A little snippet - 445 words

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Scott R. Forshaw

The Darth Knight
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Nonchalantly fervent - the epitome of confusion.
Here is a small portion of chapter two from my work in progress. I'd like some opinions, please. Any and all advice and opinions will be much appreciated, so feel free to praise or condemn. Which ever takes your fancy.








It hadn't changed a bit. It still looked every inch the stinking cesspit that I remembered. Dirty, filled with sin, and crawling with more diseases than a urinal in a crack den. It made me almost want to hold my breath, my whole body convulsing at the repulsive depravity of it all. The Red Light District, strictly for those who couldn't care less if their bits fell off, as long as they had some fun in the process.

I looked around, soaking up the whole depraved atmosphere that surrounded me. Vampire prostitutes lined every street, touting and flaunting for everything that they were worth, in the hope of striking lucky. Long, leggy beauties, as pale as untouched snow, with crimson red lips, paraded themselves disgracefully to every passer-by. Calling out, and using more than a touch of the old vampire charm. Personally, I'd always felt that it was a little unfair for them to compel someone into sleeping with them. It was like plying someone with drink until they passed out, and them having absolutely no say over what happened next. No matter what kind of spin you want to put on it, it's still rape in my book. But vampires didn't give a damn. They were in it for themselves, always had been, always will be, and to Hell with the consequences.

A few of the femme fatale's looked me over, trying to draw me in with their seductive gazes. Enticing me with their bewitching charm and pouting lips, and their cold exposed flesh. Flesh that was barely covered, by an assortment of microscopic mini-skirts, knee-high boots, and ill fitting animal print bras. Cleavage was one thing, but vampire cleavage that hung out shamelessly in every direction was enough to make me want to join a priesthood. (That in itself would be a near impossibility, of course, given my Midway status.) But I'd been around the block, and vampires had about as much hold on me as a toothless chihuahua. I'd seen it all before. The false beauty, the whole poisonous charm, the glorious exterior, all masking the beast that lay beneath. When push came to shove, vampires were nothing but walking corpses with pointy teeth, no matter how much they tried to dress it up.

I walked by them, making a point of glaring at each and every one of them with every bit of disdain that I could muster. They pouted and blew kisses, threw out long legs, and pushed their breasts together to catch my eye. It didn't work, I would rather of ran a stake through each and every one of them than sample anything that they had to offer.
 
It doesn't go anywhere. Granted, I wasn't expecting much more than a slice of life, but here the same idea is basically repeated in every paragraph. Overall, I thought the description in some places was too general, not specific enough.

It hadn't changed a bit. It still looked every inch the stinking cesspit that I remembered. Dirty, filled with sin, and crawling with more diseases than a urinal in a crack den. It made me almost want to hold my breath, my whole body convulsing at the repulsive depravity of it all. The Red Light District, strictly for those who couldn't care less if their bits fell off, as long as they had some fun in the process.

I looked around, soaking up the whole depraved atmosphere that surrounded me. Vampire prostitutes lined every street, touting and flaunting for everything that they were worth, in the hope of striking lucky. Long, leggy beauties, as pale as untouched snow, with crimson red lips, paraded themselves disgracefully to every passer-by. Calling out, and using more than a touch of the old vampire charm. Personally, I'd always felt that it was a little unfair for them to compel someone into sleeping with them. It was like plying someone with drink until they passed out, and them having absolutely no say over what happened next. No matter what kind of spin you want to put on it, it's still rape in my book. But vampires didn't give a damn. They were in it for themselves, always had been, always will be, and to Hell with the consequences.

A few of the femme fatale's looked me over, trying to draw me in with their seductive gazes. Enticing me with their bewitching charm and pouting lips, and their cold [how does he know their flesh is cold if he hasn't touched them?] exposed flesh. Flesh that was barely covered, by an assortment of microscopic mini-skirts, knee-high boots, and ill fitting animal print bras. Cleavage was one thing, but vampire cleavage that hung out shamelessly in every direction was enough to make me want to join a priesthood. (That in itself would be a near impossibility, of course, given my Midway status.) [Infodump] But I'd been around the block, and vampires had about as much hold on me as a toothless chihuahua. I'd seen it all before. The false beauty, the whole poisonous charm, the glorious exterior, all masking the beast that lay beneath. When push came to shove [cliche phrase], vampires were nothing but walking corpses with pointy teeth, no matter how much they tried to dress it up.

I walked by them, making a point of glaring at each and every one of them with every bit of disdain that I could muster. They pouted and blew kisses, threw out long legs, and pushed their breasts together to catch my eye. It didn't work, I would rather of ran a stake through each and every one of them than sample anything that they had to offer.


Highlighted in blue are what I felt were odd or inaccurate descriptions, cliches, or, in the case of the chihuahua, a simile that didn't fit the overall mood of the piece.

In red are all the descriptions that are vague. At first glance they don't seem vague, but nearly every one can be made more concrete, more vivid, by asking, How?
For example, how is it dirty? Is it shit-smeared? How is it filled with sin? What does sin look like? What is the depraved atmosphere? You're telling us it is depraved, instead of showing us and letting us draw our own conclusions.
 
You're quite right, maybe a little more than a small section would of helped. More of the surroundings are explained in greater detail as the scene progresses, but what I was looking for in this portion was more of an introduction to the scene, rather than a detailed description. The how's and the why's come later, and a better insight into the surroundings is explained more clearly.
Granted, I only gave a tiny portion in respect to this particular piece as a whole, and I have to expect that people won't fully grasp it, or find that it's missing in terms of description. But I'm thankful for your comments, nevertheless.
Thank you.
 
Just a couple of quick thoughts (I haven't had a chance to look at the whole piece, but these jumped out at me):

I liked the first line - strong and intriguing. I wonder why he remembers this place and that draws me in.

I think the "that" could vanish in the cause of tightening.
("It still looked every inch the stinking cesspit I remembered.")

And, more doubtful, but I wondered about it. Isn't "looked" very specific? Does he have reason to think it looks like a stinking cesspit but it isn't really? Does it smell like one too? I suppose I'm asking would it be more powerful to have "was"?

"It was still every inch the stinking cess pit I remembered."

(and now I'm wondering about 'every inch')

"It was still the stinking cess pit I remembered."

(sorry for hacking -- I am in furious-editing-mode with something I'm working on!)

Ahem. So this sentence: "It made me almost want to hold my breath, my whole body convulsing at the repulsive depravity of it all. "

I don't think you need the 'almost', it weakens and complicates the sentence. And I wondered about him wanting to hold his breath but his body convulsing -- The first seems very mild compared to the second -- wouldn't he struggle to hold his breath? or actually hold his breath?

I'm not too sure about the "of it all" either.

Are urinals diseased, wherever they are? (though I like the image). Loved the last sentence of the first paragraph.

Sorry to be snippy -- it reads very well and gives a strong picture of the place you're describing (and that's just the first paragraph) but maybe it could be stronger?
 
Sorry to post twice in a row (please don't hurt me). I missed the time for editing.


I looked around, soaking up the [whole] depraved atmosphere [that] surrounded me.

"I looked around, soaking up the depraved atmosphere surrounding me." ?

["soaking up" [in?] implied something positive to me -- although he's so horrified his body convulses in paragraph one, now he's soaking things up? -- people do respond to things in contradictory ways, but this made me wonder if it will be resolved later or if 'soaking up' is just subtly not quite right -- I don't know enough about you as a writer to judge whether he (your character) wants to soak up the atmosphere and you're subtly suggesting he's not as disgusted as he claims to be, or if he truly is disgusted and 'soaking up' is a writerly trick to get in more description]

Vampire prostitutes lined every street, touting and flaunting for everything ['every' and 'everything' made a slightly odd jingle -- could replace with 'all' if you liked, and lose 'that']:

"Vampire prostitutes lined every street, touting and flaunting for all they were worth..."

that they were worth, in the hope of striking lucky. Long, leggy beauties, as pale as untouched snow, with crimson red lips, paraded themselves disgracefully to every passer-by [OK, now he's back to finding things disgraceful. Although again there's a hint of ambiguity because he clearly finds the vampires attractive -- he's coming over as slightly confused. I wondered -- a little -- if parading themselves was the same as touting and flaunting?]. [this may not actually want to be a full-stop] Calling out, and using more than a touch of the old vampire charm. Personally, I'd always felt that it was a little unfair for them to compel someone into sleeping with them. It was like plying someone with drink until they passed out, and them having absolutely no say over what happened next [a wee bit clumsy compared to the rest of what you've written]. No matter what kind of spin you want to put on it, it's still rape in my book. But vampires didn't give a damn. They were in it for themselves, always had been, always will be, [something a bit weird about this -- I think it's tenses -- "always had been, always would be" or "always have been, always will be" -- I think] and to Hell with the consequences.

[Right then, so the vampire prostitutes are both flaunting themselves for all they're worth and using vampire charm which is essentially rape -- I wonder if the effort they're putting in in the first bit with the parading etc fit with the fact they're basically hypnotising their clients. Just -- if the charm is so powerful as to be rape, then why do they have to work so hard physically? Hope that makes sense]

[secondly, there's a lot of qualification of his sentiments on vampire charm and rape -- "Personally, I'd always felt..." and "it's still rape in my book" -- to me that read as a little unsure. Is he unsure? Since it's first person, maybe you could get away with a bit less qualification since we know it's all his point of view anyway.]
 
Thanks for that, Hex, you've made some very good points. You're also right to ask whether he's confused, in the sense of whether he finds the vampires attractive or not. The answer is, yes he does, but he is appalled by everything that they are... with exception to their looks.
I'll certainly be taking some of your point into account, I think that you've made some very good observations. Things that I had missed, and I'm sure that a second draft of this would flow much better.
Thanks, Hex.
 
A few of the femme fatale's looked me over
Simple plural, no possessive = no apostrophe.

Flesh that was barely covered, by an assortment of microscopic mini-skirts, knee-high boots, and ill fitting animal print bras. Cleavage was one thing, but vampire cleavage that hung out shamelessly in every direction
I don't feel you need that first comma, and, if it hangs out every which way, can it really be considered "cleavage"? Surely that can only be found between (not below around or behind) the mammary appendages?
It didn't work, I would rather of ran a stake through each and every one of them than sample anything that they had to offer.
There's a comma splice after "work" (two complete sentences, should be a full stop or a semicolon) and it should be "I would rather have run a stake…", not "of", nor "ran"

There. You don't need me, but I thought I ought to make it clear that I read the piece.

And I rather like the length. Certainly, it doesn't give the critiqueur time to immerse himself in the universe, but gives a good idea of flow and word use without scaring off potential comments.
 
Thank you, Chris. I'm glad that you found time to comment; I always appreciate your views, and it has to be said, your knowledge of punctuation is nothing short of spectacular!
However, I do feel that you were just being nice with the last comment. Maybe because my surname is Forshaw. :D
 
Hi,

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Here is a small portion of chapter two from my work in progress. I'd like some opinions, please. Any and all advice and opinions will be much appreciated, so feel free to praise or condemn. Which ever takes your fancy.









It hadn't changed a bit. It still looked every inch the stinking cesspit that I remembered. Dirty, filled with sin, and crawling with more diseases than a urinal in a crack den. It made me almost want to hold my breath, (not strong enough IMO 'almost' ? > I've been in very smelly places (water treatment plants) and what you do is hold your breath until you can't hold it any longer - then it just gets nasty) it my whole body convulsing at the repulsive depravity of it all. The Red Light District, (The red Light District is also a bit tame give it a name like

Soho, the biggest piss pot on Splogwand


or some such then explain it's the RLD of the city we are in)

a bit strictly for those who couldn't care less if their bits fell off, as long as they had some fun in the process.

I looked around, soaking up the whole depraved atmosphere that surrounded me (it would surround you, it's all around). Vampire prostitutes lined every street, touting and flaunting for everything that they were worth, in the hope of striking lucky. Long, leggy beauties, as pale as untouched snow, with crimson red lips, paraded themselves disgracefully to every passer-by. Calling out, and using more than a touch of the old vampire charm. Personally, I'd always felt that it was a little unfair for them to compel (Not so much as compelling them, more fooling the punters) someone into sleeping with them. It was like plying someone with drink until they passed out, and them having absolutely no say over what happened next. No matter what kind of spin you want to put on it, it's still rape in my book. But vampires didn't give a damn. They were in it for themselves, always had been, always will be, and to Hell with the consequences. (Small snag here, you seem to be suggesting that they prey on the punters resulting in death. The other legitimate dealers in depravity would surely object to this casual discarding of income stream. It would be more acceptable if you explained they got away with the loss of a few pints)

A few of the femme fatale's looked me over, trying to draw me in with their seductive gazes. Enticing me with their bewitching charm and pouting lips, and their cold exposed flesh. Flesh that was barely covered, by an assortment of microscopic mini-skirts, knee-high boots, and ill fitting animal print bras. Cleavage was one thing, but vampire cleavage that hung (technically, 'cleavage' doesn't hang out, it's the things either side that do the hanging) out shamelessly in every direction was enough to make me want to join a priesthood. (That in itself would be a near impossibility, of course, given my Midway status.) But I'd been around the block, and vampires had about as much hold on me as a toothless chihuahua. I'd seen it all before. The false beauty, the whole poisonous charm, the glorious exterior, all masking the beast that lay beneath. When push came to shove, vampires were nothing but walking corpses with pointy teeth, no matter how much they tried to dress it up.


I walked by them, making a point of glaring at each and every one of them with every bit of disdain that I could muster. They pouted and blew kisses, threw out long legs, and pushed their breasts together to catch my eye. It didn't work, I would rather of run a stake through each and every one of them than sample anything that they had to offer.

Good atmospheric stuff. I assume there's more, either immediately after this section or soon. So far only the vampires are described but they wouldn't explain all the filth etc.

Where are the ogre pimps, fairy dusters and really nasty folk:)

Hope I helped

TEiN
 
maybe a little more than a small section would of helped. More of the surroundings are explained in greater detail as the scene progresses, but what I was looking for in this portion was more of an introduction to the scene, rather than a detailed description. The how's and the why's come later, and a better insight into the surroundings is explained more clearly.
Really has nothing to do with having a larger or smaller section. I viewed the piece as a standalone.

Basically, you're attempting to set a scene -- create a mood -- in these 445 words, and my opinion is the writing is not as vivid as it could be, for reasons already mentioned. This ... problem isn't something that can be addressed later, not something where you can write a super detailed scene later on to 'make up' for this scene's ambiguity. It doesn't change the fact that this excerpt is not highly effective prose.
 
I have to disagree, slack. If every piece of information regarding a scene is exposed as soon as you 'enter' there is no build up or anticipation, wanting to find out more is the only reason we want to read on in a novel. I don't think this except has a 'problem'; I found it quite engaging and I was interested to find out more about our aloof and worldly-wise narrator.
 
I understand everyone in the world who reads a book is going to read it differently and see it in a unique way. I'm no expert at critiques, but from someone who purchases a lot of books that OTHER people have written and reads A LOT I just wanted to say that i enjoyed this and it made me want to read more. Keep it up man.

You won't please everyone, so just simply keep it up.
 
Thank you for the nice comments, guys. If I'm being honest, Slack had managed to injure my pride a little, I must admit. But the last two posts have given me the incentive to continue. I took a day off yesterday to clear my head, and hopefully be able to approach the project with fresh eyes.
I've just finished hammering out a thousand words, so something must of helped.
I'm off to write more now.
I'll try to post more of the story soon.
Thanks again.
 
One small point about this scene. It doesn't really go anywhere, in that it is just a description of how disgusted the narrator is - but that could be a strength depending on what you want to do. Were I to read it as is, I would regard the narrator as obsessive, and hence slightly unreliable. We learn as much about him as we do about what he's seeing, as it's so heavily clouded by his disgust.

What did I actually learn from the scene? The area is probably unpleasant and sleazy, but so are most cities on a Saturday night. But more than that, the narrator appears obsessively disgusted by (1) sex and (2 and less so) vampires. He reminds me rather of Travis Bickle from Taxi Driver (or Roschach from Watchmen for the young people), with a little bit of stock private eye, judging by the metaphors he uses. Ultimately, he doesn't sound reliable, which could be interesting in itself.
 
Toby, I'm so glad that you picked up on those things. You're right, he's far from reliable, and the private eye comment really hits the nail on the head.
He's confused by a great deal of things in the world in which he lives, and can't fully comprehend why things/people behave the way that they do. He has morals, and a deep love for humanity, but he also has a dark side as well, which only adds to his confusion.
All of this does become apparent earlier/later in the story, but isn't really expressed within the portion that I posted.
Thanks for the comment.
 
If I'm being honest, Slack had managed to injure my pride a little, I must admit.
Didn't intend to. Just being honest with you and presenting my opinions in a straightforward way. Sorry if you were offended by my critique.
 
Not offended, Slack; disheartened perhaps, but not offended. I appreciate everyone's comments, good or bad, that's what critique is all about. I'll continue to write, and no doubt put more up for critique in the future, and hopefully I may eve be able to change your mind... here's hoping!
Thanks, Slack.
 
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