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Old 08-12-2009, 06:46 PM   #1
ravenlife
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Thirty - WIP - comments wanted

Hey guys,

so as mentioned in another thread I'm working on a short story/novella/novel (i really have not decided how long it will be yet). It's the first thing I have written since around 2005, so I am a little rusty (and i wasn't very good the first time around)

I'm not very far into it, and I'm sort of looking for opinions on how its coming along so far, so all comments are welcome good and bad, i wont say what its about yet, other than it will be sort of fantasy/sci-fi, there isnt really much story to go on here.

Thanks in advance

[Thirty]

Prologue

A cool summer breeze drifts across the moonlit courtyard, he crosses the wide space heading for the darkened porch, pebbles crunching under foot. He pauses before the aging door. This place is eerie, not known to him before tonight, yet it feels oddly familiar and somewhat comforting. This is not the reason he pauses, as he has become used to oddly familiar. It is because he knows somehow in his heart that she will be waiting for him. He does not pause out of fear it is because he knows that he will leave the moment his eyes meet hers, whether that is his intention or not. Glancing at the reflection in the darkened glass, that is not his own, he brushes off an almost imperceptible speck of dust from his shirt and turns the cold iron handle.

Stepping into the large open entrance hall is like plunging himself into the frozen waters of the arctic, the warm fragrant summer air replaced with a frigid and almost chemical atmosphere. His breath would be clouds of mist, but he does not breathe.
The sound of glass clinking together falls on his ears, but he has little time to wonder what it may be, for now the echoes of bare footsteps hold his attention. He follows them with his eyes through the walls above.

She steps out onto the landing above the entrance hall, her long dress stirring in the breeze caused by her motion. Her unblemished skin is a pallid moonlight white; it shines against the black silk of her attire. She is slender, tall and other-worldly beautiful, he tears his eyes away from her body and with trepidation moves his gaze towards her face. Long shimmering black hair falls over her shoulders and down the sensual curves of her clavicle, in contrast her high thin eyebrows are so fair they are almost non existent, long black lashes frame her vivid silver eyes. Her eyes which are so loving, so familiar lock onto his own, he tries to speak.

His own helpless cry wakes him...


Chapter 1


Matthew Dean Fry woke naked and shivering in a confusion of bedclothes, pulling them up over his chest he rolled over and made a futile effort to chase sleep and the fading dream. Sunlight fell on him through the thin bedroom curtains. With an exasperated sigh he flung back the covers and stumbled out of bed and towards the door. Remembering that his flat mates were home, he covered himself with a towel that lay on a pile of dirty laundry, being careful to hide the result of his dream. After cleaning up he returned to dress and headed the kitchen for a large cup of coffee. One of of his flat mates, Debbie Wood sat at the kitchen table eating unbranded corn flakes.

"Mornin' Andy, there's coffee in the thing." she said through a mouth full of blandness. Debbie had been in a couple of his classes in high school so she called him Andy. He couldn't remember who had made up the nickname but he had found it amusing, once. There had been a TV show on at the time who's handy man "Handy Andy" made pretty much everything out of MDF and one of his witty young class mates decided that as his initials matched, he would be forever known as Andy.

"Ta Deb, can I bum a fag?" he asked as he poured himself a cup of black syrup from the peculator.

She tossed a pack from the table in his general direction, it hit the wall and landed in a bowl. "Thought you'd packed in." she taunted.

"I have, just the one on a morning perks me up for the day." he lied defensively. Officially it had been 4 weeks since he stopped, unofficially it had lasted only a day but he was very low on funds and couldn't afford the damn things. He was having trouble just keeping up with his share of the rent.

"Suuure, and the ones you had yesterday don't count." she rolled her eyes at him.

Last edited by ravenlife; 08-14-2009 at 02:00 PM.
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Old 08-12-2009, 10:22 PM   #2
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Would you like me to do a quick editing job? Not as in 'this is how you SHOULD do it' but as in 'this is how I'd do it'?
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Old 08-13-2009, 04:25 AM   #3
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Hi Naomi,

That would be great, i'm looking for any tips or pointers you can give me
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Old 08-13-2009, 04:54 AM   #4
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Kewl :-) I didn't want to offend by giving you the impression I was trying to 'fix' it for you.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ravenlife View Post

Prologue

A cool summer breeze drifts across the moonlit courtyard. He crosses the wide space heading for the darkened porch, pebbles crunching underfoot, and pauses before the battered door. He has never been here before, yet the place feels uncannily familiar, a home he never had. He pauses because he knows, somehow, that she will be waiting for him. Certainty grows that he will leave the moment his eyes meet hers, though he might want to stay. He glances at the stranger's reflection in the darkened glass, brushes an almost imperceptible speck of dust from his shirt, and turns the cold iron handle.

Stepping into the large open entrance hall is like plunging into the frozen waters of the arctic, the warm fragrant summer air replaced with a frigid and almost chemical atmosphere. His breath would mist, if he breathed.

The sound of glasses clinking is heard and ignored, for the echoes of bare footsteps above hold his attention. His eyes track the noise as he waits, silently.

She steps out onto the landing above the entrance hall, her long dress swishing slowly. She is slender, tall and other-worldly beautiful, with her unblemished skin a nacreous white against the black silk of her attire. He tears his eyes away from her body and slowly moves his gaze towards her face. Long shimmering black hair falls over her shoulders and down the sensual curves of her clavicle, long black lashes frame her vivid silver eyes. Those eyes - so loving, so familiar - lock onto his own. He tries desperately to speak, to ask...

His own helpless cry wakes him.
I tried to tighten some of the description, and get rid of unnecessary explanation. The reader should be able to draw their own conclusions.

Let me know what you think?
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Old 08-13-2009, 05:46 AM   #5
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oh actually I like some of that (not all of it )

however I can see what your showing me, your's is much tighter and flows alot better (in my mind)

i will fiddle with this part after work (as I wasn't happy with it, hence my post) and try to bring a little of that discipline into my first chapter

Thanks Naomi, if you think of any other pointers feel free to let me know

i'll post up some more when I have it
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Old 08-13-2009, 07:50 AM   #6
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I'm glad it's helped!

I often have trouble explaining what I'm thinking about a piece of writing - easier to give examples. If I come up with anything else (maybe when my brain's recharged) I'll add it.
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Old 08-13-2009, 11:27 AM   #7
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My recommendation, and it is but a recommendation, is that you stay away from the present tense. The present tense is an extremely difficult horse to tame and if you are not feeling particularly skillful in your writing, trying to keep your head wrapped around what is not a naturally flowing literary device can get hard. Plus, many readers will move on from your story to something else when they see present tense.

If you are going for a short form, then staying with "he" and "she" as our characters' names will work. If you are going for longer forms, I advise going for names, since that tags the readers' to the characters right away.

This is what it would look like with just a minimal change:

Quote:
A cool summer breeze drifted across the moonlit courtyard, as a man crossed the wide space heading for the darkened porch, pebbles crunching under foot. He paused before the aging door. This place was eerie, not known to him before then, yet it felt oddly familiar and somewhat comforting. This was not the reason he paused, as he was used to oddly familiar. It was because he knew somehow in his heart that she would be waiting for him. He did not pause out of fear, but because he knew that he would leave the moment his eyes met hers, whether that was his intention or not. Glancing at the reflection in the darkened glass that was not his own, he brushed off an almost imperceptible speck of dust from his shirt and turned the cold iron handle.

Stepping into the large open entrance hall was like plunging himself into the frozen waters of the arctic, the warm fragrant summer air replaced with a frigid and almost chemical atmosphere. His breath would be clouds of mist, but he does not breathe.
The sound of glass clinking together falls on his ears, but he has little time to wonder what it may be, for now the echoes of bare footsteps hold his attention. He follows them with his eyes through the walls above.

She stepped out onto the landing above the entrance hall, her long dress stirring in the breeze caused by her motion. Her unblemished skin was a pallid moonlight white; it shone against the black silk of her attire. She was slender, tall and other-worldly beautiful, he tore his eyes away from her body and with trepidation moved his gaze towards her face. Long shimmering black hair fell over her shoulders and down the sensual curves of her clavicle, in contrast her high thin eyebrows were so fair they were almost non existent, long black lashes framed her vivid silver eyes. Her eyes which are so loving, so familiar locked onto his own, he tried to speak.

His own helpless cry awakened him...
In trying to keep that "otherworldy" feel of the present tense, I left one segment in the present just as the character made a transition from one dream stage to another. See what you think...

The premise sounds interesting, a man who dreams of a hard to reach lover, maybe... A man who seeks a lost one through "borrowing" dreams... Lots of great concepts to play with. Keep writing. It gets harder as you go, but it feels good to do it.

Last edited by pshrynk; 08-13-2009 at 11:29 AM.
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Old 08-13-2009, 01:11 PM   #8
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Thanks for the suggestion and you are right of course it is rather more difficult to write in the present tense, I noticed when I was posting this up that I had drifted in to past tense, and corrected it.

I'm glad you realised I was going for the "otherworldy/dreamy" feel by using the present tense, I wasn't sure it would work but it seems it does.

It isn't my intention to use present tense in anything other than the dream sequences, which there will be a few but nothing too long or taxing for the reader. I started the opening lines of the first chapter on my lunch break today and it is in past tense.

With regards to "he" and "she" this too was intensional for the dream sequences I wanted to keep it rather generic as the dreams are not our main charactors (or perhaps they are but he isn't himself in them ) it was my intension to introduce him on the first few lines of the 1st chapter and slowly build his charactor from there.

Quote:
The premise sounds interesting, a man who dreams of a hard to reach lover,
you were right with this one but not quite as simple

thanks again
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Old 08-13-2009, 06:28 PM   #9
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A bit late, but what the hell I'm with Pshrynk on this one, Present Tense puts me off (and that's no knock on your writing) reading. I find it hard to get into a story in the present tense, no matter who is writing the story. I always feel the opposite of what I'm supposed to feel with the present tense...I feel outside of the story, more aware of the artificiality of what's going on.
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Old 08-13-2009, 06:55 PM   #10
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Okay it appears that the present tense more annoying to the reader than i thought it would be,

I'll drop it

[edit]
I spent 10 minutes writing this post trying to explain why I thought it was a good idea, but theN deleted it as I figured I wouldn't get that chance unless the readr happened to be a member of mr

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Old 08-13-2009, 06:57 PM   #11
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Quote:
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Okay it appears that the present tense more annoying to the reader than i thought it would be,

I'll drop it
It generally works better to have only brief bursts for effect rather than long passages. I feel that it really takes away from what you're going for there.
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Old 08-13-2009, 07:01 PM   #12
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Okay it appears that the present tense more annoying to the reader than i thought it would be,

I'll drop it

No, no, no, please it's just a personal preference. If it feels right to you go with that, not what other people think. They say writing is 99% perspiration and 1% inspiration. Well I disagree, I believe it to be 96% perspiration 4% Inspiration and 6% being dreadful at maths

I'll give you the same advice I wish someone had given me 15 years ago. Read these two books: (For form) Techniques of the Selling Writer by Dwight V Swain (For inspiration) Zen in the Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury.

The most important thing though isn't style or tense or even spelling (Melville and F. Scott Fitzgerald were notoriously bad), it's passion and emotion. Have fun or be sad, just approach your work with emotion and everything else slots into place

EDIT: And if you ever feel down about your writing and you're thinking of giving up, do yourself a favour and locate a paragraph of an author you despise. Print it off, laminate it and stick it to your monitor, put it in your wallet, have a t-shirt printed with that paragraph and who wrote it. Now, whenever you feel down and about to give up, just take a look at that paragraph and repeat this mantra

If that can get published then why am I worrying?


If that can get published then why am I worrying?


If that can get published then why am I worrying?


Here's the sentence I have pasted up on my monitor and I've made it into desktop wallpaper too:

Quote:
The famous man looked at the red cup.
-Dan Brown

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Old 08-13-2009, 07:17 PM   #13
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Oh now that is most annoying, I ask for advice, you give it and then tell me to ignore you and write what I want. Sigh.

I'm kidding I love the feedback, I personally liked the use of the present tense for the dream sequences, especially once I thought on it some, however although Im writing for my own kicks I would still like someone else to like/enjoy it, if the present tense puts the reader outside of the story then it doesn't work.

I personally hate it when I find myself pulled out of a narrative due to the writers choices, so I am very greatful for the help
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Old 08-13-2009, 07:21 PM   #14
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Oh now that is most annoying, I ask for advice, you give it and then tell me to ignore you and write what I want. Sigh.

I'm kidding I love the feedback, I personally liked the use of the present tense for the dream sequences, especially once I thought on it some, however although Im writing for my own kicks I would still like someone else to like/enjoy it, if the present tense puts the reader outside of the story then it doesn't work.

I personally hate it when I find myself pulled out of a narrative due to the writers choices, so I am very greatful for the help

That's the problem with advice and writing; it's such a personal journey, you'll end up trying all kinds of tips and tricks and discarding most of them over time. And even then you'll feel wrong about half of the time. I don't know if you learned to swim in the same manner as I did, but it was just a matter of diving into the deep end and getting used to the water. Writing is often the same way, I believe, you've just got to dive in, put your work out there and see what the reaction is
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Old 08-13-2009, 08:41 PM   #15
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Just to make things worse -

I reckon stay in present tense for the dream sequences :-)

(seriously)

I read a great article recently - by a judge in a short story contest. She? was basically saying that it's not keeping to all the 'rules' that makes a piece great - it's when and how the author broke the rules.
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