?

Does it read well?

Poll closed Dec 6, 2014.
  1. Yes

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  2. no

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  1. Eric Byers
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    Eric Byers Member

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    Grammar This paragraph has been killing me for weeks

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Eric Byers, Nov 29, 2014.

    making this paragraph read well with all elements provided would help tremendously.

    Demeth dressed in a black leather vest, brown tunic and heavy hide pants. He donned his blades, Kasvata and Evermore, a wavy kris blade dagger with a dragon head pommel given by his father.

    Now i truly haven't figured out why i cant make it read well to me but i am stuck.
     
  2. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Hi Eric, welcome to the forum. Why don't you try writing it, but breaking up the last run-on sentence?
     
  3. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    My first question here is why you'd let a single paragraph distract you for weeks. Why not just write past it and get back to it later? For all you know, the whole paragraph may get cut in editing.

    Looking at the paragraph, my issue is that it's all description and backstory, and nothing to do with the events of the moment. If it were mine, I'd expand it drastically to make it meaningful in the moment--or I'd cut it altogether.

    An example of expanding it drastically:

    Now, what to wear? Demeth grimaced at the thought, so like his sister's endless worrying over clothes when she received a rare invitation to tea or a dance. But all the same, he pulled out every garment in the chest--just as she would have. His appearance would matter today. He needed to look competent, experienced, with an offhand strength. He needed to look his best, without looking as if he cared about looking his best.

    He tossed the homespun shirts back in the chest--they had too much of the air of a loving mother. And the silk jerkin that he'd spent half of last summer's wages on. The jerkin communicated, he now realized, an obvious and pitiful striving for a class that he could never enter.

    That left the leather. Hide pants, well-worn and comfortable and speaking of hundreds of hours in the saddle. A brown tunic of purchased linen was still fashioned with his mother's loving stitches, but no one had to know that. And his brother's black leather vest would finish it. He looked rough and strong--he hoped--and no one had to know that he was dressed in family souvenirs.

    His father's blades were the last souvenir. He polished the dragon head pommel of the kris blade dagger and sheathed it on his left hip, then tucked the shorter dagger into his belt. And he was ready.

    He hoped.

    Edited to add an example of almost cutting it:

    Demeth pulled on his leathers, sheathed his two daggers, and hurried out of the room, letting the door slam behind him.
     
  4. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Once again @ChickenFreak 's genius for coming up with exactly the right example shows! I'm in awe...

    I think the key to her first example is she's created an emotional angle for this dressing scene. Demeth wants to look his best for what he's about to do, and he's in a bit of a flap about whatever it is.

    That's the trick, really. Channel as much as you can through the POV character. Let us know why he does what he does, how he feels about what he's seeing, what he thinks about what somebody else has just said, etc. Don't just drop out and write wads of description if you can help it.

    It's such an important trick to learn. If you master it, you can include tons of description in your story, and nobody will even notice. The description will stick in your readers' minds, but they'll be too busy chewing over your character's situation to realise how it got there.
     
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2014
  5. obsidian_cicatrix
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    obsidian_cicatrix I ink, therefore I am. Contributor

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    Excellent bit of exposition from @ChickenFreak She has as good as got me invested with those paragraphs. Not only do I now know what Demeth is wearing but the description is enriched with lots of hints as to his family situation and his position in the strata of society.

    For me, dry descriptions are a waste. They are only important as a means of allowing me to glean more about the character. Some members talk of descriptions doing 'double-duty' and Chickenfreak's passage is a great example and then some.

    One of my characters has a habit of running around barefoot. It was hardly worth mentioning. I mean, would the reader likely care if he was shod or not? Probably not, right up until his being barefoot has a tangible effect on the story. And it does.

    Sometimes it's not a matter of what, but a matter of why. I find this helps me out when a descriptive passage reads dry as a bone. Sometimes it just needs a bit of tasty flesh.
     
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2014
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  6. Eric Byers
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    Eric Byers Member

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    Thank you for the warm welcome and the very useful advise. I have by no means stopped at this paragraph, i have went on to write 6, 1,200 word chapters. I seem to keep running back through the story adding nuances and descriptions that come to mind. I could post all of chapter 1 to give a better feel for what is happening in the story, however Im a sensitive write. I wouldn't want to open myself to criticism of my writing abilities. Perhals i should though.
     
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  7. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    Honestly, if you're sensitive, I wouldn't post anything for critique anywhere. Which is going to get in the way of your development as a writer, but... you've got to protect yourself, first.

    (I'm very thick-skinned and critiques still sometimes sting. It sucks when people don't love something you've worked hard on, and chances are very good that ANYTHING you post will be disliked by SOMEONE).
     
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  8. Eric Byers
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    Eric Byers Member

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    My writing is still in its infancy, this is my 3rd attempt at this novel and its my first novel. I dont expect that i am a "great writer" im no Stephen King or Anne Mccaffery. Ive been told by my wife that she likes my writing and i enjoy doing it so I picked the old novel up once more and give it another try. I get exasperated when i cant "get it right" which ultimately leads to tossing it back in the corner. Perhaps a "break my balls" critique is exactly what i need. Who knows. (Chuckle) My reluctance persist but i have to know the answer to the oldest question. "Am i good?" I suppose this forum is as good a place as any. I need a writing friend whom i can bounce ideas off of without fear. I wonder whats the greats did in their writing infancy?
     
  9. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Well, if you can steel yourself to hear negative things, getting critique is a great way to improve. When I think of all the negative stuff people said about my writing, I find that most of it was extremely helpful. Even if I didn't agree, at least it made it obvious that certain people didn't like that aspect of my writing. And so many helpful tips came in from out there! I would say nearly everybody on this forum, at least the members who are now active, are very very constructive and kind. Don't be afraid to ask for feedback.
     
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  10. obsidian_cicatrix
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    obsidian_cicatrix I ink, therefore I am. Contributor

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    It's not easy when you are sensitive. I am too and it takes much effort to get my ideas down, so when folks are critical it can hurt. But... I've learned more from criticism than I ever have from praise. I think, if you wish your writing to be read by others, other than those who will heap praise (friends and family are far more prone to turning a blind eye rather than cause offence) it's good to gain some kind of consensus. It will actually help you to get an idea of how your work is being perceived; it's a must-do for me. Only then will you be able to figure out how you can hone your work and perhaps get a better idea of your strengths and shortcomings.

    It doesn't take long to tell the difference between those who mean well and aim to assist, and those who are in it just to be critical and who like to bandy about their own agenda. Round here the latter are few and far between. Apply what's fitting and useful and simply ignore the rest.

    It took a long time for me to cross that bridge, but once I did, I got a different overview entirely.
     
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  11. Eric Byers
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    Eric Byers Member

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    Perhaps i need to open a new thread with chapter 1 of my book and just see what is said?? Im not sure of the rules for such things. I am new, in writing and the forum it seems (chuckle)
     
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  12. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    There are requirements for new members before they can post in the workshop. Just click on "New Members Guide" at the top of this page and have a read.

    I think the requirements (in general) are 1) you need to be a member for 14 days, 2) you need to have made at least 20 posts on threads of your choice, and 3) you need to make 2 substantial critiques in the Workshop for two other people. Then you're free to post your own work for feedback. (General rule: give two Workshop critiques for every Workshop thread you start ...and this is ongoing and applies to everybody, not just new members.)

    This is an interactive forum, a give-and-take place, and these rules are there to make sure folks don't just dive in, post their stuff, get feedback and then disappear. Not fair to the rest of the membership.
     
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  13. Eric Byers
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    Eric Byers Member

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    Understandable, im going to be writing for...hopefully the rest of my life and i will remain as long as i am writing. Thank you for the summary of the rules, i will give it a read. Perhaps with the help of others I may end up a great writer, like Stephen King whom inspired me to write. His Dark Tower series and many of his other works have been one of the joys of my life.
     
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  14. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Well, I believe a huge portion of this forum memberships are fans of Stephen King and that genre of writing, so you will feel quite at home here, I'm sure. Welcome!
     
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  15. obsidian_cicatrix
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    obsidian_cicatrix I ink, therefore I am. Contributor

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    Just a wee word of advice for when you feel you are ready. Watch your word count. As many members are just dropping by in between writing sessions of their own, it's good not to go too heavy on the word count. A small sample, with a bit of narrative, dialogue etc. will draw more attention than a humungous excerpt. ;)
     
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  16. Eric Byers
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    Eric Byers Member

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    Thank you, my genre is fantasy fiction as well. My main Character Demeth (a fantastic swords man) reminds me of the gunslinger though he is much younger and has no gun. I look forward to being a part of the community though looking through the forum can be a bit daunting as i am on a smartphone. They should make a mobile version of the forum.
     
  17. Eric Byers
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    Eric Byers Member

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    I am trying to stick to 1,000-1,200 words a chapter. Not sure if that is massive or miniscule in all honesty, he grinned
     
  18. obsidian_cicatrix
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    obsidian_cicatrix I ink, therefore I am. Contributor

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    That sounds a little short compared to my chapters but then I'm incredibly long-winded, even in person. That would make for a decent excerpt, I think. Just enough to sink the ol' gnashers into. ;)
     
  19. Eric Byers
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    Eric Byers Member

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    Chapter's 1-4 are around 1,000-1,200 chapter 6 (where alot is revealed and my characters meet. Then begin their long quest, looks to be more in the 2,000-2,500 words though i haven't finished that chapter. My inspiration waned and ive gone back to chapters 1-4 for review and "fleshing" (if the term could be so used)
     
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  20. obsidian_cicatrix
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    obsidian_cicatrix I ink, therefore I am. Contributor

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    Well, you'll find no end of inspiration right here. :D
     
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  21. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I would recommend that you post something other than a chapter of a work that you actually hope to publish--I would suggest writing a little "throwaway" short story or vignette instead.

    This is partly because you don't want to damage your copyright, but mostly because you're likely to be more sensitive about the novel. Put your best effort into the short piece, but write it with the expectation that it could be torn to pieces. Issues with your writing will be detectable in the short piece, and the discussion of them is likely to be less hurtful in that context.
     
  22. Eric Byers
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    Eric Byers Member

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    Good advise, I do not have the "copyright" to my novel. It is still in its infancy and I dont even know how to go about getting a 'copyright' or how to get published. I never expect that my writings will be published or sold. Truth be told I just dont know if my work is good enough for all that. This is my first novel, I started it about 2 weeks ago. I do appreciate you're advice and relish the though of publication. Although I dont think that ill ever be published.
     
  23. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Your work is copyrighted the moment you write it. There are extra advantages to formally filing for copyright, but the copyright exists as soon as you write. And you can damage your rights even before you formally file for copyright--by, among other things, posting too much of your novel to the Internet. If you do that, then that part of the novel is considered "published", and potential publishers don't like that.

    I understand that the whole novel may be a practice piece, but if you feel any sort of fond investment in it, I would suggest writing that little "sacrificial" vignette, one that you're less invested in. For me, posting a newly written piece lets me engage in a little ego-saving self-deception--I can tell myself, when presented with some obvious flaw, "Oh, well, I would have seen that myself eventually." As long as that self-deception doesn't keep me from learning from the mistake, I think it's OK. :)
     
  24. Eric Byers
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    Eric Byers Member

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    Thats clever, I will take what you have said into consideration. I will keep the rest of my novel to myself and only divulge an altered version of chapter one. Ill have to work on that, thank you for the advice
     
  25. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    If you don't want to invest a lot of time and meaning to Demeth's attire, you can just mention them "offhandedly", like in your example. It's ok to breeze over some details, as long as your entire manuscript isn't a list of he did this and that, he wore this and that. If you want to read an example of what I mean by that, check out Michael Z. Williamson's Freehold (just download a sample to your smartphone Kindle).

    Kasvata is the imperative for to grow in my native tongue, by the way. Like, "Go grow some weeds!" :D
     
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