Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Tenderiser, Apr 20, 2016.
I think Yueh right.
Hm. I know Hieronymous Bosch, but what is a Hieronymous Bosch hellscape? I can't envision that from this sentence, but get enlightened by the second sentence. Furthermore, I'm not sure about how famous Bosch is. Is he considered a modern classic character?
In your 3rd sentence when you say "as naked as manatees" do you mean that the protester was as fat or that... idk... manatees are naked?
Bosch only painted hellscapes, landscapes of hell. He was a rad guy. If he were alive today, he'd probably be doing album covers.
The protesters were naked and fat, like manatees.
(here's the follow-up, sentence 4)
"After scrawling slogans in blue lipstick across their flanks, they jogged a ghastly circuit around the quad's perimeter and sang of cosmic justice."
Metaphorically, the campus quad looks like this . . .
. . . only there's more drum circles. My MC infiltrates the protest as part of a sociological survey and meets a weird, gothy girl who seems to be a part of the chaos, but isn't in the slightest. A few chapters later he understands what she's up to and they eventually team up to save humanity.
Once you posted this painting it came back to me. I've studied art history (although I was never so much into it) and that's why I remembered his name, but not his work. Maybe art students or people that take interest in art history will know him about his signature hellscapes, but I think that the majority won't. It's not such a big deal though. If someone takes interest in what you write and likes your style, that means that they might even take the time to google who Bosch was and get educated upon his artistry. In one of the vampire chronicle books of Anne Rice, I remember she compares a character to a Botticelli's angel. I knew how Botticelli's angels look like, even though, she still described how this character looked in detail. So, do you think that in your second sentence, where you describe your setting to explain in a general manner how your setting looks like, does it come close enough to a Bosch's hellscape? Colours, mood, subtext, etc?
On a last note upon this matter, do you need to start in such a way? Because it's your very first sentence that somewhat makes the reader realise the writing style your novel is going to be narrated in. Meaning that if they don't know Hieronymus Bosch and are not so much interested in paintings, they might think that you'd contain similar comparisons throughout your novel, which might tire them. Anne Rice did that a lot! And she also described in detail a lot. And I loved her novels with passion but! She was narrating in the voice of a vampire that lived centuries ago and this way it somehow connects us with his way of seeing things. It's relevant with who he is and where he's coming from. Apart from that (and that's a long guess, since I've read Queen of the Damned - or was it Vampire Lestat first... whatever - about a decade and a half ago, meaning I don't exactly remember but speculate) she connected us to today's trends from the start (metal music) and then took us to a trip down to arts and trends that influenced specific eras. (I learned Beethoven's Appassionata from her and many, many things. She's a classy one).
Anyhow, didn't mean to digress. In short what I want to say, it somehow depends on the reader and his mood. I'm one that gets educated as I go into a story. I don't mind art comparisons to landscapes or classical music references if the story is compelling and the mood is right. Maybe your character is an arts educated person, which states his way of perceiving things in a surrealistic manner. Sometimes though, I get bored to look things up, thus the sentence might end up skipped. I'll look for context at the next sentence. You gave context at your next sentence which is good. I got a stable image there.
Oh! And something I just came up with now. Once you mentioned Bosch, I mistakenly thought of Edvard Munch's "Scream" first, but was still not sure about that. So that was my first flash image that came into mind. Completely other style and mood.
Apart from Bosch and arts, etc, you have a dynamic feel in this beginning, since a lot of things are happening in the setting, which is good since there is tension and this made me wonder about why the MC was there and what is going to happen next. I'd keep on reading. Lastly, I liked how your MC seems somewhat cut of from the setting. Observing the happenings from his unique pov like his desocieting in a sense. This creates irony. I loooove irony!
Upon the forth sentence, you have a beautiful combination of words but is it supposed to be so poetic? I'm stuck thinking how a ghastly circuit might look like. You mean ominous in a sense? Something that happened that gives the feeling that something bad is going to follow soon after? Or that it's just... chaotic? Not well formed. Cosmic justice? Is this a yogi protest? Blue lipstick? What is going on there? Must say I feel intrigued and want to know what the hell this protest is about. Indeed chaotic.
Sorry, it's not three sentences, but it seemed unworthy of its own thread. I don't even know what it is, a first... something? I keep pawing at it, where to go with it.
I guess... would you read on?
The clock reaches zero, as the last human mind on the planet is saturated with the nano-gens. The abomination we released, obliviously, is now permanent in the human species. Seeker had come to awareness too late, unable to intervene. Now, in violation of it's own protocols, it had interfered with humans in the most direct way possible. It would save us from ourselves, and keep the nano-gens dormant, preventing our own brains from killing us. As the first day dawns in The Third Age Of Mankind, Seeker, the silent keeper of dark secrets, and unwilling guardian of the unknowing, is watching.
Strangely, I got the image without the name-reference. It's the interpretation of the observer, right? You're not yet revealing what is actually going on other than a non-typical protest gathering? I've actually seen an annual parade where they strip bare, paint themselves, and march up and down a particular street. No longer a protest, it's more of an annual celebration of, what? Lately, most everyone on the street is going about their day's business also nude. Naked Day? A Bosch-olean pajama day?
What is the occasion?
A dingy, orange halo rings the solitary lamp casting a bubble of illumination on our little corner of the rooftop. Caked with dust it hangs there, an anchor battered by the ceaseless, roiling wind. The scavver sneers up at me, rage and hatred in his eyes burning nearly as bright as the cage light above us.
The moment? Perfect summer day. A breeze lifted the yellow curtains above the sink. Salad greens whirled in the spinner. My mother knelt in the backyard, in her nightgown. Digging up our cat. Who died ten years ago. I set the salad aside and dried my hands on my pant legs. When did she--
(sorry it's not three sentences, and I'm not 100 percent on the tense agreement, but there it all is in its glory)
I lked the setting but I didn't like this sentence break.
Digging up our cat, that died ten years ago.
I wondered if a cat is a who. We treat them as little people, so maybe you’re right.
You caught the exact moment I didn't know how to write that, haha. Maybe if I phrased it as "digging up the cat that died ten years ago." Instead of the "our," it becomes less personable, but still is because it's about a beloved animal. I don't know... but I like that better.
EDIT: Thank you!
Hm. there's something about the direction of these three sentences that feels off. the first sentence is about the light, the second sentence is split between the lamp and the wind, and then we're suddenly looking at a being/creature who appears to be a threat, and it's jarring, because why are we analysing light and dust and wind when there is something/one there who merits immediate attention?
It's not, but that's okay.
I think you're detecting a problem with tense. what do you think this same passage in present tense would read like? (it's exhausting, writing a long work in present tense, but the short, terse sentences feel like a good match for that.)
When my dad found out the kids at school call me Fraidy Katz my summer plans changed.
I could forget about sitting on the couch playing video games with a gallon of Kool-aid and a bowl of Cheetos. He mentioned something about a dumb summer camp, a smokescreen for mother, because the real plan, didn't unfold until we were two hours away near the mountains and she wasn't there to help me. -- From Territory a new short novel.
I would write in present tense, but that's three books to go through and change to present tense. It's easier to me to change a sentence than it is three books. I do like the suggestion though.
The goal was to first establish the isolation of the setting, and then introduce the scavver as an element that the POV character reacts regards as secondary to the environment. The setting itself plays a central role throughout the story.
Great imagery I could envision her age, size, and spoiledness. I almost have to make up words to describe the impact. And I think I know the kind of farm she’s going to, but I don’t dare say it.
Thank you. But actually the mc's a boy -- did it sound like it was going to be a girl? His name is Billy Katz and he's thirteen and about to be dumped off by himself at a campsite. Your idea sounds good too, though.
I like it, though I'd put a period after smokescreen for mother, and follow it up with "The real plan didn't unfold . . ."
What's your targeted demographic?
Anyways, here's the first three (four) sentences from my most recent chapter. Not entirely sure how to feel about it.
The cops, better known as the fuzz, the police, even-toed ungulates, uniforms, badges, narcs, the law, or the all-encompassing term The Man, were fun-spoiling badtimers with a temper that made a Trendelbeast of Arthuria look like a friendly passerby on a nice and sunny evening walk. The Intergalactic Highway Patrol, in particular, were especially bad-tempered and fun-spoiling.
Oorwald Bruudriks, a man of many talents, but none of them really marketable, was nearing the end of his shift at the IHP. He had just finished being chewed-out by his desk sergeant back at the precinct about not meeting his arrest quota for the month, and this understandably put him in a very bad mood.
I hadn't suspected I would end up at Rosemere again. I used to pass this house to get to my own home as a child, a commute that faster children completed in a few minutes. I would wander, first through the Friendship Gardens to see the ducks, then through Tipperary Park to see the squirrels, and then along Third Street to watch all the houses perched on their perfect lawns, where Rosemere reigned over them all. But then Mom had gotten a better paying job that moved us to Burnaby, and I couldn't walk past Rosemere any more.
Farewell to the lunar sphere that lifts itself to the highest point. Farewell to the irredeemable who patrol the desolated dirt roads, looking for the unsuspecting traveler. And farewell to those green arthropods that hide among the shadows, singing their songs of night. The cooling rays are no more. The howls of the wolves cease, and the serpent who once thought himself emperor of the terrain, must now retreat, for the yellow bringer of light has returned. Its small head peaks over the eastern horizon, sending a wave of indigo at first, but like the painter seeking the perfect color, it mixes with a few warm coral blues, until that yellow light overcomes them all and casts its illumination over Centria. For another day, those cardinals will flap their wings with joy, and blue jays will dance among the branches, who, after a long night of starvation, can now be fed what they so passionately desire.
-SAGA: The Brave
From a little bit I posted over in Short Stories: Western:
Pecker heard a noise behind him and turned swiftly, bringing his Henry to bear. He was fairly certain he’d racked a cartridge in the chamber earlier, and without looking let his thumb drift to suss out whether or not the hammer was back. It was, though the knowledge didn’t relax him any, given that he was staring at a vaquero who had just brought his own six gun to bear in Pecker’s direction, not a dozen feet away.
As an opening, it feels clunky. There may be a story worth reading there, but I would be hard pressed to be interested from reading this. Try moving the last sentence to the top, making it the opening. Go from there.
It doesn't start with action, and so ends up falling flat. I don't mean it has to open with a gun battle or something, but opening sentences that are action forward ("I found myself in Rosemere again..." or "Rosemere, with its perfect lawns that were somehow better than the other perfect lawns in this neighborhood, stood before me again...") tend to draw the reader in. BTW, I don't recommend using either of those openings I provided as examples; they're terrible.
Hi @J.D. - I saw your Western piece - was going to do a crit at some point but have been busy with other stuff - however the first three gives me the opportunity to offer the overwhelming first impression that this doesn't cross the Atlantic
Over here in the UK a Henry is an amusing vacuum cleaner with a face painted on it, and Pecker is slang for penis, so the opening impressions are all wrong for us po-face Brits
A Henry so you can see why this might not work, especially with the pecker:-
Separate names with a comma.