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MaeyMaeyCute
May 3rd, 2014, 03:57 AM
Hello everyone! I have always loved to write stories, and in recent years have become more concerned with things such as quality, consistency, and good grammar. Because of this, I decided to ask for a critique--and by critique I mean critique. Comments of praise are much appreciated, but please do not feel afraid to criticize my work. I am posting here in order to learn and I will take every comment to heart. As a heads up, I have had formal grammar classes, but am by no means a grammar expert. Though, I think one my most jarring problems is an inability to vary sentence structure along with excessive run on sentences and/or wordiness and over descriptiveness. Tell me if I'm wrong.

Now, this is a short piece I wrote for the sole purpose of a critique, using a character I had previously created in order to easily get myself "in the zone". It starts off with the protagonist, an unhappy, caged prince gazing out of the window...it ends abruptly, but this was done on purpose as this is only meant to be a small example of my writing. So now, let us begin...

Nighttime. A dark time where most people are sound asleep in their beds. A cold time, where the shade of temperature matches the color of the sky, and scattered about it, alluring balls of light flicker and burn, gladly lighting the way for murderers, thieves, and other immoral convicts. Trees that were once green in the daylight now stand crooked, black, and cast eerie shadows across the stoney pavement. A wolf, yellow eyes glowing and teeth bared pounces on its prey and bats replace the sweet bluebird's song with dissonant screeches. Waifs line solemn streets, searching for food or shelter while drugs and prostitutes are sold like common eggs at the market, or at least, that's what my tutor tells me. A rather gloomy interpretation on my part, yes, but I concede. Tonight it was different. I found the dark air was not cold at all, but quite refreshing. The stars burnt bright, but not for the aid of criminals, but for the aid of the pure...Now, as contradictory as it may sound, I must insist that I am quite serious, though I certainly can't sight any reliable or factual examples to support my case, and I doubt any other person would have considered this night any different from the last. But there was just something about it that drove my empty heart with fascination, a feeling in the air, if you will, that struck my core delicately like a harp and caused me to think of each part of the earth as a living, feeling, intelligent thing, beaconing me to the balcony. I knew it was well past my bedtime now and as I gazed up, I saw the clock read 12:27.

Suddenly, an idea struck me like a courteous lightning bolt, shaking my hand while transferring a piercing, electric energy through my veins. In an excited frenzy, I threw the covers off myself and scrambled out of bed, tripping clumsily over the cotton hem of my nightgown, and darting directly toward the chest that held my violin. After eagerly lifting the velvet lid, I my grabbed it and scampered to the balcony's door, nonchalantly snatching a handful of composition papers and a pen on the way there. As soon as the door slid open, the night breeze flew into my face and when I stepped onto the marble ground, white moonlight showered me and reflected off my colorless hair and skin, cloaking me in it's bright magic. Gazing down at my hands I saw my veins appearing darker and bluer, which I assumed was nature's way of crowning me with sapphire jewelry. Stepping a bit deeper onto the balcony, I lifted the violin to my chin and raised up my bow as quietly as I could, and began to play. At first, my bow struck sad cords but became happier as I went on. All around me, I watched as I played, casting my empty cornflower eyes down at the various flowers and vines which lovingly embraced the white marble with a fervor I had never known. At least, not from a living person...

Elvenswordsman
May 3rd, 2014, 11:00 AM
Eh, it's not run-on sentences, but formatting that is your main problem. You need to learn where to place linebreaks.

Also, you have a good use of description, but your word choice is... Well, a good example is that you used "time" on 3 occasions, merely in the first 15 words.

As a stylistic issue, I'm not sure I agree with some of the direct comparisons you had - temperature compared to the colour of the night sky? Eh, I'm Canadian though. Here, white is cold. And my ex.

So final word? Format.

Greimour
May 3rd, 2014, 05:45 PM
Hmm...

With such a short piece, I am not entirely sure how to critique. I guess in the end a critique is only an opinion... so I will give my opinion on it and you can do with it as you wish. I wouldn't advise taking anything anyone says to heart though. Catalogue it, file it, remember it but don't adhere to it religiously.

Wording:

Nighttime. A dark time where most people are sound asleep in their beds. A cold time, where the shade of temperature matches the color of the sky, and scattered about it, alluring balls of light flicker and burn, gladly lighting the way for murderers, thieves, and other immoral convicts.

Night: a time where most people lay tucked safely in bed. Not everyone though. Ambitious men with hearts immoral find this time to be one of opportunity. Little more than small balls of twinkling lights in a sky to guide their feet have them sneaking among the shadows.

--- You don't really have to expand so much, with the tree's and bats vs birds etc. Break it down and space apart the different descriptions.


Waifs line solemn streets, searching for food or shelter while drugs and prostitutes are sold like common eggs at the market, or at least, that's what my tutor tells me.

Waifs line solemn streets, searching for food or shelter whilst drugs and prostitutes are sold like common eggs at market.

(I can't decide if while or whilst work better. I think whilst and put whilst, then don't like it and put while - then I change my mind again and go back to whilst... I really can't decide which sounds better but despite writing whilst, I eventually actually thought "while" was better. The vote being: 51 for while - 49 for whilst.)


A rather gloomy interpretation on my part, yes, but I concede. Tonight it was different.

A rather gloomy interpretation on my part I concede but tonight it was different.

--- After that sentence, move it down to the next paragraph. You just ended a scene/imagery and move on to the next phase, so let the readers eyes move on to the next section with more ease.

Example:

Waifs line solemn streets, searching for food or shelter whilst drugs and prostitutes are sold like common eggs at the market. A rather gloomy interpretation on my part I concede but, tonight it was different.

I found the dark air was not cold at all, but quite refreshing. The stars burnt bright, but not for the aid of criminals, but for the aid of the pure...

Wording again: I found the dark air was not cold at all but refreshing. The stars burned bright not for the aid of criminals, but for the aid of the pure.

***

Run on Sentences:


Now, as contradictory as it may sound, I must insist that I am quite serious, though I certainly can't sight any reliable or factual examples to support my case, and I doubt any other person would have considered this night any different from the last. But there was just something about it that drove my empty heart with fascination, a feeling in the air, if you will, that struck my core delicately like a harp and caused me to think of each part of the earth as a living, feeling, intelligent thing, beaconing me to the balcony.
Um... struck seems like a strong word for a harp - but to say : "plucked my core delicately..." is also wrong... so I would probably reword that entirely. I would reword the entire section. Short simple sentences - or shorter sentences at the least. You have two sentences there that you could easily turn into four or even 6.

(Poor example will follow, a seat of my pants interpretation of that section alone. NOT the piece as a whole. Keep in mind the word 'example'.)

Doubting there could be many who considered this night any different to the last; I wondered if indeed my thoughts were alone. Uniqueness in the air filled my empty heart with fascination soothed my soul. Viewing the world from the peaceful serenity of a calm mind I felt at last what was meant by 'the world is living'. She is alive, mother Gaia - intelligent and feeling. I know because it was she that lulled me to the balcony to bear witness. Witness to the beauty, harmony and potential of all she had to offer.

***

Well, that's mostly covers my opinion. I didn't cover the entire piece, but to do so would mostly repeat the same thing over and over.
Choosing different wording can give you deeper meanings, impressionable subtleties and simpler sentences with fewer words and stronger impact.

My examples are just examples, but it's you who should raise the piece to the highest level you can achieve. Because it is your piece. I merely hope that my exampels can provide with some insight that helps you along the way.


~Kev.

W.Goepner
May 4th, 2014, 11:10 PM
The Idea is to critique others, in an attempt to get them to critique mine. Yet again I find this as difficult as... That is another thread.

As Elvinswordsman stated. the use of words and rhythm of wording. I get the usage of the word "Time" You wish to carry the importance of it. "Time" as the color of cold. Cold a feeling as Deep as the shads of the blackness of night surrounding the buildings. I get this.

A twist, a turn, of word or phrasing Can make a difference, as Greimour said. I hope I can give this the poetic justice, as I had read and interpret your meaning.


Nighttime. A dark time where most people are sound asleep in their beds. A cold time, where the shade of temperature matches the color of the sky, and scattered about it, alluring balls of light flicker and burn, gladly lighting the way for murderers, thieves, and other immoral convicts.

Nighttime; When most people, who do not live the night life, tend to be sound asleep. (*in their beds*, a bit redundant or presumptuous.) A cold time, where the shades of darkness carry the chill deeper into the blackness of the sky splattered with the alluring balls of light. Stars that flicker and burn, lighting the way for murders, thieves, and other immoral convicts. (I question this word, convicts, though I used it. It usually means, *been there, done that, and got caught.* Maybe drop it?)

Even my interpretation has faults, but if you see the difference then it might work for you. Writing does not always have to give a poetic flow. But this one, I would say, could use it.

Just me. I am but a humble man that thinks he has a story to sell.

dvspec
May 6th, 2014, 09:44 AM
Gleefully, pulling out my red pen. . . the poor babe has no idea what she has asked for.

My comments will appear harsh, but they are given with the intent to improve your writing as you have requested. I will not only critique your excerpt, but the whole message as I feel you have given me permission to do that and I'm just mean like that.

If it is underlined, strike it. It's probably clutter.

<> will indicate that you need something here or to denote a comment by me.

My comments will be in bold and italics.

I will reformat as I go. Huge blocks of text make my brain hurt. <I have edited it, but the format is still off. Until you rework it, that can't be repaired.>


Hello everyone! I have always loved to write stories, and in recent years have become more concerned with things such as quality, consistency, and good grammar. Because of this, I decided to ask for a critique--and by critique I mean critique. Comments of praise are much appreciated, but please do not feel afraid to criticize my work. I am posting here in order to learn and I will take every comment to heart. As a heads up, I have had formal grammar classes, but am by no means a grammar expert. Though, I think one my most jarring problems is an inability to vary sentence structure along with excessive run on sentences and/or wordiness and over descriptiveness.<I find it interesting that you used a run on sentence to tell us that> Tell me if I'm wrong.

Readers have the attention span of a brain damaged goldfish. You actually lost me in your opening paragraph, but in the interest of helping, I continued.

Now, this is a short piece I wrote for the sole purpose of a critique, using a character I had previously created in order to easily get myself "in the zone". It starts off with the protagonist, an unhappy, caged prince gazing out of the window...it ends abruptly, but this was done on purpose as this is only meant to be a small example of my writing. So now, let us begin...

Nighttime.

A dark time where <when> most people are sound asleep in their beds. A cold time, where the shade of temperature matches the color of the sky,<I don't get that. Temp has no shade. Lost me.>

and scattered about it, alluring balls of light flicker and burn, gladly <a dreaded adverb, lights can't be glad> lighting the way for murderers, thieves, and other immoral convicts. <I like these people. They make things interesting> Trees<,> that were once green in the daylight <,>now stand crooked, <and>black, and cast<ing> eerie shadows across the stony pavement.

A wolf, yellow eyes glowing <why are they glowing?> and teeth bared <,> pounces on its prey <Are wolves nocturnal?>and <as> bats replace thesweet bluebird's song with dissonant screeches. <They sound like chirps actually. You have some great imagery here, just to many words.>

Waifs line solemn streets, searching for food or shelter while drugs and prostitutes are sold like common eggs at the market, <.>or at least, that's what my tutor tells me. A rather gloomy interpretation on my part, yes, but I concede. <concede what and to whom? You change tone from here.

You have some great gloomy thing going on and the next paragraph, the guy sounds almost chipper. Make him gloomy, I want gloomy! Oh, uh, did I mention I am doing this at 0230 hours and I might be a little nuts on a good day? Moving on. . .>

Tonight it was different. I found the dark air <it>was not cold at all, but quite refreshing <thinking that is a cliché>. The stars burnt bright, but not for the aid of criminals, but for the aid of the pure... <Wait! What? I thought the alluring balls were street lights.>

Now, as contradictory as it may sound, I must insist that I am quite serious, though I certainly can't sight any reliable or factual examples to support my case, and I doubt any other person would have considered this night any different from the last. <Read that out loud to yourself. You can only take a breath when you get to a period. >

<same sentence, made into more than one.> Now, as contradictory as it may sound, I must insist that I am quite serious,<.> though I certainly can't sight any reliable or factual examples to support my case, and I doubt any other person would have considered this night any different from the last. <What is he yammering on about? I will let the style stand, because it may be the character, but it bothers me>

But there was just something 'about it that drove my empty heart with fascination<I like the empty heart, but the use of fascination here is weird.>, a feeling in the air, if you will, that struck my core delicately like a harp and caused me to think of each part of the earth as a living, feeling, intelligent thing, beaconing me to the balcony. <To many words, not enough .s. Not my style. To many words, not enough information.> I knew it was well past my bedtime now and as I gazed up, I saw the clock read 12:27.

Suddenly <Adverb bad>, an idea struck me like a courteous <Seriously?> lightning bolt, shaking my hand while transferring a piercing, electric energy through my veins. In an excited frenzy, I threw the covers off myself and scrambled out of bed, tripping clumsily over the cotton hem of my nightgown, <To many words, not enough .s> and darting directly toward the chest that held my violin. After eagerly <Adverb bad> lifting the velvet lid, I my grabbed it and scampered to the balcony's door, nonchalantly <Adverb and he is in a frenzy, he can't be nonchalant at the same time. What do you think this word means?>snatching a handful of composition papers and a pen on the way there.

As soon as the door slid open, the night breeze flew into my face <Needs reworked.>and when I stepped onto the marble ground, <out>white moonlight showered me and reflected off my colorless hair and skin, <How can he be colorless?>cloaking me in it's bright magic. <nope sorry lost me. Lip actually curled at that sentence. I do however like the moonlight showering and cloaking in bright magic> Gazing down at my hands I saw my veins appearing darker and bluer, which I assumed was nature's way of crowning me with sapphire jewelry.
<what point are you trying to get across?> Stepping a bit deeper onto the balcony, I lifted the violin to my chin and raised up my bow as quietly as I could,<why is he being quite and how do you make noise raising the bow anyway?> and began to play.

At first, my bow struck sad cords<,>but became happier as I went on. All around me, I watched as I played, casting my empty cornflower <what does that mean?>eyes down at the various flowers and vines which lovingly <Adverb weird use> embraced the white marble with a fervor I had never known. At least, not from a living person... <To many words>

<this is the sentence from above, unaltered. Can you tell me what the subject is and the action?> All around me, I watched as I played, casting my empty cornflower eyes down at the various flowers and vines which lovingly embraced the white marble with a fervor I had never known.

I had to read it three times to figure it out. I watched flowers and vines. That is what that sentence breaks down to in my interpretation.

I marked the adverbs because they are the mark of an amateur. Also, you seemed to use weird ones for weird purposes.

I recommend writing this same passage in a "see Jane run" sentence structure so you can look at a sentence and tell what the subject and verb are and make sure they have a point in the story. You have to have the vase (subject) and water (verb) before you add the flowers.

Reading your stuff out loud will help you figure out where you need a period.

Did you survive that? I hope I didn't make you cry, but if I did, I am sorry. Let me know, if you do or don't want me to critique any future posts. You said you could take, it, but seeing your words in a bloody heap is very different than imagining them there. Good luck.

Greimour
May 6th, 2014, 10:59 AM
I marked the adverbs because they are the mark of an amateur.

That one teeny tiny comment, I disagree with.

I am not going to go into any of the rest of your post, that is between you and Maey, I just don't think that single statement is correct and I also think that if someone states it the way you did, I should instantly point out my opposing view. I have my reasons and some of them (not all) you can read around this forum. (http://www.writingforums.com/threads/147140-Raven-Rewrite-%28-1000-words%29?p=1729137&viewfull=1#post1729137)

Having said that, I must say Lee, I am impressed with many of your crits out there. I hope I am as fortunate as to receive such a detailed response from you should I ever once again decide I need the help of my peers.


~Kev. <3

dvspec
May 6th, 2014, 06:15 PM
I am not going to go into any of the rest of your post, that is between you and Maey, I just don't think that single statement is correct and I also think that if someone states it the way you did, I should instantly point out my opposing view. I have my reasons and some of them (not all) you can read around this forum. (http://www.writingforums.com/threads/147140-Raven-Rewrite-%28-1000-words%29?p=1729137&viewfull=1#post1729137)

Having said that, I must say Lee, I am impressed with many of your crits out there. I hope I am as fortunate as to receive such a detailed response from you should I ever once again decide I need the help of my peers.


The funny thing is, I read your post that linked not long before I found this post. I followed the link in it and that is why I put the comment about the adverbs.

Seriously, I totally don't feel that using adverbs is completely bad and honestly, didn't know surly what one was until I joined this totally awesome forum. LOL I just want her to look at them, and frankly, the way they were used here was just odd.

I got marked down in the last competition for using mischievously and seriously. I had considered the use when I put it in, but "I said" and "I said, mischievously" have two very different meanings.

As for noting the adverb use here, it will bring her attention to them and make her consider if they really need to be there. You will notice that I still use them even in my comments, but I look at them and consciously decide to keep the little troublemakers.

By the way, who is Lee?

MaeyMaeyCute
May 6th, 2014, 06:49 PM
This is great! It is exacy what I needed. I have never had formal training in writing before and your comment is much appreciated. Thanks!

MaeyMaeyCute
May 6th, 2014, 06:51 PM
This is great! It is exacy what I needed. I have never had formal training in writing before and your comment is much appreciated. Thanks! I am not offended at all.