Conflicting critique, what to do?

Discussion in 'The Art of Critique' started by LemonadeLover, May 17, 2016.

  1. Oscar Leigh

    Oscar Leigh Contributor Contributor

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    It's usually good to be certain before you change and give yourself time to consider and come up with ideas, yeah.
     
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  2. Selbbin

    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

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    Snow falling by itself is too passive. This one should be your opening line: "heavy flakes were pounding against the tin walls of the barracks as the howling winds rattled its fragile frame- as though there were angry demons outside trying to force their way in."

    Aside from that, always follow the advice that makes you happy with the outcome. Never change because you have to, do it because you want to, or you'll never be satisfied.
     
  3. Cogito

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    In the end, you have the hardest job. You had to create, and must continue to do so, and you have to make the choices as to what is the better of each choice.

    Every critique is an opinion and a perception. Try to see what they saw, and what is behind it. Did they miss something? If so, is there something you could change so they don't miss it. Or did you miss something? Can you fix it without the story collapsing? Worst case is a critique that reveals the entire foundation of the story is unsound, and the only thing you can do is take the lesson and apply it to the next story.

    Even in that worst case, a critique is a valuable gift, and every lesson you can pull from it is beyond price. Even a malicious critique can contain gold, if you dig deep enough.
     
  4. LemonadeLover

    LemonadeLover Member

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    Hi everyone who's been kind enough to give their opinion. Just thought you'd like to know that I've spent many, many hours thinking of a new way of starting my novel and finally managed to do it.
     
  5. Oscar Leigh

    Oscar Leigh Contributor Contributor

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    (Sitting like a puppy, expectantly, excited) And? Where is it? Can we look?
     
  6. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    [​IMG]
     
  7. Oscar Leigh

    Oscar Leigh Contributor Contributor

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    This puppy would like more information, sir.
     
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  8. Jack Asher

    Jack Asher Wildly experimental Contributor

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    Faith confirmed.
     
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  9. LemonadeLover

    LemonadeLover Member

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    1. The puppy made me smile.
    2. The only extra information I'll give is that it starts from the smothering of one of the prisoners.
    Fingers crossed it's not too dark to be considered young adult.
     
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  10. Sack-a-Doo!

    Sack-a-Doo! Contributor Contributor

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    My suggestion would be:
    • start on your MC lying in his bunk, and then
    • mention how the rhythm of the snow hitting the window is interrupted by whatever else has come along to knock on the pane.
    But don't overplay the weather. Going by the title and the genre (I'm assuming fantasy) it doesn't look like the weather is a character, or if it is, it's mostly a background player.
     
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  11. LemonadeLover

    LemonadeLover Member

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    Nope, dystopian.
     
  12. EdFromNY

    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    Nice to see you around, too, GC.
     
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  13. Mckk

    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Nothing wrong with starting with the weather if you can do it well - the reason why it's discouraged is because it's hard to do well. The weather is, in general, boring. And it's hard to make the weather interesting, and the weather is very rarely essential to the plot or characters.

    Your issue isn't the weather. Your issue is simply that it's not well-written. Here's why I think that:

    This does not sound interesting, especially since you follow it with "as it always was". So, you used your first line to tell me that everything is ordinary and normal. Not great.

    I'm pretty sure that's a misuse of the semicolon because the first clause isn't an independent sentence. Anyway, this nightmarish snowfall is a common thing. This seems a little... strange. A common nightmarish snowfall. "Fall" does not imply power or speed or anything out of the ordinary - but a nightmarish fall... The comparison is off. It's like saying "I smacked him gently." Like, what? A nightmarish snowfall that in a later sentence you describe as being like angry demons - so I'm gonna go ahead and imagine a full blown blizzard. "Snow was falling" gives a directly contradictory image to a howling blizzard. "Snow was falling" is exactly how you would describe the type of snow from a postcard or in picture books, which you have said it is precisely not like.

    First instance of something interesting here.

    Flakes and pound simply do not go well together. Think back to my example of smacking someone gently, or shouting quietly. It's a flake. It doesn't matter that you preceded it with "great" and "heavy" - it still only makes me think of particularly large flakes of snow. Imagine a flake of snow falling on your nose. It doesn't matter how big and heavy that flake is - the word "flake" immediately implies weightlessness, fragility, something small. That the flake is the biggest amongst all other flakes doesn't make it big - just as the tallest, biggest baby is still really rather tiny.

    To put it in starker contrast, imagine this: "Specks of rain pounded on the roof."

    It just does not work.

    Anyway, your best bet here is to link Nick with the weather - his dreams were as restless as the snow pounding against the barracks, the tin walls reverberating... (or something like that)

    So, I'd say your main issue isn't the weather at all. It's a poor choice of words and comparisons.

    You're also trying a little hard with all your adjectives there. Great, heavy flakes. Tin walls. Howling winds. Fragile frame. Angry demons. Does every noun require a description? Choose words and phrases that are more powerful that you can ditch a few of these. Right now, the effect is weak because you're relying entirely on your adjectives and none whatsoever in rhythm, in the build up of images, in the lengths of your sentences. You're not building any atmosphere - you're just describing the scene without drawing the reader in to actually feel the scene.
     
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  14. Jack Asher

    Jack Asher Wildly experimental Contributor

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    Did you stop reading at post #28?
     
  15. Sack-a-Doo!

    Sack-a-Doo! Contributor Contributor

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    Are you trying to provoke me again, Asher?
     
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  16. Sack-a-Doo!

    Sack-a-Doo! Contributor Contributor

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    Okay. Same suggestions, though. :)
     
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  17. Jack Asher

    Jack Asher Wildly experimental Contributor

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    You should read post #29.
     
  18. Mckk

    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Nah, I didn't read most of the replies before I posted. My critique will hopefully serve him in the future regardless :D
     
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  19. GingerCoffee

    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    I don't always read threads through, it depends on the length and subject.
     
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  20. LemonadeLover

    LemonadeLover Member

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    Thank you, very useful critique.
    Just to let you know, I'm a girl. :supergrin:
     
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  21. doggiedude

    doggiedude Contributor Contributor

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    I don't always respond drunkenly to message threads, but when I do... It's with Dos Equis.
    Doggiedude --The most interesting drunk in the world.
     
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  22. Catrin Lewis

    Catrin Lewis Contributor Contributor Community Volunteer

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    @LemonadeLover, as far as the problem of conflicting critiques goes, I have to echo what @GingerCoffee and @Cogito said. When a good 40% of one's readers say it isn't working, one needs to pay attention: it's not like a U.S. presidential election where a 55% majority constitutes a landslide. That said, the feedback has got to be more than "Da Roolz say Don't Be Starting with Weather." There's usually a good reason why that's so, which your betas have instinctively understood. Push them and make them tell you precisely what didn't work for them.

    Now, it appears that the contributors to this thread have provided the insight your critiquers either wouldn't or couldn't supply, and you've rewritten the opening to begin the story with a stronger hook. Yay!

    But I'd say the very fact you asked the question means you had a feeling that the 40% were onto something. That's what critique is for.
     
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  23. KaTrian

    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Brandon Sanderson's Mistborn's prologue starts "Ash fell from the sky." But that's really, really important to the setting, the world, and the plot. Furthermore, there's this snippet before the prologue (prologue to a prologue?) that begins "Sometimes, I worry that I'm not the hero everyone thinks I am." So technically the book doesn't start with weather. Also, it's Brandon Sanderson.

    You might be fixated on this beginning right now, but to avoid risking needless knee-jerk rejections, you could write a "safer" beginning. Or if you want to include the weather, you could do it in some other way, like with the character's thoughts. Orhan Pamuk's Snow starts with introspection on weather: "The silence of snow, thought the man sitting just behind the bus driver."

    I wouldn't usually advocate following arbitrary rules like "never start with weather" or "never include a prologue", but I think for an unpublished writer, it might be better to play it safe at first and make sure you get the agent's/publisher's attention before you start "breaking" the rules.
     
  24. Villion_

    Villion_ New Member

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    Why can't you introduce the weather into the beginning of your novel inobtrusively so that few should understand thay you were describing weather? Why not start with some action and then make new points regarding weather come in where they hinder or help the action get on?
     

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