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View Full Version : Okay, help with this. - passive "matter-of-factly" writing



BlueLucario
03-19-2008, 06:27 PM
Hey, don't be mad for posting or anything. I just sort of need help. I just got an email from someone regarding a review of my story.(Which I recieved weeks ago.) And she said this...


As far as the story goes, your sentences are too clipped, and there is
not much flow. Arrange some of your sentences to incorporate two or
three of the smaller ones. It's best to have them of varying length
to reduce monotony.

and this...



Your characters are two dimensional and not very believable. You have not built up any kind of suspense, or apprehension of the coming events. The writing as a whole is very shallow in its depth. It is like you thought up a single scenario and just threw everything else in to bulk it up.



I didn't understand what he meant.

Your biggest problems are
with smoothing out the beginning and adding more prose and
descriptions to your scenery.

I had others saying the same thing.

In other words it lacked prose. Like


I think the reason why the characters seem so...flat... is because you've been writing very passively.

"The chicken looked both ways, and then he crossed the road. the mud was damp and stuck to his feet. he yanked his foot out of it and continued on. and then the car hit him. he screamed, "Save me" and then died."

I finally know what my problem is and I couldn't say it in words. It's not the "show, not tell" it's passive writing. I read books, regarding narration. I read Bourne Identity, Acts of God, and I was going to read the DaVinci Code. I studied the narration of the stories, and studied for hours. I needed prose in my writing. But I don't know HOW to write the story as prose. I know I should just write the story. But it wouldn't hurt for me to at least try it out and see what happens.

It's like, Jack opened the door. He slowly took off his clothes. He gets into bed and lies next to his wife.

you know, "matter-of-factly" which bores the reader to tears.

I wanna know how to try this out.


2.) How can you balance dialogue and Narration? I seem to have a problem with using too much dialogue to move the story along. What happens if Dialogue overpowers the story?

Also I tend to have pacing issues. I move through a scene too fast. It felt like I was rushing through the story and not slowing down.

James81
03-19-2008, 06:40 PM
1. When you feel compelled to type a "." make a conscious decision to use a comma instead. Not always, but at least once in a while. Also, adjectives are your friends. Don't just tell us WHAT the character is doing, tell us HOW he is doing it and/or what he may be feeling when he's doing it. For example (your example):


Jack opened the door. He slowly took off his clothes. He gets into bed and lies next to his wife.


could be "beefed up" like so:


Jack slowly opened the door and stepped quietly into the room. He took off his clothes and crawled into bed next to his wife.

Also pay attention to your tense usage. You have both present and past tense in a matter of sentences. You have to keep that consistent or it will confuse the reader.

2. Balancing dialogue and narration can be tricky. Imagine you are watching your story on the movie screen. You hear them saying stuff, but they are also DOING things while they are talking. Not to mention their surroundings play a huge part in the interaction. Your dialogue is the most important thing, but it must "gel" with the surroundings and you must let the reader in on how things are being said and what the character is doing while talking.

For practice, go pop in a movie and watch a scene. Really study the scene and try to capture it into your own words as if you were writing a story about it.

Riley
03-19-2008, 06:46 PM
Well, I'm sure you'll soon get more answers from people more skilled than I, but I think I have just a little experience in the subject that might help.

1. Just skipping to different parts of the story, I think your writing sounds very stilted. "First this happened, then this, then that, then those. . . " Try making your sentences different lengths. Chop some. Compound others.

Prose/narrative is hard to explain. It's something you get from reading and practicing a lot. (Ray Bradbury is a good study in this, by the way.) In most of your story, you tell everything that happens. There's no description, no prose, so to speak. Prose flows (rhyme not intended)--that is, it not only tells its story, it shows what's happening, reflects upon it without violating the point of view. Let's take an example from your piece:


I turned to the direction of the voice and lifted my head. There was Solana standing at the door, whose clothing looked professional. Her hair was pulled back into a bun and she was carrying a black leather suitcase. Her outfit looked surprisingly neater than the clothes she had on earlier this morning.

For example, here, you tell the readers that Solana's clothing looks professional. You could convey this just as well and much more narratively is you mentioned what she wore without saying that it's professional. Think along the lines of business suits, slacks, polished shoes, etc.

If, earlier in the story, you mention how Solana's clothing was messy, this part will be a nice contrast to it.

I hope that helped at least a tiny bit. It's great to hear that you're working so hard on your writing. I bet you'll get a lot of good answers to this one.

2. Balancing dialogue and narration isn't that bad, if you imagine your story panning out as a movie. Also, if you take a look at how your prose looks on the page, then you'll be able to tell. If you have pages and pages of dialogue, that's too much. If you have pages and pages of narration, that might be too much, too, though there are exceptions.

In general, narration slows down the pacing while dialogue speeds it up and adds drama. If your story sounds melodramatic and too fast, then you probably don't have your dialogue and narration balanced.

Just relax, let the story flow. Let the characters speak and react with their world. That will help a lot.

maestrowork
03-19-2008, 06:51 PM
Why don't you ask the person who critted you?

drachin8
03-19-2008, 07:04 PM
Hello, Blue!

I think some of what is getting you is word choice. In your example prose, everything is stated a bit blandly. Doors are opened, people remove clothes, and people lie down. None of the words affect the mood. Nothing gives us character insight. Nothing gives us story insight even.

So, let's take the example and do some very basic fiddling with it to portray different situations.

"Jack opened the door. He slowly took off his clothes. He gets into bed and lies next to his wife."

"Jack inched the door open and slid inside. Piece by piece, he shed his rumpled suit, then crawled into bed next to his lightly snoring wife, praying he didn't reek of perfume."

"Jack banged the door open. With slow precision, he removed his clothes. His wife huddled against the headboard, her face turned away. He laughed, his voice echoing in the spare motel room, and slipped beneath the covers."

I am sure the people here on AW could come up with a thousand more variants on Jack and his wife, each increasingly complex. What you must do in your writing, though, is figure out what the mood is you want in your scene and choose your words accordingly. All three of the sentences above say essentially the same thing, but they each use different words to portray it based on what they want to achieve, the pictures they want to paint. The second two both tell us something about Jack while also telling us what actions are currently being taken. They could be further expanded with some internal thoughts or some external dialogue, but they could also be left alone and still be solid.


For practice, maybe you can take your Jack sentence and try rewriting it for three or four different situations or Jack personalities. I think it would be a great exercise for you.


:)

-Michelle

jst5150
03-19-2008, 07:13 PM
It would seem you're asking a diverse amount of questions and each needs to addressed as a separate entity. If you're so uncomfortable with the one critique, I might first recommend getting another critique and put them side by side. Remember, one is an anomoly; just one instance of something. You can't set a baseline to that. Just ask someone to beta read.

Now ...

Your first quote deals with rhythm or pacing. So, work on rhythm and pacing. Longer sentences build tension and allow for broad description. Shorter ones help time pass faster -- action and pointed moments. You stretch softer moments. More jarring moments are quick and phrenetic.

The second deals with people. Hang around people and watch for details. Try not to write your characters words for them. Sounds goofy, I know, but let the characters write their own words.

The third is probably more to the publisher/agent's taste than anything. Though if he felt he wasn't getting anything out of the words ("My ... our ceiling needs painting."), then maybe you could relook and ask yourself whether or not you've got the right words in the right places.

The fourth quote deals with passive writing. Um, don't do this. It's a cardinal sin. :) Tighten it up.

As to your "2.)", this is something you have to determine as a writer during the draft and in the edit phases. And really, you have to write a bit before you can figure out what your balance is. Umberto Eco seems to favor narration. Elmore Leonard likes dialogue. What's yours?

I'd recommend breaking down each of your issues into one post and letting the AW Forum gaggle address them that way.

Stew21
03-19-2008, 07:32 PM
I think Uncle Jim tackles a lot of this in his thread. all the way down to the pacing and using short and long sentences.
I'll see if I can find some specific posts in that thread to link for you so you can see it straight from him.
My paraphrase would not do Uncle Jim justice.

Nightfall
03-19-2008, 08:09 PM
Maybe adding sensory perceptions will help enrich and three dimentionalize your prose. How does something make the character feel? What do things feel like to the touch? What smells are there? What is the character seeing? What can they hear? Does it have a flavour? (OK, too many lol cats).

If you remember to think about how the character is sensing and feeling the situation and environment it may help.

BlueLucario
03-19-2008, 08:09 PM
Why don't you ask the person who critted you?

Er... Because my account was blocked.


All the critters say the same thing. "You use too much dialogue to tell the story, therefore making the story one dimensional. "

I'm a stickler for dialogue, it seems that that's my strength.

Sarpedon
03-19-2008, 08:20 PM
If everyone criticises you for it, why do you think its a strength?

Stew21
03-19-2008, 08:23 PM
You now have homework. YOu like to research, here's a great place to start.

this one is Pacing – line by line – sentence length and word choice:
http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showpost.php?p=1865667&postcount=6488

http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showpost.php?p=1859917&postcount=6462

http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showpost.php?p=655586&postcount=5321

http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showpost.php?p=550616&postcount=5109

On gauging too much or too little description:
http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showpost.php?p=1098986&postcount=5967

a line by line breakdown of a scene:
http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showpost.php?p=164189&postcount=3512

this one just because I love this idea:
http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showpost.php?p=157027&postcount=3430

the writing a joke exercise:
http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showpost.php?p=113111&postcount=3068


for more information like this, go to Uncle Jim's thread and read the whole thing.

Stew21
03-19-2008, 08:30 PM
More homework:

Go to this thread and practice fleshing out sentences:

http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=96138

BlueLucario
03-19-2008, 08:30 PM
Thanks Stew!

Stew21
03-19-2008, 08:32 PM
You can't just read the stuff uncle jim tells you. (you can't be a doctor by just reading the medical books). You have to practice.
There are tons of exercises in Uncle Jim's thread and tons of exercises in the writing exercises forum.
I'll give you a couple of links to some on the spot writing threads that might help with your descriptive skills.

Marian Perera
03-19-2008, 08:34 PM
I'm not comfortable with posting the contents of emails on a public forum unless the person who sent you the email has given consent for it. It's one thing to ask for help and say, "Another person mentioned that my sentences were monotonous." It's another thing to quote chunks of that email, which was presumably meant for you and not for the public to see.

jst5150
03-19-2008, 08:38 PM
I'm not comfortable with posting the contents of emails on a public forum unless the person who sent you the email has given consent for it. It's one thing to ask for help and say, "Another person mentioned that my sentences were monotonous." It's another thing to quote chunks of that email, which was presumably meant for you and not for the public to see.
If we're in an academic, nonattribution enviroment (and we are, to a great extent), it's fine. If they were from someone from this board, that's a little too close to home and that would be party foul. Further, by posting the comments, he's not disparaging anyone. He's saying, "Here's what was said. Help me correct this." I think the person critiquing him would find that perfectly acceptible since the goal of the crit was to get the writing on track in the first place. Better the critiquer's words than having to interpret them.

Again, nonattribution and academic setting.

Stew21
03-19-2008, 08:38 PM
Here you go:

games, prompts and practice.

The On-The-Spot Games: each of them has a prompt.
http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=11595
http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=11431
http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=11357
http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=11284
http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=11193
http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=11597
http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=13583

writing character:
http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=88524

show don’t tell:
http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=81201

Marian Perera
03-19-2008, 08:47 PM
I think the person critiquing him would find that perfectly acceptible since the goal of the crit was to get the writing on track in the first place.

I've sent PMs to people regarding writing and I wouldn't want chunks of those PMs being quoted elsewhere without my consent, but that's just my own personal preference. I should make this clear in future PMs or emails - and be careful about whom I send them to.

jst5150
03-19-2008, 08:51 PM
I've sent PMs to people regarding writing and I wouldn't want chunks of those PMs being quoted elsewhere without my consent, but that's just my own personal preference. I should make this clear in future PMs or emails - and be careful about whom I send them to.
Again, as I said, if quoting someone from this forum, then that goes outside academic nonattributional thing. I understand your perspective, however. :)

James81
03-19-2008, 08:55 PM
I've sent PMs to people regarding writing and I wouldn't want chunks of those PMs being quoted elsewhere without my consent, but that's just my own personal preference. I should make this clear in future PMs or emails - and be careful about whom I send them to.

Yeah, because honestly, I don't think there is any legality to posting emails/PMs yet.

I personally take the approach that I don't post anything to the internet (whether it be in PM or email) that I wouldn't want posted publicly.

I learned that one the hard way a few years back.

IceCreamEmpress
03-19-2008, 09:13 PM
Blue, PLEASE don't spend your valuable reading time reading The DaVinci Code at this point.

Dan Brown, though a genius of suspenseful plotting, is not a very smooth or skilled writer. Since you seem to read slowly and carefully and it takes you quite a while to get through each book, I don't think that The DaVinci Code is a good choice for you.

I'd encourage you to read a book that combines an exciting plot AND eloquent writing AND believable characterization instead.

Have you read So You Want to be a Wizard by Diane Duane? There are some plot points in common with your current book about Lily, and Duane is a really skilled writer.

Or how about The Lathe of Heaven by Ursula K. LeGuin? Or Kindred by Octavia Butler?

James81
03-19-2008, 09:35 PM
^ To add to that, i'm going to give you a doozy of a book (It's 900 pages long lol), but the plot and the writing and the storytelling is so good that it captivates you almost the entire time:

I Know This Much is True by Wally Lamb

His language is simple, but it flows nicely and he manages to keep a 900 page book interesting the entire time. A feat that not just any author can pull off.

DWSTXS
03-19-2008, 09:47 PM
^ To add to that, i'm going to give you a doozy of a book (It's 900 pages long lol), but the plot and the writing and the storytelling is so good that it captivates you almost the entire time:

I Know This Much is True by Wally Lamb

His language is simple, but it flows nicely and he manages to keep a 900 page book interesting the entire time. A feat that not just any author can pull off.


I agree with this.
That IS a great book. I am definitely looking forward to Wally Lamb's next book, and I hear it is coming very soon.

James81
03-19-2008, 10:07 PM
I agree with this.
That IS a great book. I am definitely looking forward to Wally Lamb's next book, and I hear it is coming very soon.

Ooh, I didn't know he was writing another one.

You ever read "She's Come Undone"? It's pretty good too.

DWSTXS
03-19-2008, 10:22 PM
Ooh, I didn't know he was writing another one.

You ever read "She's Come Undone"? It's pretty good too.


Yes, I enjoyed it very much.

I read a review of his next book last Sunday.

maestrowork
03-19-2008, 10:33 PM
I'm a stickler for dialogue, it seems that that's my strength.

Then stick with it.

Cormac McCarthy's No Country for Old Man was written almost entirely with dialogue.

The bottom line is write a damn good story, with vivid plot and characters, strong conflicts and great resolution, and have something to say about the human condition.

Go with it.

Stew21
03-19-2008, 10:47 PM
Uncle Jim talks in his thread (I think in one of the links I have up there) about writing a whole story with just dialogue, no tags.

BlueLucario
03-19-2008, 11:52 PM
Blue, PLEASE don't spend your valuable reading time reading The DaVinci Code at this point.

Dan Brown, though a genius of suspenseful plotting, is not a very smooth or skilled writer. Since you seem to read slowly and carefully and it takes you quite a while to get through each book, I don't think that The DaVinci Code is a good choice for you.


Grrrrrr....Thanks for warning me, I was about to start reading. Also when reading a book, it's really difficult for me to stay interested in a book. It has to be interesting or I can't read it.






Have you read So You Want to be a Wizard by Diane Duane? There are some plot points in common with your current book about Lily, and Duane is a really skilled writer.

Or how about The Lathe of Heaven by Ursula K. LeGuin? Or Kindred by Octavia Butler?

Hey Thanks, I'll look those up!


Uncle Jim talks in his thread (I think in one of the links I have up there) about writing a whole story with just dialogue, no tags.

Thanks for the links Stew21. I spent a lot of time studying them.

Aggy B.
03-20-2008, 12:30 AM
I don't know if this will help answer your questions or not but I did notice when I read through part of your WIP (the one linked in your signature) that you seemed to have trouble distinguishing between important details and just plain detail.

I found that it was difficult to read because everything you were telling me was essentially unfiltered. For example:



I looked up at Solana once more, remembering what Aiyana told me earlier, that she wasn’t always the best cook. I assumed that these pancakes of hers would not taste very pleasant. I thought of Solana as a very kind person and the last thing I wanted to do was offend her. With my assumption set aside, I grabbed the fork. I cut off a piece of the pancake and ate it. I chewed slowly. The food was soft and tasted sugary.

This contains way too much detail for my taste. You break down every action and thought individually. "I looked at Solana." "Remembered what Aiyana had said." "Assumed these pancakes would not taste good." "I though she was kind and didn't want to offend." "I put my assumption aside." "I grabbed the fork." "I cut off a piece of pancake and ate it." "I chewed slowly." "The food was soft and sugary." Every thought and action is given equal weight and that is monotonous.

There has been some other good advice provided in this thread about combining sentences that are too short and playing with the short-then-long sentence structure. The only way to really get a grip on those ideas is to write, write, write. One thing I think might help you is to figure out what actions/thoughts are important, then leave out everything else.

If we look at your example above again we'll see that the last four sentences are all trying to communicate one simple point. The narrator eats the pancake to be polite and is surprised at how good it is. But you've broken it down into small actions that just bore the reader. The problem is too much detail about the wrong things.

So, instead of:


With my assumption set aside, I grabbed the fork. I cut off a piece of the pancake and ate it. I chewed slowly. The food was soft and tasted sugary.

You could say:


I put my assumption aside and took a bite of pancake. To my surprise it was delicious.

Or:


I didn't want to seem rude so I took a bite and chewed cautiously. The pancakes were delicious; light, fluffy and with just the right amount of sugar.

Of course, she's your character so you need to put your "voice" on that passage. But the point is that there are a number of ways to say the same thing without getting bogged down in the little boring parts. And the key is figuring out the point of interest in each general action. (In this case the general action is eating breakfast and the point of interest is the narrator's discovery that one of her hosts is a good cook despite what her other host might have said.)

I hope this is at least a little helpful. Keep working. The only way to get better at writing is to practice.

BlueLucario
03-20-2008, 12:55 AM
Oh hehe, thank you.

If I said the pancakes were delicious, and I was surprised and all that, wouldn't that be telling?

Sarpedon
03-20-2008, 01:04 AM
I think part of the craft is learning where to tell and where to show. Like wood carving; where to use the chainsaw, and where to use the chisel.

Aggy B.
03-20-2008, 02:37 AM
Oh hehe, thank you.

If I said the pancakes were delicious, and I was surprised and all that, wouldn't that be telling?

Yes, that would be telling. But you are also writing from a first person POV which means that a certain amount of telling is okay. (Actually, with any POV a certain amount of telling is okay, but I've always felt that first person POV allows for a little more.) This is because you are narrating from singular perspective. The reader is inside the head of one person observing what that character sees/does/thinks/says.

Think about the difference between reading "She thought the pancakes were delicious," and "I thought the pancakes were delicious." In the first case it would be better to use a little more show because we are observing from the outside of the character. In the second case a little more detail or explanation wouldn't hurt, but it isn't always necessary because we are on the inside of the character.

If I eat something good, I think "Mmm, tasty." I don't think "The light and fluffy sweetness of this pancake is really tasty." (That could just be me.) And (if you'll notice) in the second "rewrite" of the pancakes section I didn't just say the pancakes were delicious, I backed it up with a brief description of what made them good. What I didn't do was say that I picked up the fork, cut off a piece of pancake, ate it, chewed slowly, etc.

So, to reiterate. Part of what you need to think about is editing out unnecessary detail. And then you need to think about the importance of the details you retain. Giving information about why the breakfast is good is not a bad idea, but it is really secondary to the fact that the breakfast is good.

I hope that's clear.

:)

HeronW
03-20-2008, 03:04 AM
Instead of: the chicken crossed the road to get to the other side.
try: The rooster stuck his neck out. Not so much that the old Chevy truck passing would clip his comb but enough to know the vehicle was speeding, and on the wrong side of the highway. Now how was he going to get across to see Gertrude and the other hot-to-trot hens without getting flat as a fritter?

First tell was grey and boring.
Second show was getting you into the bird's state of mind, you feel the surroundings and his motivation.

Tell is plain unabridge facts like a boring droning history professor cites places and dates.
Show is the history professor dressing up like Caesar, calling a charge like Ghengis Khan, putting fire into reading the letters from Napoleon to Josephine.

Stew21
03-20-2008, 05:27 AM
Thanks for the links Stew21. I spent a lot of time studying them. Don't just study the links. Go to the exercise threads and do the exercises.
We will know if you do, because you post them. ;) Get to work, Blue. You have homework to do.

Linda Adams
03-20-2008, 02:20 PM
Blue, a reminder--it's your very first story. It's not going to be perfect. There are things that are going to need work. Finish it. If you keep sending it out for crit everywhere, you're going to end up frustrating yourself into never finishing it or endlessly rewriting it.

Rowdymama
03-20-2008, 08:03 PM
No disrespect to you, Blue, but I have always held to the belief that a person should learn to write before submitting anything - this is the reason publishers stopped accepting unsolicited submissions. You were fortunate to get this kind of a review; it doesn't happen very often.

One big thing your writing lacks is drama. The reader isn't interested in how the chicken crossed the road, and I'll bet it's not germane to the story, either. You must pick out the events that you can dramatize - make interesting and exciting - and leave the rest out. If it's important that the chicken did actually cross the road, you can convey that simply by saying, "Once across the road, the chicken..." Look to your verbs; they are dull, mundane. Try more vivid ones: "With a loud sqwak (sp?) the rooster half flew, half bounced, across the road."

There is a place for telling and a place for showing.

Bufty
03-20-2008, 08:20 PM
It's not from a publisher - and it's an online crit not a review - the work is nowhere near finished.


No disrespect to you, Blue, but I have always held to the belief that a person should learn to write before submitting anything - this is the reason publishers stopped accepting unsolicited submissions. You were fortunate to get this kind of a review; it doesn't happen very often.

DWSTXS
03-20-2008, 08:58 PM
Blue, a reminder--it's your very first story. It's not going to be perfect. There are things that are going to need work. Finish it. If you keep sending it out for crit everywhere, you're going to end up frustrating yourself into never finishing it or endlessly rewriting it.

I agree with this wholeheartedly.
Finish it, then you'll be looking at an apple. You'll know what you have in hand, rather than a tree, some dirt and water, watching and waiting for that seedling grow into the fruit.

Once it's finished, then you can break it down and work on portions of it, one at a time.

James81
03-20-2008, 10:18 PM
I agree with this wholeheartedly.
Finish it, then you'll be looking at an apple. You'll know what you have in hand, rather than a tree, some dirt and water, watching and waiting for that seedling grow into the fruit.

Once it's finished, then you can break it down and work on portions of it, one at a time.

I still remember my 11th grade English teachers words:

"If you are a writer, then you believe you should write, write, write! Right? Wrong. It've more like write, revise, revise, revise, revise...."

James, not maryn, thinks that flying is easy...you just aim for the ground and MISS! (9)

BlueLucario
03-21-2008, 01:05 AM
It's not from a publisher - and it's an online crit not a review - the work is nowhere near finished.

What's the difference between a crit and a review?

Stew21
03-21-2008, 01:08 AM
a review is of a published work.

BlueLucario
03-21-2008, 04:37 AM
Well, after two and a half hours of writing and polishing, I wanted to show you this. I just want to see if I improved. I know I know just write :) I'm still writing :) and learning. I'm not sure if I still have the passive writing style in there.You all are better at this than I am, I just want to see what you think. I checked for grammar and all that and it's written to the best of my abilities.

I hope I haven't irritated anyone.



Chapter eight:
Fireballs vs. Aura Spheres


I darted past several trees, trailing the black feline leaping across the branches above me. My mind was focused on one thing, saving the red haired girl who was nothing but kind to me. But I thought about Siren, the woman who abducted her. Why did she kidnap her? What did she want from me? How did she know me? I felt that I had to be ready for what comes ahead. She could create fire, so she certainly wasn't human. Chances were that Siren could use her powers against me.

Isis leaped off a branch and stopped at an opening ahead. She must have found Siren. I halted and looked around, baffled to see nothing here.

Isis, I said. What's going on? Why did you stop?

Oh, Miss Lily, said Isis, whose tail twitched sideways. Hehehe.

What is it? I asked.

Er... Isis paced in a circular motion. Miss Lily....

"Oh for the love of," I shouted. "What? Why did you stop?!"

Aiyana, well...

Aiyana what? I said, the cat was starting to become irritating.

About her,Isis crouched into the grass, meowing. I forgot where she is.

"What?" I curled my fists. I swallowed excessively to relieve my stress. I couldn't believe it, that cat. That stupid cat! I had been following her for what felt like a long time and after all this, she told me 'she forgot'? How frustrating could she get? I started walking closer to the cat, who slowly backed away each time I took a step.
"I can't believe you Isis," I shouted. "I have been running for so long. And now you tell me that you forgot? Do you realize how pathetic you are? If you know what's good for you Isis, do not waste my time."

I'm sorry, Miss Lily, said Isis, now closer to the edge of a cliff. Please forgive me.
For a moment, I felt like giving Isis a nice good kick. After feeling at ease, I sighed and said,
It’s okay.
You calmed down so quickly, Miss Lily, said Isis. You must really be worried about Aiyana.
I am. I said
Isis sat down and licked her paw.
We will find her, she said. I have a feeling we will. Now that you calmed down, we should get a mooooo
The patch of ground Isis rested on cracked, breaking away from the rest of the cliff. Isis leaped across the crack. The piece of earth fell. Her claws locked on to the edge.
“Isis!” I said, running closer to the edge.
MEOW! Isis, couldn’t hang on any longer. By the time I attempted to aid the cat, she slipped.
“No!” I said to myself.
Peering down the cliff, I saw Isis on something brown amd furry.
“Isis,” I said. “Isis! Are you all right!”
Fine, Miss Lily! Isis got up. She paced around with her tail pointing upward.
“Oh no,” I said, watching something under the black cat wiggle.
Isis stopped pacing. She must have felt the movements from under her.
“Isis, get off that thing!” I shouted.
Isis' back arched, and her tail twitched sideways. I could hear a combination of meows and growls. A head suddenly rose.
"Isis!" I shouted again. "What are you waiting for? Get off!"
The black cat did not move. Upon watching the movements, I could feel my heart pulsate erratically. I clutched the grass firmly. The moment the creature's turned its head over to Isis, it thrashed. It quickly got on its feet, wiggling violently as he made earsplitting roars. Its huge paws pounded its back, attempting to shake off the black feline whose claws latched on. After several seconds, Isis slipped, her back landed onto the ground. She immediately got up, but before she had a chance to run, the creature stomped on her, and immediately lifted its foot. Isis howled. She leaped forward, fleeing more slowly. The creature flailed its arm about, missing Isis at every attempt to whack her. I couldn't watch any longer. She couldn't run fast enough. I had to save my cat. I stood up, and sprang forward, landing behind the creature. I shot a small aura sphere at the back of its head. It quickly turned around, its red eyes were locked on to mine. Just like I wanted. Now that could give Isis enough time to get away. It charged at me and the moment it became closer, I was able to recognize that this creature was a large black bear.

Devil Ledbetter
03-21-2008, 04:47 AM
Well, after two and a half hours of writing and polishing, I wanted to show you this. I just want to see if I improved. I know I know just write :) I'm still writing :) and learning. I'm not sure if I still have the passive writing style in there.You all are better at this than I am, I just want to see what you think. I checked for grammar and all that and it's written to the best of my abilities.

I hope I haven't irritated anyone.You might want to put that in Share Your Work if your looking for detailed critiques.

One thing that really stands out is overuse of the name "Isis." It's in there 28 times. Overuse of character names is a very common error with newer writers.

BlueLucario
03-21-2008, 04:53 AM
You might want to put that in Share Your Work if your looking for detailed critiques.

One thing that really stands out is overuse of the name "Isis." It's in there 28 times. Overuse of character names is a very common error with newer writers.


>_< Hey thanks for telling me. It's hard to tell when to use the name and when to use the other name.

Devil Ledbetter
03-21-2008, 06:16 AM
>_< Hey thanks for telling me. It's hard to tell when to use the name and when to use the other name.I'd say, as seldom as you can get away with while still keeping the story clear.

For one day, pay attention to how often people address you by your given name. If you think of your life in scenes, how many times is one person speaking to you in a scene going to say "Blue" to you?

BlueLucario
03-21-2008, 04:24 PM
I'd say, as seldom as you can get away with while still keeping the story clear.

For one day, pay attention to how often people address you by your given name. If you think of your life in scenes, how many times is one person speaking to you in a scene going to say "Blue" to you?

If they are talking to me, once. :(

Devil Ledbetter
03-21-2008, 05:21 PM
If they are talking to me, once. :(I was thinking about this addressing by name thing this morning. There is one person in my life who uses my name constantly and with great emphasis when he speaks to me. A couple of times a day, we have a conversation that goes something like this:


"Devil! How ya doin'?"

"I'm fine, how are you?"

"I'm doin'!"

"Yes. I can see that."

"Devil! Whaddaya mean, Devil? Devil! Whaddaya mean? I'm just askin'. I was just askin' Devil!"

"I know."

"I was just askin'! Devil! Devil! What do you want, Devil?"

"I want to finish this thing I'm writing."

"Sure. Sure ya do, Devil! Sure, sure, sure ya do! Devil!"


And so on. In case you haven't guessed by now, this gentleman has a mental disability that has stunted his intellectual capacity to roughly that of a 4-year-old. So when I read dialogue where characters constantly refer to each other by name, he's the first person I think of.

BlueLucario
03-21-2008, 05:39 PM
I guess it's to remind the readers who's speaking without the use of tags

Devil Ledbetter
03-21-2008, 05:45 PM
I guess it's to remind the readers who's speaking without the use of tagsIt's not a good technique, though, because it sounds unnatural. Also, it makes the reader quickly tire of the character names, and gives the impression that the writer is so enamored of those name that she's using them over and over.

If you give your characters distinct voices, make it clear who is in what predicament storywise, have some relevant action going on during the dialogue and judiciously use "said" tags, your reader will not be confused about who is speaking.

BlueLucario
03-21-2008, 05:50 PM
Actually, reading this again. I think I have said the names too many times.

About these sentences, I think I'm having trouble with these.


The moment the creature's turned its head over to Isis, it thrashed. It quickly got on its feet, wiggling violently as he made earsplitting roars. Its huge paws pounded its back, attempting to shake off the black feline whose claws latched on. After several seconds, Isis slipped, her back landed onto the ground.I think I'm telling with this one. She immediately got up, but before she had a chance to run, the creature stomped on her.

Devil Ledbetter
03-21-2008, 08:52 PM
Some suggestions for these sentences:


The moment The creature's turned its head over to Isis, itand thrashed.


It quickly got on sprang to its feet, wiggling violently and roaring he made earsplitting roars.

(I think you could find a stronger verb than "wiggling violently." Wiggling is for toddlers and worms.)

With Its huge paws it pounded its back, attempting to shake off the black feline whose attached with sharp claws latched on.

After several seconds, Isis slipped, landing flat on her back landed onto the ground. I think I'm telling with this one.

Not everything has to be entirely in show. This is fine, IMO.

She immediately got leapt up,. bBut the creature stomped on her before she could had a chance to run, the creature stomped on her.


I hope that helps.

BlueLucario
03-21-2008, 09:13 PM
I actually like that. How is it different from the paragraph before it was changed? Was my last one too wordy?

Devil Ledbetter
03-22-2008, 03:23 AM
I actually like that. How is it different from the paragraph before it was changed? Was my last one too wordy?Yes, too wordy. Keep your reader in the story by making the action happen fast. Don't hem and haw with things like "the moment" or "it quickly got on." Just say what happened, and be sure to use direct, immediate language such as "roaring" instead of "made earsplitting roars."

Good luck with your story, Blue.

BlueLucario
03-22-2008, 07:48 PM
Hey, thanks David.

Devil Ledbetter
03-22-2008, 07:52 PM
Hey, thanks David.You're welcome, Belinda. ;)

BlueLucario
03-23-2008, 12:09 AM
are the key words such as 'the moment' 'instantly' are they key words for making sentences wordy?

Devil Ledbetter
03-23-2008, 12:15 AM
are the key words such as 'the moment' 'instantly' are they key words for making sentences wordy?Not really. Any words you don't absolutely need in order to convey the meaning of the sentence will make the sentence wordy. The more unnecessary words, the wordier the sentence.

The way to tell whether a word adds to meaning or to wordiness is, remove it. If the meaning is the same, you might not need that word.

Also, don't use three words where one will do the same job. For example, where I wrote "remove it" I could have said "simply take it out." But that's a wordier approach. "Remove it" does the same job with half the words.


ETA: Don't worry about this stuff too much when you're writing your first draft. Get your story written first, then polish.