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Discussion > Writing Class > An S.O.S.

An S.O.S.

Narainsbrain (November 4th, 2002, 7:16 am)

When I read "Mira?" again, it strikes me as... how do I put it? Really... BAD. Ugh.

Asking people to criticise the heck out of something never works the way one wants it to - the incomplete story is already so long that the reader can't be expected to give specific points, and one receives instead a broad critique of what is generally wrong with the work. That's really hard to work from.

So I decided to post a small clipping from the beginning of Mira, fairly representative of the crappy style I wrote it in, so you guys can pick holes in this and give me specifics. With what I learn from this, I'll hopefully be able to patch up the rest better.

- - -

When Mira woke, she found herself in an empty white room. She could not feel anything, and she could not move. But somehow she could look around. She looked down automatically.

To her horror, her body was not there at all.

She looked around in bewildered panic, but there was nothing to see. Only the plain white walls of that empty room.

The room. It was unnatural in its featureless geometrical perfection, the perfection that completely lacked any sense of scale. It could have enclosed a cathedral, or it could have fit inside a shoe box.

And there she was, in the middle of it, hanging motionless in midair, without a body, fearful and bewildered to the core.

The point of diminishing returns had been crossed. Anything beyond this would fail to surprise her further. She would pass through it all numbly, as some particularly freakish dream.

With rude suddenness a rectangular screen appeared in front of her. It was, as far as could be told, a large screen, half the length and breadth of the room. Before her it hung, floating almost as illogically as she was.

All this was unreal enough not to startle her.

What did shake her was the image of the two very real people the screen displayed.

She did not immediately recognize the two men she saw, but that did not matter. The image of them, seated amid massive electronic apparatus, was too tangibly detailed to be escaped. That was clearly reality - so where was she?

- - -

Awful, isn't it? Please, help!

An S, if nothing else.

Hellkeepa (November 4th, 2002, 12:39 pm)

HELLo!

I didn't find it so awful, but I think you let her horror escape her too fast.

I really felt her horror when I read this line (and still does) "To her horror, her body was not there at all."

However, it doesn't seem like you follow up on it at all, just move on to a rather mundane description of the room... Try having the description first, then her discovery (and hold it for a while). ;-)

Happy fraggin'!

Ben (November 4th, 2002, 4:01 pm)

Well, it's not horrible, but I think it could certainly stand a rewrite. (Often your own writing looks worse to you than others, because you can look at it and always see exactly exactly what you were going for (or should have been) and where it falls short.)

My advice is to put yourself completely in her shoes, be a bit more expressionistic (and impressionistic, come to think of it). Maybe start something like:

White. Crisp pale white, and she could not move.

No constraints, though. And, somehow, she could look around, though there was nothing to see but the perfect, featureless walls.

That would be a nice place to segue into her not being able to see herself, but I can't quite figure out how to do it without expending some significant effort (and anyway, it's your story :). One problem may be that she doesn't really seem to be a character -- what is she like? What is her background, where was she before the operation (or, more likely, what's the last thing -- if any -- that she can remember?)?

Thanks, guys!

Narainsbrain (November 7th, 2002, 1:48 pm)

I have things to say to both of you, so let me split it:

Hellkeepa: Oh hey, this is the first time you've come across this, isn't it? Yeah, I've got a huge continuation of this in the writers-only section being written up for an Issue. Although it mostly continues in mundane-description mode from where the clip ends ;)

Describing the room first is a good idea, I should have thought of that. But wouldn't the natural reaction on not feeling your limbs be to first look and see what's wrong with them?

Anyway, you're right that I need to keep the drama going. I can never manage to do that though :)

Ben: That first sentence of your little suggestion is killer. Somehow, as soon as I read it it struck me as so completely your style. I dunno, don't ask. :) But while I can't take this (or even a variation on it) to use in the story - I can never bring myself to consciously imitate someone else's style - you've inspired me to put some more effort into inventive writing.

And I never did give her a background, did I? I wanted to take that up somewhere, but the need never seemed to present itself. There was always so much else going on at the time to take care of. I'll have to work something out.

Thanks a lot, guys, you've really helped.

You're welcome

Hellkeepa (November 8th, 2002, 3:54 am)

HELLo!

Yep, first time I ever came across her, but I'd love to read more: Struck me as a VERY interesting concept to write a story about, the little I got to know about it anyway.. ;-)

As for the descriptions order, well.. You know there is an extremely large amount of details you can process in a split second, especially if it's a unknown and unexpected enviroment.

Besides, the body is always there and thus it's assumed to be there still, only by actually trying to use it will make someone aware over it's disappearance (or if they "saw" it first).

Happy fraggin'!

True...

Narainsbrain (November 9th, 2002, 4:16 am)

Your first reason is valid, but I don't think the second is. :p

The very fact that the body's always assumed to be there will make you notice its absence immediately. You take for granted that when you wake up, you'll be able to see, and you'll be breathing. If either of those doesn't happen, you panic as soon as you gain consciousness. I think. ;)

Same with the body: would you notice it if you woke up and your whole body was dead numb?

But yes, you will probably take in all the details of the environment in half a moment, so maybe the description does belong in the beginning. It's going to be pretty hard to write it so it feels like a split-second assimilation, though. :) Well, that's my problem. I'll see if I can work it out.

Well, I shouldn't bother you with this anymore. Thanks again for all the help.

Discussion > Writing Class > An S.O.S.

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