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Story: A bit long for PX, but about a future city.

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  • #1
    Adlerian,

    It appears to have been truncated.

    There are length limits for posts. Split the story up into sections (arbitrary breaks if necessary) and repost. You can use the edit option to shorten the previous posted chunk, if you like.

    Don't worry, we won't give you any grief about the work, unless you *want* it.

    LSN

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    • #2
      Oh, another person with a thick skin -- I'm not alone. :lol:

      Let me read it a couple of times. I speed read it the first time through, but for what you ask, I need to read it 1 paragraph at a time, and check the sonic quality, diction, cadence, etc from a strictly LSNien viewpoint, which means my remarks cannot be trusted, of course. I'll look at the balance and structure, too, with similar caveats.

      Perhaps tonight or tomorrow.

      LSN

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      • #3
        Originally posted by TheAdlerian
        Thanks LSN!

        Remember, I'm a psychotherapist so keep the feedback understandable to a non-literary person.
        Remember I'm primarily a mathematician, so I don't know jack-sh*t about literature!

        LSN

        Comment


        • #4
          While you're waiting, try your hand at a villanelle in the verse challenge thread. I'm obviously still at work (here on the Pacific coast), so it'll be a few hours before I get a chance to look at things in detail.

          LSN

          Comment


          • #5
            Hey, Adlerian--I really like it. Your pacing is smooth and so is your style--a nice mix of short and longer sentences and lots of 'white space', so it doesn't look crowded. If you did want a minor suggestion, with a story of this length, put some dialogue in just a little earlier--otherwise it's fine.

            Well done! :)

            Comment


            • #6
              Do you want the comments posted here? Or should I send them to you directly? (I've got your e-mail address because I'm the moderator, and an e-mail button appears for every poster.)

              I don't mind posting discussion in public, and I'll make some general comments. Writing in the 1st person is beguilingly treacherous, because it can lead to a kind of garrulousness. I, personally, would be somewhat hesitant to use it for this reason. I think you've fallen into its traps a bit here and there: you're over-explaining.

              An interesting experiment would be to take a copy of your original story, and translate it into 3rd person. Then ask yourself if it works.

              Another general comment: exposition -- of social or historical background, for instance -- in stories like these is tricky, at best, and problematic at worst. If you, through the narrator, tell the reader about too many things instead of just showing him, the reader's eyes will start to glaze over. H.G. Wells could get away with a lot more in the way of exposition than modern fictional practice permits. The approach most writers use these days is to parcel the exposition out a little at a time, instead of in large chunks. It is helpful to remember that dialogue is itself a form of exposition. Dialogue often makes things clear enough that they require no further explanation. Assume the reader is as intelligent as you are. This may not be true, but he's got to meet you halfway, so take it for granted.

              Finally, some sort of tension or conflict central to the story should be clear or foreshadowed early in the story. A common problem with many stories is to find the right place to begin.

              I've got some very specific comments about this story, many elements of which I liked, but I'll hold off until I know how you want to receive them -- posted or via e-mail. There are two directions I think this story can go: add complexity and turn it into a novella, or pare it down to a 2500 word short. It depends on the complexity of your thesis statement for the story.

              Take any implied criticism from me with a grain of salt. People often tell me I'm extremely critical to the point of reflex, even when discussing things I think are good. Que sأ§ais-je? As I said, there are many elements in the story that I liked, and I think you've got a good idea here. Some structural sculpting would make it better, perhaps, but it's your story, so you need to decide.

              LSN

              Comment


              • #7
                Adlerian,

                I was pretty sure about what you were attempting, and I thought it was very clearly written.

                The problems I see aren't with your clarity -- which is what we try to achieve when writing reports -- but in something which (for want of a better term) I'd call "literary finesse." What you say about understanding the motivations and stresses of the protagonist bears this out for me. You can see all around the character, it's obvious. The thing is, a reader, reading a story, is not so much like a reader of a report; he's more like a detective hunting for clues. It may offend your sense of clarity, but if you show the reader the evidence in the story, and present things in a logical progression, he'll come to an understanding of the character without needing to be told. This is a challenge to one's ingenuity, to say the least: give the reader enough pieces so they can put the case together.

                The long, opening exposition is, I think, what's called a technical problem. It serves to set the stage, and it gives us some clues about the protagonist's psyche, but it seems a little like a travellogue in the process. I would like to see the material parcelled out in smaller chunks in the interstices of the action.

                I'd be inclined to start the story at the first point where the protagonist interacts with another person. The opening is basically a solo act, with the street denizens a sort of Elizabethan dumbshow. You could get away with doing this in a novel, if you used it as a change up after throwing us into the action.

                All in all, I think it's a good first cut. If you're willing to work on it, I think you can make a good story from the material. It may be more grunt-work than would appeal to you.

                There are small textual infelicities in the narration, e.g., split infinitives, that I'd like to see cleaned up, but I'm told by some people I consulted that I'm being persnickety on this issue. The basic narrative voice of the story seems fine. Occaionally varying the sentence length might make the cadence of the prose seem more surprising.

                Here's an interesting case study to try: read a short story that you admire aloud and think about how the writer makes the story go fast, slow, or pause at various points -- and why. This is the trick of rhythm and cadence.

                (Here's an example of a novel to try this on: Mr. Moorcock's The Ice Schooner.)

                I'd like to get Perdix, Doc, Carter, and Dee to weigh in on some of these issues. No one appointed me arbiter elegantiarum, so I don't consider my comments the final word. I also want to encourage you, because writing is obviously something that appeals to you as an activity, and on the basis of the evidence, your work exhibits a certain intelligence that holds out interesting possibilities.

                LSN

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                • #8
                  just as i tried to reply, the board went down! I BROKE IT!

                  Adlerian: I heard dashiell hammett speaking in your story a little bit. (maltese falcon.) i'd like to hear that a little louder, if you please.

                  i liked the story and i'm impressed that you wrote the whole thing without any "he said" "she said" dialogue.

                  there were a couple of things you used in description that at first struck me as out of place. or just felt weird. and my eyes were like 8O but then, it's good to 8O the reader now and then, so i'm not going to suggest changing it.

                  finally, i'm proud that you finished what you began and shared it with us. so many writers don't finish, and it's an inspiration to see a completed work. *as in...it lights a fire under my butt!* ;)

                  YAAAAY ADLERIAN!!

                  Comment


                  • #9
                    Indeed, there's a lot to be said on the value of finishing what you begin. There are tons of talented people whose life story is one aborted beginning after another.

                    (Sounds like an idea for a story challenge. )

                    Finish what you begin. It may not be a successful piece of work, but you learn more in the process.

                    LSN

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                    • #10
                      Anent the use of "he said" or "said [character name]" signposts in discourse, if it is clear who is speaking, they aren't necessary, it's true. If there are 2 characters speaking, it can be helpful to use these signposts at the beginning of the conversation, then dispense with them once the speaking order is established.

                      But don't make a big deal about it. The writer, writing his story, tends to notice "he saids" because he must type them. They're very nearly invisible to the reader. Use them as needed, with a reasonable degree of finesse, and they'll cause no problems, and the reader will thank you.

                      LSN

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                      • #11
                        Have you got any photos of this per recta fowl? I for one think this would be a unique piece of visual art.

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                        • #12
                          Anyway, I'm glad that you liked it. Which parts were shocking to you?
                          Not shocking in the "oh my god!" sense... just something that leaped out and made my eyebrows go up:
                          All looked like they had been plunged into some giant’s anus and twisted around for a bit.
                          Thanks for the Hammett comment, however, I hope that I don't end up like that poor guy! I have to watch my communist streak!
                          Hammett stories are on the go and never let up from first page to last, and your story felt very good this way. his narratives are brief, plain, and in-your-face to the point. Spade is calm, cool, and relentless. He's got about as much mercy as your character appears to have? 'cept Sam would stick around to for a drink after. No window diving for him, methinks.

                          on a side note, i notice some descriptions in the story that are frequently found in conversation but i wouldn't go so far as to say "cliche." your story, your voice, very good, but certain spots had my editing wires sparking here and there.

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                          • #13
                            It's AWESOME! KEEP GOING!!

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                            • #14
                              If you do a pass through the story and make changes according to your evolving notion of how the story should be told, feel free to post the updated version for further comment.

                              I don't recommend this to most people, but you do, indeed, appear to be a thick-skinned individual, so comment and criticism won't bother you. And you might manage to get something that is helpful. If the comments aren't helpful, you should always just ignore them, of course.

                              Dashiell Hammett's name has come up in this discussion. If you have never read his book of short stories called, The Continental Op, you might consider doing so, and take the stories apart while reading them. Hammett was a very tricky, understated technician in the fictional art; he independantly developed an approach similar to his contemporary, Ernest Hemingway (another terrific writer of short stories).

                              Something to examine when reading his stories is how often he starts the story in media res. Throwing the reader into the action once things are moving quickly is always a good gambit.

                              LSN

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                              • #15
                                By the way, Adlerian, several people have remarked to me via e-mail on your bravery in posting your first crack at writing a story and asking for critical comment. I would concur, but would issue a general caution to all about the ins and outs of providing critical feedback.

                                Criticism is an attempt at correction. Uncritical acceptance teaches us little in general, and nothing about our work. A critical reading should, among other things, tell us what works and what doesn't with a story. If the writer *wants* to hear this, we should be willing to tell it to him straight. Simply saying "I like" or "I dislike" a story isn't criticism -- it's a highly subjective response that communicates your emotional reaction to the story. I try hard to find the positive in work, even when I don't care for it for one crotchety reason or another. A positive comment can, of course, reassure the writer who submitted that work that you are trying to be constructive.

                                Comments about the writer himself or his idea are often not constructive. They can turn into abuse, which is, frankly, unacceptable. Everyone should remember, if we find that a submitted work is seriously flawed, don't hold back, but remember it is the work we are criticizing, not its author.

                                Just something to think about.

                                If anyone thinks (for example) that I was too rough on Adlerian, look back on what I posted, and note that I went to some pains to make it clear that I was treating him and his story with respect. I was pretty open about what I perceive to be its flaws, but Adlerian's a tough guy psychologically speaking, so I didn't worry about hurting his feelings. I suspect if he thinks anything I said was valid, he'll go back and work the story over, even if he's muttering, "I'll show that *ssh*le LSN with this one."

                                Writing for publication is a tough game. You'd better have a thick skin if you want to try it. Editing and criticism have similar requirements.

                                LSN

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