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  1. Looking back on the things I wrote a year ago, it's mostly laden with melodrama. I just found this little video which demonstrates, quite effectively, what that can do to your story.



    In short, melodrama can make your story absolutely ridicolous.
  2. Just a short piece I felt inspired to write. Critique is welcome of course, but not asked for. Just putting this up here for lack of a better place to store it.

    ***

    Not every one of you can see me. Yet I feel you, and you feel me. The miracle of our age is that you have found me. And our great country’s fortune is that I have found you. I am right here, to restore that which was taken from us by force, to restore our national pride, to restore our great nation.

    “Peter put that away please,” Emilie said.

    Peter closed the book he’d been reading with a sigh. Mother wouldn’t let him do anything, it was miracle she’d even let him go the camps, although that of next Saturday had been cancelled because of the cold.

    “You shouldn’t read such hateful things,” his mother continued. She put a serving tray on the table and poured him a cup of tea from their silver teapot. “There,” she said, but he stubbornly ignored the cup. Why did she even bother? He didn’t like tea, she knew that. Resting his chin on his hands, Peter gazed out of the large window and onto the snow-covered street.

    “It’s not hateful,” he protested. “Why do you hate Germany so?”

    “Peter!” she cried, putting her hands on her hips. “I don’t hate our country, I just don’t think it’s right that you should read those books.”

    “But our Rottenführer-“

    “Forget about the Rottenführer!”

    “Just because you don’t care-“

    “But I do care!” She yanked the chair next to him backward and plumped down beside him. “Peter, please listen to me, that stuff’s not healthy for you.”

    A fire burned in his chest, smothering the desire for him to talk back to her, to tell her how wrong she was. Imagining that she’d eventually give up, he kept his lips sealed and refused to even look at his tea.

    “Fine,” his mother sighed, “if you’re going to be like this you can go to your room now and stay there.”

    He’d waited for this cue. At once he stood up, grabbed his book and dashed for the kitchen. Like a claw, his mother’s hand seized his arm. “Without your book.”

    Peter gave her a furious look, tossed the book on the table and pulled his arm free. He ran through the kitchen, ignoring the smell of lasagna from the oven. Skipping several steps, he ran upstairs, bolted into his room, smacked the door shut behind him, and belly-flopped onto the bed. Stupid mom. Now that his father was away, she was trying to keep him in the house and away from the camps. His uniform, ironed and folded, laid on his desk, the swastika sewed onto it made him feel proud again, One day, he’d be a soldier too, like his father.

    That day couldn’t arrive soon enough.
  3. Writing should be concise. The more unnecessary words are stripped away, the better. Machines don't come with extra parts, and you're unlikely to buy more food than you need. At the same time, this doesn't dictate that all sentences should be short, or that detail should be omitted. It simply means that every word should convey a message.

    I was a common (ab)user of adverbs. Everything characters did, they did quickly, consicely, repeatedly, pragmatically etc. Adverbs aren't neccessarily bad, they work when they alter the meaning of a phrase.

    Consider this:

    "Your money or your life!" I shouted.
    "Your money or your life," I said jokingly.

    The use of 'jokingly' is justified because it alters what we assume to be the case. We assume that someone is being threatened, but jokingly alters that meaning.

    Now consider this:

    He quickly spun around to face the threat immediately.
    He spun around to face the threat.

    Quickly is implied by 'spinning around'. A good better use of an adverb would've been; 'He spun around slowly' because slowly alters the implied speed of 'spinning around'. It would of course be even better to not use 'spinning around' at all if its being done slowly, rather use 'turned around' which already implies a slower speed of movement.

    'Immediately' is uneccessary. It should be assumed that all described actions are taking place immediately, unless altered by 'before' or 'after'.

    Here is another example:

    Shortly after I had ordered my drink, my coffee was pleasantly served.
    After I had ordered my coffee, it was served.
    - or -
    My coffee was served.

    If the speed at which the coffee was served is important, shortly should remain. Pleasantly is too vague in this context. Is the coffee pleasantly warm? Was the waitress pleasant? Or was the cream pleasant?

    Quickly, he sprinted through the woods, patiently stalking his prey.
    He sprinted through the woods, stalking his prey. (Quickly is implied by sprinting, patiently is (sort of) implied by stalking)

    Now bring out your red pens and butcher all the evil adverbs!