The Discussion

Many of you who visit sfsite are writers or want to be writers. This forum is to share tips about open markets, links to stories you would like critiqued, and any other posts on the subject of writing and selling science fiction.

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The Discussion

Postby YankeeD » Wed Sep 28, 2005 2:43 pm

Hi there...

Here's a story I'm thinking about publishing. I saw that you had this forum and figured I'd see what you all had to say about my story. It's nice that my friends like it, but I'd like some other opinions.

Anyway, here's the link:
http://www.yankeedyke.net/?p=533
Thanks in advance!
I need my conscience to watch over me
to save me from myself...
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White on black

Postby hegemon » Fri Sep 30, 2005 7:19 am

White on black is not a good idea. On a web page, readability should come first, and not all screens will have good contrast.

Now, about the story.

The big problem is that the idea is not new. A few specific comments. The entire impact of the story depends on getting the reader inside the head of the POV character. But you begin "The room was dark." and later "My eyes opened..." That makes the first sentence come from an external POV. Begin by imagining yourself in bed, half asleep. What does it feel like. Make the reader feel that. Then, "I opened my eyes. The room was dark."

>“Go ahead, scream. Then you’ll die a whole lot faster.” It was a harsh whisper and a clicking sound.

>I closed my mouth.

Think about it. After hearing that, are you going to be focused on your mouth? Also, the dialog doesn't ring true. Say it out loud a few times, and you'll stumble over the "then".

You get the idea. You need to put yourself in the head of your character, and find the telling detail that will put the reader inside the character. (Maybe something like, "My mouth was dry. I couldn't swallow. I felt I was choaking."

Good luck.
This is the race that will rule the sevagram!
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Re: White on black

Postby YankeeD » Fri Sep 30, 2005 2:12 pm

hegemon wrote:White on black is not a good idea. On a web page, readability should come first, and not all screens will have good contrast.


I don't know. I've been to a lot of business websites where they have white on black and they seem to do ok. *shrug*

Now, about the story.

The big problem is that the idea is not new.


I'm not being defensive when I say this, but what story is really "new"?

A few specific comments. The entire impact of the story depends on getting the reader inside the head of the POV character. But you begin "The room was dark." and later "My eyes opened..." That makes the first sentence come from an external POV. Begin by imagining yourself in bed, half asleep. What does it feel like. Make the reader feel that. Then, "I opened my eyes. The room was dark."


Hmmm...maybe I should write it in thrid person then, since the way I see the stories in my head are like movies, and I'm not really "seeing" inside their head.

>“Go ahead, scream. Then you’ll die a whole lot faster.” It was a harsh whisper and a clicking sound.

>I closed my mouth.

Think about it. After hearing that, are you going to be focused on your mouth? Also, the dialog doesn't ring true. Say it out loud a few times, and you'll stumble over the "then".

You get the idea. You need to put yourself in the head of your character, and find the telling detail that will put the reader inside the character. (Maybe something like, "My mouth was dry. I couldn't swallow. I felt I was choaking."

Good luck.


Like I said, maybe I should switch it to third person. I'll think over your suggestions...thanks...
I need my conscience to watch over me
to save me from myself...
YankeeD
 
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Joined: Wed Sep 28, 2005 2:39 pm
Location: SF Bay Area

comment

Postby admin » Sun Oct 02, 2005 9:27 am

A story must feel fresh to the reader or they will not read it.

I read your story, and the ending requires a subjective point of view.

If you are serious about being a writer, you need to be serious about getting inside the heads of your characters.
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Re: comment

Postby Guest » Sun Oct 02, 2005 1:35 pm

admin wrote:I read your story, and the ending requires a subjective point of view.


I'm not sure I understand what you mean by this. Could you please explain?
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spoiler warning

Postby admin » Wed Oct 05, 2005 12:08 pm

At the end of your story, the reader discovers that the character is being confronted by herself. This is a subjective discovery, and objective pov would say that at the beginning.
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Re: spoiler warning

Postby YankeeD » Wed Oct 05, 2005 12:37 pm

admin wrote:At the end of your story, the reader discovers that the character is being confronted by herself. This is a subjective discovery, and objective pov would say that at the beginning.


I guess I'm not understanding what you are trying to point out to me, because my whole point of the story was that my main character doesn't know who it is until the lights come on. It would seem kind of pointless to state it at the beginning.

I think maybe I see it different because I wrote it. I see it as it being insider her head already. The characters being two parts of herself that haven't confronted each other until now. What do you think I should do to make that more clear? :?:

(PS: And I'm respectfully disagreeing with you about the "serious writer" comment. I've read plenty of stories, including ones in F&SF, where there wasn't much going into the character's head, as it was about the situation at hand. Even in Lord of the Rings, there's not a whole lot about what people are thinking, but more about what they are doing. But I suppose that's an argument for another thread, eh? :D )
I need my conscience to watch over me
to save me from myself...
YankeeD
 
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Joined: Wed Sep 28, 2005 2:39 pm
Location: SF Bay Area

Postby Sherry » Wed Oct 05, 2005 4:51 pm

1. If you're aiming for a surprise ending I advise against it.
2. If you practice writing details: temperature, lighting, smells, tastes,
textures, distant sounds, etc. you'll improve tension. Don't try to cram
all of these into a short space - pick one and get very close to it
before picking another and using it too. Each detail aids in
another memory for your character.
3. You need more story and less dialogue.

Just one more opinion.

Good luck.
Alfred Hitchcock's Mys. Mag., Black Gate, Book of Dark Wisdom, Cemetery Dance, "Hook House & Other Horrors" Silver Lake Publishers, Editor/Pub. Indigenous Fiction
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Re: White on black

Postby admin » Sat Oct 08, 2005 7:13 am

Like I said, maybe I should switch it to third person. I'll think over your suggestions...thanks...


My comment was in response to this statement of yours. I was explaining why the story wouldn't work in the third person. You seem to agree.

Even if you are writing a pure adventure story, you need to get inside your character's head. The reader may only see what the character does, but you need to understand the character. The Conan stories by Robert E. Howard are a great example. Even when Conan was whacking monsters with his broadsword, Howard knew exactly how Conan felt, and so the reader felt that too.
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Subjective view

Postby Kahnie » Fri Dec 16, 2005 10:08 am

Subjective view means a personal point of view. The character is using her own thoughts, etc. to react to what's happening arounhd her.

Objective point of view usually comes from an outside observer, like the writer, being omniscient and describing what is happening from a kind of overview. It wouldn't get inside any of the character's heads or describe their thoughts.

I found a great exerrsize in knowing your character in one of my Writer's Digest books. It asked a long series of questions about your main character, something like this: When and where was she born? What does she do for a livng? What is her favorite color? Who does she like/dislike? What does she remember about her childhood? If she had to make a decision about ----(fill in a word) how would she decide? And so on and on, even asking whether the character had any allergies or phobias! By the ttime you finished it, you would know that person inside out.

Hope this helps.
Kahnie
 


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