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Messages - Vogel

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All the Write Questions / Re: Moral maze
« on: December 15, 2017, 09:00:00 AM »
Dasinger, some of my favorite characters of all time are antiheroes, or likable antagonists. I also find them fascinating. I want to get to know the antagonists just as well as the protagonists. I read an article a while back that we should be spending as much time developing our antagonists as we do our heroes. Think about it, the best villains of all time (IMO) have all been empathetic in some way or another, and many of them charming. Even in real life, it's not all black and white.

As far as charming thugs go, Jeffrey Dean Morgan's Negan is one of my favorites. He is brilliant in character and so much fun to watch. Am I learning anything in the process? No, but I'm having a damn good time watching it. That's what I want from my readers.

I guess it comes back to genre and the audience expectations for that particular genre.
I do see it as my job to reflect the world as it is - and in the real world, thugs aren't charming.

And that's fine and necessary for some genres and stories, but there are other genres and stories (and readers) out there that demand bigger than life/glamorized characters.

I've often wondered/worried a bit that I will be judged for my antagonists behavior because I did conjure him up. But people are going to form their own opinions anyway, so I just write what I want to write and let it go. Often they're not going to interpret your story exactly how you meant for them to anyway.

Review My Work / Re: First Liners - Would a publisher want to read more?
« on: December 14, 2017, 07:51:01 AM »
Hi Lin,

Sorry, I'm a little late.

The in the boat thing tickled me. This is a little slip up I wouldn't be surprised to find in my own writing. I'll second ST's advice. Let us know she's afraid and then jump right into the story.

Unless ...

Is the MC/POV Gus? That would explain things. If this is the case, I would open with Gus in the middle of an action, so we establish the POV first sentence, and then you can tell us that his wife is afraid of water, and then "show" us this in the following sentences by their behavior.

Just an idea, maybe you could show us a woman who is unnaturally terrified of water, but don't tell us why yet. Let us wonder for a little bit. This would give your reader a reason to read on to find out.

I'd definitely do away with that first line. It's too vague.

Writing Games & Challenges / Re: If this is the answer...
« on: December 03, 2017, 11:38:51 AM »
How would you describe your husband's hemorrhoids?

New Answer: A flyswatter ought to take care of it.

Review My Work / Re: The Limbo Garden - 1460 words
« on: December 03, 2017, 10:35:26 AM »
Hi Lena,

I really enjoyed your story. I also think that the definition is not needed. But if you want to be sure, you can ask a couple people to read it without it. I don't think the narrator needs to explain what it is because I'm not entirely sure that the narrator knows she's dead. Or at least that was my impression. I think your details are enough to show us that it is a cemetery. The placing of the posies, the fact that dad comes to see her sometimes but doesn't play with her ... those details should be enough to clue the reader in, I would think.  But I would definitely have a few clever people read this without any information from you just to make sure.

I enjoyed the can-o-peas section myself and learned something new in the process. I'd never heard of them, but salmon and cream cheese stuffed bread sounds delicious! Since we're in the POV of a child, it makes total sense to have her focus on the food, while she's actually witnessing something that's not right, something that she is maybe too young to even process.

There were some little details that I loved. Like this: It’s called the Cillín Garden and Dad and Star, our plow-horse, brought me here for the first time in the dead of night. 

Subtle hints that not only provide information and backstory but also enhance the atmosphere.

I really loved the atmosphere you've created. It's dark, but because it's told through the POV of a child, it almost feels whimsy to me. A lovely little story. I don't imagine you'll have any trouble placing this one in a magazine or anthology somewhere.

Thanks for the read!

Review My Work / Re: First Liners - Would a publisher want to read more?
« on: November 26, 2017, 05:07:06 PM »
Thanks, Jo. You're right, and I tend to agree. Best not to overthink it too much. Plus, I've got to keep in mind the narrator's voice and what feels natural for me and for the Southern-speaking protagonist. I go changing around too much and I'm likely to lose something. I'm keeping the original line just in case, so when I go back through I can re-evaluate.

Review My Work / Re: First Liners - Would a publisher want to read more?
« on: November 26, 2017, 03:08:44 PM »
Thanks, everyone!  :)

Personally I'd give this a shake - and to hell with the accusation of passive writing.

:D If it works, it works, right?

The "they" here is pretty insignificant, just a couple hunters. Definitely a good idea to get rid of "they" so that the reader doesn't look for meaning there, adn I think if I actually change they to a couple hunters, it may clutter the writing. So, I like your tweak and already made the change. And it will get rid of one of the pronouns too, killing 2 birds with 1 stone.

Thanks everyone for the encouraging words. Still working on the same damn novel, but I'm 35k in this go around and can see a speck light at the end of the tunnel.


Review My Work / Re: First Liners - Would a publisher want to read more?
« on: November 24, 2017, 01:44:01 PM »
I always liked this thread. So I thought I might revive it.

I saw Crazy Mary a week before they found her floating in the river. She was outside Herb’s Grocery sitting on the newspaper machine, blowing cigarette smoke in customers’ faces. If Jack hadn’t shoved a quarter in my hand and told me to get him a paper, I would've never got near her.

Review My Work / Re: Time Management ŕ la Jack
« on: November 24, 2017, 01:40:45 PM »

Thank you for sharing your work with us. It's been rather boring around here.

 to withdraw money from the ATM they put there last week.

Who is they?

I need to take Annette to the cosmetician, so we enter the car and drive there.

I found the phrasing strange. May just be a personal thing so use or lose. Still, it could use some tightening. I struck through all the words that I thought were unnecessary.

Also, if the women are looking at the ATM, then how can the MC see their faces? The whole paragraph reads odd to me and I'm not sure what's going on. If the women are in front of the ATM, then how can he see the screen and the options? People usually don't go up to an ATM until the first person is finished, for security and politeness.

to "the device is temporarily out of the order."

And why are they having to think so hard to use the ATM? Surely it doesn't require that much thought?

"No, don't think you've won me that easily - I will go to the mall and take out the money from ATM there. And then I will loiter between stores to kill the surplus time. This suits me even better." I told with my nose up.

Told is past tense and you've been writing in present tense. The correct word I guess would be say. And there are other issues there. You need a comma before the last quotation mark to attach it to the dialogue tag, if that's what that underlined part is.

I'm wondering if maybe English isn't your first language?

Not sure what your intentions for the piece are? If you're writing to try to entertain others, then I would suggest reading a lot to figure out how other people tell stories.

I like the idea of a phone shouting at you. Though I'm not sure a sound can be shouting? Can shout be used as an adjective rather than a verb?

by my phone, who is shouting at me begins to give out some shouting sounds.

Also, I'm not sure you can open an air conditioner even more. Maybe you can open the vents more?

Thanks for sharing Jakuper. Hope this helps.

By the way, I liked this:

I check out the caller's number. "Private number". Why, it is so logical. What did I just want? To know who phoned me? Well, it's PRIVATE. (Private? It reminds me of childhood days when you ringed on any door and immediately ran, so they won't catch you. Still playing these childish games, are we?

though this sentence is missing something: I can do you anything because you don't know who it is. Just see how many Private numbers there are!)

The Coffee Shop / Re: What are you reading?
« on: November 22, 2017, 10:59:56 AM »
Hell House by Richard Matheson

The Coffee Shop / Re: What are you reading?
« on: November 19, 2017, 06:46:22 AM »
The House Next Door by Anne River Siddons

Audio: Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy

I agree with the others. The writing seems very amateur and typical of new writers who haven't discovered their own style yet. Nothing wrong with that. We've all been there.

It's as if newer writers have an idea of what kind of writer they want to be and they try very hard to achieve that. I suggest instead that you think of what is important to you, and use your own personality and experiences and observations in life, to tell your own brand of story, if that makes sense.

I think Jo said it best. I think you're trying too hard. Keep in mind that it's your job to tell a story, most importantly.

The worst thing I think you can do as a writer is to confuse your readers. Remember to write clearly and keep things simple. Sharpen your images. Get to know your POV character and stay inside her head, revealing things that develop her story and her character. Her observations should reflect who she is.

I also found it hard to keep up with all the characters, and I didn't feel like I stayed within Giselle's POV.

Some of your phrases didn't really make a lot of sense to me. Like this: "Are those their words, or yours?" she asked with a point.

What do you mean by that? Can you be more specific?

I'll be honest, I didn't have the patience to try and decipher what they're even talking about, and who all these people are. The entire passage seemed very unfocused. I almost think you're trying to tackle an incredibly difficult genre to get right, even for seasoned writers, a genre that's been done to death and done again, and it seems to be inspired by your reading material, no doubt. If this is the type of story that you want to tell, then, by all means, tell it, and don't let me discourage you from doing it. But as H3K noted, it's as if you're trying to tell a story in a genre and style that you're not comfortable in yourself. A lot of us start off in novels or stories that don't suit our particular writing style, though we don't figure that out until we figure out our own voice and style, and that takes years of practice. So, keep practicing!

Read your dialogue aloud: I want the child to become taking care of like my own babe."

That makes no sense to me. Try to be specific about everything you say and write it so that the reader can imagine it clearly in their minds.

I also think that you're trying to stuff way more information than this scene can hold. Oppressive laws, then a princess that needs to be returned, and then unrest in the realm, some person's sickness, a foreign religion, some aggravating crows, etc. etc. etc. None of it seems to be connected and it's coming off as incredibly unfocused. It's like you're trying too hard to tick off the boxes of this particular fantasy genre's scene of holding court, instead of focusing on telling a story, propelling a plot and enriching your characters.

Figure out where you are in your story, what point that you've reached in your plot, and what information you need to reveal to propel the story forward, to deepen the plotlines and reveal interesting information about your important characters. I used to be really bad about trying to stuff too much information into a single scene. It takes practice to learn the fine balance. The most important thing is to remember that you're telling a story.

The words caused Gisele to breathe proudly, her breasts rising high in the air.
Really? I wish I could see them do this with my own eyes.  ::)

 :D Funny, funny.

Hope this helps. And don't let the negative feedback discourage you. Good luck to you and thanks for sharing.

Use or lose.


It's good to have you here. I've been away for a while, reading books and concentrating on my own writing, but I thought I'd drop in and give my own two cents, whatever its worth. I hope it helps. Writing groups are a very helpful tool, especially when you're new to writing and you don't have a good foundation. It will help you learn what makes a story work and, when it doesn't, why. Critiquing other people's work is one of the greatest tools a writer can use. I hope you find MWC welcoming and stick around.

First impressions: I find the idea of a POV of a scullery maid working in the belly of a pirate ship to be quite an intriguing point of view with a lot of potential. I don't know where you got the prompt for the story, but I love it. Fascinating idea for a story.

However, I don't feel that the story is very well-thought out. You have some decisions to make. What's the setting? Is it historical or fantastical? Is this set in the real world or in a fantasy world? You need to define your setting, the time and place and stay consistent. It seems to me that you're unsure of the setting. Read up on world building, if this is set in a fantasy setting, and if it's historical, then you'll need to decide on a period and do research. Then ask yourself questions. Would they have revolvers? Do the people have Gods or religion? I'm sure you can find a world building questionaire to get you started. It's not going to help you write a good story, but it might give you a starting point, some brainstorming ideas.

This line of dialogue is proof of this to me that you haven't thought through these things: We should still get these whores off the ship whether any kind o' god is angry at us or not!

My main advice is to read as much as possible. Watch how authors begin their stories, introduce the setting, the characters and the plot and conflict. See how they progress the plot through scenes.  YOu have an interesting setting to play with, but I don't feel that you use it to its potential. I want to see what life is like for Phoebe on that ship before she's ever thrown off. I want to see her interacting with other characters. I care more about what life is like for Phoebe now, than I do her past, because at this point, the fact that she had a guardian named Theodore doesn't seem to matter. Backstory can be a powerful asset to a story, so long as it has bearing on the plot. If it doesn't and it's not woven into the current storyline seamlessly, it can seem irrelevant and just a detail thrown in because the writer thoguht it interesting.

When I write, I like to think of myself as a director, directing a movie. It helps me see the scenes in my head as if they're actually happening. I imagine my characters in the scene and I try to imagine what they see and hear and experience. I think if you get a handle on POV and slip inside Phoebe's head more, then the story may start to come alive. Just don't forget that a story is a collection of scenes. THink about the story you want to tell and then consider what scenes you'd need to make it work. So, we have a scullery maid on a ship and she's going to be thrown overboard. How can we introduce this story and the conflict slowly through a collection of scenes to build to the exciting scene where Phoebe is thrown overboard?

I can imagine Phoebe introduced in a scene where seh's working in the kitchen and overhears some of the men discussing the shortage of food and what to do. Later that night, after a hard days work, while soaking blistered hands in some solution, she's visited by a man in the night who hints around that her life may be in danger. Then the next day, in another scene, as she's sneaking bread out of hte kitchen (insert backstory here), she overhears a man telling another that if they got rid of the "dead weight", then they might stand a chance of surviving. So overtime, through one scene after the next, we discover who Phoebe is, what her life is like, what conflicts external and internal she faces. Slowly, we learn that Phoebe might be in danger and that the men are planning something. If you build this right, through scenes, then the payoff scene, the climax scene when Phoebe is thrown off the ship will hold more weight. Right now, there's no buildup, so it has no impact. Authors introduce their characters, the setting and the problem/conflict. Then they build the conflict, amping it up with each scene and turn of the plot until it climaxes. Stories have structure. I don't expect you to use any of that, just trying to show you how I would progress the story based on what you've told us so far. But you may want to start the story later.

I guess at this point I'm rambling and I'm not making a lot of sense.

It's a little all over the place. One minute we're washing clothes, the next minute, she's playing with cosmetics and then she's hoisted up to the top of the ship to be thrown overboard. Stories are progressions of scenes and yet this seems like just a collection of ideas with a dramatic scene of Phoebe getting thrown of the ship.

Your sentence structure and syntax needs a little work. I would be wary of overusing the ellipsis and I would read up on how to properly format one. Pick up yourself a copy of Strunk & White's Elements of Style, if you haven't already. It helped me out a lot and I still refer to it from time to time.

Good things: I loved the line comparing her fear of the night (and its dangers) to the depths of the ocean.

I think you have a vivid imagination. That's a good starting point. But that's only one part. As writers, we have to learn what a successful story is what makes it work. There are so many free resources out there to get you started, an ungodly number of writing books that can help you wrap your head around elements of the craft, like POV, story structure, scene execution and plot, to name a few.

This is a pretty good resource.

Overall, I think you have an interesting idea here. I hope this helps. Use or lose and thanks for sharing.

Writing Games & Challenges / Re: Define a llama!
« on: December 27, 2016, 08:00:35 PM »
A fine, charitable member of society who is willing to spread her/his legs so that others do not have to.



I'll be honest, I could tell just from your cliched title that you were a newbie. Well, I made an assumption, anyway.

Nothing wrong with that. We all started somewhere. I won't even open my first WIP, too embarrassed to even see it myself, let alone share it with others (and yet I did, just as you are doing now). But that's good because you're going to get a little dose of reality. If your experience is anything like mine was, you'll begin to realize what an insanely huge task learning how to write is. And either that will overwhelm you and you'll quit, or, if you have a passion for it, you'll make it your mission to learn the craft and very quickly you'll see improvements in your writing. But if you continue to post and ignore advice from others, you can forget it. And don't get impatient with it. This thing takes a heck of a lot of time.

Your other post reminds me of my first attempt at writing. Poor grammar and syntax, comma splices ... Strange character names ... Cliches. I know I thought myself clever and original then, but to be blunt, I didn't know what in the hell I was doing.

Occasionally we see the newbie writer who wants to write the next big epic fantasy. I'm not sure what it is about fantasy and beginning writers. I was one of those. It wasn't in the vein of Tolkien or Martin, but probably a Brave New World/Hunger Games YA fiction, the stuff I was reading at the time. I'm assuming that you're young and you sat down wanting to write a novel and so you write. Nothing wrong with that. But don't expect praise, honest praise, for a very long time. And that's okay. It's normal. Don't get discouraged by it. Criticism should inspire you to want to do better. We've all been there.

You have to spend as much time reading about the craft as you spend writing and then spend twice that much time reading. You can learn a lot just by reading the work that other writers post on writing forums and participating in the critique process. I read hours every day. Sometimes it's a novel, but more often than not, I read the work of other aspiring writers on various writing boards. Pay attention as you read. Study sentence structure and revise your sentences until they flow well from one to the next. Don't worry too much about story yet. You can begin to learn how to tell a good story after you learn how to write first.

Honestly, you need to think about this thing as any other craft. To become a nurse, you have to go to school and study for two years and then you probably have to do some kind of internships before you're qualified. If you don't choose the traditional method of learning, by going to a university to learn how to write, then you're going to have to educate yourself. This means lots of research and a lot of practice and a lot of reading.

But if we ever want to be taken seriously as writers, we have to learn how to take criticism and apply it. We have to be willing to look at our work with a critical eye and constantly improve. If your work is littered with typos and improper grammar and punctuation, people are going to view it negatively, no matter how smart or clever your ideas are. In my opinion. Make it your mission to learn proper grammar and syntax. Learn how clauses work. Knowing how to engineer your sentences and knowing what constitutes a proper sentence is very important. It affects everything.

Take this sentence: Arrived before them, but was behind the lead one and knew she had to stop them.

Read that aloud. It makes no sense. The subject is missing in the first clause.

Pick yourself up a copy of Strunk & White's Elements of Style and memorize it.

Here's another grammar resource to get you started:

Study dialogue rules too. Dialogue formatting and punctuation. You've got quite a few punctuation issues here.

My post sounds preachy, I'm sure, but this is advice that every new writer hears one time or the other.

You've got a long road ahead of you if you want to learn to write well. If you're meant to do it, you'll stick with it. It boils down to how much time and energy you're willing to commit to this. Honestly, it should be like a part-time job. You have to work on it every day.

I hope this helps and thanks for posting. Use or lose.

Writing Games & Challenges / Re: Picture Prompts: What's the story?
« on: December 27, 2016, 07:51:54 AM »

Granny's purse, leather with birds and a wooden handle and latch and containing a single item, a 9mm, weighed right at three pounds.

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