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outoftheblue
November 29th, 2011, 09:04 PM
Hi everyone! :-p Recently, I posted the opening scene of 'Intervasion', and received some really decent feedback on it. I wanted to post a random scene from Chapter 18 of the book. This is simply because, though it's a small scene, I really enjoyed writing it and wanted to share. The Scene revolves around the characters, The Host and Waiter One, and I wanted to create the feeling that you're not quite understanding of the context of their conversation, but you have a feeling it's important - that it's vague, but not so vague that it doesn't peak your interest and make you wonder. I just wanted some feedback on whether the scene is interesting enough, and the characters interactions are interesting enough. I understand you won't understand some of the 'environmental issues' within this piece, but hopefully it'll not be too distracting! O:)




**

The Host entered the front veranda. The brassy sky glowed hot and the landscape was silent, save his creaking steps. To the west of the house, and registering just below the enamel white edges of the limestone cliffs, the thinly drawn horizon was turning from midnight blue to black. Though the sky often changed, the light, and its loyalty to dusk, didn’t. It remained the same.

‘Any sign of our returning guests?’ he asked.

The red haired waiter straightened. He’d been leaning against the veranda’s rail with his elbows, chin cradled in his palms, tranquil gaze tracing the edges of the woodland.

‘No,’ he answered softly. ‘But surely you don’t expect them to come back?’

The Host smiled.

The red haired waiter hesitated. ‘Then – then you do? But…they’re hiding?’

The Host finally joined him at the rail, looking out.

‘The ramifications of such things are uncertain, Waiter One,’ he said. ‘Though I’m confident that they’ll grow restless, for where they are at the moment is alien to them.’ He turned to the waiter. He appeared anxious under The Host’s strictest attention. ‘Waiter, you’re very pre-occupied. And I believe I know why…’

The waiter looked at him and held his gaze.

‘The boys,’ he went on, ‘are a concern –’

‘Missing – two out of the three...’

The Host gave a short nod. ‘Yet, it’s the one boy in particular that you’re most bonded with?’

The waiter looked away.

The Host said, ‘You believe the boy to be your son, waiter?’

‘You think the guests will come back…after what you told them –?’

‘ – about unknown assailants attempting to regain their items? Hmm, I think they will.’

‘And then?’

‘We shall see.’

‘You said –’

‘And I intend to respect that agreement,’ said The Host.

‘How will you deal with –?’

‘That’ll be private. Ah, waiter, I believe your prayers have been answered…’

The Host pointed out to him the two small specks in the distance. The invisible lawnmower was cutting a trail through the long grass. The two boys were approaching, conversing happily with one another.

The Host turned to him.

‘I’m quite relieved,’ he said. ‘The last time they perfected their little escape you were so frantic that both my other waiters had to physically restrain you.’

The waiter shifted a moist gaze on him, but soon returned his look to the two boys.

‘You recall your little –?’

‘Yes, I remember. I apologised.’

‘And I told you before that it wasn’t necessary to apologise.’

‘I smashed things…I threatened…threatened –’

‘My waitress.’ The Host nodded sympathetically and dropped a hand onto his shoulder. ‘She was undoubtedly shocked by your sudden and quite unpredictable flair for violence, but she was quite forgiving as I recall? Hmm. Quite correct – in fact, my waitress is a little different to you, because she doesn’t have a child wandering out into the woodland, does she not? No. Yet…that red haired boy hasn’t been confirmed as your child, and yet he remains incredibly important to you.’

As though on cue, the elderly waitress tottered out onto the veranda, carrying a silver tray holding four cups and saucers and a silver serpent teapot. She set the tray down silently on a small table sat in the corner of the veranda, and then gave a small nod to The Host, before returning swiftly inside.

‘A pot of hot chocolate,’ announced The Host with a smile. ‘Mint.’

The waiter started for the tray, but The Host held out an arm.

‘It’s fine, Waiter One. I can manage,’ he added, striding over to the tray and pouring them each a cup. ‘You stay quite where you are…and make sure that the two boys don’t make a sudden detour. Which,’ he added quickly, because an uncertain look had rolled over the waiter’s face, ‘will not happen. They could probably smell the chocolate. I’ll pour them each a cup too.’

‘Why do you think the children keep going against your wishes?’

‘Children are wilful, Waiter One. I’m quite sure you can recall yourself?’ said The Host, bringing the teapot level and wiping a droplet of chocolate from the silver spout with a serviette. ‘It’s child’s play. I have faith that they have realised that their “escapes” are fairly pointless. I’m quite sure; in fact, that they do it merely for entertainment purposes only, and of course that old devil curiosity. Curiosity,’ he handed the waiter his cup and saucer, ‘can lead a person to interesting places. To a child, it can only lead to somewhere nice. For us, well,’ he shrugged, sampling his drink and smacking his lips in satisfaction, ‘its destination isn’t as determined as theirs.’

The children were close, but they still hadn’t noticed The Host and the waiter, standing and watching from the veranda. The brassy sky had begun to ripple like a golden lake. The dark horizon shone, polished for the occasion. Chatting and pushing one another jovially, the invisible lawnmower continued to guide the two boys toward the house.

‘Why does the other boy never go with them?’ asked the waiter, continuing to watch their progress.

The Host smiled. ‘Child’s play,’ he reasoned. ‘Children can be cruel.’

The waiter said, ‘They don’t like him?’

‘Or the boy just prefers to remain here.’ The Host motioned at the two boys, laughing and bouncing along. ‘Their relationship is an interesting one, wouldn’t you agree?’

He looked back at The Host, but failed to answer.

The Host went on, ‘They can go from being almost like brothers to being sworn and bitter enemies. It can change in a flicker, like they suddenly…suspect one another?’

‘I haven’t noticed,’ replied the waiter, looking down at his cup.

‘I have,’ said The Host.

‘If – if you’re expecting the guests to return, Host, would you like myself and the others to prepare the plateau for their arrivals?’

‘That’ll not be necessary, waiter. The plateau has served its purpose.’

‘Then –’

‘The house,’ replied The Host, studying the waiter’s stunned expression. ‘The room downstairs.’

‘Where the children –?’

‘No. The other room.’

The waiter stared at him, his mouth opening and closing but nothing came.

‘There’ll be no need for preparations, Waiter One,’ said The Host, ‘arrangements have already been made. But I do appreciate your offer to prepare the plateau. I would, however, along with the rest of the waiters and waitress, wish for you all to join our guests down in the bottom room when the time arrives.’

The waiter nodded. Then something occurred to him.

‘Host, what if – what if he comes?’

The Host smiled, and returned to his drinking chocolate.

‘Then,’ he said after a moment, ‘I have faith in you, waiter. You’ve come this far.’

Jon Prosser
December 1st, 2011, 11:30 PM
hey gary, good job with this extract. there's a good balance between description and dialogue, although i would say you're right about the intro you added - it doesn't make a whole lot of sense out of it's context. nontheless it still has substance to it. i didn't pick up on anything negative except for the odd stylistic choice, for example "‘You think the guests will come back…after what you told them –?’" - this to me seemed a bit melodramatic in writing, not sure why. personally i would remove the ellipses but that's all. although in fairness, this might just be because i've read the first few chapters and had my own ideas about the waiters being completely blank and irrelevant characters. this is part definitely arouses curiosity so i don't think you have any problems there, keep it up!

outoftheblue
December 2nd, 2011, 11:07 AM
hey gary, good job with this extract. there's a good balance between description and dialogue, although i would say you're right about the intro you added - it doesn't make a whole lot of sense out of it's context. nontheless it still has substance to it. i didn't pick up on anything negative except for the odd stylistic choice, for example "‘You think the guests will come back…after what you told them –?’" - this to me seemed a bit melodramatic in writing, not sure why. personally i would remove the ellipses but that's all. although in fairness, this might just be because i've read the first few chapters and had my own ideas about the waiters being completely blank and irrelevant characters. this is part definitely arouses curiosity so i don't think you have any problems there, keep it up!


Thanks Jon! Yeah, it's difficult to explain because as I say it's out of context. The waiter's/waitress are more incidental than I first envisaged. So they all have their own back-stories. :wink2:

QDOS
December 2nd, 2011, 03:56 PM
Hi
Dialogue, I always feel it better to overstate who is speaking rather than not. Specific character name or title, - said, remarked, replied, asked, queried, spoke in a certain tone of voice, or any other form of words as long as it is explicit who is talking. You can flip from one character to the other if the flow of words are not disjointed or use a particular catch word or way of expression to identify each speaker.

The Host said, ‘You believe the boy to be your son, waiter?’

‘You think the guests will come back…after what you told them –?’ (This could be - the waiter or The host)

‘ – about unknown assailants attempting to regain their items? Hmm, I think they will.’ (Likewise)

‘And then?’ (Likewise)

‘We shall see.’ (The Host? Not sure)

‘You said –’(The waiter)

‘And I intend to respect that agreement,’ said The Host.


Some of your text needs to flow a little more smoothly. I apologise for using theses as examples.

The Host pointed out (to him the) two small specks in the distance. The invisible lawnmower was cutting a trail through the long grass. The two boys were approaching, conversing happily with one another cutting a trail through the long grass.

The Host turned to (him) the waiter.

‘I’m quite relieved,’ (he)said. ‘The last time they perfected their little escape you were so frantic that both my other waiters had to physically restrain you.’ (he This could be - the waiter or The Host)

The waiter shifted (a moist) his gaze to The Host (on him), but soon returned (his) to look (to) at the two boys.

Red to cut : Blue to add

I guess you’ve achieved your point of leaving the reader not quite understanding the context of the conversation between The Host and Waiter. As to its significance does this line hold the clue?

‘Host, what if – what if he comes?’

QDOS :topsy_turvy:

outoftheblue
December 2nd, 2011, 09:34 PM
Thanks QDOS :peaceful: A few things for me to consider.

xanthreterra
December 11th, 2011, 05:49 AM
In my humble first post opinion I think that you use too many stylistic elements. In other words use fewer dashes, ellipses and italics.

outoftheblue
December 12th, 2011, 04:14 PM
In my humble first post opinion I think that you use too many stylistic elements. In other words use fewer dashes, ellipses and italics.

Thanks, xanthreterra. Just need to ask, because it's your opinion...is this just a preference of yours? I'm guessing you're not suggesting it's necessarily incorrect to use such stylistic elements, just that you prefer not to read text with so many in? :eagerness:

Robdemanc
December 12th, 2011, 05:26 PM
Hi. I remember your prologue or opening chapter. Very vivid. This is also vivid in description of setting, which I find quite colourful, and weird (but in a good way). The conversation I cannot really comment on becuase I know nothing of the story or plot. I would agree that too many dashes and ellipsis etc are not good in text. Keep them to a minimum.

outoftheblue
December 12th, 2011, 06:08 PM
Hi. I remember your prologue or opening chapter. Very vivid. This is also vivid in description of setting, which I find quite colourful, and weird (but in a good way). The conversation I cannot really comment on becuase I know nothing of the story or plot. I would agree that too many dashes and ellipsis etc are not good in text. Keep them to a minimum.

Thanks, Robdemanc! O:) I'll have to revise some of the 'stylistic elements'. I have to say, I do only use them when I feel it's important - and not just for the sake of it - BUT, I do agree to a certain extent that maybe I've over-tipped the balance on them. But it's nice that it's been brought to my attention, certainly for me to consider anyway. Thanks for your encouragement, especially about the setting. The setting is incredibly important to the plot, so I'm glad you've found what you've read quite vivid to read.

Thanks again!O:)

xanthreterra
December 12th, 2011, 10:53 PM
Most of my English coursework has been focused on essays, reports and technical writing so critiquing fiction is new to me. However, I believe that the notation rules should be standard across all writing forms. Therefore, I list below how I think some of the stylistic elements should be used.

Dash (1) to emphasis material: My car-a million dollar Ferrari- was gone.
(2) to start a list: This section covers the following-ellipses,dashes, italics and more.

You used ellipses to denote pauses in speech. Zane Grey used this a lot but I do not think it is very common anymore. All those pauses make the dialogue seem choppy.

Italics can be used to add emphasis. However, you emphasize everything and thus nothing. I counted 32 points of emphasis, denoted by the above mentioned methods. This is just too many. I got my information from Diane Hacker's A Writer's Reference, used in every English class I have taken and considered the English style standard. So it is my opinion yes, but an educated one.

PS. So as to not seem overly critical, I wish I had 18 chapters of a novel.

outoftheblue
December 13th, 2011, 03:24 PM
Most of my English coursework has been focused on essays, reports and technical writing so critiquing fiction is new to me. However, I believe that the notation rules should be standard across all writing forms. Therefore, I list below how I think some of the stylistic elements should be used.

Dash (1) to emphasis material: My car-a million dollar Ferrari- was gone.
(2) to start a list: This section covers the following-ellipses,dashes, italics and more.

You used ellipses to denote pauses in speech. Zane Grey used this a lot but I do not think it is very common anymore. All those pauses make the dialogue seem choppy.

Italics can be used to add emphasis. However, you emphasize everything and thus nothing. I counted 32 points of emphasis, denoted by the above mentioned methods. This is just too many. I got my information from Diane Hacker's A Writer's Reference, used in every English class I have taken and considered the English style standard. So it is my opinion yes, but an educated one.

PS. So as to not seem overly critical, I wish I had 18 chapters of a novel.


Thanks, xanthreterra. It's cool. It's something I'll look into on further reading. I've edited the work quite a lot - when I go through it again, it'll probably just be the stylistic elements, because the plot doesn't need editing. It seems to work how I envisaged (to a certain degree), so it's just loose ends now really. But thanks for your input. It'll help me, especially when I look over the dialogue again.:onthego:

Quadrillion
December 14th, 2011, 11:58 PM
Warning, it was difficult to read and I didn't spend a lot of time analyzing it, but here are some thoughts.

It's a little discomforting. You're making the reader work too hard. I can't relate to the descriptions in the first paragraph. You may be trying to hard as someone said, to be stylistic. You're asking me to understand an abstract idea. Why not go into the detail of that idea another sentence or two. It's hard work, I know.

Give one of the two names, or both. I don't see someone addressing a waiter as "waiter" while they're having an informal conversation. Why doesn't he ask the waiter what his name is, and then call him by that? It's a chance to really get into it. "It's Charles, but my parents call me Chucky." Can I call you Charles, then.

It's too impersonal. It all needs to be seen from the standpoint of one of the two characters. What is he thinking as he looks at the waiter's curly hair, or plaid tuxedo? If you do that, you'll give your paragraphs some meat and they won't all be one line long.

Why aren't you using " instead of ' ?

The brassy sky? What is brass in this case, a color or a texture? If it's a color, change it to copper or golden or at least say the sky was the color of brass.

enamel white? Limestone and enamel don't really fit. Snow white, deep white. Enamel is more of a finish - a shiny finish. Limestone isn't shiny. If yours is, you need a more thorough description. And what is "silent landscape." Explore the message you're trying to get across when you describe it that way.

outoftheblue
December 15th, 2011, 11:10 AM
Quadrillion, thanks for your time and input. As I said at the start of the piece, this is chapter 18 and therefore things in this scene have been described and explained in previous chapters and therefore do not need explaining again. It's probably my fault for posting a chapter so far into the book.

As for the exchange and why he addresses the man as 'Waiter' and vice-versa 'Host', is the whole point. Their identities aren't supposed to be known to the reader until toward the end of the book. For most of the novel these characters are known as 'The Host' and also as 'Waiter One', or 'Waiter' if he's on his own. There is also a character not in this scene called, 'The Subject', and that's how he's addressed and spoken of throughout the novel.

As for the stylistic elements, I probably agree on most of them. I will probably cut a lot so it's a more 'smooth' read.

Thanks for your input, it's appreciated. O:)