The Sorcerer - adult horror novel

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Classic Camp
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The Sorcerer - adult horror novel

Post by Classic Camp » September 6th, 2010, 2:12 pm

Just thought I'd give this board a try. Just looking for a little feedback. I know most people who post here post YA fiction because that's what Nathan mainly represents, but I really love his blog, and thought I'd give this critque section a try.

I've rewritten this opening several times, and was wondering how this works. This is about the first page and half or so, just enough to give a taste.


Chapter 1 - The Message


Crack! Thunder shook the newsroom of the London Times while I was working late one night. It was the third storm this week, which was unusual for England. They were not ordinary storms, there something different about them. It wasn’t just that London is a maritime climate and these storms appeared more tropical in nature, it was something else. These storms seemed alive somehow, as though the lightning itself had eyes and was searching for something. The wind, it appeared, could reach down and grab you, shake you around and throw you down.

During this storm Alison, our secretary, or scribe as the older gentlemen in the office refer to her, walked through the door and placed a letter on my cluttered desk between the oil lamp and inkwell. On the front of the letter read my name, Leonard Atmore, reporter.

“What’s this?” I asked just as another jolt of thunder sounded outside.

“What did you say?” she asked in her Cockney accent.

“I said what it is this?” I shouted over the whistling wind.

“It’s a letter.”

“Yes I can see it’s a letter, but who is it from?”

Alison was a single lady in her late twenties who lived just outside the shady part of town. She wore her hair up, and had a bit of a tough streak in her. There weren’t many female secretaries in London, so she needed that tough streak. She was independent, and hung out in the pubs at night, but no one ever bothered her there because she knew all the bouncers’ names. She had blonde hair and usually wore skirts considered risqué, as they were tight fitting in all the right places. She had a fair upbringing, although her parents didn’t have a lot of money, but she got along with everyone at home as well as in the office.

“I don’t know, some sailor I think.”

“What did he look like?” I asked.

“Let’s see, he was tall and thin, brown hair with a touch of grey. He wore a red checkered shirt with the top button undone, so he was, you know, showing off some chest hair.” Working for a big name newspaper, Alison grew a knack for describing people.

“Did he say anything?”

“He didn’t leave no name or nothing. He didn’t even ask to come back to see you. He just said to give it to Mr. Leonard Atmore, and that it was something about these storms, oh, and immortality.”

“What?”

“It wasn’t the storm that time, you heard me right.” Alison looked at the letter.

“That is all, you may go now.” I said, waiting for her to leave.

“Yeah sure, I didn’t want to see what was in it anyway,” she said leaving the room.

ninafromnorway
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Re: The Sorcerer - adult horror novel

Post by ninafromnorway » September 7th, 2010, 2:53 pm

Story I'd give maybe a six. I really liked the beginning, and the way you described the different storm. It reminds me a little of "The Mist" by Stephen King. But you lost me at the same time as the dialogue, it didn't feel natural to me. And some places I felt a little tossed in to the paragraphs (I'm really crappy when it comes to explaining these sort of things).

Grammatically, as my English isn't the best, I'll try and make some comments and then see if anybody writes the same. In other words, don't worry about this part:

Do you skip a lot between past and present?

It wasn’t just that London is a maritime climate There is something wrong about the "is", as if it is misplaced. I would have written: "It wasn't just the fact that London was" - (past) - or "It's not just the fact that London is" - (present)


Other mistakes/different ways of writing I saw:
there was something different about them
as the older gentlemen in the office refers to her


“What did you say?” she asked (shouted) in her Cockney accent. (I'm guessing she can't hear him because of the thunder) Such as: "The thunder was deafening her" or "my voice faded out in to the rumble"

Alison was a single lady in her late twenties who lived just outside the shady part of town. She wore her hair up, and had a bit of a tough streak in her. There weren’t many female secretaries in London, so she needed that tough streak. (Isn't it normal with female secretaries nowadays? I feel something is missing here. I would also try and avoid to use the same word "tough street" more than once) She was independent, and hung out in the pubs at night, but no one ever bothered her there because she knew all the bouncers’ names. She had blonde hair and usually wore skirts considered risqué (risky?), as they were tight fitting in all the right places. She had a fair upbringing, although her parents didn’t have a lot of money, but she got along with everyone at home as well as in the office. (I would have introduced this a little earlier)


“Let’s see, he was tall and thin, brown hair with a touch of grey. He wore a red checkered shirt with the top button undone, so he was, you know, showing off some chest hair.” I would write a little about her hand and body gestures between these sentences.


Hope I'm not wrong and that I may have helped a little.
When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.

Classic Camp
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Re: The Sorcerer - adult horror novel

Post by Classic Camp » September 7th, 2010, 4:25 pm

First off, thanks for the feedback. It is greatly appreciated.

The slip into present tense (London is a maritime climate), was actually intentional, not a slip up. I wrote it that way because London still is a maritime climate, not just a maritime climate at the time it was written. Hmm. That's not to say it's correct, but that's what I was thinking when I wrote it. I'd like to hear other opinions on this.

I will take your other suggestions into consideration, and again thank you for those.

But I'm more curious, what made it a 6 rather than something higher? Again not blaming you, just trying to gage how I can rate a higher score? :-)

ninafromnorway
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Re: The Sorcerer - adult horror novel

Post by ninafromnorway » September 8th, 2010, 2:31 pm

The 6 came from how the dialogue turned so abruptly. When I read, I like to know what the characters are doing; How are they standing, gesturing or sitting? What is the pitch in their voice?

It is easy to misinterpret writing, as you never know how it's being said. "you're such a freak" could mean that someone is playfully teasing someone who has a serious interest of something, or it could be a child being bullied from it's peers.

In other words: More life to the dialogue
When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.

Classic Camp
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Re: The Sorcerer - adult horror novel

Post by Classic Camp » September 8th, 2010, 2:37 pm

Just curious. Thanks again, your time and attention to this story is very much appreciated.

Emily J
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Re: The Sorcerer - adult horror novel

Post by Emily J » September 9th, 2010, 3:39 pm

Classic Camp wrote:Just thought I'd give this board a try. Just looking for a little feedback. I know most people who post here post YA fiction because that's what Nathan mainly represents, but I really love his blog, and thought I'd give this critque section a try.

I've rewritten this opening several times, and was wondering how this works. This is about the first page and half or so, just enough to give a taste.


Chapter 1 - The Message


Crack! not sure if Crack! worked for me. better to start with the full sentence, although starting with a dark and stormy night is cliched Thunder shook the newsroom of the London Times while I was working late one night. It was the third storm this week, which was unusual for England. They were not ordinary storms, did you notice how this is just repeating the first clause of the sentence? its redundant --> there something different about them. It wasn’t just that London is a maritime climate and these storms appeared more tropical in nature, <-- beware captain exposition! it was something else. These storms seemed alive somehow, as though the lightning itself had eyes and was searching for something. The wind, it appeared, could reach down and grab you, shake you around and throw you down. <-- this sentence didn't work for me, perhaps the awkward flow of the commas or the repetition of the word "down" try reading aloud to yourself it will help with sentence flow

During this storm Alison, our secretary, or scribe as the older gentlemen in the office refer referred to her? not sure if you should use present tense here to her, walked through the door and placed a letter on my cluttered desk between the oil lamp and inkwell. <-- solid details (tho who has an inkwell these days, is it an antique desk? or is the character archaic in some way?) On the front of the letter read my name, Leonard Atmore, reporter.

“What’s this?” I asked just as another jolt of thunder sounded outside.

“What did you say?” she asked in her Cockney accent. <-- not buying the cockney accent at all, couldn't you write it how it would sound? "Wha 'id yoo say?" just a suggestion!

“I said what it is this?” I shouted over the whistling wind.

“It’s a letter.” again, we could amp up the cockney

“Yes I can see it’s a letter, but who is it from?”

Alison was a single lady in her late twenties who lived just outside the shady part of town. She wore her hair up, and had a bit of a tough streak in her. <-- telling, how does she have a tough streak? There weren’t many female secretaries in London, <-- ?? seems counter-intuitive? so she needed that tough streak. She was independent, and hung out in the pubs at night, but no one ever bothered her there because she knew all the bouncers’ names. i have a bit of a problem with the organization in this paragraph, you start with a physical description, have a tangent at bars, then return to give us hair color? seems a bit disjointed She had blonde hair and usually wore skirts considered risqué, as they were tight fitting in all the right places. She had a fair upbringing, although her parents didn’t have a lot of money, but she got along with everyone at home as well as in the office. not sure if I understand the need for the heavy-handed exposition and character description in this paragraph either, can't we find a better way of incorporating it into the story?

“I don’t know, some sailor I think.”

“What did he look like?” I asked.

“Let’s see, he was tall and thin, brown hair with a touch of grey. He wore a red checkered shirt with the top button undone, so he was, you know, showing off some chest hair.” Working for a big name newspaper, Alison grew a knack for describing people. <-- good details

“Did he say anything?”

“He didn’t leave no name or nothing. He didn’t even ask to come back to see you. He just said to give it to Mr. Leonard Atmore, and that it was something about these storms, oh, and immortality.”

“What?”

“It wasn’t the storm that time, you heard me right.” Alison looked at the letter.

“That is all, you may go now.” I said, <-- what is their relationship? she seems rather casual so it strikes me as odd for his to say "you may go now" feels a bit formal doesn't it? waiting for her to leave.

“Yeah sure, I didn’t want to see what was in it anyway,” she said leaving the room.
I liked Alison as a character, but I do worry about the exposition paragraph. I would definitely suggest trying to smooth that out and perhaps give out the details about Alison a bit at a time over the course of the novel if she is a pivotal character. If she isn't tho, it might be overkill.

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wilderness
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Re: The Sorcerer - adult horror novel

Post by wilderness » September 9th, 2010, 4:04 pm

I'm seeing some inconsistencies that make it hard to determine when this piece takes place. Inkwell, oil lantern, few female secretaries, her "risque" clothes indicate a historical piece. The language e.g. "yeah, sure" seems mostly contemporary.
And even though London is still a maritime climate, I think it reads better if you are consistent with your tenses.

Classic Camp
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Re: The Sorcerer - adult horror novel

Post by Classic Camp » September 9th, 2010, 10:25 pm

Emily, I purposely did not tell anyone what my story was about because I was wondering how long it would be before someone made reference to Edward Bulwer-Lytton's infamous novel. Congratulations on being the first. But storms are an important part of my novel. The sorcerer, who is the main antagonist , conjures up storms. My question is, with that in mind, do you feel it is possible to open a book with a storm, or has Lytton destroyed that opening for all time?

One other minor question, you wrote, "<-- beware captain exposition!" and pardon my ignorance, but I have no idea what this means. Sorry.

Wilderness, yes it is a period piece. I will consider the contemporariness (er, contemporarity, comtemporar-, ) oh, anyway I’ll consider revising.

Thank you both very much for taking the time to read over my short opening, no matter how trite you felt it was. I know it's hard to get a good feel for a story from such a short snippet, but your attention is still very much appreciated, and I will consider all suggestions.

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Re: The Sorcerer - adult horror novel

Post by Emily J » September 10th, 2010, 2:29 pm

Now that I think about it I'm not really surprised you didn't understand my "captain exposition" comment. Sometimes I forget that certain words and phrases were coined by me, and thus totally incomprehensible to the rest of the world.

I suppose it is like captain obvious, only you know, exposition. In other words, the exposition feels forced and overt rather than something that is explained in due course. I hope that makes sense!

As for starting with a storm, I definitely think it's doable, but you do need to put your own spin on it. Aside from the personified wind, what is it about these storms that are so odd? Is the lightning green? Do the storms start exactly at 9:06 each night and last 2 hours on the dot? In other words you could show us how the storms are abnormal rather than tell us and it would improve the opening paragraph.

But these are just opinions of course!

Classic Camp
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Re: The Sorcerer - adult horror novel

Post by Classic Camp » September 10th, 2010, 2:51 pm

Emily J wrote:Now that I think about it I'm not really surprised you didn't understand my "captain exposition" comment. Sometimes I forget that certain words and phrases were coined by me, and thus totally incomprehensible to the rest of the world.

I suppose it is like captain obvious, only you know, exposition. In other words, the exposition feels forced and overt rather than something that is explained in due course. I hope that makes sense!

As for starting with a storm, I definitely think it's doable, but you do need to put your own spin on it. Aside from the personified wind, what is it about these storms that are so odd? Is the lightning green? Do the storms start exactly at 9:06 each night and last 2 hours on the dot? In other words you could show us how the storms are abnormal rather than tell us and it would improve the opening paragraph.

But these are just opinions of course!
Actuall, they help tremendously. I was worried about the whole "Dark and stormy night" thing from the get-go, and this is not the original opening, so I still wasn't sure whether I should scap the whole thing or try and work with this a little more. It looks like I can still work with this. Thanks again for returning to respond.

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Re: The Sorcerer - adult horror novel

Post by Amanda » September 16th, 2010, 10:35 am

I think it is an interesting beginning and I would like to see where you go with it. There is, though, a lot of telling and not showing. The key markers of telling are "be"verbs, as, to, when, in, etc. There is a great post on Janice Hardy's blog here http://storyflip.blogspot.com/2010/04/r ... e-why.html

In your first paragraph, you use a "be"verb in almost every sentence and sometimes twice. I would suggest re-writing the first paragraph without the majority of those words and see how you like it.
I'm a leaf in the wind.
Watch how I soar.
~ Wash

Classic Camp
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Re: The Sorcerer - adult horror novel

Post by Classic Camp » September 16th, 2010, 2:09 pm

Actually, someone on another message board mentioned this as well, but this does reinforce that view. I've already rewritten the first paragraph to fix some of that. Thanks for the link to that blog though. I hadn't seen that one yet.

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