Started by Tapewolf, August 26, 2009, 03:43:20 AM
Quote from: Corgatha Taldorthar on September 30, 2010, 07:24:11 PMPet peeve of mine. Take these three pictures. If you went to any sort of art discussion, and said "Well, they're basically the same thing, they're all three pictures of people with bowls of fruit", you'd be laughed at. In art, form matters, and literature is no less a type of artwork, so form perhaps matters even more than actual substance. And while pinning down a "right" and "wrong" is kind of hard to do, not thinking about something, and just letting it "happen" is a bit, sloppy.
QuoteFor instance, here are 4 different descriptions of the same tavern scene.
QuoteNow, I don't meant to say that you should ignore plot, setting, or character. In fact, if you managed to write a coherent story without any of those things, I'd be impressed. But the actual "how" the means of conveying the information to what you're envisioning to the reader, is a *vital* part of writing. If you really want to get good, you shouldn't just leave it as something unplanned.
Quote from: Tapewolf on October 01, 2010, 12:32:05 PMConflating laziness with a lack of understanding or experience is also rather sloppy.
Quote from: Tapewolf on October 01, 2010, 12:32:05 PMQuoteFor instance, here are 4 different descriptions of the same tavern scene.Right. The first one feels horrible, probably because of the sheer number of commas in it. I'm not sure whether this was supposed to be a 'good' example or a 'bad' example. It seems to be told from a neutral observer viewpoint.I can't really tell the difference in terms of narrative between this and the second example, however. I think you'll have to help me out there.The third example seems to be more from Keaton's viewpoint, and the last example seems to be more from the Being's viewpoint. However it took about five readings to get this sense, and for all I know I've entirely missed the point of what you were trying to illustrate Noted, but again, stage 1. I'm not seeing the problem clearly enough to be able to fix it.
Quote from: Corgatha Taldorthar on October 01, 2010, 04:51:17 PMI've seen weird pieces of writing which try to do away with one of the elements... *snip*
Quote from: Inumo on October 02, 2010, 12:34:03 AMFWIW, I liked the story. The ending was particularly creative, as I understand it, but then again, I'm not in OSaS. Trying to think of critique, despite my amateur-ness... Looking back, I find it a bit odd that Seth hadn't learned by now that 'cubi are rarely of the same attitude as him unless it furthers their own goals (again, based on my understanding of the story and character). He is 600, after all.
QuoteAlso, AFAIK, couldn't a 'cubi tell if there was a soul inside of a sugar ball? Once more, not the best of understanding of the race, or how the sugar ball was made, but I'd think it'd be at least noticeable to someone wary of what they were eating. Nonetheless, the lampshading worked quite well; I had to think in order to find the holes, which is not something someone does regularly when reading for entertainment.
Quote from: Corgatha Taldorthar on October 01, 2010, 04:51:17 PMPoint made, and taken. I didn't mean to suggest sloppiness, more one of blindness. And I'll admit, I let my own personal set of piques get in the way. For what it's worth, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to bring any offense.
QuoteWords like "good" and "bad" are generally slippery when applied to writing. I mean, outside of personal preference in reading, what's the real standard or something meant to be read as entertainment? Personally, I think all 4 pieces are terrible, being stuff I tossed together in about 20 minutes. However, they served their real purpose, to highlight different narration styles, although somewhat clumsily, since the point wasn't intuitively obvious from them. So, overall, I'd rate them as rather poor
QuoteBut the first piece is me trying to be an omniscient and what I term "loud" narrator. He knows what Keaton is thinking, and he's certainly not narrating from the point of view of any of the characters, but he feels a need to fill our heads with details that aren't something that you'd be able to observe from direct presence, such as what Keaton's mood is, (teed off, not there to socialize, etc) or, to fill in background information, (long fruitless search for a healer), things which aren't directly in the frame of the story itself. The second one was also a non-character narrator, but he's much quieter. Generally, the information given to the reader is solely in the realm of observations about fact, with no commentary about them. Looking back, I should have contrasted the first two by putting morally annotative words, "good", "evil", "cruel", "savage" etc, on the first work and not the second, bring things out more clearly. He's still all-knowing, and giving a bit of background (Keaton's long years of experience in intimidation blah blah blah), but he's not really trying to dress the story up with terms like "terminal stupidity" and the like.
QuoteThe third one was yeah, directly narrated out of Keaton's point of view. Her thoughts are given, some of her background, but otherwise, the only information is what she sees. Sometimes used with an "I" narrative style, "I, Keaton, went to the bar", but especially on a forum, I thought that would breed confusion.
QuoteAs for the rest, I was trying to stop and utter what the bare minimum to any sort of written story would be. Generally, you need some sort of plot, some sense of action that opens and closes and brings the reader to a view that something worth reading about happened. You'll need a place and time for this plot to be contained in, and usually you need some character or group of characters to make sure that the plot moves from A to B to C. Generally, this would be considered the tripod that any piece of writing stands on, the bare minimum you absolutely *must* have. I've seen weird pieces of writing which try to do away with one of the elements, but they're usually either terrible or the sort of stuff that people only read to see "oh, look, here's a story with no characters".
QuotePermeating all of this is probably some vague notion that word choice matters. "Keaton broke the being's elbow" sends a different sort of intonation than "Keaton shattered the being's elbow." And while I think there wouldn't be much disagreement as to there being some words appropriate for some circumstances, and others for different ones, the question of "what words should I use?" is probably the single hardest one for any work of entertainment. (Also, if you have any advice, I'd like to hear it, I always think my own stuff is garbage )
QuoteFor me though, the single biggest breakthrough, was when I realized that narration style itself was a leg for the story to rest on as well, turning the tripod into a table. (This was a terrible metaphor to build on) When I set out thinking "What's going to happen, who is going to do it, and where and when will this be?" I also now really want to consider "Who is telling this, and how?" And while it won't settle all the word choice issues, I've found it really does help a tremendous deal.
QuoteThe guys who have had the misfortune of dealing with me on chats have probably heard one of my rants about how the Wheel of Time books suck with Sanderson writing them. One of my biggest beefs is that Jordan had a very period specific narration method. The books were set in a medieval/renaissance sort of world, and the entire thing is described in the sort of vocabulary you'd expect from someone living through that time. You don't see words like "suit", "lawyer", "doctor" "social class", and the like, whereas Sanderson uses them liberally, throwing a sort of modern tint onto a decidedly non-modern story.
QuoteThe next time you write something, really try to sit back and think of form, the actual method of writing you're going to be bringing to bear on the work. Maybe better, you might want to try to retake an old story, or a segment of an old story, and re-narrate it from a wildly different perspective.
QuoteHoping whatever good points I made weren't lost in the general blather,
Quote from: llearch n'n'daCorna on April 05, 2011, 05:10:23 PM... Interesting place to leave it.(damn cliffhangers)
Quote"There was nothing else, save for a third man clutching his side and fleeing."
Quote from: Corgatha Taldorthar on April 05, 2011, 07:59:12 PMPart one does a whole lot of telling, not showing. And there are odd details missing, or at least not given all at once.
QuoteTake Dai, who seems to be the protagonist here. He's a "Border collie" right from the beginning, and using a key gives him some anthropomorphism, although it's never actually said. We don't actually find out he has wings until after they catch some fish, (which is also more implied than stated, although that one I'm having a better visceral reaction to; let's face it, fishing is dull) despite the fact that unlike the headwings, his backwings should be clearly visible to even a casual observer.
QuoteOr when Enoch tells him that there's part of the reason his mother didn't come, he "looked scared". We have no way of knowing that, other than the narrator directly divulging the information. You can achieve the same effect by throwing a description that leaves a clear implication, something like "Enoch flinched at the sudden change of topic to his mother, and he recalled the time she fell ill last autumn, as his mind wandered down dark paths."
QuoteYou could do something similar to convey Dai's revulsion at his clan's history and affinity, tell some kind of horrific story, while vividly describing facial contortions, his hands clenching and unclenching as he paces around the fire, or whatever other modes of describing stress.
Quote"There was nothing else, save for a third man clutching his side and fleeing."Which there's nothing wrong with, but given that you've tended to describe characters by their anthro species, it gives the impression that the third assailant was an actual human, which I'm guessing is not what you're going for.
Quote"Listen, kid," he continued, looking at Enoch and taking a softer, more reasonable voice - in any other situation it could have been called 'amiable'.
Quote from: Corgatha Taldorthar on April 07, 2011, 01:56:29 AM*applauds* And a nice one it is too. I especially like the biblical style names for a story that is essentially a twist on the supplantation themes, that the elder dispossessed son is *grateful* that the father shows more feeling to the younger son. What made you pick the names of Enoch and Samuel? (Dai being a phoenome of baby-talk "dad" reinforces the whole theme, assuming I'm barking up the right tree).
QuoteThere are a few narrative bits that don't make a whole lot of sense to me, though. Coming in from the last story, someone throws in a stun grenade, knocks Enoch and Dai out, and then Samuel comes in and ties the two of them up, only to immediately release Enoch. The boy was unconscious at the start, so not a threat; I suppose Samuel could be waiting to evaluate whether or not it'd be safe to let his half-brother out before freeing him, but he doesn't really wait long at all before releasing his prisoner, and it begs the question as to why tie him up in the first place.
QuoteI do like to think that it's because Samuel really doesn't have the stomach to butcher his father, that he can plot and even half-execute premeditated violence, but look at how much time he spends ranting, about how he's not really the bad one here, and how much his father deserves a painful death, instead of just starting to heat up the irons and cut with the serrated blades. Is he trying to convince himself as much as anything?
QuoteHopping back to narrative form, it's interesting, there almost seems to be a dual climax to the story, once where Dai and Enoch share their thoughts to convince Samuel that the old man isn't such a bad guy, and the second encounter after the boar hunt. Now, obviously, they're connected, really almost a delayed effect of the action in the "first" climax. I can't think of anything offhand I've read like that before, and it's fascinating.
QuoteThere is, however, still a lot of narrative telling as opposed to showing. I want to apologize for being unclear earlier, I'm not talking about the heavy dialog. If you're interested, I can show you my very most recent piece, which is literally roughly a page long monologue from the narrator to a parole board. (Impromptu writing exercise, and long story. Also, it's really bad.) I'm referring more to an informational dump by the narrator, unfiltered by the characters. I think the best sentence for illustrating what I'm saying (poorly) is this one."Listen, kid," he continued, looking at Enoch and taking a softer, more reasonable voice - in any other situation it could have been called 'amiable'."Listen kid," is an actual words by a character, and the next nine words are all basic description of what Samuel is doing. He looks at Enoch, and he softens his voice. Then it becomes "More reasonable, and would be 'amiable in any other situation." Both of those are normative statements, or even a value judgment. At that point, the narrator is doing more than simply describing what's going on, he's adding a slant to what's going on.
QuoteNow, I'm going to reverse everything I said previously, a loud narrator who "tells" isn't necessarily a bad thing. I think I cited it previously, Nikolai Gogol's "Dead Souls" does an excellent job with a narrator who is informing us of whether people are kindly or mean, stupid or brilliant, and whatever other adjectives, without letting us see those characters perform actions which would lead to an establishment of those traits. It's also a brilliant work of fiction.
QuoteFurthermore, in this case, I really think the line you wrote works. It establishes Samuel as someone who is not only reasonable, but a sort of gentleness, that for all of his rage against Dai, he's not spilling it over to people connected to his father. But be careful how you use it, unless you really want to go full blown the other way, where the narrator is a carried away character in his own right, who is very, very clearly playing with the facts as given. (Which I heartily recommend you try at least once. It's a *lot* of fun to write like that, although it can be hard to follow.) It can be very jarring to read something that's kind of half and half of information given by declaration and information demonstrated through narrative.
QuoteStill, overall very nice, and I think stronger than the earlier part by a good deal. On a strictly personal preference level, it's a bit sugary for my taste, but that's a purely personal preference coming from someone who is admittedly an extremely dark writer for his own stuff.
Quote from: VAE on April 07, 2011, 01:58:36 PMMain reason for writing though... the starship equipment descriptions were hillarious. Reminds me of "you are in a maze of twisty passages ,all alike" and "you are in a maze of twisty passages , all different"
Quote from: llearch n'n'daCorna on April 07, 2011, 04:05:43 PM"Different all twisty a of in maze are you, passages little."
Quote from: Gabi on August 24, 2011, 01:23:42 PMOkay, THAT was really awkward.
Quote from: Tapewolf on August 24, 2011, 10:47:56 AMFear's ChildAll that stuff is nasty and besides, they'd be able to identify my from my DNA.
Quote from: Corgatha Taldorthar on August 24, 2011, 02:52:24 PMMinor typo.
Quote from: llearch n'n'daCorna on August 24, 2011, 05:20:49 PMBeing picky, I find the change in attitude from "no way" to "okay, boink my brains out" to be a bit sudden, but perhaps that's just that I hang out with the wrong women...
Quote from: Corgatha Taldorthar on August 24, 2011, 05:45:14 PMSome of the worldbuilding is of a concern though. Lisa is a paralegal researcher, but lives in a lawless, secluded area where she needs to keep a knife in self defense.
QuoteAnd the drawer, at least to me, is an odd place to keep a knife. You'd have to lean over, open it up, fumble, find the weapon, and then bring it out. Slow, slow. On top of the drawer might be better, or somewhere where she can have it in her hand immediately upon waking.
QuoteHowever, the biggest problem, to me, is that this seems to be in the same continuity as the project future setting, right before Daryil ascends. If we have the futuristic technological and sociological background, it just seems odd that he'd have to go through this whole rigamarole. Put an ad on Craigslist, or look into in vitro fertilization, hell, just hire a hooker and pay her to raise the kid.
QuoteIf you re-write, I might like to recommend something detailing the level of lighting. Especially from Lisa's point of view, you can create a much more ominous atmosphere if you have vague shapes seen in starlight, a voice (what does Daryil's voice sound like?) moving around the bedroom, seemingly at random, and maybe the lights turning on when you want it to take a more pleasant tone.
Quote from: Tapewolf on August 24, 2011, 05:28:47 PMQuote from: llearch n'n'daCorna on August 24, 2011, 05:20:49 PMBeing picky, I find the change in attitude from "no way" to "okay, boink my brains out" to be a bit sudden, but perhaps that's just that I hang out with the wrong women...Yes, that's my major gripe with this. Though to be fair, she has been promised a one-night-only deal to increase her lifespan about 20-fold.
Quote from: Tapewolf on August 24, 2011, 06:01:58 PMThere is something in that, though I'm not sure a hooker would provide the kind of upbringing that Daryil wants. A classified ad might have worked, though that leads into another idea I've been playing with as to why people might not want to answer it, and besides, Daryil was (mostly) in jail at that point so getting the replies would have been impractical.At the end of the day, the story grew out of the idea of Daryil's own take on the stereotypical 'Cubi seduction thing, so "Daryil places a wanted ad, gets laid" wouldn't have been quite as interesting a story to read. Or write, for that matter.
Quote from: llearch n'n'daCorna on August 25, 2011, 09:58:33 AM... From someone she has no reason to trust, and whose entire race's reputation is built on deception. And has just proved that he cannot be locked into jail. And he may well be extremely difficult to locate for the arrest in the first place.
QuoteYou can bet that, as a paralegal researcher, she keeps up on the news in her field. And his arrest, trial, etc, would make for excellent gossip-bait.
QuoteMaybe that's a story for another day. ;-]