

Also, try making some room by cutting paragraphs in half, like this one:

“I don't blame him too much, he's always been the also ran. When he got back from two years abroad, his parents didn't even show up at the airport. He took a cab home. Found them having a family picnic. Oh, you were coming back today? Every failure he ever had was magnified until he felt he could do nothing right. It twisted him. He thought marriage would fix it. When it didn't, he tried being a father. Nothing filled that empty hole. The one that sucked in all the light and spilled out hate and insecurity. “

becomes

‘I don't blame him too much, he's always been the also ran. When he got back from two years abroad, his parents didn't even show up at the airport. He took a cab home. Found them having a family picnic. Oh, you were coming back today? Every failure he ever had was magnified until he felt he could do nothing right. It twisted him.’

‘He thought marriage would fix it. When it didn't, he tried being a father. Nothing filled that empty hole. The one that sucked in all the light and spilled out hate and insecurity.’

You’ve packed SO much info into so few words that, just as I tend toward run on sentences, you tend toward run on paragraphs. Feels good to take a breather after “It twisted him” before experiencing the condensed pain of his marriage, fatherhood, black soul hole.

All in all, a magnificent piece. I learned a LOT reading it. Don’t know what I learned from it, not yet, but I can feel it.

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kenmeer livermaile
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Ricky B:

I read the first installment of your novel project.

I'm not a good person for constructive criticism because I just plain don't like historical novels, with or without touches of fantasy.

That said, I could feel you getting inside the skins of your charceters and their period in time. I could also feel you thinking as you write, which shows in your sentence structure.

For example:

"Of all the abrupt mood swings that ensued, none was more profound than that of a short, handsome, bright eyed man by the name of Hordus Agrippas, who up until that moment stood in the midst of an circle of listeners, an easy smile on his face, eliciting the kind of laughter that comes not of flattery, but of true delight in wit."

is to me more of a writer's thought encapsulating how something went rather than prose that guides the reader along those events' passage. Well, THIS reader at least.

I've written a LOT of such sentences. I'm learning to break them down into their narrative components. My point here is NOT the typical 'short concise sentence' approach, for I LOVE long rich sentences. My point is that, long or short, your sentences should lead the reader's mind in a narrative sequence, not a container for the writer's thoughts. Isolatenthyeir poerative elements and relate them in natural sequence, except when entering a subject's stream-of-consciousness or, as Hollywood simplifies it, having a flashback or fade-into-dream...

Man, do I LEARN a lot talking to y'all like I think I know what I'm saying.

This is good.

g'nite,

kenmeer, who notes this thread's total absence of miscommunicating contention. Who are we to argue with another's assessment that w are not communicating to their preferences? Their preferences are theirs. We are only to learn what we can from the perspective added by their description of their preferences.

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KnightEnder
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I mailed it!

KE

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cperry
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Woooweeee! This calls for celebration!
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