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PockyPokolro
August 12th, 2016, 05:35 PM
So I've finished the first chapter of my story (excluding the 'prologue'), and I found a lot of difficulty with it - especially the dialogue, along with trying to not make everything sound like an info-dump. So, any feedback/criticism would be very appreciated! ^^''

--

Chapter One
An Ill-Mannered Incubus Disrupts The Daily Business.


Chapter One
An Ill-Mannered Incubus Disrupts The Daily Business.

A grim smile passed through the man's face as he dropped his hand of cards. I stared at those shiny pieces of paper, decorated in patterns even more intricate than the dismay that people felt upon losing in what was merely a game.

My customers, very often, had an aura of someone who believed themselves to be doing me a favour - as they set down the pack of cards in front of me; shivered in what may have been excitement, watching my expression as I shuffled those cards and structured the game.
They would huff and grin at their cards, a questionable confidence visible upon their faces. At that point, I, too, would smile back at them - and, without their notice, slip a few extra Kings into my own hand of cards.
It may have been what you'd call ... cheating? No, well, not this. This was business, and something that my customers desired. Why else would they pay excessive amounts of money to play cards with a demon such as myself? Other than to catch a glimpse of my perfect face and intelligence, that is.

As the game proceeds, they would fail to notice that there were more cards than there should've been in a single deck ; that a few cards had switched places whilst they were checking their wristwatches ; and, that the arrows of the clock on the table turned too quickly, too drastically than if they would have been left untouched.

After an hour or two, the clock would toll - surprise would flash across the customers' faces, for they were certain that the time that they had paid for couldn't have went by... well, they were not wrong.
But, there was no way that such foolish people would succeed in realising that they had been tricked.

In a rush to continue their sweet fantasy, they would almost throw their wallets at me. Ah, how unsightly!
This time, however, the man only shifted slightly, probably uncomfortable after kneeling on the carpeted floor for so long. I, meanwhile, took a bite of the piece of cake that the staff brought in, and watched him calmly.

He was a middle-aged man, around fifty, wrinkles running through his face like pathways on a map. It would be safe to assume that he wasn't a regular of such places, what with how he kept fiddling with the edge of his embroidered vest, almost casually refusing to make eye-contact with me. Surely, he was unsettled by having to sit opposite a creature of perfection such as myself? Yes, yes.

The clock chimed once more, indicating that he should really move along, now - after all, I was exceedingly popular. Though, that was only to be expected; if I wasn't, nobody would have let me have a room so high up the skyscraper. The second-highest floor of the entire building... the second?
No, no. I will move up quickly, that's certain.
That pathetic excuse of a succubus above me would break soon enough. She was probably slowly starving to death. Deserved it.

The man ran a hand through his greying hair, and made as if to stand up. Usually, I would let my customers leave without even twitching an eyelid. However, as the demon that I was, I felt inclined to ruin the lives of those who thought that they could come in and leave whenever they wished, simply because this was my 'job'.
The man who didn't make a single pass at me unlike my other passionate customers, the man who didn't give out any sort of regretful reaction when the clock chimed...
I slid my body forwards on to the low, plastic table that lay between us, letting my fingers drift across the surface, and watched the man as he tried to calm his aching legs. "Would you like to spend the night?" I asked, smiling at the client's expression of surprise.

He shook his head, scratching the back of his head awkwardly. "No, no - I couldn't possibly afford such a luxury!" He was clearly about to dismiss himself. No, rather, he was eager to do so, judging from the way that he kept anxiously glancing at the door.

"Oh!" I feinted a gasp, trying to mimic the man's previous expression of surprise. Humans, those simple creatures, often fell for such tricks - if someone acted in the same way as they did, they would surely add the person into a list of trusted individuals. Smile, smile. "It seems that you didn't know of this, but in the Bronze-Light building, especially when it comes to those such as myself, you may place a loan and give back the money after you've... thoroughly enjoyed our services." I waved my hand, hoping that it would somehow help the man to visualise what I meant. Usually, people immediately agreed at this point. I could cover my entire skeleton with the money that those gullible idiots would give me after hearing those words.

But the man, seemingly still uncomfortable with being where he was, took an awkward step away from me. However, just one. Just one step. Yes, yes. Realising that my efforts weren't yet enough, I stood up and shot a critical glance at a pillow that nearly tripped me. I tried to formulate my thoughts. Make him stay. Make him stay. Stay. Stay. Stay.
How so?
What to do, what to do, what to do. My eyes flicked across the room with its tall ceiling ; wall-length windows ; a wide, low bed and a desk filled with tea, desserts, the abandoned set of cards ; pillows, so many pillows, because there were never enough for me to sleep comfortably.
Stay, how to make him stay? Was there anything here to make him turn away from the door? A way to make him stay and appreciate me, me, me - the perfect me, myself and I?

The door crashed open, distracting me from my distress. I blinked once, twice - internally grateful for the sound that helped me calm the forthcoming up-rise within my mind.
Before I could even bring myself to turn towards the door that was probably left with more than a few scratches, the cause of the commotion was already alongside my customer.

The commotion-maker was a familiar identity, and a true personification of perfume - whether he was wanted or not, his presence often lingered long after he had already left. If only he would leave, so the whiff would go away.
Instead, he often came to visit me.
Disrupting.
Ruining my business, simply to share his own.
Surely, he was a nuisance, and yet?

The disruptor swung his upper body forward, curling his hand downwards onto the shoulder of my much-shorter customer. The familiar persona spoke of me, yet didn't even glance in my direction.
"Excuse me Sir, but I believe that your time with Lucretia, here, is over?" He stared at the older man for a while longer, but turned away the moment that he detected the small, slightly discomforted nod - supposedly, that was enough to please that manner-less disruptor. As he moved his body to give way for the customer to leave, something jingled and shook within his own clothes. A bead almost shrieked as it fell from the pocket of the commotion-maker's out-dated leather jacket, shattering on to the marble floor.
The older man, caught up with the noble and humane idea of 'politeness', reached out a hand towards the broken bead as if to pick it up. Distasteful. Why would you bother to come to the aid of a complete stranger, especially in a place like this - even ignoring my presence? Oh, one of them should just leave already!

To my great pleasure, the customer was stopped in his tracks by the smooth voice, edged with annoyance, "Don't mind, don't mind!" He waved a hand at the older man, as if to dismiss him - and, rather than picking up the broken pieces, just kicked them away and under my bed. I prickled, glaring yet holding back, for the customer had only just stepped out through the door. They were still ajar, the bored faces of two men coming into view just for a moment.
Their eyes scanned my room, probably mentally going through all of the things in it, checking their state. The pillows, the marble floor, the deck of cards, the empty and filled dessert plates, me, and the low-bed... then, the door closed and they, whether satisfied or not, were shut out once again.

I exhaled slowly, swaying slightly for a second or two. The door should just stay closed forever. It was a slightly concerning existence, and the humans standing behind it, their gazes so pointed and sharp... ah. No, that was most certainly because of my beauty and relentless intelligence that probably keeps them awake at night! Yes, they were but mere fans of mine, those who, if given the order, would gladly bow before me and -- someone waved a hand in front of my face, and I dropped my thoughts.

Cornelius, the commotion-maker, the disruptor, the ill-mannered creature that he was, stood in front of me. Arms retreating into the pockets of his dark, strange-looking trousers (is that denim? Denim?), he leaned back, his tall, almost skeletal figure appearing so flexibly delicate that it wasn't rare for a person to wonder - how has this man survived his life without being eaten alive by women and ripped apart by men? Now, he blinked owlishly, a smile blossoming upon his face. "You should really stop trying to drive those rich men of yours into debt - it's a little mean, don't you think?" He chuckled to himself, as if there was some kind of phantom of a joke beneath his words.

"That simply goes by the name of business. Have you learnt nothing during your various rendezvous?"

Cornelius lifted a hand to stroke strands of hair that contoured the outlines of his picturesque face. "Is that envy, Lucretia? Of course, who wouldn’t want to have the powers that my kind has? Easy access to other worlds, other civilisations and ways of life, just waiting to fall into ruin just like this world in which you live in – or those that have passed even this stage, or those so out of order that it would be impossible for them to get anywhere near where we are now?" He was grinning now, his heart probably dancing tango as he relentlessly shared his adorations. "People with strange clothing, living in fear of the government, or in peace with creatures that we take for myth. Humans not strangled or tied back by their paranoia of demons or other beings, people who have created illusions of safety with so-called evidence. Where is the evidence that their evidence is accurate and not misinterpreted by the need to know more and feel more? The need to understand the reason for their existence which, even though it is a mystery, is much more straightforward than the existence of such things as you and I?" Cornelius took a deep breath, as if absorbing all of the worlds, all of the things he’s seen throughout his short life all over again. Eventually, he blinked at me, the smile not falling from his face. "So, don’t worry, I did learn something from my ‘rendezvous’. "

What was there to say? No matter how many times I would hear variations of the speech like the one that he had just given me, I would still feel a tinge of mild surprise- how could this laid-back, careless persona be so passionate about something? Why?
Other worlds, other people!
They’re not even an actual being right now, just mere, ever-changing masses that have no real substance, appearance or personality.
How could he feel so much interest in something like that, when there were so many better options for him, at much closer radius, at much higher quality?

I bit my lip, frustrated, and finally remembered the shattered bead that Cornelius so casually shoved under my bed. I turned to reach for it, but stopped myself mid-way. Why should he get the satisfaction of seeing me bothered over his actions? Instead, I pretended to have just leaned down to fix the hem of my long, draping skirt, and met Cornelius’ eyes again. They were alert now, bright and intoxicating like those of an overly-excited child that I would see running through the streets, a batch of balloons floating behind them. "What is that something?" I enquired, not really interested but also not wanting for the conversation to end so soon.

Cornelius grinned, and pulled his arms out of the pockets in a wide gesture. He held some odd, rectangular thing with smooth, rounded edges. I squinted unconsciously, for I’ve never seen anything quite like it – even though the most foolish of my customers would bring me expensive gifts from all places and origins, not one had ever presented me with an object like this one.
One of its sides glistened, the white reflecting slightly – with an eye-like, dark circle at the top, staring blankly, as if in wait. On the other side, as I saw from Cornelius’ grandiose attempt of turning it around, was a screen within the white, one as dark as the circle. Something hung from the side of the object, swinging slightly at every movement of Cornelius’ hand.

My interest was piqued, but it seemed pathetic to ask about the strange thing - what if it was something common even in this world and it was just by a stroke of bad luck that I’ve never come across it?
Well, either way, Cornelius would probably laugh at me for my ignorance. Consumed with those thoughts, I kept watching the excited young man.

"Lucretia, do you know what this is?" He asked, turning the rectangular object over in the palm of his hand. I shook my head, defeated. "I’m going to sell this in the White Market!" With that announcement, Cornelius leaned closer and slid the smooth object into my palm.
However, I barely noticed the small increase of weight upon my jewelled hand. The White Market?
The White Market, that horrendous place?

"W...why would you go there, Cornelius?" I exclaimed, flinching slightly at my un-called for stutter. "Those vermin will throw you in a cage! You’ll be sold!" My bracelets jingled as I raised a shaking hand to brush away a loose strand of hair. It’s not like he didn’t know of all those things – facts that, once, he saw for himself together with me.
"You’re speaking as if those people are Hell Hounds. Woof." Cornelius burst out laughing, a loud, slightly egoistical tone.
"How could you laugh? They’re terrible beings, they’re like terrible black cats!" I burst out, hoping that the example was good enough for him to finally understand.
"Reverse black cats, in your case. Remember who brought you here?" In a way, it all started with you. "The ‘vermin’ who took you, the one that gave you the chance for the luxury that you have now. Or," He shot a meaningful glance in the direction of the empty dessert-plates. "would you rather go back to eating gravel?"

I wanted to lash back, remind Cornelius that, even though he praises the White Market so much, he had left me there when we were both caught. Just used his strange incubus powers and disappeared off to an entire different world, not caring in the least about what happens to others there. Blending in constantly amongst humans, using their objects, sharing experiences with them – did it poison him? Spread a plague throughout his defenceless mind?

Cornelius coughed, theatrically twisting his body whilst doing so. "Right, so, you going to take a closer look at the phone or, you know, can I get going now? The collectors like to stroll around the Market at 7pm. All products look better in candle-light, anyway. Shiny." Ah, so that’s what it was. A phone. Don’t those belong in museums?

I pressed what I assumed to be a button at the bottom of the phone, but nothing changed. It was dead, just as one would expect.

My gaze hooked on to the swinging thing, hanging from the edge of the phone. I stroked the short, thin rope with a finger. At the bottom of the rope, was an image of what was probably supposed to be a rabbit – even though I had yet to see one in reality (for there were no fields to roam and they didn’t show up outside my window), I could tell that rabbits weren’t supposed to be purple, nor did they have an ‘x’ for a mouth. How stupid could people get? I raised the rope-and-rabbit to show Cornelius. "What purpose does this serve?"

The incubus furrowed his eyebrows, cocking his head to the side. "Purpose?" He repeated. "It’s just a key-chain, Lucretia! It’s decoration. It’s useless. There is no purpose for it." With that, Cornelius took the phone back from me, and slid it back into the pocket of his ridiculous leather jacket. "Anyway," He continued after patting the pocket to make sure that the precious object would not fall out. "don’t worry about me going to the White Market... my horns are hidden, see? I’m basically human right now."

My head immediately snapped up to take in his appearance properly. Neatly combed dark grey hair which was, realistically, supposed to be black. Many strands of hair contoured the sides of his face, though a tuft fell between his eyes. It was short at the back, at least I remembered it that way – Cornelius would never turn his back to me.
But, his horns weren’t there.
As I lowered my gaze down to his trousers, I noticed that there wasn’t a leathery tail swinging between his legs.
An electric shock coursed through my body, images of the earlier sights that day coming back into my mind. "Take your horns out!" I screeched, yet immediately placed a hand over my mouth. Too loud. My eyes flicked to the door – it remained closed. I let out a breath, turning to the stunned-looking Cornelius.

The incubus scratched his hornless head. "Why? I was just about to leave – taking them out now would be too much effort. I’d have to shove them back in before the door opened..."
"Then stay!" I ordered, walking towards the door – it was about time to go down for a bath, forget the room for just a bit.

My back was to the demon, now, but I could imagine his face twisting in disapproval. "Stay? How is a ‘customer’ supposed to stay when the entertainer is gone?" You’re not a customer, though.

I drew a breath, annoyed. Wasn’t he supposed to know the consequences better than anyone? "Cornelius, do you want to die?" I clenched my hands around my sleeves, scratching at the embroidery.

"What, did you see another one of my kind die again?" His voice had softened, as if I actually cared about that idiotic succubus, or the people who quickly rushed up to tear her corpse apart. "No wonder there were stains on the pavement, again..." He whispered, more to himself than to me.

"Just take them out, please." In response to my words, I heard a sigh - followed by a squishing, scratching noise as the tail and horns emerged from within the incubus’ body. Why is it that their own body could kill them?

I stood with my back to him for a while longer, waiting, just in case he would say something. All that I could hear, however, was the experimental swishing of his tail, probably still coated in a thin layer of his blood.

"Just... don’t stain the carpet."

Harper J. Cole
August 17th, 2016, 11:59 PM
PockyPokolro,

Interesting story! I'm intrigued to learn more about the rules governing the incubus and succubus of your world. You paint your main character effectively, as arrogant and somewhat insecure.

In terms of the SPaG, I did spot a few things that might be changed. Here are my thoughts ...


As the game proceeds, they would fail to notice that there were more cards than there should've been in a single deck ; that a few cards had switched places whilst they were checking their wristwatches ; and, that the arrows of the clock on the table turned too quickly, too drastically than if they would have been left untouched.

Most of the sentence is in the past tense, so "proceeded" would be consistent. Also, "more drastically" is a more natural turn of phrase.


After an hour or two, the clock would toll - surprise would flash across the customers' faces, for they were certain that the time that they had paid for couldn't have went by... well, they were not wrong.

This should be "gone by".


The commotion-maker was a familiar identity, and a true personification of perfume - whether he was wanted or not, his presence often lingered long after he had already left.

Here the two highlighted words don't go together: either "had a familiar identity" or "was a familiar person" are alternatives.


A bead almost shrieked as it fell from the pocket of the commotion-maker's out-dated leather jacket, shattering on to the marble floor.

Simply "shattering on the marble floor" seems more natural.


Easy access to other worlds, other civilisations and ways of life, just waiting to fall into ruin just like this world in which you live in – or those that have passed even this stage, or those so out of order that it would be impossible for them to get anywhere near where we are now?

You've doubled up the word "in" here: I'd recommend removing one of them.


No matter how many times I would hear variations of the speech like the one that he had just given me, I would still feel a tinge of mild surprise- how could this laid-back, careless persona be so passionate about something?

It's best to avoid using two words that mean the same thing in a sentence; these two words are both indicating a small amount, so best just to use one of them.


I squinted unconsciously, for I’ve never seen anything quite like it – even though the most foolish of my customers would bring me expensive gifts from all places and origins, not one had ever presented me with an object like this one.

This should be "I'd", to keep in the past tense.


On the other side, as I saw from Cornelius’ grandiose attempt of turning it around, was a screen within the white, one as dark as the circle.

This word doesn't quite seem to fit. Maybe "performance" or "display"?


"Lucretia, do you know what this is?" He asked, turning the rectangular object over in the palm of his hand.

You need a small "h" here, as this counts as all being one sentence.


"The ‘vermin’ who took you, the one that gave you the chance for the luxury that you have now. Or," He shot a meaningful glance in the direction of the empty dessert-plates. "would you rather go back to eating gravel?"

Similarly, small "h" here, and then a comma instead of a period.

Hope that some of this has been helpful!

HC

PockyPokolro
August 22nd, 2016, 10:43 AM
Thank you very much for the feedback! Ah, I had a suspicion that something would certainly go wrong when it came to the SPAG of the dialogue - I'm not exactly too good with the rules regarding it, so thank you for pointing out the problems with it. ^^

Ultraroel
August 25th, 2016, 08:22 PM
I like the premise. Very nice and interesting to say the least.
The start of it sounds like how most attractive woman would feel when they are NOT getting the attention they are so used to.
It feels that this is exactly how they seem to feel. I absolutely love the first part as it feels so.. real in the sense that this is how seduction works on both sides, whether the old man intends it yes or no.

Jay Greenstein
August 26th, 2016, 03:06 AM
I think your primary problem, the one behind the ones you mentioned, is that you, the narrator, are explaining the story to the reader, and working very hard to make your voice interesting to that reader, so the telling will, in and of itself, be entertaining. And in advancement of that you embellish the telling with lots of detail. But...

Are you in the story? No. And using first person pronouns doesn't place you into it, because the narrator lives at a different time from the one who's living the events. Because of that, our viewpoint is that of someone not on the scene, only talking about it. That's very different from the reader being placed within the scene to live the story moment-by-moment. Added to that, because we can't hear your narrator's "voice" as we read there is no change in tone or intensity, no meaningful pauses, or anything that might enliven the telling were it done in person. Nor can we see your facial expression as you illustrate emotion, your gesture as you visually punctuate, or the shrugs and the body language. We have only a flow of detail and editorial comment on the events from someone claiming to have lived the events. In other words, a history lesson on the life of a fictional character: a description of the roller coaster as against riding it.

My point? You can't tell the story on the page as you would in person because the medium won't reproduce your performance. You, though, can hear your performance as you read. And you can see the scene because each line points to images, memories, and lots more, all in your mind. So for you it works perfectly.

Me? For me, each line points to images, memories, and lots more, all in your mind, because anyone you ask will tell you that my mind is empty, and you forgot to fill it. See the problem? Have your computer read it aloud to hear what a reader gets.

One of the more important skills a writer needs is the ability to view the writing as their reader will—a reader who knows only what the words have said (and what those words mean to them based on their background) at any given point.

To illustrate how important that is, look at a few lines from the reader's viewpoint. And bear in mind that what I'm talking about has nothing to do with good or bad writing. It's about why you need a better understanding of the tricks of the trade—the necessities imposed on us by the limitations of our medium.
A grim smile passed through the man's face as he dropped his hand of cards.You know why he dropped them, and of more importance, how the protagonist reacts to it. Can he be our viewpoint character if we don't know how he views the act? No. Remember, the term "the man" tells nothing of where we are, what's going on, or who we are (and what the man is to us). Missing that, we have words, but do they have context? How can they, when we don't know the game, the stakes, the location, or the players? Without that how can the words matter?

Yes, we can figure it out as we get more data, but can that retroactively erase the "huh" as we wondered what was meant when we read?

Look at what follows the paragraph. You've presented our protagonist an an unknown man. Then, without placing the reader into the setting or making them know anything more, you stop all action and an unknown person spends 280 words, more than a full manuscript page, talking about things that have nothing to do with the action. Your reader is waiting to find out what the cards were and why the man was smiling, and you talk about other card games, in general. That is, from start to finish, an info-dump.

I know that after working so hard on this you really, really, really didn't want to hear that. But as I said, this isn't about you or your writing. It's that not knowing the structure of a scene, and using the writing skills we work hard to perfect in school, you're doing exactly what you've been taught to do, reporting on the events and background of the story. But...

Reporting informs, it doesn't entertain. And no matter our reason for writing a given story, the reader's desire is to be entertained. And that means involving them emotionally—something that was never mentioned while we were being prepared to write for business, so as to make us useful to employers.

It might be nice if our teachers had mentioned that they were teaching us nonfiction writing skills. But they didn't, so we leave our school days thinking that writing is writing, and we have that taken care of.

If only.

Like any other profession, though, there's a lot that's not obvious till its pointed out. And while I dearly wish that reading would teach us those tricks, we see only the finished product, with the tool marks polished away. So we no more learn the tricks of writing fiction by reading than we learn to handle a chefs knife by eating fine foods. We have the product, but we need the process. And that, the learned part of the game, is something anyone can acquire. Using it well is another story, but that's true of any field.

So set some time aside to pick up structural issues and technique. Without knowing what a scene goal is, for example, and how to manage it, will you include one? Will you intuit the three things a reader wants to know, quickly, on entering any scene? No. Nor will you know how a scene on the page differs from one on the stage or screen, and why it must.

For a sample of what I mean, try this article (http://www.advancedfictionwriting.com/art/scene.php), a condensation of a great technique for achieving a strong viewpoint. It's one of many techniques that have the power to make your writing catch and hold a reader's interest. It's not easy to wrap your head around because it's so different from how we were taught to write, but it's worth chewing on till it makes sense. Then check a modern novel that made you feel as if you were on the scene, living it moment-to-moment, and see how that author made use of the technique.

Picking up a few such tricks can make a huge difference in the reader's reaction to the work.

Hang in there, and keep on writing.

ultralight01
September 5th, 2016, 06:25 PM
I found this nice and well detailed. However, A middle aged man is not 50, more like 30-40. Just a minor thought

mishty
September 7th, 2016, 07:52 AM
hey!!!!!!!!
i like your post it was amazing

mishty
September 7th, 2016, 07:53 AM
hi i'm mishty
can any one tell me how to create a thread for your fictions and how to post it