Anthropomorphized celestial objects

alexvss

I don't know no grammar.
Joined
Dec 9, 2020
Messages
376
Location
Northeast Brazil
If someone knows about (short) stories with a similar theme, please let me know. I read Escape Pod Episode 627.
_______________________________________________________________________________________________________
Tristan woke up with a sudden jolt, realizing that he couldn’t see an inch before his nose. He realized that he was still lit, but just barely. His brilliance was strong enough just for him to see his own features, but he couldn’t illuminate anything with so weak a light. “Where is my wife?” he said. He looked around and saw nothing but darkness. “Why is it so dark? Where’s everybody? Where’s the rest of the constellation?”

He heard himself shriek when he felt the vibration striking his body. A giant, colorful cloud enveloped him. Is that… the remnants of a star being born? he thought. Tristan tensed up from top to bottom. He reluctantly turned around and looked at the direction where the rumbling was coming from. That’s Betelgeuse’s position, he thought. But where is he? I can’t see a thing.

Tristan remembered just how bright and vivid that constellation was. It was indeed one of the shiniest constellations in the galaxy. He, his wife and the other stars were proud of shining their lights so they could travel to the most faraway and remote planets. Now, the joy and laughter became utter silence; the luminescence and radiance became darker than black.

He had never seen darkness before—stars are born with light, their birth places, called nebulas, are giant clouds of light—,so he was terrified. In fact, Tristan didn’t even remember how he ended in that situation; nor had he any idea why he was practically unlit, almost dead.

Or rather, he had an idea: he shone together with his wife for millions of years now, and now she was nowhere to be found. He couldn’t feel the bond between them. Has it been cut, ejecting them in opposite directions and now they’re loose in space? Or perhaps she was the one that cut it loose in order to become a runaway and marry another star? Or rather, did she just die? He remembers her light starting to become weaker, her orbital speed slower. But why did that happen?

He remembered his wife complaining that Betelgeuse, the leader of the constellation, has been acting strange for some millennia. He was an old, stubborn star. Full of himself, because he was the shiniest and biggest star in the galaxy, and, as the leader of the constellation, would tell them where to go. Although Tristan was a supergiant, Beteugelse was so big that always scared him. And he was getting even brighter, much above normal. He had acquired a reddish color that disturbed the other stars. There was a time where Beteulgeuse got so bright and hot that it became unbearable; nobody couldn’t talk to him.

Tristan remembers that everything went black. And then he just woke up here.

“Betelgeuse, what are you up to, you bastard?” he murmured to himself. “If you did anything to my wife, to my friends and family…”

He started trudging towards the source of the vibration and of the cloud, the gravity getting denser and denser. He seemed to weigh a million times more than he really was. It was like walking in slow-motion, no matter how hard he tried.
 

The Judge

Truth. Order. Moderation.
Staff member
Joined
Nov 10, 2008
Messages
12,991
Location
nearly the New Forest
I know there are published stories in which planets are sentient and able to defend themselves against humans, and of course in traditional stories the sun and moon may be characters who interact with each other and mortals, but I’ve not come across any published SF stories which attempt to anthropomorphise stars in the way you’ve done here. And I think there’s a reason for that, namely that suspension of disbelief in a folk tale that’s using celestial objects to tell a story about life and human relationships is one thing; trying to work out how a star has a nose, unless it’s obviously meant to be comedic, is quite another matter.

To my mind, therefore, if you want to write a story with stars as the characters you need to establish a tone for it which works with the idea and everything within the story must then support that. So for instance a folk story might be written in a poetical way or as though it were a legend passed down the centuries; a comic story would be written in a comic tone, with humorous language and situations. Here you seem to be writing a serious story about the death of stars, but by giving the star obvious human characteristics you’ve compromised the tone, pulling the story in different directions, so it fails – to me, even using the name "Tristan" hits a wrong note. By the by, Joshua Jones wrote a serious story about star death here on Chrons in a 75 Word Challenge from the first person POV of the sun, and that worked to an extent, so the idea isn't impossible, but it needs to be handled properly.

A story also needs a point – it needs to be written for a reason. I don’t mean that it has to impart some great moral message but it’s important that at the very least there’s entertainment value in the writing, which might come from poetic use of language, or an unusual idea well told, or just the pleasure of the tale having a beginning, middle and satisfactory end. Here, to be brutally honest, I got to the end and thought “And?” To me, there was no point to the story. Nothing has happened, nothing has been resolved, and the writing is not of a standard to let me ignore that failure of storytelling.

As to the writing, in my view there is a great deal of repetition which just adds word count without taking the story forward, the dialogue adds little, the info-dumping is a little heavy-handed and the anthropomorphism produces inadvertent comedy with the idea of his features and his trudging. And as I mentioned before your English is excellent and you can be rightly proud of your fluency, but it’s not idiomatic and there are errors.

I know this will be difficult for you to hear, but your writing is not yet anywhere close to the standard required by prestigious magazines, so continued submissions to them are simply a waste of your and their time. If you want to be a successful writer then you need to learn more about the basic mechanics of writing – it's a craft as much as an art – and you'll need to work on those basics, and you'll have to take account of feedback and be willing to revise your stories.

I'd urge you to continue entering the Challenges here and when voting in the relevant Challenge is over I suggest you ask for feedback on your entry and we can help you there. Also, read through more of the pieces here in Critiques and see how the stories are structured and think about the comments that are made and how they might relate to your own work.

Always remember, though, writing is a marathon not a sprint, so success isn't going to come immediately.
 

sule

"What I do is me: for that I came."
Joined
Feb 14, 2020
Messages
284
While I wouldn't be completely put out by a story that anthropomorphized stars in some way, I was thrown by many of the choices you made in your story. Specifically, the star not being able to see anything "past his nose" was very strange and threw me from the story. Also, you mention that the star has a wife but give no reason for what that means or why they consider themselves to be married to each other. Are they a binary system? Are we meant to infer that? I felt you could have made it a little clearer. And the "trudging" at the end. Even anthropomorphized I wouldn't go with the word "trudging" to talk about a star moving.

There were a few grammatical errors and redundancies in your text, but I generally don't like to dwell on those unless they were a large part of why I didn't enjoy a story. I think your best bet is to follow The Judge's advice: don't focus so much on selling a story right now. Instead, keep writing and focus on improving your writing. Read the other critiques and find other writing advice that you trust to follow. You will get better, you just need to give yourself more time and put less pressure on yourself with external goals like selling a story.
 

alexvss

I don't know no grammar.
Joined
Dec 9, 2020
Messages
376
Location
Northeast Brazil
Here, to be brutally honest, I got to the end and thought “And?” To me, there was no point to the story. Nothing has happened, nothing has been resolved, and the writing is not of a standard to let me ignore that failure of storytelling.
Well, the guidelines say, "the first 500 words" so...

Also, you mention that the star has a wife but give no reason for what that means or why they consider themselves to be married to each other. Are they a binary system?
Exactly.
 

tinkerdan

∞<Q-Satis
Joined
Dec 10, 2012
Messages
5,168
Location
x² + y² = r²:when x~∞
At one time Betelgeuse dimmed and they did think it was on it's way out. However it turned out that it had rapidly emitted matter that had for a period clouded the star. Subsequently it brightened back up. They called this a Sneeze. However considering it might have been a cloud of gas, I'd be inclined to call it a Fart.

But let's get back to the twin stars. I'm assuming by wife and husband you have twin stars. You know it is believed that possibly our solar system was originally a twin star and that long ago something large came into the path of the other star and Its gravity pulled the star away.

The point is that the relationship between stars and planets within a system is all gravity and orbits and so the removal of one might be mosly from a object that passes through too close and is massive enough to pull it away from the system.

So either Betelgeuse passed too close to the missing sun or the dual sun system passed too close to Betelgeuse. And if the husband star is now on a path to seek vengeance against Betelgeuse; I'd suggest that it is most likely that the near miss was with the husband and it was the one taken from the system and now on some course that might send it into Betelgeuse.

Just some food for thought.

Sort of a mental fart and perhaps like Betelgeuse I have dimmed for a moment or two.
 

The Judge

Truth. Order. Moderation.
Staff member
Joined
Nov 10, 2008
Messages
12,991
Location
nearly the New Forest
Well, the guidelines say, "the first 500 words" so...
Well, if you'd said this was just the first part of a longer story, I'd have known it wasn't the end and so would have critiqued on that basis not on the assumption that it was complete. And while my specific criticism about there appearing to be no point to this story might not now apply, depending on what does happen next, the general advice on that aspect remains true and, of course, the rest of my post holds good.

You've never said what kind of critiques you've received from Critters and your paid beta readers, so I don't know if anything here and in your previous thread in Critiques comes out of left field. However, the way we all progress in writing is by receiving feedback and learning from it, no matter how unpalatable that feedback might seem at the time. So what I'd suggest you do when you've had more comments on this is look again at the story and consider how you can make it stronger, and then put up a further version of it in a week or so.
 

tinkerdan

∞<Q-Satis
Joined
Dec 10, 2012
Messages
5,168
Location
x² + y² = r²:when x~∞
There's some stuff I paraphrased from some science articles.
About the Sneeze and the solar system possibly being a twin star system.
But yes: the fart parts are jokes although I still think what the article calls a Sneeze should be called a Fart.
 

Wayne Mack

Well-Known Member
Joined
Sep 12, 2020
Messages
701
Location
Chantilly, Virginia, US
I like this premise, it is not one I had seen before and that makes it interesting. I also appreciate bringing in sight, feeling, and hearing for the character. Continue to use all of his senses. I would encourage another draft.

Since this is in third person without other characters, you might try experimenting with dropping all of the tags, the 'he thought,' 'he said,' 'he felt,' 'he remembered' helper phrases. I think this might maintain the flow.

Tristan woke up with a sudden jolt, realizing that he couldn’t see an inch before his nose. He realized that he was still lit, but just barely.
The first two sentences to me implied someone waking up with a hangover. As someone else noted, explicitly calling out his nose as a feature is at odds with Tristan being a star. Also, another definition of 'lit' is 'being drunk.' Until I made the connection that Tristan was not a human being, this seemed to be the appropriate definition to use. It wasn't until the third sentence that the actual intent came to me.

He heard himself shriek
To me, shriek implies a high state of agitation that doesn't seem to fit with Tristan's emotional state either before or after this. Perhaps a different phrasing might help.

He reluctantly turned around and looked at the direction where the rumbling was coming from.
Always have action then reaction, never reaction then action. Tristan has felt shaking, but there is no prior indication that he heard something as well.

Now, the joy and laughter became utter silence; the luminescence and radiance became darker than black.
This seems to be a shift into present tense.

Tristan remembers that everything went black. And then he just woke up here.
This seems to be flirting with a shift into present tense.

nor had he any idea why he was practically unlit, almost dead.

Or rather, he had an idea
Do not split paragraphs at this point. These two thoughts are too closely related. Possibly put the paragraph break after "Or rather, he had an idea."

He remembered his wife complaining that Betelgeuse, the leader of the constellation, has been acting strange for some millennia. He was an old, stubborn star. Full of himself, because he was the shiniest and biggest star in the galaxy, and, as the leader of the constellation, would tell them where to go.
Be careful of pronoun use, especially in third person. It was unclear to me whether it was Tristan or Betelgeuse who was being described. Simply dropping the 'He remembered' tag might resolve this by eliminating competing 'He' references. Start with "His wife had complained ..." Or even give the wife a name to avoid the 'His' as well.

“Betelgeuse, what are you up to, you bastard?” he murmured to himself. “If you did anything to my wife, to my friends and family…”
Murmur seems like the wrong reaction. Most of the prior dialog has been internal thought. I would expect that he would either continue that or, if verbalized, he would yell it out. Simplest change might be to simply eliminate the tag and leave it as a dialog line for emphasis.

I encourage you to continue working on this story. I think it has a unique and interesting plot line. There are just some technical writing items that I think should be cleaned up to give your story even more reader impact.
 

Hex

Write, monkey, write
Joined
Mar 3, 2011
Messages
6,248
Location
Edinburgh
Just zipping past but wanted to say Diana Wynne Jones has at least one and possibly two stories which do this: Dogsbody is one (a great book) and The Game is the other. You might find the way she manages this interesting.
 
Thread starter Similar threads Forum Replies Date
Wy-rent Book Search 5
hopewrites Technology 27

Similar threads


Top