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Prog_Bassist
December 3rd, 2010, 07:27 AM
Hey guys, I'm working on a novel and I just want to get some opinions on what to do regarding proper grammar. I'm a new writer and I'm just going to post a little snippet of my writing to just get some critique on it. It's first draft, and I am aware that I may have some problems with proper sentence structure... could someone give me some advice here?
I am only posting a snippet of it because I am hoping that some day if it gets finished and gets a good edit/reworking grammar wise than I'm going to try to get it published.

Anyway please give it a look, it's only about 3 paragraphs anyway so it won't be too much trouble to critique :P

here it is:


I took a momentous drag of that cigarette. The kind of puff that you'd take from an inhaler if you were in the middle of an asthmatic attack, but this was hurting me more than helping me. I thought about my mother and how she used to smoke. I used to sit there on the couch playing video games late at night when she would just be coming in the door from a night out with the girls. She'd stagger into the apartment like an animal with her short, bedraggled hair and her smeared lipstick, drunk and practically flying on some sort of stimulant. Those nights were long and sometimes they'd feel like they were never going to end. I'd stay up all night until she came home, I couldn't help it even though she'd punish me every time. I was only nine years old and I just couldn't sleep when there was no one around to take care of me. I was terrified, so I'd sit right there on that couch until she came home. Some nights she didn't come until sunrise, or not until the following night if she had found a hook up.

On this particular night she was propped against the doorframe, drunkenly sifting through her designer bag. After about a minute she pulled her hand out and earnestly produced a small red package shrouded in cellophane. After quickly unwrapping it, she flicked it open to reveal an orderly bundle of white cigarettes. Lighter in hand, she clumsily seized one of the small, milky sticks from it's counterparts and ignited the tip, fervently sucking the unlit end as if it was her last chance for survival.

"Mommy has a friend coming over baby, you have to go to bed.". The words were slurred as they stumbled from a fatigued mouth.

She sent a thick puff of smoke hurdling through the air toward me. I watched the small cloud twist and curl with an eerie individuality. The grey vapor adopted a devious personality as it danced and swayed above me. I was staring death in the face. It was the ghost I knew too well, having been associated with it's presence ever since I could remember. The somber apparition dissipated softly in the yellow light of the ceiling fan above, yet it's foul smell still lingered in my nostrils.



...thats it haha

munsungun
December 3rd, 2010, 09:11 PM
Lighter in hand, she clumsily seized one of the small, milky sticks from it's counterparts and ignited the tip, fervently sucking the unlit end as if it was her last chance for survival.
I'm no grammar expert but nothing jumped out grammar wise. This phrase struck me as possibly confusing. Seized one of the small, milky sticks from its counterparts..... At first it sounds like some one is taking one of the cigs from the other cigs. I knew what you meant but you should always try to avoid unnecessary confusion because it pulls the reader from the story.

Also small, milky sticks. I don't get this. Everyone knows what a cigarette looks like and calling them milky is potentially confusing. Why not just grabbed a cigarette.

Maybe someone else has a better eye and can help. Best of luck.

Prog_Bassist
December 3rd, 2010, 09:31 PM
hahaha, you definitely have a point there :P it does seem kind of confusing, thanks for the advice!

Olly Buckle
December 3rd, 2010, 10:35 PM
There could be things I have missed ( edit, found a comma going through the second time) but it all looked good to me in terms of punctuation and sentence structure, There are old bits I would edit:-


I took a momentous drag of that cigarette. The kind of puff that you'd take from an inhaler if you were in the middle of an asthmatic attack, but this was hurting me more than helping me. I thought about my mother and how she used to smoke. I used to sit there on the couch playing video games late at night when she would just be coming in the door from a night out with the girls. She'd stagger into the apartment like an animal with her short, bedraggled hair and her smeared lipstick, drunk and practically flying on some sort of stimulant. Those nights were long and sometimes they'd feel like they were never going to end. I'd stay up all night until she came home, I couldn't help it comma even though she'd punish me every time. I was only nine years old and I just couldn't sleep when there was no one around to take care of me. I was terrified, so I'd sit right there on that couch until she came home. Some nights she didn't come until sunrise, or not until the following night if she had found a hook up.

On this particular night she was propped against the doorframe, drunkenly sifting through her designer bag. After about a minute she pulled her hand out and earnestly produced a small red package shrouded in cellophane. After quickly unwrapping it, she flicked it open to reveal an orderly bundle of white cigarettes. Lighter in hand, she clumsily seized one of the small, milky sticks from it's counterparts and ignited the tip, fervently sucking the unlit end as if it was her last chance for survival.

but.qualifiers weaken statements, don't make them unnecessarily

would just be. as above, plus just is a useless word most of the time, try "she came"

and sometimes same again

comma missing

just there must be a joke about the sleep of the just, which would be a legitimate use of this mongrel word.

to take care of me for me this is too much information, I would leave it to the readers imagination, they know why they would be terrified alone.

earnestly I really can't see someone taking a fag "earnestly", maybe "with an earnest expression", but why bother?

used and her are repeated close to each other, some dislike this, for others it is a deliberate trick of emphasis.

Hope some of it helps even if it wasn't why you asked, Olly.

Draxia
December 4th, 2010, 05:44 AM
No, I'm sorry, you're comparing youre mothers love to the smoke of a cigarette? No, that does not work. Come on, you can do better.

Prog_Bassist
December 4th, 2010, 07:28 AM
thanks for the advice, I'll work on it some more, maybe I'll post the revised bit on here for further nit picking.

and Draxia, what do you mean? also it's not my mother, it's my character's :P

I'm just wondering what is so wrong with it? I didn't mean to compare her love to that of cigarette smoke, I was just describing it in a somewhat poetic manner, does it suck? haha. I don't mean to sound like I'm taking your criticism the wrong way or anything, I'm just not sure I agree with you exactly, could you go deeper into what you mean?

SupposedPolecat
December 4th, 2010, 10:03 AM
I felt like you could have given more detail to the character rather than his/her environment. I think more focus on the emotions would make this more inviting. Right now I'm wondering why everything is going on; the point.

I also felt like you could have broken your paragraphs into smaller ones.

Interesting. I would like to see a more updated version.

len_ryuka
December 4th, 2010, 10:57 AM
My opinion will change greatly depending on which part of the novel this is from. Beginning, middle, or end?

Scarfparty
December 4th, 2010, 11:14 AM
I did feel like you spent a lot of description around the actions - everything had at least an adverb. Not all writing has to be super poetic - it's nice to open with a good image or two, but the action should speak for itself as much as it can. Getting through the mother's actions once she gets in the door is like reading a checklist of "she does that like this, then something else like that..." It breaks up a smooth flow of interconnected ideas and presents them all individually, when perhaps not all of them are necessary. If this was a descriptive piece just focussed on looking metaphorically at this moment, maybe you could get away with it or even say more, but I'm thinking it's not, since you said "novel"...

But yeah, you're not bad at what you do - just think you can tone it back in places. :P

Draxia
December 4th, 2010, 12:42 PM
I feel your passage. I feel it. "I watched the small cloud twist and curl with an eerie individuality." I feel that. But don't dwell on it.

Don't dwell on it.

Prog_Bassist
December 5th, 2010, 07:17 PM
I understand where your getting at now, I really appreciate all the feedback guys, I've never written a novel before, like, I've started them but then looked back and felt disgusted and threw it away, but I feel every time I start doing it again, I get a little better each time.

Also, it's the beginning. I feel like I should let the story go wherever it ends up heading. I've created a fairly existential character and I just want him to breathe, and make his own choices. I'm going to focus on reworking this little bit before I move on further just to see if I can form a better rhythm, I'll post the updated version soon and we'll take the pi*s out of it some more. Appreciate it, seriously.

len_ryuka
December 5th, 2010, 08:36 PM
It's too short for me to feel anything so far, but I do see the conflict building up and certainly the character. Though I have to say 500ish words is just too early for me to judge. But I can see him existing in the real world from what I'm seeing "so far"

Prog_Bassist
December 6th, 2010, 04:32 AM
yeah, I'm just afraid to post too too much just due to me wanting to try for a publisher once it's finished, and I read that if you post even a chapter there might be a problem with that kinda thing, I really wish I could post more but I'm a constant stresser about things like this haha

Prog_Bassist
December 6th, 2010, 05:04 AM
here we go, reworked it a bit, took some advice into it, hows this:

I took a mighty drag of that cigarette. The kind of puff that you'd take from an inhaler if you were in the middle of an asthmatic attack, except this was hurting me more than helping me.

I thought about my mother and how she used to smoke; I would sit there on the couch, waiting for her until she came home from clubbing late at night. She'd stagger into the apartment like an animal with her short, bedraggled hair and her smeared lipstick, drunk and practically flying on some sort of stimulant. Those nights were long, sometimes they felt like they were never going to end. It killed me a little more inside every time I saw her in the state she was in when she came through the door.

I was only nine years old at the time, and those restless nights alone were far too unbearable to go to sleep, so I'd do nothing but wait. Some nights she didn't come until sunrise, or even the following evening if she had found a hook up.

On this particular night she was propped against the doorframe, drunkenly sifting through her designer bag, looking for her cigarettes. Quickly unwrapping the package, she took one out and ignited the tip, fervently sucking the unlit end as if it was her last chance for survival.

"Mommy has a friend coming over baby, you have to go to bed.". The words were slurred as they stumbled from a fatigued mouth.

She sent a thick puff of smoke hurdling toward me; I watched the grey vapor twist and curl with a devious personality, dancing and swaying above me, then slowly dissipating.