View Full Version : opinions...

Ninja Hampster
04-04-2002, 05:51:32
The cold vacum of space can be heard through your suits sonic filter. The harsh hiss of Oxygen seeping through a breach in your ships hull is like a death rattle. Klaxons are blarring in your ear, accompanied by the blinding flashes of the red warning lights. Your Co-Pilot lays dead in his pilots chair. The Naeron Ion spike had come through the view shield, impaling him to the seat.. "Like a nail in wood" you think as you scramble over fallen cooling/heating pipes towards the emergency beam out station. Blood can be seen streaming down your faceplate as you wander towards your goal in a dazed state. You cant even feel the pain of the shrapnal that hit you when the Ion spike breached the view shield, and sent shards of Stel into your control station. As well as your entire upper body. Your suits vacum support armor (V.S.A) stopped most of the blast, but a rather nasty shard made it into your Comm unit built into the head unit of the suit. It seems thats not all it made through to. You hit the activater on the B.O. Station, sending your body at the speed of light 500,000 meters away (5 K,s). You watch from eerie silence as your ship explodes under another barrage of Ion Spikes and Shriek Lasers. You slowly drift in the void you beamed to, like a lost soul, wandering the planes of a spirit world on a distant planet. You see the Naeron scout ship pass your cargo frieghter, sending the peices sailing towards an unkown moon as its main engines fire up. You realize they are on an intercept course for all thats left of the ship.... You. The question pops into your head like a burning sun. The question you never thought you would have to anwser. The one they taught you about in flight school before you launched on your first mission. Use the poison SeiT that was carried in all human suits in the universe, and die a painless death. Or risk being captured and tortured by the Naeron... That question would have to be anwsered now..

04-04-2002, 08:47:35
What sort of opinions do you want????

It was a struggle to get past the first missing apostrophe ('suit's')! Next time, run a spell check and a grammar check before pressing return. Also, get rid of any inconsistencies - how can all those different sound effects be heard if the guy is wrapped in an environment suit? 500,000 metres is 500 Kilometres.

That said, the prose isn't bad, but what is the hook? Unless the text is rivetting, you have to grab people with an idea. A human spaceship being attacked by aliens has been done sooooooo many times before ...

(Sorry - I only do negative criticism. :) )

Qaj the Fuzzy Love Worm
04-04-2002, 23:43:41
That second-person person must usre be glad to be in an environment suit if he's around something called a "B.O. Station" Ew!


05-04-2002, 14:31:37
Personally i don't believe critisism of this sort of thing means saying anyfing about spellinge, that kind of thing is for the programs man.... (the programs are our masters you see) (you should'nt burden the creative soul with mere technical details NOISY:mad:.....;) )
But Noisy's right, there's no hook, but then I'd usually give a writer untill at least Page 4 to hook me somehow. I reckon it could have done with more work all round, some inconsistancies need clearing up- and there's a lack of atmosphere, and the second person perspective does'nt really work (i think) and I had a hard time believing in the characters perception of events and his/her thoughts on them (like a nail in wood?) and all suns burn- but none of them could be said to "pop" anywhere, and would red-warning lights be designed to be blinding to the people they are supposed to warn? All in all i think you should try harder next time.

these are the kind of things i think a critic would say.

05-04-2002, 16:45:55
Never write in the second person. Spell and grammar check everything. Split it into paragraphs.

Do that, and I will tell you what I think of the content.

Qweeg: if a write cannot be bothered to run a simple spellcheck, not even a grammar check, why should I bother to read it? BTW, you might like http://rft.melm.org/. Sci-fi and stuff, with a fiction section and editing queue.

08-04-2002, 11:02:22
Sean, you look like one of my old bosses, you work in entertainment news by any chance Lloyd- er... i mean Sean?

-i joke. don't answer that.

10-04-2002, 23:04:23
Use the poison and die a painless death, or risk being captured and tortured by the Naeron?

That was the question Buck never thought he'd have to answer, the question they posed in flight school long before he ever launched his first mission.

Unfortunately, it was THE question that needed to be answered now.

He could hear the cold vacum of space through the sonic filter of his suit. The harsh hiss of Oxygen seeping through a breach in the ship's hull was a death rattle, a constant reminder of time running out.

Klaxons blarred in his ear and red warning lights flashed.

His co-pilot was dead, impaled by a Naeron ion spike, right through the shield, right through his chair. Shards of steel riddled the control station.

The vacuum support armor (V.S.A) of Buck's suit had stopped most of the blast, but a rather nasty shard had pierced the Comm facilitator built into the head unit of the suit. Blood streamed down his faceplate.

Buck scrambled over fallen cooling and heating pipes toward the emergency beam-out station. He couldn't even feel the pain of the shrapnel embedded in his body.

Buck hit the activator on the B.O. Station and was propelled 500,000 meters away at the speed of light. From the eerie silence of space, he watched the ship explode under another barrage of ion spikes and shriek lasers.

He slowly drifted, a lost soul, wandering the planes of a spirit world on a distant planet.

A Naeron scout ship passed the cargo freighter, sending the pieces sailing toward an unknown moon as the ship's main engines fired up.

Buck realized then that they were on an intercept course for anything salvageable...or any survivors.

The ultimate question suddenly burned in his head more brilliantly than the blinding sun. That question would have to be anwsered now.


Short paragraphs (one to three sentences) pick up pace and immediacy. Third person and short, concise descriptions help.

The scene may be nothing new to sci-fi afficionados, but what makes this original is the crux of the situation. Why is this character unprepared for this situation? Why did he not think he would ever face this?

Exploring those questions will give depth and layer to your character as you discover what makes him tick. That he is not prepared suggests that he is somewhat immature and probably where he is today because he has not yet 'found himself' or he is running from or avoiding something. I also get this idea from the line your writer's mind chose: He slowly drifted, a lost soul, wandering the planes of a spirit world on a distant planet.
This is the ultimate thing that will need to be resolved in your character that will change him and this is what we will see by the end of the story. By the end of the story, he won't be lost. We know you won't let him kill himself (there wouldn't be a story then) and a rescue right now would be too convenient, wouldn't it? At least it would merely delay what this character ultimately has to face--which is the heart of your story (himself).

All that is set in an adventure in space, complete with the history that I'm sure will accompany the story regarding the Naeron, etc.

Go for it! You have a good idea, especially if you get inside your character...and even think of a better name than I did! :) :)

11-04-2002, 10:54:58
Now thats what I call constructive critisism:) I still think the this bit:

He slowly drifted, a lost soul, wandering the planes of a spirit world on a distant planet.

sounds lame, even when Chickenized, becouse things drift less on planets, why not something like:

He slowly drifted, a lost soul, wandering the eternal void

coz the guys in space after all, a perfect environment to include the words "lost", "void" and "wandering" all in the same sentence. Like a brothel would be the perfect place to include the words "soft", "vigorously" and "pink" in the same sentence.

11-04-2002, 19:03:50
You really crack me up, sometimes, Qweeg. :D

12-04-2002, 19:30:10
Good idea, Queeg!

"He slowly drifted, a lost soul, wandering the eternal void."

I was focussing on keeping what he wrote as well as I could, without changing anything. Mostly breaking it up and taking out repetition helped.

Just wanted to show what was there and that it has merit.

I always say, write out the first draft completely before getting feedback or criticism because it can kill it (like trying to see the baby before it's ready to be born)...you can easily abort it.

Or, if you need feedback, get something that will help you see the heart of what you have written, rev you up and get you writing more. At this stage, you are looking for music, not intricate dance steps.

I wanted to offer a different insight, so he might feel encouraged to continue with his story to completion first and then get the hardball criticism.

Most of what you write in the first draft gets shed anyway. Sometimes the first few chapters are cut away because the story actually starts later and the first bit is all a warm-up.

Sounded like he just needed encouragement. By the presentation, it seems like he was really into what he wrote and that is just the right motivation for a great story.

Everything looks lke crap in the first draft--even by authors that get paid bucks.

12-04-2002, 19:44:00
Dona, while your version is easier to read, I don’t like the practice of a succession of one-sentence paragraphs. They give the piece a disjointed feel, as if each sentence is a paragraph in its own right. Three-sentence parapgrahps are fine, but one-sentence paragraphs, especially with simple sentences, are things I find uncomfortable to read.

Also in Sean’s Pet Dislikes: the word ‘suddenly’, oxygen as a Proper Noun, and using distance and speed in the same sentence (use speed and time).

Why, if he is wearing some kind of pressure suit, is the sun blinding him? (Dona.)

How does a burning sun pop? (Hampster.)

12-04-2002, 20:13:06
Those are questions to be asked after the completion of the first draft or not because they may just not apply then--they'd just fall away and never make it to the final draft.

I take it, from what he offered, that he just wanted feedback, like--go with it or not?

I think every prompt is good to go so long as the writer is interested. If NH is interested, go for it.

Critiquing the writing process is ugly and to be avoided, but he set himself up the block so I tried to reattach the head and syphon the blood back in.

The crux of what he wrote, still stands, whether or not it was written eloquently. The prime mover in the bit he offered us is why that character is surprised by this situation when he was trained for it and why he is 'lost.' The answer to that and the development of it to a satisfying resolution (happy or not) is the real story. The Naerons and what-not are really secondary.

What science fiction or fantasy has ever really been just about a certain action? It's either what clothes a philosophical assertion or it is the terrain a character navigates while he sorts out his problem.

RE: technicalities of space, etc. I know nada. I leave that to the scince fiction die-hards and I trust that NH would research and read up on everything pertinent. Not always necessary to have info upfront, but very helpful. You don't want to lose your reader with inconsistencies.

Also, true the sun doesn't burn and pop--of course in fiction anything is possible if you set a precedent. Do I get away with that excuse? :) :)

Single sentence paragraphs work. Depends on when you use them. This could be a shortstory. Could work. Depends on the pace, tone and voice he develops. I'm working with what he gave me without adding to it or reshaping it...except from the way it was presented which seemed to be straight freeflow and not the final intended format. He's free to try any style he likes. Personally, I like a fast clip and it can work well sometimes.

This one would be great with some detailed description--like a visual painting. It could set the mood. Then when those abrupt mmenmts of destruction occur they are that much more jarring and violent. Description isn't necessary there,just detached fact--that can add to horror without getting cheesy.

What if he showed the relationship between he and the co-pilot, get a little stream of consciousness in there, then wham, the co-pilot's dead. You have an involved reader who cares about the death and fears for the other pilot's safety.

Sure, lots can be done. That's why I say, go for it! :)

12-04-2002, 20:28:59
Oh, I agree it is just a draft, but you do have to have some idea of what it will be like when it is finished (although is any story ever really finished?).

Single sentence paragraphs do work, they are especially effective when writing humorous stories, but I don’t like a succession of them.

I am the kind of person to go over the details at every stage. This is a right pain for anyone who writes something that I comment on, but it does help to avoid inconsistencies further down the line.

Looks like this forum might have a life :bounce:.

12-04-2002, 20:58:08
Do you write?

My husband is one for detail and he will sweep over even a first draft with a keen eye. I think he can do it without killing the muse, but I have to waste all my energing barfing my soul in text and then mucking through it. I can relate to NH. :)

One thing that works for me when writing something I have no experience with, is to read like crazy about it.

I like bull riding (vicariously) and have characters that tend toward that persuasion in their 'real life.' so I have had fun going to rodeos and reading about it and getting at it from every way that I could...and it paid off. ONE short story and a few fun rough drafts of another and it's a natral part of the story.

One thing that bugs me is when I have a really good 'flow' but know I don't have the detail I need. It's a game between reading, writing, fantasy, etc.

One thing on the back burner involves some 'experience' with the ocean and all the technology that goes with that...have had fun reading technical things on scuba diving, surfing, stuff about the ocean and sharks...ergo my shark fiction craving last summer.

One day that will all come together for this story I have peddled around from one side of my brain to the other.

There's probably an easier way to do this, but I am probably too impatient to figure it out. I just jump right in.

12-04-2002, 21:01:07
You know I am not even going to edit my posts. *rolling my eyes*

I know how to spell! Beleeeeve me.

13-04-2002, 10:42:11
Now do me! Now do me! okay maybe that came out wrong, but next time i write something i intend to have it Chikenized:)
Are you an actual english-lit teacher LoC? or an actual person whose been given money a few times for writing stuff about stuff and stuff?

14-04-2002, 19:01:50
I pursued my love in college and got a Bachelor's in Creative Writing. I knew there wouldn't be anybody knocking on my door when I graduated...and there hasn't been!

I skipped the M.F.A. and went for my MRS. (got married).

Long story short, I kept in touch with the 'formal side' of writing through a class with a mentor (just to test myself to see if I really could write) and ended up 'coming out of the closet'--yes, I am a writer. I have a contemporary novel (drama) that I have been battling with through a long revision process. It's had an agent (no dice) and a good edit. It has merit, but I say the proof is in the publishing, so if nothing works out with a revision this year, on to something new!

I also have a completed screenplay (would be good for a Hallmark production on TV) and some short stories that have done well in contests, but no winners yet.

My mentor was always frustrated with my writing. I write 'super-market fluff.' :) I couldn't write a classic to save my butt if I had to.

Published? Starting to! I am coming in the back door. When I scrapped my first MRS. degree I got a job and through that wrote four articles for an agriculture magazine and got paid! This made my life and gave me an idea...

Got into a small advertising agency, and now I write copy and radio/TV ads.

I also write a monthly column for the local newspaper (for free) and I see it as a step toward getting paid for shooting off my mouth (in one form or the other).

I write essays (ramblings) on-line at another site (non-fiction) and I'm collecting them for little books.

And still plugging away at fiction--my one true love.

Those are my stats as a writer. Sorry, nothing too showy.

I just love to write and I have some good experience with it and like to share what I know and get the same from others.

Would like to help others get their stuff ready for submission and point them toward possible publishers (like, act as the step just below an actual lit. agent??) but thought I should get a few things published first.

So, if you want something 'chickenized' no problem. Use what you can and leave the rest. :)

14-04-2002, 21:17:24
(closes mouth and attempts to stop starring)
well, erm... thats alot of er... credentials for someone with no showy stats.

I myself have wrtitten some stuff a few times and tried to force friends to read it. Usually they just say "yeah.. its good" or "you spelt dystopian wrong".

I have never finnished anything i have started, but I am optimistic.

These are my own lofty credentials as a writor.:)

15-04-2002, 12:18:39
You're way too humble, Qweeg, though I agree that you really need to actually finish a story one of these days.;)

Dona, (not to flog my own horse, but...) I'd be interested to know your opinion of the story I posted here:


You can post any comments you might have in that thread so as not to steal thunder from NH.

Speaking of which, I agree with your criticisms, his idea is good even if his execution is not. I would also add (being one of them thar sci-fi nuts) that while developing character and motivation is essential to pulling the reader into a story, for sci-fi it's not enough. The setting also needs to be explored (i.e. physical, sociological, and political) otherwise, why bother with sci-fi? If there's no point to placing the story in the future during a space war with aliens beyond that the writer wanted to have spaceships and lasers, then it might as well be re-written into a WW2 story or some fictionalized contemporary conflict. Wierd ideas are the meat and potatoes of sci-fi, so good sci-fi gets into some details of alien psychology, or an unforseen twist in human culture or technology, etc. etc.

My two cents, anyway.;)

15-04-2002, 15:44:43
Guy, sure I'll take a peek at your story.

You're right about the sci-fi. It seems that there is usually some philosophy to explore--from what I hear. :) But, then, was Star Wars considered sci-fi? That was a story set in space that could have been set anywhere, yet it worked. Theme: good VS. evil. Maybe it's the difference between 'hardcore' and something that draws readers/viewers from outside the genre. Hmmmm...like that recent movie they just had out about the kid robot (forgot the name) VS Star Wars?


Queeg: Well, I gave the informal resume because it's fair if you're asking for my feedback or where I'm coming from. I'm just starting out, but I have a little experience. The bottom line (for me) is no pay day yet, so I am just one of those obssessive/reclusive shut-ins chained to a keyboard. :)

I think the biggest writer's block is not thinking of yourself as a writer unless you have been published. Another big writer's block is hanging around with people who haven't been published, yet consider themselves writers, but have never managed to write or work on more than one piece. I am so scared of doing that myself. So I'm going to stick my neck out and do more short stories. I have a lot to learn. I need feedback, too! :) My description sucks!

Right now I am in the process of becoming a mercenary writer. :D That's why the column and articles here and there for pay. I'd rather get paid to write, than paid to wipe kid's noses or wait on grumpy bosses. I'd love to get my fiction (as is) published, but I want a more immediate goal, so I am exploring something I can do now...romance. Now THAT takes nerve to admit. More than it took to say I'm a writer. There's nothing commendable about writing romances (to the general audience) but then, I am a stay at home mom, so I should be used to dismissal by now! :)

Basically, I write because I HAVE to. I just want to get paid for some of it, while I improve as I go.

15-04-2002, 15:51:13
By the way...the thing I look for in people to give me feedback is:

Do they like to read?

After that, it's a bonus if they also like to write. The only detail I am a real stickler for and try to stay true to when I give feedback is this: If you don't like it/something, say what and why. If you do like it/something, say what and why.

Feedback isn't feedback, without that. You can't do anything with it.

15-04-2002, 17:00:58
Agreed 100%, Dona. Nothing frustrates me more as a writer than handing a story to someone and having them hand it back and say, "Yeah, that's pretty good."

WHAT is good? WHAT could have been better? WHAT was total crap? Don't worry about my feelings, tell me what doesn't work and why. The only thing I fear as a writer is silence...

15-04-2002, 17:07:24
In literature, no-one can hear you scream?

15-04-2002, 18:22:43
Guy, I posted my feedback on your story. Wish I could use my hands--was I Italian in another life? For a writer, I never feel like I express myself well enough when giving feedback on-line. Need a pen in my hand!!!

I'd like to see it again if you work on it some more, if you want my feedback. That one has cool possibilities.

Pester me, if you want. qckj@ausi.com

15-04-2002, 20:41:50
Right, I think I might spend some time on this now, rather than just throwing out whatever pops into my head. (Like bailing out a dinghy?)

Ninja Hamster (are you still reading this thread?), as I’m typing this post in Word, I’ve noticed that your name is spelt incorrectly. Unlike Hampstead, there’s no ‘p’ in hamster.

Er, anyway. You shouldn’t write in the second person because it is too restrictive. First- and third-person distance the reader from the character, but with a second-person perspective the reader just thinks ‘I wouldn’t do that.’ Once that happens, you have to work like buggery to re-capture their attention before they close the book.

For sci-fi, third-person is probably the best, because (as Guy said) a large part of writing sci-fi is the universe that you build. So go build it! Make a tapestry of species and alliances and planets and technologies and characters that draws the reader out of this world and into your head.

I know we’ve said it before, but do spell- and grammar-check your work if possible before posting it. Microsoft Word will put all sorts of funny squiggles under your writing (especially on the strictest setting). If you don’t have Word, or anything similar, you can do a free online spell-check at http://www.spellcheck.net/.

Some people—me, for instance—put a lot of focus on the mechanics of writing. This may be because of what type of person they are (bastards) or because of the line of work they are in (editing/typesetting/proof-reading). Our rationale? You can’t build a monument if it collapses under its own weight, you can’t paint a masterpiece if you get the colours mixed up, and you can’t expect much from a story if you don’t spell-check.

I’ll let someone else explain the other point of view, the point of view of people who are more…creative :).

As I’ve said that, I would be a hypocrite if I didn’t go through your post and help you with it. I’ll start with Dona’s version, because there is no point in re-inventing the wheel.

(Well, I say help, but only in the sense that you will know that there is at least one person worse than you are.)


Use the poison and die a painless death, or risk being captured and tortured by the Naeron?

That was the question Buck never thought he’d have to answer, the question that they asked every rookie in flight school. He’d laughed with his friends at the absurdity of the situation. Each of them knew with the arrogance of youth that they would never be so foolish as to be caught and impelled to use SeiT, the poison that was in every human suit.

He knew that he had been arrogant and irresponsible, but that didn’t bother him now; he was caught up in the dilemma that faced the soldiers in history lessons. Would he die for the cause, or was he a rat clinging to driftwood?

He could hear the cold vacuum of space through the sonic filter of his suit, focusing his attention. The harsh hiss of oxygen seeping through a breach in the ship’s hull was sand through the hourglass, a constant reminder of time running out.

Klaxons blared in his ear and red warning lights flashed intermittently—ironic, he thought through his panic, how they were working but the ship wasn’t.

His co-pilot was dead, impaled by a Naeron ion spike. It had gone right through the shield and his chair before burying itself in the floor, unfurling the metal around it. Shards of steel floated aimlessly about the control station, combining with the flashing lights to produce a throbbing, nauseating environment.

The vacuum support armor (VSA) of Buck’s suit had stopped most of the blast, but a nasty shard had pierced the Comm. facilitator built into the head unit of the suit, cutting him off from any assistance. Flecks of his co-pilot’s blood were splattered on his faceplate.

Buck scrambled over the collapsed cooling and heating pipes toward the emergency beam-out station. He couldn’t even feel the pain of the shrapnel embedded in his body.

Buck hit the activator on the beam-out station and was propelled 500,000 meters away in an instant. From the eerie silence of space, he watched the ship explode under another barrage of ion spikes and shriek lasers, debris spinning lazily against the stars.

He slowly drifted, a lost soul, wandering the eternal void.

A Naeron scout ship passed the cargo freighter, sending the pieces sailing toward an unknown moon as the ship’s main engines fired up. Buck realized then that they were on an intercept course for anything salvageable…or any survivors.

His blood froze. The ultimate question paralysed him inside as the vacuum paralysed him outside. The scout ship would find him, dead or alive. Now he would have to answer the question.


And so ends possibly my longest post ever at CG (a parenthetical jungle). I hope you’re happy.

15-04-2002, 21:59:24
All right--NH better reclaim his story before it's adopted by the community. :)

Nice job, Sean.

I was reminded of something when I was reading your post. It's valid for all genres, especially when it comes to sci-fi or fantasy (dealing with worlds no man is ordinarily familiar with). It's a good idea to do a lot of fantasizing. You can't call yourself a writer if you don't fantasize. This is why it's cool to get paid for writing fiction! :)

Spend time getting to know your characters, their histories--what makes them tick. So as the story weaves and develops, you just know what they'd say or do.

Sometimes, a story gets lost in that pre-occupation...I like to write with the analytical side turned off so my hands are just a link fom the fantasy pool in my head to the the keyboard and the real world. Writer's alchemy.

A good way to go so that a first draft gives you something with a little more stability (if that's your aim) is to read, read, read. But this time read to see how your favorite authors handle dialogue, description, suspense, character development. Read what you love, write what you love to read.

In time you will hear your own voice and see your own style develop.

15-04-2002, 22:13:55
I thought this was adopt-a-story. I knew I should’ve taken a left at Albuquerque.

Also, trying to write like my favourite author is too imtimidating.

Look! (http://www.randomhouse.com/features/cormac/border/horsesexcerpt.html)

Anyway, I was going to ask about how you got paid to write fiction when you said you wrote ads, before I realised how ludicrous that question would have sounded :).

16-04-2002, 00:20:43
Oh, that was nice, Sean.

Very crisp and clean. The author does a lot with texture, color and sound...very evocative. I printed this out to read again and will look for the book. I could learn a LOT! :)

16-04-2002, 13:19:41
Some peopleóme, for instanceóput a lot of focus on the mechanics of writing. This may be because of what type of person they are (bastards) "

:lol: :lol: :lol: