Writing Forums

Writing Forums is a privately-owned, community managed writing environment. We provide an unlimited opportunity for writers and poets of all abilities, to share their work and communicate with other writers and creative artists. We offer an experience that is safe, welcoming and friendly, regardless of your level of participation, knowledge or skill. There are several opportunities for writers to exchange tips, engage in discussions about techniques, and grow in your craft. You can also participate in forum competitions that are exciting and helpful in building your skill level. There's so much more for you to explore!

Should I Start By Showing This Scene Instead? (1 Viewer)

TheMightyAz

Senior Member
Interesting concept.

Just take the parts of my advice that's useful (if any). The dialogue I wrote is just a way of showing what I suggest.

I understand what you're saying but I want the question to be the driving force and adding in some of that detail in conversation means some of that mystery needs to be mentioned. Keeping the dialogue basic means I can imply Arthur has lost it while holding back detail. If I begin a deeper conversation in the interrogation room then it wouldn't feel natural. People will read it and wonder why key things weren't mentioned. It would come over as a trick rather than natural conversation.
 

Taylor

Staff member
Board Moderator
That's a no-brainer for me! Definitely as is. Pet peeve for me is when the writer tells me in the first sentence what they are about to show me. I agree with the others on the second, paragraph. Feels like a different tone to me. The first is very visual and evokes empathy. The second seems more straight-up. And I think you don't need "He'd been arrested" in this sentence. You already do a good of setting the scene. Perhaps something less straight forward. "His capture started..." or Incarceration began..."

He’d been arrested an hour earlier, as he staggered down Main Street into oncoming cars, oblivious of the fists, hoots and hollers of Saturday traffic.
 

TheMightyAz

Senior Member
This is currently my opening three paragraphs. I'm reasonably happy with them but still feel they sag here and there. 'Beaten' was too ambiguous. It could be construed as the police beating him up. I've changed it to 'defeated' along with a couple of other minor changes.

[FONT=&Verdana]Empty and defeated, Arthur Blake trembled at the table in the sodium light of the interrogation room. “There are whispers in my head. They’re coming … they’re coming for us all.”

A ceiling fan whirred and ticked, cooled the sweat coating Arthur’s pale face. The tang of disinfectant stung the air. He sipped coffee from a polystyrene cup, cradled in shaky hands. Lost for a while to the steam from the cup, he finally raised his head and gazed at the three officers present, one incredulous expression after the next.

He’d been arrested an hour earlier, as he staggered down Main Street into oncoming cars, oblivious of the fists, hoots and hollers of Saturday traffic. Dishevelled, with blood on his shirtsleeve and smeared across his cheek, he ranted into the swell of noise. For anyone who would listen; anyone who would believe. After the officers bundled him into the police car, the homily continued, torment in his pale blue eyes.

[/FONT]
 

Theglasshouse

WF Veterans
I like the new opening you posted. Simply because blood on his face is dramatic in the 3rd paragraph. I wasn't too big of a fan of mental issues implied by hearing voices. I feel compelled because of the tension raised and that's a promise I hope gets answered in the narrative. I haven't read the spoilers.
 

EternalGreen

Senior Member
I think it's good how it is. A little telling around the scenes is fine.

Bits of narration are like ligaments, and the scenes are like bones. You need both.
 

TheMightyAz

Senior Member
I like the new opening you posted. Simply because blood on his face is dramatic in the 3rd paragraph. I wasn't too big of a fan of mental issues implied by hearing voices. I feel compelled because of the tension raised and that's a promise I hope gets answered in the narrative. I haven't read the spoilers.

I'm a little confused. What do you mean by 'you wasn't a fan of mental issues implied'?
 

BornForBurning

Senior Member
I'm a little confused. What do you mean by 'you wasn't a fan of mental issues implied'
At the risk of summoning luckyscars from the banhammer void, I'd say it was very, very, cliched. I have never leveled that criticism before, but as an opening hook, it felt cheap and unspecific, borrowed, unoriginal. I probably wouldn't react so strongly except it's the first paragraph, so I've got nothing else to contextualize it with. Take that as you will. I feel most of your prose is fairly strong. I don't know about mental illness. Maybe the voices are actually real. Who knows.
 

Matchu

Senior Member
Yes, I was foaming to provide some heavyweight crit also - thinking how a few wise words from me might alter the entire trajectory of @Azland - as a planet rather than a nation.

My beef was with you telling us how he felt and then continuing to describe this condition. Why not describe his condition and I can draw a conclusion.

And also the ‘mental health section’ needs an up-draft, more thump, more ‘who put Bella in the witch elm woooooo woooo.’

see you later, I’m workbound.
 

Theglasshouse

WF Veterans
It might represent foreshadowing. I very much agree with bornforburning and matchu. I had the same reaction somewhat. You can focus if you want on other matters of mental health that aren't so obvious to omit that detail of him hearing voices (leave it maybe for an important scene). For example people who have some metal illness a lot of the time have difficulty in becoming well-dressed and clean and keeping hygiene. Sometimes they have difficulty being responsible. They need cognitive behavior therapy for those issues. They can't work often if their disease is crippling. I know he is married in the story, so you can select part of this behavior and adjust it (they can still work but I don't know how much time but could be less). Maybe they didn't go to school for a long time. Or didn't work for a long time because of their crippling symptoms. They also face a lot of anxiety. That is they could appear nervous. Maybe they are somewhat reclusive except with people they know such as old family and friends. Not every case is similar. Voices usually go undetected for a long time. That's because the patient doesn't know they are sick. It's this symptom that worsens their health. It does happen gradually overtime. You would have some difficulty presenting it. For example a way to show it is to attribute something that was said to someone that they didn't say. I would also say they way they notice they hear a voice is when a person who is healthy points it out. When it becomes a matter of something that happens over a period of time it makes the person aware they have a problem. It's a discovery that happens slowly. At first, you are blind since reality and illusion appear real. So a person who knows they are sick will for instance will ask someone when something they think they hear in their head to someone they know. Obviously the first time they reject the fact they are having problems. Then as this issue continues to exist they know something is off. Logically if very impaired they can't reason the voices. They need someone else more logical to reason to them what is illogical about it. Someone sick could say something that never happened. What would be illogical is for example maybe might be they were too far away to be in range to hear what was said. Let's say they talk in the alley. That is between two houses. Human hearing isn't very good to hear every word spoken at a distance in a neighborhood. That's a way of saying what they said was illogical, that someone points out. "There's no way you can have heard that person talking. They were too far away, and I didn't hear anyone in the alley talking. The distance is too far from the home."

I have no experience with visual things that don't appear. Maybe I'd show it instead of tell. Establish that doubt. That would eliminate the cliché somewhat of how mental disease is portrayed. If he takes medicine, even then he could have those symptoms. I still liked your story, but these are my comments. I hope they are honest and sensible. We all take pride in our work. So I hope this comment makes sense.
 
Last edited:

Matchu

Senior Member
You could have a lot of ‘fun’ writing a decline into psychosis. Or even raising the question. If we’re addressing a matter of voices, I would go for ‘as loud as our voices in the room’ and a confused notion of their reality. A yes AND no - plus not necessarily receptive to divulging the details. I hope I’m clear on the ‘tappy-tap,’ all best.
 

Matchu

Senior Member
I’d cut the first clause/cut sodium/cut tang. Re-write the monologue, stick ‘he said’ at the end of it. Ceiling fan & cradled all becomes...purple...I suppose is what people say...
 

TheMightyAz

Senior Member
It might represent foreshadowing. I very much agree with bornforburning and matchu. I had the same reaction somewhat. You can focus if you want on other matters of mental health that aren't so obvious to omit that detail of him hearing voices (leave it maybe for an important scene). For example people who have some metal illness a lot of the time have difficulty in becoming well-dressed and clean and keeping hygiene. Sometimes they have difficulty being responsible. They need cognitive behavior therapy for those issues. They can't work often if their disease is crippling. I know he is married in the story, so you can select part of this behavior and adjust it (they can still work but I don't know how much time but could be less). Maybe they didn't go to school for a long time. Or didn't work for a long time because of their crippling symptoms. They also face a lot of anxiety. That is they could appear nervous. Maybe they are somewhat reclusive except with people they know such as old family and friends. Not every case is similar. Voices usually go undetected for a long time. That's because the patient doesn't know they are sick. It's this symptom that worsens their health. It does happen gradually overtime. You would have some difficulty presenting it. For example a way to show it is to attribute something that was said to someone that they didn't say. I would also say they way they notice they hear a voice is when a person who is healthy points it out. When it becomes a matter of something that happens over a period of time it makes the person aware they have a problem. It's a discovery that happens slowly. At first, you are blind since reality and illusion appear real. So a person who knows they are sick will for instance will ask someone when something they think they hear in their head to someone they know. Obviously the first time they reject the fact they are having problems. Then as this issue continues to exist they know something is off. Logically if very impaired they can't reason the voices. They need someone else more logical to reason to them what is illogical about it. Someone sick could say something that never happened. What would be illogical is for example maybe might be they were too far away to be in range to hear what was said. Let's say they talk in the alley. That is between two houses. Human hearing isn't very good to hear every word spoken at a distance in a neighborhood. That's a way of saying what they said was illogical, that someone points out. "There's no way you can have heard that person talking. They were too far away, and I didn't hear anyone in the alley talking. The distance is too far from the home."

I have no experience with visual things that don't appear. Maybe I'd show it instead of tell. Establish that doubt. That would eliminate the cliché somewhat of how mental disease is portrayed. If he takes medicine, even then he could have those symptoms. I still liked your story, but these are my comments. I hope they are honest and sensible. We all take pride in our work. So I hope this comment makes sense.

That has absolutely no relevance to my story at all. I don't know where you're getting this idea of mental illness from. You've read the story so far ... how the heck can you think it's about mental illness.
 

TheMightyAz

Senior Member
You could have a lot of ‘fun’ writing a decline into psychosis. Or even raising the question. If we’re addressing a matter of voices, I would go for ‘as loud as our voices in the room’ and a confused notion of their reality. A yes AND no - plus not necessarily receptive to divulging the details. I hope I’m clear on the ‘tappy-tap,’ all best.

It's not about mental illness.
 

TheMightyAz

Senior Member
At the risk of summoning luckyscars from the banhammer void, I'd say it was very, very, cliched. I have never leveled that criticism before, but as an opening hook, it felt cheap and unspecific, borrowed, unoriginal. I probably wouldn't react so strongly except it's the first paragraph, so I've got nothing else to contextualize it with. Take that as you will. I feel most of your prose is fairly strong. I don't know about mental illness. Maybe the voices are actually real. Who knows.

It's not about mental illness.
 

Theglasshouse

WF Veterans
From the excerpt I imagined as a reader whispering voices which meant possible symptoms of mental illness. I then guessed and filled in the rest of the details as a blank. Yes I did read the story. I once read a short story with a character who was schizophrenic that was seeing ghosts that got published. I suspect I did not know where the whispering came from. It's still possible to believe that since ghosts can be a figment of the imagination as a visual hallucination. I apologize since that wasn't your intent and for the possible misunderstanding. I thought the sickness would complicate the crisis at the end of the story. Maybe I read too much into that line for these reasons and since I am a mental patient. Your character being a horror novelist makes for an incredulous person to believe (which is why the police do not believe what he says). I thought you complicated the situation by adding yet another fact about him that would throw off the reader. I also thought this was a spin of the story with the man in the mirror which I read. I thought perhaps that was the surprise at the ending you were trying to do, and I was predicting. I might have assumed a lot since I think about the previous experiences of mine often. There is also a passage where he refers to some images in the eyes of Arthur in the scene where the ghost character enters that is a female character. It may have been the wording.
 
Last edited:

TheMightyAz

Senior Member
From the excerpt I imagined as a reader whispering voices which meant possible symptoms of mental illness. I then guessed and filled in the rest of the details as a blank. Yes I did read the story. I once read a short story with a character who was schizophrenic that was seeing ghosts that got published. I suspect I did not know where the whispering came from. It's still possible to believe that since ghosts can be a figment of the imagination as a visual hallucination. I apologize since that wasn't your intent and for the possible misunderstanding. I thought the sickness would complicate the crisis at the end of the story. Maybe I read too much into that line for these reasons and since I am a mental patient. Your character being a horror novelist makes for an incredulous person to believe (which is why the police do not believe what he says). I thought you complicated the situation by adding yet another fact about him that would throw off the reader. I also thought this was a spin of the story with the man in the mirror which I read. I thought perhaps that was the surprise at the ending you were trying to do, and I was predicting. I might have assumed a lot since I think about the previous experiences of mine often.

Arthur reached out and touched the spectral hand. A life experienced flashed through him. It erupted in his skull, rooted in a once quiet corner of his head; a million pinpricks stung synapses. He felt them spread, inhabit him, and as each new offshoot split and split again, a new memory, new feeling, new terror came with it.

Shaken by the inexplicable fusion, he fell back. Letting go did not stop it. Still it worked away busily at that newly woken corner, harrowing memories distilled into one single agony. Every detail written into being, from cradle to grave. Too much to bear, he curled up on the barn floor, unable to escape an unwanted author scrawling her life into him.

After a while, Arthur staggered to his feet and immediately winced, her story all but written. Only the full stops and exclamation marks stabbed at him now, like finer points.
 

Matchu

Senior Member
I understand you said it’s not about mental Illness. But you do have a character referring to the whispers in his head so it’s bound to be an element. If a suspect/somebody in custody began referring to voices then a separate protocol comes into effect: ‘Take him up the hospital, sergeant...play this by the book..’

...which could only serve to enhance your story. ‘No signs of mental illness. Maybe he really has seen a ghost? [snort]’

apols if wrong end of stick situ, all best
 

TheMightyAz

Senior Member
I understand you said it’s not about mental Illness. But you do have a character referring to the whispers in his head so it’s bound to be an element. If a suspect/somebody in custody began referring to voices then a whole separate protocol comes into effect: ‘Take him up the hospital, sergeant...play this by the book..’

...which could only serve to enhance your story. ‘No signs of mental illness. Maybe he really has seen a ghost? [snort]’

apols if wrong end of stick situ, all best

That's what the police think, yeah. That's the whole point in the opener ... What are these whispers in his head? Are they real? Is he insane? Is he making it up? Why has be got the blood of his wife on him? Did he murder her? Are they literally coming? Let's read on ...
 

Users who are viewing this thread

Top