Looking for something to critique/workshop

Discussion in 'The Scribe's House' started by TirelessSeven, May 28, 2018.

  1. TirelessSeven

    TirelessSeven Member

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    And no, I'm not going to ask you to return the favour.

    I do have an agenda, and that is: to improve all aspects of my writing - including editing and critique.

    Give me something I can get my teeth into. I promise all feedback will be as honest, detailed and constructive as I can make it. Can't promise I know everything (or much at all, really), but I want to. I won't just tell you I love/hate it, I mean, I may do that, but I'll also tell you why.

    Willing to look at anything, as long as it's work-in-progress. Don't give me anything if you think it's perfect already - I can't help you with that particular issue.

    Poetry, short fiction, novel chapters - I'll take it all. If all you have is fan-fic, I'll take that too. Just be aware, I will critique it as original work and (if it's not book-based fantasy) will probably miss most of the references.

    If you're willing to take the time to hone your craft, I'm happy to take the time to discuss your work and offer any help/advice I can, such as it is.
     
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  2. Tamago

    Tamago Lord-Commander of Anakin's Kingsguard

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    I'd take you up on that offer for the short story I'm writing for the TFF conquest. Haven't started it yet, but once the conquest is finished and the winner named etc, it would be nice if you could also give me some feedback :)
     
  3. TirelessSeven

    TirelessSeven Member

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    Yes please. Look forward to it. Thanks @Tamago :)
     
  4. Tamago

    Tamago Lord-Commander of Anakin's Kingsguard

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  5. TirelessSeven

    TirelessSeven Member

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    Good start. I thought the short sentences ramped-up the tension.

    I tripped over this simile. Not because it doesn't work - it does, although I had to read it twice (possibly just me). Think it's only because rage and rag look similar. If I had a suggestion, it would be: A raged man is much like a [dirty] rag, her mother used to say.
    Adding an adjective (I used dirty, but you may have a more suitable one) fixes the issue I had.
    The last sentence made me curious - nice.

    I found this passage a little difficult to follow on first read - the subject (who she is) is a little ambiguous at times. I had to come back to it after I'd read on for a while. Once I got to know the characters better, it was easy to work out.
    I think by naming Miruna first (and not Runa), you've made this difficult for yourself.

    It's not clear who's handling the flowery cup.

    I went through the paragraph and found the issue easy to address, with minimal changes. Keep in mind. This is only an example of how the ambiguity could be fixed - you may have a more suitable way of doing it.

    If you are sure you want to refer to the POV as she or her companion (I guess it does say a lot about Runa that she would refer to herself this way), that edit will be more difficult, but I'd be happy to offer an alternative if that's what you're going for.

    Hope that makes sense.

    I'll offer this, for now, anyway:

    [Runa] watched her with these thoughts in mind. [The way] she handled the flowery cup fancily, with her pinky curled up in the usual fasion. Her dress was neat; she just had her long hair trimmed. It didn’t show much difference. [Runa] would have never noticed it, [had it not] been for her mentioning the fact on an apparent whim. From their school days, only her eyes remained the same. The same clear, exasperating blue… [not that] Miruna’s eyes were kind. They sustained a certain malice that could be easily mistaken to be something else; perhaps a touch of mysteriousness or even unperturbed confidence. Which, when it came down to it, perhaps was not wrong… She was very confident in herself, if not in anything else, and she filtered the entire existence through her special glasses: she judged based on her own inclinations and experiences and, what is more, she kept in dear ridicule anything that begged to differ. Some might have wondered why they were friends. [Runa] would have answered easily: they weren’t. It was a strange bond that kept them together. And as much as she wanted to shatter it or even forget about it, she couldn’t. She did not even dare put an unmoving label on their[...]

    Also, is something missing at the end of the paragraph? If this was done on purpose (as not to put a label on their relationship), I'd suggest trailing off with an ellipsis. I actually think that runs in quite well to the following conversation.

    Again, the ambiguity issue. But I'll wait until you reply before offering further changes on that. For the reasons mentioned above.

    You convey a lot about Miruna in this scene (although you do call her Melinda at one point). Again, you capture the tension really well.

    I might stop here. Best if I get some input from you @Tamago, at this point.
     
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2018 at 5:01 AM
  6. Tamago

    Tamago Lord-Commander of Anakin's Kingsguard

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    Thank you so much!!!!

    First of all, the Melinda issue: it is a mistake on my part. I didn’t see it while proofreading -which I did a few times, in my defence. I don’t think I see it now either:D! Shall re-read.

    I happen to agree with your criticism. I’ve tried to have a bit of a confusing note at start, but the thing got out of control and I’ve noticed I do that in my writing quite often. I am probably very unsure on how to use pronouns better in connection with certain words and the such to convey who the real character was. But you see, I wanted to introduce Runa’s name later and, what is more, I found this aspect important for my story: that they were both called Miruna. That’s why I didn’t want to use Runa’s name at first and found it difficult to write the passage in a more clear way. I guess I handled it badly! There’s the fact of Romanian being my first language as well -that is, such a passage written in such a manner would be more clear in Romanian. Not that I translate things from Romanian to English. I don’t do that at all, and I certainly think my story in English and all that. However, I might fall into this trap often because of that particular reason -which is no excuse! :) Any idea of how I could do it without using Runa’s name?

    From that passage there’s a missing word, it ought to have been their relationship. I have no idea how I got it cut! :confused: I think I am a bit dyslexic, proofreading is very hard for me. I simply don’t see the mistakes and the more I go over the text, the less likely it is for me to find any typos and the such at all.


    Thank you SO much for this!
     
  7. TirelessSeven

    TirelessSeven Member

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    No, thank you.

    It's just difficult to edit/proofread your own work - sometimes we read it as it should be and not how it is. It's not a trap we can fall into when reading the work of another.

    Yeah, I did consider this but I have a few of reasons for not mentioning it:

    1: Your story is in English, and I think on an English only forum it has to be judged as such.
    2: I didn't want patronize. Your command of written-English is excellent - no buts.
    3: Having absolutely no knowledge of any language other than English, it's not possible for me to differentiate between a language issue and a writing one with certainty. I just don't have the skills/knowledge to make the distinction.

    Your comments makes sense though. The way bi/multi-lingual people have to change the way they would write to accommodate another language... it blows my mind.

    Yes, I thought this might be the case and I can see why you'd want to. Like I said, I think it can be done - it's just going to be difficult to do well. It's not that you handled it particularly badly. Yes, it's a little confusing but the real difficulty employing a technique like this is to write it without making it appear forced. I think you did that.

    Maybe...

    I'm trying to do this with as few alterations as possible. I think we're good so far.

    This line is problematic. While I think we can re-work the story so that Runa's name isn't mentioned, referring to her as her companion is just too confusing.

    I'd actually leave it out anyway. I don't think it's adding much to the story and this way Runa notices the hair without being told - even though it's not that noticable - which is more in keeping with her character and her feelings about Miruna. What do you think?

    Something about the next line bugs me. You say her eyes are exasperating, then you go on to say she wouldn't say Miruna's eyes were kind - which implies that Runa thinks her description (exasperating blue) indicates kindness. I don't think it does.

    I would either change exasperating to something else. The problem being I can't think of anything that works as well. Or - and this is the option I'd choose - change the second part of the sentence.

    I think it runs into the next line a little smoother this way too.

    The ambigutiy is an issue here again, because you're not naming Runa yet. Restructuring the next sentence seems the easiest way to fix.


    Had to make some more changes - mostly to my edits - once I put the passage back together. I think it works better now. Not naming Runa makes it a more challenging read, but that's okay. Still not 100% sure about the shift in subject (when Runa becomes she) in the last two sentences... I think it's okay. How about you?
     
  8. TirelessSeven

    TirelessSeven Member

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    Another option would be shifting to a first person narrative. It would address the ambiguity issue and it would make withholding Runa's name much easier. Just a thought.

    I watched Miruna with these thoughts in mind. She handled the flowery cup fancily, with her pinky curled up in the usual fashion. Her dress was neat; she just had her long hair trimmed. It didn’t show much difference. I would have never noticed it, had[ it not] been for her mentioning the fact on an apparent whim. From [our] school days, only her eyes remained the same. The same clear, exasperating blue… [not t0 say Miruna’s eyes are] kind. They [hold] a certain malice that [can easily be] mistaken [for] something else; perhaps a touch of mysteriousness or even unperturbed confidence. Which, when it [comes] down to it, perhaps it [isn't] wrong… She [is] very confident in herself, if not in anything else, and she filters the entire[ty of] existence through her special glasses: she judges based on her own experiences, what is more, she [keeps] in dear ridicule anything that begs to differ. Some might [wonder why we're] friends. [The answer comes easily: we're not]. [A strange bond keeps us] together. And as much as [I want] to shatter it or even forget about it, [I can't]. I do not even dare put an unmoving label on our relationship.

    Thought I'd give it a go. It's much easier to change this way. The most difficult part is making sure to use the correct tenses. Don't know if this makes it too different from (the feeling of) the original. Maybe changing the POV alters the tone too much. My main concern would be that, in the case of Runa, it might alter her voice too much; that the act of telling the story makes her sound too assertive, as oppose to third where you had written her more of a spectator. I thought the way you captured Runa's voice (in the original) was one of the real strengths of your story - I wouldn't want to mess with that.

    I think this passage works okay in first. I just don't know if this perspective will detract from the feeling/tone as the story gets closer to the ending. Having thought about it a little, I worry it might.
     
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2018 at 9:04 AM
  9. Tamago

    Tamago Lord-Commander of Anakin's Kingsguard

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    This was so detailed! I’m rather overwhelmed! :D In a good way, of course.

    I actually tried to use first person narration in the beginning, but throughout the story I was shifting to the third person unknowingly and involuntarily so I had to give that up.

    Reading your critique and suggestions, I realize I won’t be able to edit it -though I will try to make some adjustments to clarify the confusion. Hm. But it would be much more easier and less stressful to start it all over and re-write the story. But that thought in itself is scary, I must admit.

    You have no idea how useful this entire process has been for me - I’ve come to see certain shortcomings I was not very aware of and that’s highly instructive and valuable. I will just have to find some power to go over the story once more -will keep you posted. I think it would be easier to just write in the first person, it would clarify things neatly. But the question is whether I am capable of doing it or not. Runa has become a real character for me -a character that hides beneath her own cloak of shyness and loneliness. She does not want to be discovered to such a degree and I feel I can never write from her perspective now. Not anymore. Because that will give her away. And she can’t talk about herself quite so openly. That’s the feeling I get from her. Or am I being too much of a writing-nerd?

    I’ll come back with other stories, if you feel like doing this again! :) I rather have one question, but there’s hardly enough material in that direction in the present short story to make it reevant. But I am immensely interested in the quality of the dialogue in my stories. I feel I lack at that quite a lot, or I don’t know, it’s boring -sort of? But, as I said, I’ll come back.

    Let’s see if I find the will to polish this one first:eek:.
     
  10. TirelessSeven

    TirelessSeven Member

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    Wow, I found those comments super interesting. I almost wanted - no, that's not right. I did want to respond to everything you said point -by-point. Does that make me a writing nerd too? Yes, it definitely does. I won't though.

    What I would say is, I hope you decide to stick with this story (and however long it takes - post it here). Have a look at the edits again - the changes are minimal. Also (as I tried to say before), self-editing is so much harder than editing other people's work. We get so attached to our own words that it becomes almost impossible to see any problems - even simple spelling errors. Every book/story you've ever read (that's been professionally published) has gone through probably two or three edits before it's gone for a professional edit - only to be picked to pieces (by someone with little/no emotional attachment to it) and given back to the author to re-write and fix all the issues they missed.

    What I'm saying is, please consider spending the time with this. I'd be happy to keep workshopping it or discuss your issues with the writing/editing process as they arise. I'd also be happy to go through the rest of this story as we did with the first couple of passages (although I understand if that's not what you want). Just be aware, I am by no means an expert. My opinions are just that - opinions. We put a lot of ourselves into our stories and it can be damn difficult to even allow others to read them - never mind put them out there for criticism. Also remember, any shortcomings are with the text, not the writer.

    Me too. My initial instinct was that first preson would work well for this piece but when I read the passage back, I found the voice (Runa's voice) had lost something. I imagine this would only become more obvious as the story goes on. The way you wrote it made Runa feel like a passenger in a car which was hurtling toward a cliff. That feeling was what I loved most about it.

    I'd happily read/discuss anything you write in as much detail as you like. If you found this a bit much, I'd be happy to discuss this or anything else you write in more general terms as well.

    As above - I'll look at anything you post here. I thought the quality of the dialogue in this story was good. As you say, there's not a lot of it, but the real punch of the piece comes from Runa's introspection. I found the calm (not boring, no way) dialogue served the story well as a counterpoint to Runa's inner anguish. It's realistic. That's what we do every day in conversation. We don't tell the other person when we're dying inside, we smile and change the subject and go home and cry about it. I thought what you had here worked well.

    Hope all that makes sense. And thanks again.
     
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