Page Critique Friday 9/10/10

Offer up your page (or query) for Nathan's critique on the blog.
larspergou
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Re: Page Critique Friday 9/10/10

Post by larspergou » September 13th, 2010, 8:04 pm

MelissaA wrote:
Passive voice is an issue here (particularly with the first line).
The first line isn't passive. "Were standing" is past progressive tense. It means the action is in progress, and it's a perfectly legitimate tense to use.
This is a good analysis of tense and active and passive forms:

http://www.englishpage.com/verbpage/activepassive.html

NickB
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Re: Page Critique Friday 9/10/10

Post by NickB » September 14th, 2010, 11:02 pm

Hey artrosch,

I'm really digging this...it reminds me of a Hiaasen intro. I agree with the idea one poster had about focusing on one of the musicians just a little more than the other...even if we never see him again. I haven't read all the posts and suggestions (I read Nathan's and he seems to really connect with what you're doing here. I liked what he had to say.), but I'll include some thoughts for what they're worth.

Title: Confessions Of An Honest Man
Word Count: 250


July, 1967. Detroit, Michigan
Three musiciansstood beside the club’s back door, under a canvas awning with scalloped trim. They wore black tuxedoes, replete with cummerbunds, bow ties and shoes polished to mirror perfection. The tallest of the three, a man in his early sixties, wore a red poppy in his lapel. The others had white carnations. A few people stopped to shake their hands and offer words of praise. Someone laughed a boozy laugh. When the people had drifted away, the older is this the tallest one? musician butted his cheroot in the sand of an ashtray. He stepped off the concrete pad and walked towards his car.

The other two followed casually, about fifteen seconds apart. They got into the vehicle and quietly closed the door
Soon they became engrossed in the ritual of the pipe: lighting, inhaling, holding their breath, exhaling, cozy in the Continental’s plush interior. Air came through the upholstery’s leather seams, as if the vehicle sighed. The men were settling down, recharging their nerves for the next set, the last set. It was one o’clock in the morning.
BANG! 'kay, here's what I might do: They ducked, hands flying to cover their heads as the car lurched beneath the weight of a gun-wielding lunatic (maybe that's a cliche) diving across the hood, legs swimming wildly to stop his momentum. OR They ducked, hands flying to cover their heads as the car lurched beneath the weight of a gun-wielding lunatic. The older musician--the only one with his eyes still open--watched the man slide over the hood, legs swimming wildly in a fight to stop his momentum. The man dropped to the ground with a thud and the musician moved to the side window to see the man [do whatever he does next :)] [Something in the way of the man being bewildered or regrouping] and then you could drop in the line about the tactic not working.

The tone of my current WIP is very similar and I'm still struggling with POV (stay omniscient, do third limited...how many if in third?, etc.) and then inserting enough description to involve the reader while keeping the action going in a gripping, can't-put-it-down sorta way. And all this while considering that as I do all these rewrites, I may be completely sacrificing my voice and going back to Square One. So, I feel ya. And I'm sure you've considered all of what everyone is saying here. My two cents boils down to: 1. Though it's a pain, I might switch to someone's pov--out of omniscient--either after the first paragraph or when the action starts to make it more involving. 2. I'd do short bursts for the action. Just BANG, their reaction, what happens next...either in short sentences or short comma-separated bursts.

I get the feeling it's moving into comedy and the diver's pov, so I get why you wouldn't want to switch pov all over the place. And I like "tactic." Funny.

Again, I really like this. I hope to see you over in the Excerpts forum if you aren't there already. I'll look for you. I'd like to see how the revisions turn out and find out what happens next.

Thanks for posting,
NickB

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J. T. SHEA
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Re: Page Critique Friday 9/10/10

Post by J. T. SHEA » September 15th, 2010, 4:32 pm

Excellent opening, Artrosch! I love the 'BANG!' And I took the pistol-wielding man's 'tactic' to refer to his wild efforts to stop his momentum as he slid across the hood.

Paragraph formatting looks a little wonky, but that could just be the posting process, since you can't indent. And I'd be interested to see where you go with the collective or omniscient POV.

I'm aware I disagree with most commenters on this one, so make what you like of that. In any case, I would definitely read on.

Thank you, Nathan, for distinguishing between the passive and past continuous, a distinction lost on many pedantic writers.

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Holly
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Re: Page Critique Friday 9/10/10

Post by Holly » September 15th, 2010, 5:27 pm

P.S. Don't change cummerbund. Humpty Dumpty wore one in THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS. In fact, Alice had an argument with him about whether it was a cravat or a cummerbund (since he was an egg with no waist or neck), so if it was good enough for Humpty...

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