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This place needs some words...


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#1
Sy_Accursed
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So I thought I'd share the draft prologue for my current fantasy manuscript project. It's loosely based on a manuscript I wrote when I was 12 and as this is still a draft there's probably a few typos and maybe some bits that aren't quite right!

But yeah enjoy, any comments you have would be welcome too since it'd help me get a flavour of readers opinion on style and such before I'm too far in to the piece.

Oh and fyi, there is some mild swearing, though I'm sure tip.it censor will bleep it all anyways. You have been warned!


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#2
Nien
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Pretty good writing, honestly.

One thing, however, that sorta set me back while reading it was the dialogue.

For some reason, I kept being like (in my head) "people don't talk this way."
I'd try to work on getting your dialogue to sound like legitimate conversations, not just a conversation that you hear in your head (try reading it out loud, etc. maybe).

Maybe, I'm totally wrong, but that's just my two cents.

Hope that's helpful and encouraging (to press on with your writing that is).




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#3
Sy_Accursed
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I've never had issue with my dialogue before, I think perhaps it may just be a combination of factors.
One being it is a very distinct fantasy world, and in those you do kind of get to play with speech patterns a bit to give them their own quirks and accents different from anything real world, I was sort of drawing on Tudor, Edwardian, bit medieval, Victorian, period drama kind of airs and graces with a slight twist. Plus the characters in this bit that do talk, particular the two men are very abnormal speech patterns intentional, sort of sales lingo presenting an act, kind of drawing on classic double act slapstick type dialogue.

American vs English is probably a factor too since in my head the accents. dialects are drawing on old English london and northern and stuff.

Not saying it is perfect or won't be altered, just maybe inclined to think (for now) it's a misinterpretation/cultural barrier based on the fact over the course of my degree dialogue has always been given as one of my strong points in writing and so far my writing peers have not pulled up any issue with it.

I don't mean for that to sound dismissive or anything, just sound boarding some stuff that could be why it sounds wrong to you. Certainly keep it in mind in if anything else of the same nature comes up.

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#4
Tesset
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Actually, I thought the dialogue was excellent. It felt like a distinct dialect without ever being over the top and super obvious. I'm really jealous of people who can write realistic dialogue, because I can't.

I will say, however, that reading through it aloud is not a bad idea. You have a lot of issues with grammar, in particular with your use of commas/punctuation. While it's ok to bend the rules of grammar for someone who is speaking, you don't generally want to do so in your narration unless it serves a purpose.

For example:

The late autumn sun was high in the sky, pouring a clammy heat through empty branches. Sweat began to bead on his neck as he looked through his hemp bag. The deep crimson fire stones stared back at him, exactly what he had hoped.


That's just your first few sentences. It continues pretty consistently the whole way through, and it's jarring when the pace of your reading is interrupted. If you try reading it aloud, read the pauses you've written in. Don't pause unless there's a comma or period, pause a short time for a comma and a longer time for a period. It can make a huge difference in your writing.

Overall, it's pretty impressive. The imagery is nice, the dialogue is awesome, and you've obviously done a lot of work on your world building for this. Good job.

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#5
Sy_Accursed
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Yeah its a draft for a reason! lol I tend to totally fudge up commas in the initial writing cause I just get lost in the flow of the images especially when using a focalised narration such as this. But that is why you have to edit what ya write in drafts to weed these things out.

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#6
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Ok. I guess I just assumed that this was a final draft, or at least a little more polished draft, since you were putting it out to be read.

I was also pretty sure you realized, but whatever.

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#7
Crocefisso
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I think this is a good effort, but I found the writing quite clumsy and not particularly evocative. I take no issue with the dialogue, but the following sentence, already quoted, really sums up my thoughts


The deep crimson fire stones stared back at him, exactly what he had hoped.


The sentence structure here feels wrong and the whole flow of the writing to me seems dull and uninspired; it amounts to little more than a sequential telling of events, without flowing or particularly grabbing my attention. Just my opinion.



"Imagine yourself surrounded by the most horrible cripples and maniacs it is possible to conceive, and you may understand a little of my feelings with these grotesque caricatures of humanity about me."

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#8
Sy_Accursed
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I think this is a good effort, but I found the writing quite clumsy and not particularly evocative. I take no issue with the dialogue, but the following sentence, already quoted, really sums up my thoughts


The deep crimson fire stones stared back at him, exactly what he had hoped.


The sentence structure here feels wrong and the whole flow of the writing to me seems dull and uninspired; it amounts to little more than a sequential telling of events, without flowing or particularly grabbing my attention. Just my opinion.



What you mean by 'it amounts to little more than a sequential telling of events' because (ignoring complexities of flashback and non-linear timelines) does not all writing amount to a sequential telling of events? Also what makes it 'dull and uninspired'?
These just seem like very broad generic terms which don't really give me anything to actually look at in order to make potential edits.

It may just be a case of a style that does not suit your taste, but it'd certainly be helpful if you could perhaps give a clearer picture of what you find wrong with it. Especially seeing as the one sentence you did quote as example is actually just a sentence fragment in my draft as it stands, as a stand alone sentence was part of a suggestion on grammatical alterations.

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#9
Crocefisso
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Of course my feedback was going to have to be generic, because I've neither the time nor the inclination to cross-analyse every last sentence in the story. I agree with one of your earlier posts stating that dialogue is your forté, however, the rest of your prose is lacking. By saying that it is dull and merely sequential, I mean that it is lacking in any significant or noteworthy presence of the qualities that make literature more than a simple matter of recounting events in a prosaic manner. Other such examples include:

The Inn was a sprawling room dimly lit with too few candles, the council often cut the thunder-cord to try and ‘stem the flow of immorality’ in places like this. The place heaved with laughter, dark skinned serving staff weaved between the crowds of card players, towards the back of the room dealers lurked near curtained rooms their thick cloaks fastened despite the heat and to their right in a cluster of booths near the stairs scantily clad girls and boys danced for clients.


This first sentence is uninspired, grammatically lacking, and the sense of place is unsuccessfully recreated as a result of the clumsy admixture of two seemingly incongrous elements - a sparse physical description immediately and randomly followed by a more general description of what sometimes happens at the inn - followed immediately by a list-like presentation of more of the first type of description. Owing again to grammatical errors and repetetive structure, the presentation of the inn feels more like a shopping list than an evocation of a bustling setting. Three steps I would therefore advise you to take are:
1. Always employ correct grammatical structures, even in drafts, because ultimately by using grammar correctly the myriad opportunities to enrich your writing can only be built on solid grammatical foundations.
2. Vary sentence structure and present things differently each time you use them in a narrative, to prevent the reader feeling as though this are being repeated.
3. Keep focussed - do not begin to describe the setting, only to drift off to something else and then return to the setting, for example; such things are likely to befuddle and irritate, and this is perhaps the only way not to vary your writing.

As for the sentence I initally quoted being a "fragment in my draft", I find your drafting process a little odd - is it not just easier to write a draft with properly conjugated sentences? If this is part of your individual creative process, then I would either preface this information or post here only when the story is grammatically sound, which saves me time and effort crititquing an unfinished sentence.

You rightly point out that my criticisms, like all others, are based on my own value judgements. This is true, and so to aid you in deciding whether or not I am worth listening to I am going to copy out for your what I consider the best piece of writing I've ever read. Obviously, as it is an essay by a Buddhist monk, I do not expect you to include Buddhist themes in a fantasy piece. I simply feel that it demonstrates better than I can aptly explain the merits of literary structures, as opposed to simply filling a piece of writing with excessive vocabulary (a crime I am guilty of in most of my articles, for example), and how refreshing this can be. The essay also shows how these complex grammatical structures can be used without alienating the reader, as layering subordinate clauses (as Victorians often did) does. The most important features are the hysteron protoron - reversing the natural order - and the use of parallelisms, with the former being in my opinion the best way of emphasising something, without resorting to bold text or exclamation marks. Anyway, this is the desevedly renowned opening of the essay:

The flow of the river is ceaseless and its water is never the same. The bubbles that float in the pools, now vanishing, now forming, are not of long duration: so in the world are man and his dwellings. It might be imagined that the houses great and small, that vie roof against proud roof in the capital, remain unchanged from one generation to the next, but when we examine whether or not this is true, how few are the houses that were there of old. Some were burnt last year and only since rebuilt. Great houses have crumbled into hovels, and those who dwell in them have fallen no less. The city is the same, the people as numerous as ever, but of those I used to know, a bare one or two in twenty remain. They die in the morning, they are born in the evening, like foam on the water.

Whence does he come, where does he go, man that is born and dies? We know not. For whose benefit does he torment himself building house that last but a moment, for what reason is his eye delighted by them? This too we do not know. Which will be first to go, the master or his dwelling? One might just as well ask this of the dew on the morning-glory. Perhaps the dew may fall and the flower remain--remain only to be withered by the morning sun. Or the flower may fade before the dew evaporates, but even if the dew does not evaporate, it never waits until evening.

To conclude: I hope this has been helpful.


"Imagine yourself surrounded by the most horrible cripples and maniacs it is possible to conceive, and you may understand a little of my feelings with these grotesque caricatures of humanity about me."

- H.G. Wells, The Island of Doctor Moreau


#10
Sy_Accursed
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What I meant by a fragment was the bit you quoted, in the text I posted, was the last clause of a sentence after a comma. Not a complete sentence as you quoted it from someone else's suggested edit.
I had written:

Sweat began to bead on his neck as he looked through his hemp bag, the deep crimson fire stones stared back at him, exactly what he’d hoped.


I certainly did not mean I wrote random incomplete segments, certainly many of my sentences may end up being run on or slightly off prior to edits, but that is the nature of my writing process and a factor we were actively taught to do in my studies: Let the artist get the words on the page before the idea vanishes before allowing the editor to pick back through it. Then let both work work in tandem to balance the vision with the necessities. Or in other words don't let nitpicking grammar make you lose the creative flow, but do not just leave the creative flow raw as it is liable to be quite chaotic.

For the specific example I see what you are getting at though I feel some of it most definitely is stylistic preference (based on the quoted text from the essay) and some seems to be drawn from a slight misreading (not to say it may not be a writers fault that this happened) It hasn't jumped to a random sometimes happens: The inn is lit by too few candles BECAUSE the thundercord has been cut, the extra tidbit about why this occurs is just a little extra flavour since the entire purpose of the prologue is to try and formulate this world before the main story goes off on a completely different tact.

I'll have to drop this back here once it's more polished, though that is liable to be months away as I always find it gets easier to polish the edges as a piece gets nearer to completion, especially as the general tone and nuances of style kind of settle down as the story finds it footings and then can be retrospectively applied. I tend to write a chapter, give it a once over, write the next two then come back again to review.

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