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Messages - Emery

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1
The Writers Circle / Re: Leaving MWC
« on: January 11, 2018, 02:49:56 PM »
Well...I dropped back in today to get active again and then find this. I've been on a few other sites such as this but really liked the community here. Oh well, to all good things.

If anyone has recs, PM me the sites and I'll look into them.

I really appreciate all the MWC has done for me and I hope it will soon return to its former, glorious state.

2
Review My Work / Re: Beginning of a spy thriller (Reworked, 418 words)
« on: January 11, 2018, 12:33:38 PM »
I didn't read the originals so can't speak on the changes, but I'll give this a go.

Genre wise, you've got a major scene and are setting the stage, I'm presuming, for the James's motivation throughout, for a revenge thriller. The inciting incident of the novel. And yet, you only spent 410 words on it. Why? It all comes at me so quickly that I barely have time to digest.

I hope you don't take this the wrong way, but I get the sense from this scene that you haven't taken the time to visualize it well. The first sentence is just generalities. The windows were in shatters and the doors broken? James walks up to his house and assesses in a millisecond this fact. Imagine yourself as James walking up on the home...did you park in the driveway? Walk from the subway? What kind of street is it? What kind of house? I'm not suggesting you tell the reader all of this, but in order for the action and descriptions to feel real, you've got to see this.

And then, for some inexplicable reason, he walks into the home and takes time to note the photos on the wall? And after seeing his dead wife/girlfriend he takes stock of his emotional state and hypothesizes that maybe he's a heartless bastard?

When you write a scene, you've got to live it. I don't think you've lived this scene. I think you needed it to start your novel and you're trying to dispense with it to get to the cool, spy stuff or whatever.

3
Review My Work / Re: Willed the Waste - Chapter 1 (1/2; 745 words)
« on: January 11, 2018, 11:26:11 AM »
No worries.

Scene and sequel would be bigger picture. A scene, as far as my understanding in this concept, is the action aspect. What you have written is the scene on the larger scale. The sequel would be Penel's response. A scene has a goal (what a character wants), a conflict (something interfering with goal), and a resolution or disaster (yes he gets the goal, but... or no, he doesn't, and...). The sequel would be the protagonists reaction to the scene (what does Penel's reaction when left at the scene after the strange encounter...at home, she internalizes the event) and then a choice/dilemma (does she search for the magician and become involved at risk of her safety?) and the decision (yes). Which would organically lead into the next scene. A sequel, however, doesn't have to be another 'scene'. It can just be three sentences.

Smaller scale, MRUs are the answer (and I wish I could remember who on here turned me onto this to give some props). Motivation/reaction. The motivation is external. Let's looks at these few lines:

A man with neon-red hair in the audience raised his fist. “For magicians!” he shouted. The audience rumbled with complaints. (motivation)

Penel’s stomach turned. (reaction)

As the music began, a stage officer rushed into the crowd. He tackled the red-haired man, disappearing in the crowd. (motivation)

Clearly, the first line is external action. The dude with red hair shouts "For magicians!" (which, for the record, I'm still not sure what exactly was for magicians. The hand?).

The reaction is in parts: feelings or emotions, reflexive response, and rational response. The 'stomach turn' is an emotion. You've opted to show it rather than tell. The reflexive response would be an unconscious action. For example, Penel drops the microphone. And finally, the rational or conscious action. Penel jumps from the stage or says something, etc.

It seems painful when you look at it this way, but it mostly happens organically. I use the concept in revision and revision only! Don't sit down and formulaically think of it. When I revise and something doesn't feel right in pacing or make sense due to character motivation or whatever, I look to see if my motivations were clear and the reactions were also. When writing action scenes, it's real easy to dictate the action as if you're watching a movie and forget the protagonist.


As far as the characters, I've got no idea. I couldn't tell you enough about them because there isn't enough meat in the scene. I'm not suggesting you pad it with fluff, but if the opening scene of a larger piece is only 750 words, it's too fast. This is a key scene, a major part, in the novel. Now isn't the time to disperse with it in 3-4 pages. Major scenes should linger and take some time. I'd be aiming for 1500-2000 words.

4
Review My Work / Re: First Liners - Would a publisher want to read more?
« on: January 11, 2018, 10:55:24 AM »
    Looking back Dorian realized it made perfect sense she was living on the water. Their place provided an ideal scene to be released from her mother’s womb all over again. And water is so emotional. She and her husband Francis were completely surrounded by it, having recently bought a floating home on Lake Union, with a sailboat parked right alongside that could take them downtown in minutes, even quicker than if they took their car.

 

First, the second and third sentence are just trying too hard. These may be some of the thematic elements you want, but you shouldn't have to spell them out in the opening paragraph for the reader. Trust your writing to convey the message. Without those two:

Looking back, Dorian realized it made perfect sense she was living on the water. She and her husband Francis were completely surrounded by it, having recently bought a floating home on Lake Union, with a sailboat parked right alongside that could take them downtown in minutes, even quicker than if they took their car.

I'm not excited by it, but I'm assuming this is going to be a relationship/character heavy piece so the pace and expectation would fit. The only thing that I'm not a fan of is there's nothing moving the story forward. The only active part on the thing is when Dorian is 'looking back'. Otherwise, it's the protagonist foreshadowing something and the author using it as a vehicle to set the location. Personally, I always feel like a story should grab a reader by the throat and not let go of them until you're finished with them. Here, I'm pretty much still waiting for it to start.

5
Review My Work / Re: First Liners - Would a publisher want to read more?
« on: January 11, 2018, 10:49:15 AM »
Don't know if I should add more, but currently this is what I have.

   The Gates of Iron were before him on that dark and empty night. This is it, he thought to himself. This is the end.

This is completely subjective, but I'm not a fan. I'm assuming here's a fantasy by the opening line, which is successful in that purpose, but the Gate of Iron just seems cliché even to someone who doesn't know the genre. The verb is simply a state of being, nothing exciting, and then you try to set the mood with dark and empty night, which is another clichéd line. The next line isn't all that bad (except for thought to himself, as opposed to thought to Jane?). Also, why not use the protagonist name? I'm not trying to rewrite it, but here's what's in my head:

This is it, Aragon thought. This is the end.

He gently touched the intricate, metal work of the Gates of Iron, wishing those who had started with him would've been fortunate enough to be standing there.

6
Review My Work / Re: Willed the Waste - Chapter 1 (1/2; 745 words)
« on: January 11, 2018, 10:05:52 AM »
Haven't been around for a while, but trying to get back in the flow of writing and thought stopping by may help.

I like the concept and the theme it sets up. What if magicians were real, and what if they were a discriminated class. Honestly, I don't read fantasy so not sure if this is too trite, but it seems like that kind of story is very popular now. I don't think that's a negative necessarily, but you just need to make sure you add something fresh to it.

The prose could use some work. I don't hate modifiers as much as some, but I hate wishy-washy ones. It may seem I'm being overly critical, but the use of 'nearly' in the first sentence almost made me put it down. And then you followed that up with ovated, which I'm too lazy to look up, but I'm not sure that's an actual word. You can't just drop the 'tion' from all nouns and make them verbs. And even if it is, why? We're in deep third person, feeling what Penel is feeling, thousands cheering, and the word you decide to evoke that is ovate?

Finally, it's too dialogue heavy and obtuse and doesn't paint a picture. Why does she keep doing things with her fist?

Advice: Write to tell the story. Don't use clichés. Something I think would help you here in particular is use of scene/sequel or action/reaction or MRU--all very similar to me. Basically, you've got a lot of stuff happening but not a lot of internalized reaction, or if you do it's a line 'stomach turned'. If you're going to write in close third, you need to give more reactions to external events than just physical reactions. It'll slow the pace at times, which you need, and allow me as the reader to get to empathize with the protagonist. And some telling isn't a sin, either. I've got no sense of location, scene, time, place, mood.

7
Review My Work / Re: Passage from a book
« on: July 31, 2017, 01:17:45 PM »
Haven't been on for a while. Stopped by the answer a message and figured I'd drop in.

I don't have much time, but here are my takeaways:

I approach dialogue the same way as any scene. There needs to be tension and conflict. Here, you're cheating. You're simply using the dialogue as a tool to push exposition. Lizzy shouldn't want to tell Sam this story, and probably would work hard not to. Have Sam annoy her. Have some sort of nidus to this interaction. Back Lizzy into a corner and force her to tell Sam. And not be happy about it.

I also feel like you've lost your POV. Just assuming, since pretty much everything is these days, that this will be a limited or close third. This is a distant third. It's still fine, and can be done well, but I doubt that's what you're doing throughout. Someone mentioned, but it's the same as losing voice. Who's the main character? If it's the older sibling, approach the scene from her POV. What are her thoughts? Her emotions when relaying a story about a rape and murder (which is melodramatic a bit, too)? Keep grounded in her voice and character when writing the scene.


8
Hey man. This is an interesting exercise.

Just my opinion, but I can see this going either way--expanding or contracting. Essentially, it's the story of two soldiers undergoing growth through trials. Each have their own internal struggles and external as well. Basically, what I'm saying is that the characters work for me. They might be a little cliché, but you can play with the archetypes. The external conflict works, also. All be it, a little predictable, but that isn't what you're asking here.

The question of how to shorten it would be to remove all the background telling. The first five paragraphs are all backstory and telling us who the characters are. The first sentence is a bit too much for me, as well. And really, within the scene with the grenade you have the components of a story--inciting event, progressive complications, crisis, climax, and resolution. And both your characters complete their arc in that scene, as well. The preceding backstory can be inferred and worked into the immediate action.

For me, when I edit, I try to look at concrete things. Part of what I do is highlight every 'was' or 'had'. It's usually where you're telling or have slipped into past perfect. Neither are necessarily a bad thing, and I try to give myself some leeway with past perfect as sometimes a flashback is needed, but I also look for different or better ways. 'Was' is almost always telling. Again, not a bad thing, but telling and showing could be balanced a bit better here in the opening.

And that's also what I meant about expanding. You have a classic trial/fail cycle thing inherent here. Inciting event of Harold getting to platoon. Fulmer tries and fails to get him to quit, each with escalating stakes. And finally, there's a major coming to terms point at the climax. I can see this being a 10000 word story--and that's probably part of my problem with short stories.  ;D

9
All the Write Questions / Re: In need of help
« on: May 19, 2017, 03:39:00 PM »
Love story set in WWII--sure it could work. It's worked a lot. I agree with the others, seems a bit hackneyed, but I'm not sure that's all that important. Love stories are all formulaic and clichéd for the most part, it's how the author approaches the scenes and genre. There's going to be a meeting, a first kiss, a breakup, a declaration of love, a third party interloper. The MC will either get his love or not, but along the way will learn something about him or herself.

If you aren't dealing with a high concept type genre, most of these things will seem fine. Some will seem great. But, at the end of the day, it's about how you've written the story.

If you're debating, put down 2-4 thousand words and see.

10
Review My Work / Re: Templar Saga Chapter 1 Part 2
« on: May 19, 2017, 03:33:21 PM »
h3k hit the details.

Bigger picture issues, I think you need to take a long look at dialogue. There are several areas that need to be focused and honed, but to me, this was the most glaring.

A few things I try to keep in mind: Written dialogue should not read like a transcribed conversation. It is more important what you don't say than what you do. Every dialogue in a story should have a point; a reason to include it that advances plot. A generic conversation is boring--add conflict. I try to imagine a dialogue scene the same way I would a fight scene. Each character should have goals and each goal should either be in antithesis to each other or augment each other based on characters. For example, a hero and his sidekick can discuss an upcoming plan of attack, and each can have the same goals, but the sidekick's role can be to highlight the character flaws of the hero. Something like that. This last one is for me, but I need to edit everything inside quotation marks as much as I do outside them.

Good luck.

11
Review My Work / Re: Templar Saga Chapter 1 Part 1
« on: May 18, 2017, 02:57:34 PM »
This was a tough go for me because there's no conflict. You've taken a lot of time to introduce three characters, and forced onto me a lot of background info I'm not sure I need to know or care to know.

Just looking globally.

First, you opened very generic. Cold morning in Montreal. The air piercing coats, but some coats. Generic, nonspecific coats. Nothing to do with you characters or the story.

Then, you get to your main character. But he's just getting up for school. You forced in details, but they're not organic. Or maybe sort of are, but an object that your main character sees everyday of his life is not going to warrant a flashback when he's late for school. Just too much.

And I would try to boil this down if I were writing it. What do you want to do with this scene? And 'introduce main character' doesn't cut it. There needs to be some sort of conflict, internal or external, in pretty much every scene you write. Inject some.

Spend some time reading on the craft. Like Matthew said, read books as a writer. Look at how your favorites deal with these same scenes.

Good luck.

12
Review My Work / Re: The Target - 1995 words
« on: May 18, 2017, 02:47:13 PM »
Really enjoyed the read. Like h3k, I'm a bit nervous the ending is going to feel rushed. 2000 words left to bring everything together is hard to do, even with your ability.

Good job, though, in the use of the two story lines. I like the literary decision to keep one in present tense and the other in simple past. It makes an easy read and a more enjoyable experience. The only thing that irked me was him pushing his brother. Not so much because I didn't like the negative character trait, but I wonder about the presentation. Maybe it's just me, but something felt slightly off there. I had a hard time nailing down his motivation and state of mind at the time. And this may have been a choice by you, but it left me more muddled than intrigued if that makes sense. Again, maybe just me.

Looking forward to seeing how you tie this up.

13
Thanks again to everyone.

It's gone through a lot of revisions since this post (a benefit to a 500 word flash). I've cleaned up the filtering and made it more focused.

And no offense taken Lin. It's not the New Yorker or Carve or anything, but it's a fine online publication. At this point, I'm fine with taking the credits where they come. And I have a sort of tiered system with short stories when I submit--round 1 to round 2 etc. I'm hoping a few literary publications will give me an extra nod for persistence. Rights to a quick flash that I've played with for a few hours don't stress me out.


14
Hey Bobby. Just wanted to add that it's refreshing to find someone genial and open on here. Hope you stick around.

No novels yet from me, just two short stories. Have finished a third draft of a work now hanging out in the proverbial desk drawer, but have a WIP I'm enjoying much more. I think I've found a niche and a story I want to tell.

I'll be sure to let you know when it's published--if you're hanging around the site five years or so from now.  ;D

15
I think your scenario is entirely plausible. For a mutation to occur, there needs to be some form of genetic drift or shift (your contact in micro should know more) but that's not really what you're suggesting here. It seems legit and within reason. The disease process of hemorrhagic pneumonitis exists, the form of transmission does, too. What's also possible is if you have an infection that transmits so rapidly, mutations then are possible. Meaning it can start with the guy in the tunnel but then mutate for easier droplet transmission or whatever.

And I don't know if the resistance was a social commentary, but it's worth exploring. The research and development into new antibiotics is almost non-existent. A company can make much more money developing biologics for cancer, chronic meds for hypertension or behavioral meds. For example, we have drug reps in our office. We have 2-3 that sell rebranded, older antibiotics and 10-15 selling ADHD meds. It's a concern for everyone in the field, and I bet you can get an ID doctor to talk for hours on it. And scary enough is that these bugs already exist, where we literally have nothing to treat them with. And add to that the funding cut for basic science and your scenario is not only plausible, but likely inevitable.

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