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Nickolas James

Critisism badly needed

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Your sunset description is 'over the top' and also too scientific at the same time. You would be better off saying 'sun' rather than 'main source of energy and sustenance for our entire planet.' You also say it is incredible to man and woman, then you go on to say only if one is a dreamer.

The child of 2 or 3 or 4 is too vague, and yet you have this same child with intimate knowledge of not only a route driven, but the names of the streets. Very unlikely, unless dad maybe named each street each time he drove anywhere? The song playing being remembered is a bit more plausible, but the band that played it? Again, a bit of a push for me.

In the next paragraph you state the answer, before the implied question as to how you could remember nuances. Link them, or at least have them in the right order.

You seem to making a lot of annecdotes of nothing, and there seems no point to the story. It's just pieces of moderately interesting descriptions.

You reference the imagination of the PEP Boys mechanic, for no discernible reason.

The sentence starting "A couple of days," is awkward, and indeed, doesn't actually convey what I think your point is.

Why do you keep refering to Pep Boys, espcecially irritating when you say you can't remember what you did there with your dad. Why even mention them then?

You state your dad was still part of your life after he was gone, but say you moved away to another town. That seems contradictory.

I think overall you need to look at getting a story line or plot involved. Then some coherence in the way you put down the memories, rather than just flinging them down as they come to mind. Sure, if you suddenly have one, note it down, but scroll over the correct part of the story first.

I hate it when I sound brutal like this, but I would hate to be the editor of this story.

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I think Trab has covered all the points I wanted to raise.

Narration has its point, but it can easily just waffle without taking the reader with it. I found the little snippets interesting, but unless there is a story that starts soon and grabs me, I would have to struggle to keep reading a story that continued along these lines.

Maybe you need to mix up the sequence. Get the goal up front, maybe with some of the future complexities that will get the reader hooked, and then start bringing in the back story. This is only a suggestion, since I don't know where the story is heading.

Memories of toddlers can be a tricky thing. We don't know the age of the narrator at the time of narration, but unless they are an early teenager, I would struggle to believe their recollection of their very early life would be that precise. Hey, I would struggle to believe the memories of my two boys would be that precise, and they're only six and eight! Trying to remember details of when they are three is unlikely -- especially as their understanding at that age is very uncertain.

Good luck with the story!

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I'm not entirely in agreement with Trab's assessment, though I do understand his concerns.

Firstly, the piece needs to be formatted with line spacing between paragraphs. This would make it a lot easier to read, also more interesting. It would also assist you to see where construction and development is needed.

To my mind the writing is more the beginning ideas of a rather interesting approach to a story yet to unfold.

It strikes me this is both a prologue and a introduction that needs to be separated and paradoxically connected, but connected to the plot.

I do not have a problem with a lyrical, poetic description of the sun, provided by story's end that description somehow becomes related to the story, either as a constant recurring theme, or as a reason for the plot itself. In that way you can be as poetic, as lyrical as you want. Be warned, that is not easy even if there are many examples in literature that make it seem so. (Sometimes too, the first words we write are only descriptive of what we want to write, so go back and reconstruct the opening with different words just as an exercise. Seek new words to replace the current ones.)

You are left with a difficult task of making the sun not just an introduction to your story, but the backdrop for the seduction of your reader so you can tell your story. That is already occurring in a couple of places.

See Lillian Hellman's book or the film (1977, careful, there are a few films of this title, look for Jane Fonda's) of "Julia", in which she defines her reminiscences and then concludes, "I wanted to see what was there for me then, what is there for me now."

I do not mean you should copy that style, but to understand the construction techniques involved that you seem to be using.

This style allows you to remember what you could not possibly remember as a child, but at the same time makes it relevant to today because we as readers now know you are filling in the gaps as an adult.

Trab is right about the editor having a lot of work to do

You have a quite a lot of detail of rooms and things that are actually not needed yet in the story. Even so you could guide us through that world if you wanted to, as part of your introduction, but it might be better to hold off on specific detail. You need only to establish your connection with the house, not provide a detailed floor plan. Those descriptions can happen later if needed. Same things applies to the music references. What is a PEP? I guess I just revealed my age. :w00t:

I would suggest for you to go through what you have written and remove the unneeded details, such as the room layout. Before you do that however, I think it would be wiser to write a short summation of your plot for yourself, for your eyes only. If you do this try to keep it to less than three short sentences, followed by another short description of no more than a hundred words.

If you are writing a developing story without an overall plot in mind then you will need to just have an outline of where you are headed, a point to aim for.

I think there is something in your writing, but as Dashiell Hammett told Lillian Hellman, "I think you can do better."

Also I think what you have done so far tells me it will be very worthwhile.

As always of course we as critics may be way off target with our remarks, only you can tell if that is so.

I hope I have been of at least, some assistance.

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Your sunset description is 'over the top' and also too scientific at the same time. You would be better off saying 'sun' rather than 'main source of energy and sustenance for our entire planet.' You also say it is incredible to man and woman, then you go on to say only if one is a dreamer.

The child of 2 or 3 or 4 is too vague, and yet you have this same child with intimate knowledge of not only a route driven, but the names of the streets. Very unlikely, unless dad maybe named each street each time he drove anywhere? The song playing being remembered is a bit more plausible, but the band that played it? Again, a bit of a push for me.

In the next paragraph you state the answer, before the implied question as to how you could remember nuances. Link them, or at least have them in the right order.

You seem to making a lot of annecdotes of nothing, and there seems no point to the story. It's just pieces of moderately interesting descriptions.

You reference the imagination of the PEP Boys mechanic, for no discernible reason.

The sentence starting "A couple of days," is awkward, and indeed, doesn't actually convey what I think your point is.

Why do you keep refering to Pep Boys, espcecially irritating when you say you can't remember what you did there with your dad. Why even mention them then?

You state your dad was still part of your life after he was gone, but say you moved away to another town. That seems contradictory.

I think overall you need to look at getting a story line or plot involved. Then some coherence in the way you put down the memories, rather than just flinging them down as they come to mind. Sure, if you suddenly have one, note it down, but scroll over the correct part of the story first.

I hate it when I sound brutal like this, but I would hate to be the editor of this story.

Brutal is good.....this is something in its earliest stages. I haven't even sent a draft to my editor yet. I still have to write the last chapter, then the first one. Either way, I asked for critisism and you gave it. Thanks :)

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This strikes me more as a piece to go in a writing journal than an actual story. There's some good memories here, and some of it certainly could become source material for a story.

cheers!

aj

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Do you think it would come across better in third person?

I can't comment on the larger story, but the piece above would, I think, read better in third person. A lot depends on where the story goes from this point. If it is largely reminiscing, then first person is fine. If it is more events as they happen, third person would be better.

Just my opinion, and I'll admit that I'm biased because I'm actively trying to avoid writing in first person at the moment. :hehe:

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Just my opinion, and I'll admit that I'm biased because I'm actively trying to avoid writing in first person at the moment.

Graeme, I should point out that you failed miserably, or maybe 'spectacularly' would be a better word choice.

If you really had been working at it at that moment, it would have read (and correct me if I'm wrong), "It was just Graeme's opinion, but he admitted to himself that he's biased, and because he was actively trying to avoid writing in the first person, at that moment."

Okay, I am sure you know that I did that 'tongue in cheek', but I DO have a serious question as well. It seems to me that 1st person, when changed to 3rd person, almost immediately and of necessity becomes past tense. To write that above sentence as 3rd person present tense is very difficult, at least, for me. I find that doing so makes it sound like there is a reporter hovering inside the protagonists head and reporting things step by step like a golf tournament voice over. "It is just Graeme's opinion, but he is admitting to himself that he's biased because he is actively trying to avoid writing in first person at the moment." It just doesn't seem right in any way but as some kind of farcical spoof.

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Graeme, I should point out that you failed miserably, or maybe 'spectacularly' would be a better word choice.

:icon5: Okay, I fell into that one....

Okay, I am sure you know that I did that 'tongue in cheek', but I DO have a serious question as well. It seems to me that 1st person, when changed to 3rd person, almost immediately and of necessity becomes past tense. To write that above sentence as 3rd person present tense is very difficult, at least, for me. I find that doing so makes it sound like there is a reporter hovering inside the protagonists head and reporting things step by step like a golf tournament voice over. "It is just Graeme's opinion, but he is admitting to himself that he's biased because he is actively trying to avoid writing in first person at the moment." It just doesn't seem right in any way but as some kind of farcical spoof.

The sentence would have to be completely re-written, rather than trying to keep the words and change the perspective. I recently did this exercise, changing a story from first person to third person. Most of the time it was a simple task, but in a handful of places I re-wrote the section because it didn't come over naturally.

Third person can include present and future tenses, though past tense is more natural. It's a case of working out from what point in time the third-person viewer is looking at the events:

Graeme warned that his opinion may be biased because he's actively trying to avoid the use of first person in his own writing.

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That's what first struck me too. Describing the sun as "our main source of energy", is out of the context. I suggest finding other, more poetic means of describing it. :P

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