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nerdybynature
September 8th, 2014, 08:31 AM
A small excerpt from the novel I'm working on, it's a first draft so be gentle with me and any grammar issues, my main reason for posting is i'm not sure if it's in my head, but this portion to me seems a little choppy and doesn't seem to flow well story wise. I realize context is needed for some of it so any questions just ask, I just need another set of eyes.


“Why didn’t you ask idiot?” Casey mumbles to himself. He sat in cover under a tree rubbing his now mangled right hand.
In the distance through the trees, the Fort that Rina and Damon spoke of stood tall, a fortress unlike anything Casey’s ever seen. Behind those walls his brother was being held captive and yet all he could think of was Rina.
The second he left their camp Casey realized he would never see her again, and for reasons he couldn’t explain a well of regret opened up inside of him and it got deeper every step he took away from her. He couldn’t understand why. Yes she was a very beautiful woman, however the presence of a woman, beautiful or not, has never ensnared his mind so completely before. It was a strange feeling and frankly a bit frightening to him.
Despite his mental distraction, ever since he arrived at the fort a night ago, he has spent every waking moment trying to find a way inside. Weak, injured and alone Casey never felt this hopeless in his entire life as he sat there staring at the sprawling structure before him. Three guards manned each of the four towers, which had the biggest guns Casey’s ever seen mounted atop them. The towers gave them a complete view of their surroundings making it difficult for Casey to get close. Meanwhile, 6 Men stood watch at the main entrance enclosed by a barbed wire fence. Inside the fence sat rows of waist high cement dividers, which provided cover for the guards and prevented any kind of vehicular assault. On top of that, every hour two squads of 6 men walked the entire perimeter and all of them were armed to the teeth, making the task of rescuing Aidan more impossible than impossible. He was only one man, an injured man, whose only form of defense was a knife that might as well be a stick with a white flag, which appeared to be the only way he would ever get in.
Casey was at a complete loss and was now consigned to literally twiddling his thumbs as his thoughts jumped to and fro, from his Aidan back to Rina. A small rumble from within the fort however, steadied his thoughts.
He stood up unsure of what it was, but logic dictated it was either an earthquake or an explosion and common sense pointed to an explosion. He moved in closer to get a better look when a series of more increasingly louder rumblings confirmed it, and suddenly 6 guards became 2 as 4 guards from the front entrance disappeared inside along with a few of the tower guards.
Casey didn’t have the slightest clue what was going on but had every hope this was Aidan’s doing, “Don’t worry Aidan I’m coming,” Casey grabbed his bag and started moving.
During his hours of observation, Casey had found that by the rear of the fort, the tree line was much closer to the wall, but the gap was still big enough that he would be spotted without some kind of distraction, and explosions are quite frankly the best kind of distraction. The men in the towers wouldn’t be able to see him once he got right under their nose.
His ankle pulsed painfully with every step, but this was likely going to be the only opportunity he would ever have to get in and he wasn’t going to squander it.

popsprocket
September 8th, 2014, 02:40 PM
My normal approach would be to edit first and explain second, but you'll probably get more out of this if I explain up front.

There are two big issues that I see here and both will be contributing to your feeling that this is choppy. The first is that you skip around between present and past tense a lot. Remember that you need to pick one or the other and stick with it. For the most part this is an experience thing that you'll smooth out as you get better at writing, but it never hurts to be conscious of the problem early on in your writing career. The second issue is that your narrator's voice is pretty unclear. It switches in and out of being intimate with Casey and being quite obviously external to him.

When writing third person your narrator doesn't have to be a technically separate entity. They can be as close to a character - able to translate their every thought and every sensation to the reader without filtering it through the voice of a third party - or as far from the character - as in the example of a narrator that is obviously sentient and with its own voice - as you like. Once again it's a case of pick one or the other and stick with it.

Since a) the majority of this is in past tense, and b) my preference for past tense, I've made my corrections so that this whole excerpt appears that way. If you'd rather use present tense then that's fine, just don't get confused as to which I'm using here.

Corrections in red
Additions in orange
Comments in blue


“Why didn’t you ask, idiot?” Casey mumbled to himself. He sat in cover under a tree, rubbing his now-mangled right hand.

In the distance through the trees, the Fort that Rina and Damon spoke of stood tall, a fortress unlike anything Casey had ["Casey's" is a possessive, as in "That's Casey's pencil."] ever seen. Behind those walls his brother was being held captive, and yet all he could think of was Rina.

The second he left their camp, Casey realized he would never see her again. For reasons he couldn’t explain, a well of regret had opened up inside of him, and it only got deeper every step he took away from her. He couldn’t understand why. Yes she was a very beautiful woman, however the presence of a woman, beautiful or not, had never ensnared his mind so completely before. It was a strange feeling, and frankly it was a bit frightening to him [this is one of those moments where the voice of the narrator becomes a bit confusing - you've gone from intimacy inside Casey's head to making a third-party comment - you can reword this to something more neutral like "The unfamiliar feeling was both strange and unsettling," and maintain your narrative consistency].

Despite his mental distraction, ever since he arrived at the fort a night ago, he had spent every waking moment trying to find a way inside. Weak, injured and alone, Casey had never felt this hopeless in his entire life as he sat there staring at the sprawling structure before him. Three guards manned each of the four towers, which had the biggest guns Casey had ever seen mounted atop them. The towers gave them a complete view of their surroundings making it difficult for Casey to get close.

Meanwhile, six men [don't use numerals in fiction writing unless you're specifically writing the clock time or something of the like] stood watch at the main entrance which was itself enclosed by a barbed wire fence. Inside the fence sat rows of waist high cement dividers, which provided cover for the guards and prevented any kind of vehicular assault. On top of that, every hour two squads of six men walked the entire perimeter and all of them were armed to the teeth, making the task of rescuing Aidan more impossible than possible. He was only one man - an injured man - whose only form of defense was a knife that might as well have been a stick with a white flag. That appeared to be the only way he would ever get in.

Casey was at a complete loss and was now consigned to literally twiddling his thumbs as his thoughts jumped to and fro, from his Aidan back to Rina. A small rumble from within the fort, however, steadied his thoughts.

He stood up, unsure of what it was. Logic dictated it was either an earthquake or an explosion, and common sense pointed to an explosion. He moved in closer to get a better look when a series of more increasingly louder rumblings confirmed it, and suddenly six guards became two as four guards from the front entrance disappeared inside along with a few of the tower guards.

Casey didn’t have the slightest clue what was going on but had every hope this was Aidan’s doing.

[new dialogue starts on a new line]
“Don’t worry Aidan I’m coming,” Casey grabbed his bag and started moving.

During his hours of observation, Casey had found that by the rear of the fort, the tree line was much closer to the wall, but the gap was still big enough that he would be spotted without some kind of distraction, and explosions were, quite frankly, the best kind of distraction [more narrator confusion in this sentence]. The men in the towers wouldn’t be able to see him once he got right under their nose.

His ankle throbbed painfully with every step, but this was likely going to be the only opportunity he would ever have to get in and he wasn’t going to squander it.

So I added a lot of commas and a bit of other punctuation. Up above I noted the two big reasons this reads poorly, but the punctuation and grammar issues certainly contribute. I fixed some of the sentences that felt obviously run together, but really there are more that would be worth fixing if you were going to alter this thoroughly.

nerdybynature
September 8th, 2014, 05:38 PM
Thank you popsrocket, I'm well aware of my time traveling abilities in my writing, but I always manage to go back and fix those. You're 100% correct about my narrative relationship with the character it waivers in this piece, thank you very much. With your suggestions in tow, I'm gonna do a quick rewrite and repost.

altoid967
September 21st, 2014, 01:17 AM
I think the main blockage in your flow is this chunk:


The second he left their camp Casey realized he would never see her again, and for reasons he couldn’t explain a well of regret opened up inside of him and it got deeper every step he took away from her. He couldn’t understand why. Yes she was a very beautiful woman, however the presence of a woman, beautiful or not, has never ensnared his mind so completely before. It was a strange feeling and frankly a bit frightening to him.
Despite his mental distraction, ever since he arrived at the fort a night ago, he has spent every waking moment trying to find a way inside. Weak, injured and alone Casey never felt this hopeless in his entire life as he sat there staring at the sprawling structure before him. Three guards manned each of the four towers, which had the biggest guns Casey’s ever seen mounted atop them. The towers gave them a complete view of their surroundings making it difficult for Casey to get close. Meanwhile, 6 Men stood watch at the main entrance enclosed by a barbed wire fence. Inside the fence sat rows of waist high cement dividers, which provided cover for the guards and prevented any kind of vehicular assault. On top of that, every hour two squads of 6 men walked the entire perimeter and all of them were armed to the teeth, making the task of rescuing Aidan more impossible than impossible. He was only one man, an injured man, whose only form of defense was a knife that might as well be a stick with a white flag, which appeared to be the only way he would ever get in.

You use a lot of compound sentences that border on or are run-ons. If you focus on breaking up some of those sentences, you may find that this flows better.



The second he left their camp Casey realized he would never see her again. and For reasons he couldn’t explain, a well of regret opened up inside of him, and it got deeper getting deeper with every step he took away from her. He couldn’t understand why. Yes, she was a very beautiful woman. However, the presence of a woman -- beautiful or not -- has never ensnared his mind so completely before. It was a strange feeling and frankly a bit frightening to him.
Despite his mental distraction, ever since he arrived at the fort a night ago, he has spent every waking moment trying to find a way inside ever since he arrived at the fort a night ago. Weak, injured and alone Casey never felt this hopeless in his entire life as he sat there staring at the sprawling structure before him. Three guards manned each of the four towers, which had the biggest guns Casey’s ever seen mounted atop them. The towers gave them a complete view of their surroundings making it difficult for Casey to get close. Meanwhile, 6 Men stood watch at the main entrance enclosed by a barbed wire fence. Inside the fence sat rows of waist high cement dividers. which These provided cover for the guards and prevented any kind of vehicular assault. On top of that, every hour two squads of 6 men walked the entire perimeter. and All of them were armed to the teeth, making the task of rescuing Aidan more impossible than impossible. He was only one man -- an injured man -- whose only form of defense was a knife that might as well be a stick with a white flag. which appeared to be the only way he would ever get in. It appeared that this might be the only way he would ever get in.

Sometimes punctuation and a little rewording can make all the difference. Keep on keeping on. You'll figure it out. :positive:

jerich100
September 27th, 2014, 06:00 PM
Gentle? :) You don’t want gentle. You want slashing, tearing candor. You get gentle after you’re a famous writer. Even then, you don’t because everyone else will be jealous. I’m kidding here.

Add a blank line between paragraphs to make the reading easier.

Should the first sentence be, “Why don’t you ask, idiot?”

In the second paragraph, consider changing “through the trees” to “through the forest” because you use “tree” in the first paragraph.

You wrote, “Despite his mental distraction, ever since he arrived at the fort a night ago”. But he wasn’t in the fort, rather in the forest near it. Consider changing to, “Despite his mental distraction, ever since he arrived the night before.” (in the forest)

I recommend starting the sentence, “A small rumble from within the fort however, steadied his thoughts” as a new paragraph. It’s an important turn of plot that needs its own spotlight.

You state at the top, “this portion to me seems a little choppy and doesn't seem to flow well story wise”. Or said more curtly, “I’m not sure what to do.” Here’s a secret that I learned somehow and have used for years. It’s one of my most valuable techniques so consider yourself honored and privileged. :) I call it the “delete a page” game. I do it all the time with my stories. It goes like this:

Let’s say you have a chapter that is ten pages. You will do whatever it takes to reduce the chapter to nine pages. You force yourself to whittle down the words. EVERY word that isn’t vital is deleted. Then, weeks later, you go back and add new, better words in the right places. Over time as you repeat this process, you’ll have a much better story.

I have found the above technique to be more fruitful than anything else I have come up with. A variation of this is to pick a random paragraph with the goal to eliminate one line. You don’t stop working it until a line is removed.

For an example, I’ll pick a sentence of yours and strip it down. This doesn’t mean it should stay cut down. But it will have been pruned, like a plant in a garden, to later grow more beautifully into a better plant. Example, you wrote:

“During his hours of observation, Casey had found that by the rear of the fort, the tree line was much closer to the wall, but the gap was still big enough that he would be spotted without some kind of distraction, and explosions are quite frankly the best kind of distraction.”

Reduced/rewritten to:

“After much observation he found that while the gap between the trees and fort wall was the smallest at the back of the fort, it was still big enough for him to be spotted without a distraction. And explosions are the best kind of distraction.”

Not much of a reduction, but an attempt. I don’t know any more about writing than you, but by forcing a smaller word count I think it reads better.

mmuscarnera
October 1st, 2014, 10:25 PM
Interesting but you used an awkward start for the exert. Giving more detail on the mangled hand would allow me to get a better picture of what has happened. Mangled like smashed and broken or has it been shredded.Awesome though great job.

manof letters
October 5th, 2014, 06:53 AM
"Why didn’t you ask idiot?” Casey mumbles to himself. " Instead of talking to hmslef i suggest talking to somone else i mean the charectory saying thses words to another charector,

"His ankle pulsed painfully with every step, but this was likely going to be the only opportunity he would ever have to get in and he wasn’t going to squander it." give your chractor a broken ankle then hav ehim try it.