1. ProjectAssos

    ProjectAssos New Member

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    I need advice on word choice

    Discussion in 'Short Stories' started by ProjectAssos, Oct 10, 2018.

    Hi

    A few days ago I posted a story of mine for feedback on reddit. The most prevailing thought seemed to be that I’m using some unusual, strange, jarring word combinations. Therefore I asked for some examples because I wanted to know if it was because my lack of understanding of the English language (English is not my first language) or if the problem was with something I intentionally did.

    And this is the answer I received:

    “painful reminiscence in the past of his faithful friend

    possess that dead child of his friend’s mind

    bleeding her creation

    covered with darkness and with Assos’ gaze

    Silently he squeezed it through his trembling lip

    And so on. Like, I get what you are saying in every instance, it's just a bit tortured and took me out of the story.”


    Now to my question. Why? Why is it perceived strange, jarring? Why would such a word usage be bad or, for the matter, less good then an established comparison? And why would my word usage take one out of the story? And what did he mean with tortured? I understand the meaning of the word, but cannot completely grasp the intended meaning of the phrase.


    Thanks in advance for your help, and if be needed here is also a link to the story.

    https://docs.google.com/document/d/1kzA-qnDDFkqoo0pWUcr1LOueAJJqpywNEjctwgEkzuQ/edit
     
  2. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    "tortured" in terms of writing generally means that the writing has been changed to be less intuitive, less comprehensible. For example, if I said:

    Last night, my dog refused to eat his dinner.

    that's fairly straightforward.

    If I said:

    Dinner was declined in the evening by the dog of mine.
    or
    The substance of life, in the aftermath of the sun's daily course, repudiated it was, by the creature of canines and fur.

    that's sort of tortured. You can tell what it means, but it's non-intuitive, and it's non-intuitive for no particular purpose.

    It sounds like the problematic phrases that you quote are similarly non-intuitive for no particular purpose.
     
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  3. SethLoki

    SethLoki Unemployed Autodidact Contributor

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    My self-worth, notion of it, has taken a dint. Are we not talking tortuous here rather than tortured? Tortuous seems to be my default setting when drafting. From there I try and fix (or, if I can't, self-placate and label myself quirky)—I can't write tortured can I? It seems like a demotion. Console please.

    FWIW, the original post's got a look of overthought/wrought about it rather than naturally tortuous/tortured.
     
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  4. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin Digging out my Balzac Contributor

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    Depends on whether you're deliberately being metaphorical or not.

    ...has a nice ring to it in a Toni Morrison sense. I have no idea what it's supposed to mean, but I can dig it if I have to.

    This makes sense, I suppose, depending on the antecedent of "it." I suppose I can hold out hope that it was a nipple or something equally sexual.

    Again, it depends on the vibe of the story. There's plenty of literary fiction that is loaded with phrases like this. But if you're not intentionally going for that, and this is just a normal way of expressing things, it will turn off certain readers.
     
  5. DeeDee

    DeeDee Senior Member

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    I think you're doing great, keep writing! There will always be critics. Your word combos are quite poetic :superagree:
     
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  6. ProjectAssos

    ProjectAssos New Member

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    Thank you very much for this detailed answer. It helped me to understand the problem better.
     
  7. ProjectAssos

    ProjectAssos New Member

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    Thanks for the encouraging words :)
     
  8. Lew

    Lew Member Supporter Contributor

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    I like the poetry of it, not jarring, though I would like to see the whole thing in context. Good imagery, slightly disconnected sentence to sentence, but perhaps by intent?
     
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  9. ProjectAssos

    ProjectAssos New Member

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    I did edit it some 20 times; if there was anything I didn't like I'm sure I would have changed it, so you could say that was by intent, in some way at least.

    And I will have to disappoint you. Those 6 pages are everything there is - a round up piece.
     
  10. Oscar Leigh

    Oscar Leigh Contributor Contributor

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    I do feel some of those wordings are awkward. And the sentences don't quite connect to a coherent meaning.
    Like, I would reword the first lines maybe to:
    "painful reminiscences of his faithful friend
    possess the dead child in his mind"
    If that does capture what you mean by that. Or it could be "a painful reminiscence" but just "painful reminiscence" isn't typically how you'd word that and I'm not sure if that's grammatically correct.
    I don't honestly know what "bleeding her creation" is referring to, but I feel like there's probably a clearer less unusual way to word that as well.
     
  11. badgerjelly

    badgerjelly Contributor Contributor

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    painful reminiscence in the past of his faithful friend - reminiscence is from the past. Drop the “in the past”.

    possess that dead child of his friend’s mind - not sure of the context, but reshuffling the sentence may help? If you mean take away the pain of his friend’s grief it is quite forced in this sentence. If it starts something like “I wish I could ... and carry his burden to the grave.” No idea of context so difficult to see the problem.

    bleeding her creation - no problem here

    covered with darkness and with Assos’ gaze - I’d have gone for “covered with darkness, under Assos’ gaze.”

    Silently he squeezed it through his trembling lip - this has to mean silently, yet I get the impression this might mean he actually makes a sound. If not then what on earth is he forcing out of his mouth?

    Compared to freedom I use with words when I write I don’t think you’ve got much to worry about. If 90% of people hate it and 10% ansolutely love it then keep going. If 90% hate it and 10% think it’s okay then listen to the 90% and see if you can find someone who loves your style.
     
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  12. ProjectAssos

    ProjectAssos New Member

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    I'm afraid there has been some misunderstanding. The part in quotation marks is just a group of examples taken out of my story, plus a comment of the person who read my story. They are not meant to be a cohesive entity.
     
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  13. Oscar Leigh

    Oscar Leigh Contributor Contributor

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    I still think you should reword them.
     

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