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 Writing critique and feedback 
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Post Writing critique and feedback
I have a creative writing class, and one of the steps I'm supposed to take is get feedback from readers to help me revise.


So, my next logical step? Make a thread on a gaming forum which has no relation to writing or schoolwork whatsoever, to extract opinions from the intelligent minds that reside there.



So, help a brother out, and read his four page short story.


Last edited by CrazyMLC on Wed Oct 23, 2013 12:53 am, edited 1 time in total.



Tue Oct 22, 2013 11:28 pm
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Post Re: MLC writes things.
There's a few abrupt sentences which don't seem to flow nicely together; grammatically and structure wise there is little to no errors. (Save issues you have already noted)

Quote:
I’m on the 52nd floor, but that doesn’t stop me from walking out of the front door

to the world outside from the comfort of my apartment.



Could be made to sound a little better, at least in my own opinion:
"I'm on the 52nd floor, but that doesn't stop me walking out the front door, from the comfort of my apartment to the world outside."

Again, my opinion (and my opinion isn't too valid anyhow, I literally barely passed IB English).

But, I'm sure you aren't here for the grammar part.

As far as the story goes, besides the moderately quick speed of the story, it was quite inventive and creative.
However, I'm sure this is inspired by a book or show or something, I can't remember from what though.

If you did have more space to write I would recommend more build up to the climax.
As it is the climax happens very suddenly and there is very little set-up for it. Synths are also introduced rather poorly.


Tue Oct 22, 2013 11:45 pm
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Post Re: MLC writes things.
Your sentences tend to be short and simple, and give the feeling of suddenly stopping and going, over and over again. You can join short sentences together to improve the flow, or lengthen some by adding novel descriptions and thoughts from the main character. Take some time to pause the story and talk about seemingly nonsensical (or important) items like why houses are hard to come by, give your coffee machine some more life by telling its story like where it came from or how many buttons it has, what kind of beans you're pouring, etc.


Wed Oct 23, 2013 12:01 am
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Post Re: MLC writes things.
CaveCricket48 wrote:
...lengthen some by adding novel descriptions and thoughts from the main character. Take some time to pause the story and talk about seemingly nonsensical (or important) items like why houses are hard to come by, give your coffee machine some more life by telling its story like where it came from or how many buttons it has, what kind of beans you're pouring, etc.

This. Details are priceless.

And, if you don't mind the suggestion, perhaps this thread could be converted into a general writing thread? I'd love to discuss a few ideas, maybe post a few excerpts from my book?


Wed Oct 23, 2013 12:22 am
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Post Re: MLC writes things.
Yeah, sure.

More details would be nice, but like I said I'm already at the page limit. Maybe I can get away with making it a bit longer, though. I'm pretty sure my last assignment got marked down for being too long so I'm not sure.

I wasn't really inspired by anything. It's a branch off of a story I've been thinking about for a long time. This is just one of the events that happens in the lore of the story.


Wed Oct 23, 2013 12:52 am
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Post Re: Writing critique and feedback
Remember to connect groups of descriptions within the same thought in the same sentence, using commas sparingly, and semi-colons when you start a new related thought.


Wed Oct 23, 2013 3:52 am
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Post Re: Writing critique and feedback
Look up Conjunctions.


Wed Oct 23, 2013 4:40 am
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Post Re: Writing critique and feedback
Second draft. I uploaded it differently so it's actually text and not whatever the last one was.
You can select text, right click, and add a comment if you want to point out something specific to fix.


Wed Oct 23, 2013 5:56 am
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Post Re: Writing critique and feedback
So you guys may know that I am working on a book.

Well, I have decided to nuke and pave. So here, have an excerpt. I'm paving because the quality is too bad, in my opinion. Most of it was written by Spring-Caek, not Autumn/Winter-Caek and is therefore substandard. Damn seasonal personality plays hell with my work ethic.


That is a direct copy paste from my book, and even here I can tell the quality is unacceptable. I'm gonna keep my ideas I have for that book, though. But I think I might get to work on my fantasy book series first, since it is the superior book.


Wed Oct 23, 2013 1:49 pm
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Post Re: Writing critique and feedback
Caek:
Hard to say much about the universe from that snippet but I can give you a few bits of criticism for your rewrite (wow that ended up longer than I intended it to be):
1. Check your quotation rules: different speakers, different paragraphs.
2. Check your possessive apostrophes, you've got some missing in weird places.
3. Your 2nd last paragraph is a mess. I don't know if that's cause of whatever seasonal writing issues but a bit of it is pretty unintelligible.
4. There are a few oddities with character's speaking styles; formality changes and so on. Fine tooth comb that (possibly reading out loud) to see if it actually makes sense.

The next two are based on my personal preference, take them or leave them depending on how you want the story to be written:
1. Your writing is very dialogue heavy. When you space conversations properly you'll see just how dialogue heavy it is. That's not necessarily a bad thing, though I prefer lighter dialogue, and it makes sense for the scene where it'd be a lot of back and forth. That said, I think it might be a good idea for you to try to cut out some of the dialogue.
E.g. instead of (forgive the awful spacing and such, I'm lazy):
"Captain, we've got four bogey class corvettes and a whale class gunboat approaching from starboard!" "Roger that Lieutenant Beefcake." "Captain, their weapons are powering up!" "Looks like we're in for a fight".
Try something like:
"Captain we've got incoming ships!" "Roger that Lieutenant Beefcake." Captain Kirk switched on his viewscreen; four bogey class corvettes and a whale class gunboat were approaching rapidly, their weapons powered up. "Looks like we're in for a fight, battle stations everyone."

2. There are a few areas, particularly in the beginning, where I think you're a bit overly descriptive. It's no lotr or anything but less is often more. The bit about the old cameras for example, when I read it I thought, "Why is he telling me this?" Needless to say that's not a good thing. It can be kind of compulsive to try to paint a very vivid picture of things, but that's very difficult to do well and putting a bunch of details in one place doesn't do it well (you're not really doing this much, I'm just pointing it out as an idea). So I would suggest trying to space out your descriptions of things a bit. Right now you sort of have: Chunk of description, chunk of dialogue, chunk of narration, etc. If you can intersperse your descriptions within your dialogue and narration, that'd probably help. But then again, I'm often overly descriptive when I write so I don't know if this is really the best solution for it.


Wed Oct 23, 2013 8:08 pm
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Post Re: Writing critique and feedback
Bad Boy wrote:
Caek:
Hard to say much about the universe from that snippet but I can give you a few bits of criticism for your rewrite (wow that ended up longer than I intended it to be):
1. Check your quotation rules: different speakers, different paragraphs.
2. Check your possessive apostrophes, you've got some missing in weird places.
3. Your 2nd last paragraph is a mess. I don't know if that's cause of whatever seasonal writing issues but a bit of it is pretty unintelligible.
4. There are a few oddities with character's speaking styles; formality changes and so on. Fine tooth comb that (possibly reading out loud) to see if it actually makes sense.

The next two are based on my personal preference, take them or leave them depending on how you want the story to be written:
1. Your writing is very dialogue heavy. When you space conversations properly you'll see just how dialogue heavy it is. That's not necessarily a bad thing, though I prefer lighter dialogue, and it makes sense for the scene where it'd be a lot of back and forth. That said, I think it might be a good idea for you to try to cut out some of the dialogue.
E.g. instead of (forgive the awful spacing and such, I'm lazy):
"Captain, we've got four bogey class corvettes and a whale class gunboat approaching from starboard!" "Roger that Lieutenant Beefcake." "Captain, their weapons are powering up!" "Looks like we're in for a fight".
Try something like:
"Captain we've got incoming ships!" "Roger that Lieutenant Beefcake." Captain Kirk switched on his viewscreen; four bogey class corvettes and a whale class gunboat were approaching rapidly, their weapons powered up. "Looks like we're in for a fight, battle stations everyone."

2. There are a few areas, particularly in the beginning, where I think you're a bit overly descriptive. It's no lotr or anything but less is often more. The bit about the old cameras for example, when I read it I thought, "Why is he telling me this?" Needless to say that's not a good thing. It can be kind of compulsive to try to paint a very vivid picture of things, but that's very difficult to do well and putting a bunch of details in one place doesn't do it well (you're not really doing this much, I'm just pointing it out as an idea). So I would suggest trying to space out your descriptions of things a bit. Right now you sort of have: Chunk of description, chunk of dialogue, chunk of narration, etc. If you can intersperse your descriptions within your dialogue and narration, that'd probably help. But then again, I'm often overly descriptive when I write so I don't know if this is really the best solution for it.

The main problem is it wasn't written as paragraphs, I randomly cut it up when posting it as that excerpt. You don't really have paragraphs in books because the publisher pays for paper. Reading the rest of your post now.

EDIT : Finished.

The reason I tend to put so much detail in is to flesh the universe out. The Valiant, for instance, was meant to be an obsolete ship, pulled out of mothballs for the war. Hence the old components.


Wed Oct 23, 2013 8:35 pm
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Post Re: Writing critique and feedback
caekdaemon wrote:
The reason I tend to put so much detail in is to flesh the universe out. The Valiant, for instance, was meant to be an obsolete ship, pulled out of mothballs for the war. Hence the old components.


All you're doing is explaining away problems with your superior knowledge of your story. If you're going to do that, why not just post the entire story, and all the backstory, so we can provide enlightened feedback?


I don't honestly expect you to do that, and I understand where you're coming from, having done it myself. Why should you listen to those criticizing your story? They don't know your reasons behind writing, or the backstory, as well as you do.

However, I hope you realize that that attitude is something that is holding you back.

You can write for yourself, knowing the reasons behind your writing and why you're writing that way. However, that is not what an author does.
An author writes for an audience. They write to please.

When you dismiss what a reader says because of your superior knowledge as the writer, you discredit both them and yourself, for you are no longer an author.


So who do you write for? Do you write for yourself, or others? Are you a writer, or an author?
Remember, publishers publish authors, not writers.


Instead of justifying what you've already written, it's a lot healthier to try and take in the feedback and try to apply it. The only thing that matters about your story is how it is perceived by the reader.
And, keep in mind, the more you dismiss, the less people will want to provide feedback.

A story is never perfect, but by applying the varied opinions and viewpoints you receive you can get as close as you can. It helps you get past your personal bias and grow as both a writer and an author.


Wed Oct 23, 2013 8:58 pm
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Post Re: Writing critique and feedback
Quotes: Dude, books definitely have paragraphs so I'm not sure what you mean there. The new lines only applies to conversations, i.e. back and forths. I think the rule of thumb is you never want to have two different speakers on one line but don't quote me on that cause there are probably situations where that's not the case. Either way, I've never seen "Come on Lieutenant." "Okay Captain" "Fighters incoming," said the navigations officer. That's not done and a quick glance at a few books agrees with me. It makes it a hassle to read because it's easy to confuse who's saying what. If what you're saying is your actual book wouldn't have that then I guess that's fine, though I think spacing it out properly would still be useful as it would give you a visual idea of how much dialogue there is.
Also, you don't have to close quotes for someone at the end of a sentence if you're gonna reopen them for the next one (e.g. "... it looks like a Saxon class frigate.” “Or what's left of it.” looks less odd to me as "... it looks like a Saxon class frigate. Or what's left of it.”

Detail: Fair enough, a 1-D universe is boring and too little detail will make it just that. If your universe is interesting, and I assume it is, expound on it. However, as I said, there are different ways to present detail. Tolkein, for example, dumps a bunch of details on a page. A lot of it is irrelevant or barely relevant and it makes for an irritatingly slow read. However, Ian M. Banks (to pick a scifi author) also has a lot of detail but most of it leads somewhere or keeps you reading. To be honest I'm having difficulty figuring out and putting into words exactly what my problem with your book excerpt is in this regard. Since most of the excerpt is a fight scene and thus fast-paced, I can't really say if it's an issue with the whole thing or just the way the section was written but I think it might be the latter. Something like:

He turned to the viewscreen to get an idea of the damage. The cameras were in need of maintenance so the image was fuzzy, but he could still make out a lot of missing ship bits. "Officer Lemieux, is there anything we can do about the picture?" He barked at the comms officer.
"No sir, they need some very specific parts for maintenance and they're not gonna get them 'til we get back to Baikonur Station."
"Alright, three months from now won't help us much. Well pull us closer Officer Jameson, I need to get a decent view of her."
As their ship approached the wreck Jones could make out missing engines and ♥♥♥♥...

I realise this is probably changing details you don't want changed, but I'm just trying to show a different way of approaching it; i.e. putting some of the details in dialogue instead of one big text dump. It's not very good but I haven't written much in a while and didn't really reread or edit it much cause I just wanted to give you a rough idea. Also, saying Of course the cameras were in need of maintenance seems odd to me since it doesn't seem like something the reader should know already.


Also, what MLC said, very much that and very well said MLC. It's a trap a lot of writers fall into very easily (I do it too) but it's very important to try to avoid.


Wed Oct 23, 2013 9:32 pm
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Post Re: Writing critique and feedback
CrazyMLC wrote:
All you're doing is explaining away problems with your superior knowledge of your story. If you're going to do that, why not just post the entire story, and all the backstory, so we can provide enlightened feedback?

I plan on selling this book one day, and providing spoilers to the future events in the book wouldn't be very polite if anyone wanted to buy it. Saying that the ship was obsolete was incase anyone didn't understand why the ship had obsolete parts.
CrazyMLC wrote:
I don't honestly expect you to do that, and I understand where you're coming from, having done it myself. Why should you listen to those criticizing your story? They don't know your reasons behind writing, or the backstory, as well as you do.

However, I hope you realize that that attitude is something that is holding you back.

If I didn't want criticism I wouldn't have posted that in this thread. I like criticism. It allows me to improve myself. Indeed, if you have read my post you may have realized that I am indeed quite self criticizing, too.
CrazyMLC wrote:
You can write for yourself, knowing the reasons behind your writing and why you're writing that way. However, that is not what an author does.
An author writes for an audience. They write to please.

When you dismiss what a reader says because of your superior knowledge as the writer, you discredit both them and yourself, for you are no longer an author.

What?

I never said I was writing for myself? I think you may have jumped to a conclusion there. I like writing for other people, hence my RtDs, polandball and work in progess book. Indeed, writing for others is my main driving force.
CrazyMLC wrote:
Instead of justifying what you've already written, it's a lot healthier to try and take in the feedback at face value and try to apply it.
And, keep in mind, the more you dismiss, the less people will want to provide feedback.

A story is never perfect, but by applying the varied opinions and viewpoints you receive you can get as close as you can. It helps you get past your personal bias and grow as both a writer and an author.

I'm getting rather confused at this point. You do know that I am nuking that entire book for being flawed?

I came to the same conclusion as Bad Boy, which is exactly why I am starting from scratch. Sorry, and indeed I must apologise for this, MLC, but it feels as though you just copy and pasted some generic writing advice off the internet here.

EDIT : Wow, Bad Boy, you have good timing. One moment so I can read your post please.

EDIT EDIT : Read your post.

Bad Boy wrote:
Quotes: Dude, books definitely have paragraphs so I'm not sure what you mean there. The new lines only applies to conversations, i.e. back and forths. I think the rule of thumb is you never want to have two different speakers on one line but don't quote me on that cause there are probably situations where that's not the case. Either way, I've never seen "Come on Lieutenant." "Okay Captain" "Fighters incoming," said the navigations officer. That's not done and a quick glance at a few books agrees with me. It makes it a hassle to read because it's easy to confuse who's saying what. If what you're saying is your actual book wouldn't have that then I guess that's fine, though I think spacing it out properly would still be useful as it would give you a visual idea of how much dialogue there is.

Hmmm. Looking at my copy of War of the Worlds doesn't seem to have paragraphs. But I suppose it does have them, just that it doesn't have an empty line after to properly show them. An oversight on my part, so I apologise for that. Imagine that fixed for version two of my book, if it does occur.

Also,
Quote:
Either way, I've never seen "Come on Lieutenant." "Okay Captain" "Fighters incoming," said the navigations officer.

I did it like that? Bloody hell I deserve to be shot for that travesty. I apologise for getting anyone to read that, for I have comitted an atrocity against literature. :(

I feel as though I am too incompetent to be a decent author.

Quote:
Also, you don't have to close quotes for someone at the end of a sentence if you're gonna reopen them for the next one (e.g. "... it looks like a Saxon class frigate.” “Or what's left of it.” looks less odd to me as "... it looks like a Saxon class frigate. Or what's left of it.”

Oh. I thought that would make it confusing to read since they are different speakers. But I suppose the confusion regarding that is again a mistake on my part. I must once more apologise.

Quote:
Detail: Fair enough, a 1-D universe is boring and too little detail will make it just that. If your universe is interesting, and I assume it is, expound on it. However, as I said, there are different ways to present detail. Tolkein, for example, dumps a bunch of details on a page. A lot of it is irrelevant or barely relevant and it makes for an irritatingly slow read. However, Ian M. Banks (to pick a scifi author) also has a lot of detail but most of it leads somewhere or keeps you reading. To be honest I'm having difficulty figuring out and putting into words exactly what my problem with your book excerpt is in this regard. Since most of the excerpt is a fight scene and thus fast-paced, I can't really say if it's an issue with the whole thing or just the way the section was written but I think it might be the latter. Something like:

He turned to the viewscreen to get an idea of the damage. The cameras were in need of maintenance so the image was fuzzy, but he could still make out a lot of missing ship bits. "Officer Lemieux, is there anything we can do about the picture?" He barked at the comms officer.
"No sir, they need some very specific parts for maintenance and they're not gonna get them 'til we get back to Baikonur Station."
"Alright, three months from now won't help us much. Well pull us closer Officer Jameson, I need to get a decent view of her."
As their ship approached the wreck Jones could make out missing engines and ♥♥♥♥...

It might just be the excerpt is too small, but I do plan for the details to push the plot along. If I had posted a bigger excerpt I imagine that wouldn't be a problem, but I did not want to spoil the story, so I am sorry.

Quote:
I realise this is probably changing details you don't want changed, but I'm just trying to show a different way of approaching it; i.e. putting some of the details in dialogue instead of one big text dump. It's not very good but I haven't written much in a while and didn't really reread or edit it much cause I just wanted to give you a rough idea. Also, saying Of course the cameras were in need of maintenance seems odd to me since it doesn't seem like something the reader should know already.

Ah, I get you. Now that you mention it, revealing some plot details through the dialogue, things like the state of the ship and the like could be a good way to expand the universe with detail while also allowing me to flesh out characters more. Thank you, I'll take that into account for the second version of the book, when/if I make it.


Last edited by caekdaemon on Wed Oct 23, 2013 9:51 pm, edited 1 time in total.



Wed Oct 23, 2013 9:33 pm
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Post Re: Writing critique and feedback
I haven't read your posts in their entirety, however my major point was about that one sentence I read while skimming. Consider it more of a warning towards that attitude, if you please. I am much less worried about it being a problem you face after reading the edited post above.

I will admit that my advice may have been given hastily. Posting excerpts can be risky, however, and as such I would recommend making a short summary to inform the reader of crucial details they should know about, like what you mentioned about the Valiant.


Wed Oct 23, 2013 9:41 pm
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