First chapter - Time Without End (after the prologue)

otaylor

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Hey, thanks so much everyone for the feedback to the prologue, it was very useful. Apologies for spamming two entries in a row, but they are related :D Here's the opening chapter - you can (hopefully) see the obvious connection to the prologue. So far I've received mix feedback, some put off by the prologue but enjoying this opener, but I can't quite decide myself. So, I'm open to all critique, obviously, but in particular I'm interested in how this feels in relation to the prologue - if they go well together and you like it, or this is better without it etc. Also, in general, if this leaves you wanting to read more. Also if the title (Time Without End) sounds ok :D

CHAPTER ONE:

Floyd tugged his coat a little closer around him, wincing as the rain began to seep through some of the shabbier seams. The city glow was muted in the downpour, streetlights dim above the pavement, the rare vehicle streaming past carving waves through the water that ran across the tarmac. Neon signs on the shop fronts added a nauseating mismatch of washed-out rainbow colours, punctuating the gloom. His wide-brimmed fedora helped keep the rain from running rivers down his neck and soaking him, and the coat’s high collar and knee length folds offered some protection, but by any measure this was an awful night to be on shift. Of course, there were always those who had it worse. Like these poor bastards. The bodies lay a meter or two apart, covered now with disturbingly wide-spread black plastic sheets. Darker rivers ran from under the covers, snaking across the sidewalk to join the miniature cascade of water into the gutter where shadow and the broader torrent claimed it. There wasn’t much more to do now except to wait for the pickup, and for the data to download properly, which seemed to be taking too long. Everything was taking too long tonight.

‘Floyd? It’s ready.’

He turned to take the proffered tablet, lifting it up to peer at the dimly lit screen. Sam Lee and Richard Kamara. At least their Spirits had survived the fall. As suspected, both Renters. Next of kin were listed as a Sarah Lee and Bruce Kamara. That was a pain. It was going to be a long night at this rate. He touched the glowing orange script to access Sarah’s address, before flicking backwards to the previous screen and scrolling down slightly. He paused, lost in thought.

‘The meat van’s arriving. Took their time about it too.’

Floyd’s colleague passed him to speak to the driver of the large truck that was pulling to a stop. Floyd glanced up, noting the characteristic bulk of the truck’s sides, emblazoned with the letters O.W.C in thick, six-foot characters. His eyes then drifted back down to his screen. Insuritas. That was the sixth, this month? It wasn’t easy to keep track, and with the latest economic slump there was no shortage of jumpers. But he and Scott had been keeping tabs as usual, and he was pretty sure the others in the database had the same insurance. Anyway, food for thought when he found himself with desk-time to spare. He had two households to visit now. He hoped there weren’t children.

‘Scott, let’s go see the next of kin, then we can call it a night.’

His partner, looming tall and broad beside the truck, turned and nodded, his anorak hood concealing all but a brief emerging of forehead from the shadow. His coat hung low on him too, but below his knees his trousers sat heavy with water over dark synth-leather boots.

‘Give me a minute to verify the organic waste transfer and I’m good to go. They local?’

Floyd rechecked the tablet and nodded. ‘Yeah. No surprise, I guess. Hey, can you check their last hire point?’

Scott nodded again as the driver’s door swung open and a tall woman in overalls and a poncho jumped down from the cabin. Another man rounded the front of the truck and splashed up onto the pavement moving to slide open a bulky door on the side of the truck. The woman walked over to Floyd.

‘Shitty night for it,’ she said, jovially.

Floyd grinned despite himself. ‘Is there a good one?’

‘At least, you know, with the sunrise or something. Clear skies.’ She paused as if imagining the scene.

The woman’s tablet buzzed softly in her hand, and she glanced down at it. ‘Well, transfer’s done,’ she slipped the device into a large pocket and rather belatedly pulled her poncho closed and the hood up. ‘Enjoy the end of your shift.’

Floyd nodded, curling back in against the rain as Scott joined him and they squelched their way into the night, passing between dimly lit circles thrown the intermittent streetlights.

‘Funny thing,’ Scott said as he made his way around an expansive puddle. ‘There’s no data for the last hire point.’

‘What do you mean no data?’

‘Just that, no data. Blank. Last rental is logged, but with no hire point.’

‘Maybe there’s a glitch in the system or something. Outdated servers. Or their local network went down.’

‘Yup. Anyway, let’s get through tonight, we can work on it later.’

Floyd nodded. The first contact, Sarah Lee, was no more than five blocks away, although in the rain it felt longer. They didn’t talk on the walk over, the rain closing them down into their own huddled world. The dark patches between streetlamps grew longer as the number still functioning decreased, and the shadows held dark mounds where the pavement met buildings. Occasionally the mounds sheltered by doorways shifted as they passed. They were approaching the old Docklands, an area of the city that had once been prosperous, with countless glass and chrome high-rises. That was before the floods and the diving property values.

The Lees lived on the seventeenth floor of a dilapidated apartment block. The entrance was marked by a shelf of concrete that stretched out to cover half the pavement outside, sheltering two heavy-set metal doors. Cracked glass filled the panes of one, the lines spidering outwards in fractals, and cardboard had been taped roughly over the gaping holes in the other. The entranceway was dry. Two figures huddled in one corner, sat on several layers of folded cardboard, and wrapped in decrepit looking sleeping pods. They avoided Floyd’s eyes as he glanced at them and shrank in on themselves as the officers stopped before the main doors. A small panel to the right flicked from red to green and something clicked. Floyd pulled the doors open and entered the building.

The foyer was in worse repair than the entrance, the tiles cracked and darkened with grime. Thr ground floor apartments stretched out to either side, the corridor lit by soft yellow spotlights in the ceiling, most still working. Opposite the entrance stood two sets of elevator doors. The one to the right had a hand-written note taped to the front reading ‘out of order’. Thankfully the small panel to one side of the other elevator flickered to life as they approached, glowing softly. The doors slid open with a ping, and the men entered.

‘Seventeen’, Floyd said as the doors closed. The box remained motionless. ‘Seventeen’, he repeated, wearily. With another soft ping a panel lit up next to him, with old fashioned buttons displayed on the touchscreen in small circles with floor numbers inside them. Floyd pushed the one that read seventeen, and the elevator jerked into motion. Scott stared at his boots and muttered something incomprehensible. Floyd said nothing, eyes fixed ahead as he slowly counted his breathes, forcing them to a steady pace. He tried not to think of the last time they had been stuck in one of these aging boxes.
 
You forgot about POV. All you're doing is describing the environment and character actions - you need to get inside a character's head to show what they are thinking, otherwise you may as well just be writing notes for a screenplay.
 
I like where this is going, it is an intriguing sort of (maybe supernatural) mystery and the world feels real and well-thought out. I think you are very good at immersive description. However, think about which descriptions draw the reader in and which might actually distance them and break the immersion. Also, as Mr. Turner says, go beyond visuals.

For example, in the first paragraph, you start out close in the MC's head, with the rain seeping through his coat seams, but then pan out to the cityscape for a couple of sentences before getting back to MC. You might draw reader in better by moving cityscape description or cutting it out entirely (yeah, it's nice, but it's just a pretty standard view of city-in-the-rain-at-night which reader probably has their own stock image of already).

Then first paragraph stay closer in MC's head:
Floyd tugged his coat a little closer around him, wincing as the rain began to seep through some of the shabbier seams. His wide-brimmed fedora helped keep the rain from running rivers down his neck and soaking him, and the coat’s high collar and knee length folds offered some protection, but by any measure this was an awful night to be on shift. Of course, there were always those who had it worse. Like these poor bastards. The bodies lay a meter or two apart, covered now with disturbingly wide-spread black plastic sheets. Darker rivers ran from under the covers, snaking across the sidewalk to join the miniature cascade of water into the gutter where shadow and the broader torrent claimed it. There wasn’t much more to do now except to wait for the pickup, and for the data to download properly, which seemed to be taking too long. Everything was taking too long tonight.

Then think beyond the visuals about how this all feels. Is this a summer rain on a warm night, or chilly? Does the water seeping in make him cold, or is he more hot and clammy? Any heat from the pavement, bricks, or bodies, or is everything cold? Can he smell wet pavement, or sodden garbage? Any smell from the bleeding bodies?

One other little nitpicky comment: if you are not really tied to the name Sarah Lee, might want to swap that out b/c it will trigger a snack-cake jingle earworm for many American readers, which could break the mood you are trying to set.
 
Thanks @Yozh and @Brian G Turner for your comments - together it's really helpful. That name will have to change haha, that's the second US-based person I've had point that out :ROFLMAO:
 
This is much better than the prologue. It's like you leveled up in between.

I suspect, because I'm a suspickious sorta bloke, that this was written first and you've worked on it more?

I'm also going to outright disagree with Mr. Turner. Keep in mind he's a staff member and I'm just Joe Blow from the sticks of Noobville on this site, but you can write an entire novel without spending one single moment in a protag's head. And it has been done countless times. Countless because there's a lot and I haven't counted them, not because there's an infinite number extant.;) I'm willing to re-assess my position if someone can point out to me where in The Maltese Falcon we get into Sam Spade's head. It has been exactly one forever since I've read Agatha Christie, but I can't think of an example of Poirot delivering us his thoughts. And they're both taking their cue from Sherlock, whom Doyle gives Watson to deliberately keep the reader at arm's length from Holmes's thought processes.

So that so-called rule is largely genre-determined and not universal. I think it would be nearly impossible to write a satisfying Romance that doesn't enter the protag's head. OTOH, I would be angry if an action story came with a lot of thinking (unless done very well and character-suited). And very angry if a detective story did it, and I, the reader, thus wasn't allowed to compete in the Whodunit sweepstakes.

AND... you are in the PoV character's head, twice actually. Briefly on both occasions, but you do go there. But there is one letdown in this regard. Maybe that's what Mr. Turner caught. After looking at the addresses, you tell us Floyd falls into his thoughts, and... you give us nothing. After providing us a snippet of this thinking a little earlier, not delivering here is poor form. Other than that one moment, I'd carry on the way you are, if you are in a genre that benefits from little internal monologue.

It's not perfect. There are some typos. There are a couple of spots of weak diction and poor word choice, but nothing like the prologue's issues. And you are still a little over-the-top with your adjective choices, descriptions. I'm not going to point any of the prior out, I know you'll find them.

It's difficult for me to comment on the excerpt from a story point of view, because its pretty short, and not a lot happens. Short's fine. That's typical for beginning chapters, especially if there are more PoVs to introduce, which I suspect there are.

I do want to talk a little about your story-telling choices though: what details you want to give us and which ones not. The six-foot high letters, for eg, seems a strange thing to highlight in what has now moving towards very economical storytelling. The bit about the Fedora and his coat comes off as expository clunk, mostly because you get into the description more than you have to. Just need to know he has a Fedora keeping his neck dry and a trench-coat keeping his knees dry and that's about it, without all the added flower. So it's not really the expository that's weighing it down, but the sentence value you give that expository that makes it stick out. Doesn't ring PoV character true either. You seem determined to make every single description pop or paint. Save most of that special stuff for the really important things being described. Can be used to indicate a PoV's values, for eg, by the added attention you draw to a phrase.

My big worry is that you seem to be making a concerted effort to keep the reader in the dark. Hiding details that the PoV would know, for eg. And I'm not sure why. For example, what do you gain from not telling us the sixth... what? I think you think that by creating that mystery, you're hoping it gets a reader turning the pages to find out. And to a certain degree they will; this is the purpose of mystery in story in the first place. But you can't leak out everything with hints, giving the full picture in tiny dribbles, spread out over chapters.

Now, I'm guessing the reason you're doing this is because if you didn't, it would mess up a reveal in the intro of another PoV that you want to keep there. That's a sheer guess, but it's a fairly common reason for seeing this.

If so, fair enough. I can't judge till I see that intro, but it might not win me to your side as a reader and leave me frustrated if the choice to delay the reveal isn't integral to theme/character and is just a storytelling gimmick.

The problem here is: I'm two chapters in, and at this point I don't know what the genre is, what the core concept is, who the protag is, much about the setting, and I have almost zero context for the events I've witnessed. I think you have to give the reader a little more than that. Not a lot necessarily , but a little more than the few breadcrumbs we have. Mystery is good, but it needs to be built on a foundation, especially if we're not in the reader's real-world time and place. We have no foundation right now and that leads to confusion and frustration, not anticipation and a desire to know more. Can only get so far on atmosphere (which you do very well btw).

And it wouldn't take much more detail to improve it. A couple crumbs. It's real close to being right.

Just my two bits.

This is so much better than the prologue. You should be proud of this. It's pretty close to being ready. Thanks for putting it up for us to read. I enjoyed it.

Oh, I just remembered... I read the intro sample to a new release, Titanium Noir, on Amazon a couple of days ago. I don't think that Harkaway is a great writer from the bit I read, but he is print published, and I think it might be useful to go look at how he handles dropping the core concept on the reader early on. Might trigger something. Maybe track it down on Amazon and read the sample.
 
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I hear you.. But I took this excerpt as a separate thing because it comes across that way. And the prologue is so problematic.

I'd like to get into all of your criticism on a deeper level, but it would take us into the philosophy of noir. And I'm not sure we should go there, in part because what I think goes against some audience expectations. Thank you, Hollywood.

These are two short pieces, co-existing in the same timeframe. So I'm willing to forgive the similar weather, because I think the prologue is largely superfluous, and should be ditched. But you're right, as flow, it's too much weather.. Too much atmosphere in fact, because he's unwilling to give us more, so he goes to what he can give us.

But there are also reasons why I wouldn't ditch the prologue. After reading this, it is entirely possible the prologue is about the antagonists and not the protagonists. And that is a major reveal. Especially if he has fooled us into building sympathy for a character on that side beforehand. My expectation is that the scared guy in the prologue is on the antag side and at some point rebels.
 
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I would say this is good writing philosophy too. You come up with something cool but OP, ie overpowered... make that your villain not your hero. Man, what a story you have then. Go get that OP villain you brought into existence. Sound a little MCU? For good reasons.
 
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Balls... just lost my reply and having to rewrite it. Beware the internet...
@THX1138 - thanks! Yes you're definitely right about the weather. It's my inner Englishman working its way out. Plus I guess it's where I feel most atmospheric. But I have to watch it in the novel as a whole, as it's set in this dreary, dystopian, near-future, flooded London, and there is a lot of rain and storms. I need to check I haven't written a 140k extended weather report...

@Paul J. Menzies - thanks again for the time here. The keeping the reader in the dark is partly me being in the dark at the time, which I then tried to undo when it was finished, but also keep the mystery going... As for the writing, I actually just went start to finish, so this was written immediately after the prologue, and the prologue probably had more editing, if anything. Not much editing for any of it really, because it's where I struggle the most. I'm trying to move on to something new so I can keep learning on that front.

The extracts are short. For example, this is about 1/4 of the first chapter, but I wanted to fit within the brief for critiques. Although this process has been really useful, it might not be the best for what I'm actually looking for. Basically I finished it last year, tried a few agents, and got no takers as yet. I haven't been able to draw up a massive list of people to send it to, but I wanted to know if there was something in these opening sections that just made someone put it down in disgust. Of course, that might happen for some whilst others like it... What I hope is that a few people like it and are hooked immediately, and then a larger number of unconvinced but interested people who keep going and get drawn in more and more as it warms up. Overall I do like the novel. I enjoyed reading it myself :ROFLMAO: - but I don't think it's a work of genius or anything. But it exists and I would like people to read it, and hopefully enjoy it.

But there are also reasons why I wouldn't ditch the prologue. After reading this, it is entirely possible the prologue is about the antagonists and not the protagonists. And that is a major reveal. Especially if he has fooled us into building sympathy for a character on that side beforehand. My expectation is that the scared guy in the prologue is on the antag side and at some point rebels.
You're exactly right here, which is also why it isn't being ditched (or hasn't been yet). I like that you guessed it off the bat. Basically some of this comes out in the first two chapters, and then more of it is related to the unveiling of the tech that underpins the dystopia, plus the mystery side of the novel. It's not exactly a powers thing, but kind of. There are two main narrative arcs, the protag group investigating, and the antag but kind of sympathetic one.
 
The chapter does a good job of setting a dark, noir tone and providing some interesting world building hints: Spirits surviving, Renters, and Insuritas insurance. It also sets up a serial murder mystery theme. There is also a nice bit of foreshadowing or cliffhanger at the end of the scene where Floyd references a prior bad thing that happened on an elevator.

I didn't feel that I got to know Floyd, the PoV, and he felt very passive throughout the scene. Is Floyd a first name or last name? What is his job title? Why is he here?

I never got a feel for how many people were present. In the opening paragraph, it seemed that Floyd was alone. Suddenly, a voice appears out of nowhere. His partner has his description delayed for several paragraphs and his name delayed even further, at which time, I have lost interest in him. Are there only two people investigating this?

Floyd merely tells the reader what has already happened in the investigation. I am not feeling any progress and don't have a feel for Floyd's level of competence. He does identify two items of concern, the insurance and the missing hire point data, but then says that he'll address these later. The insurance angle seems to be a very odd piece of information to be Floyd's first discovery. The identification of Inusitas also suffers from the delayed reveal that it is some type of insurance.

I would suggest starting the scene at Floyd and Sam's arrival and show them doing the investigation. This would give the reader a feel for Floyd's level of competence. Also let us know that they plan to investigate then notify next of kin. This would give reader a promise of what was to come and the feeling of progress as each of the steps is undertaken. Finally, fully identify Floyd and Sam. Give us full names and titles in the first paragraph. Sam's identification might be deferred until the second paragraph, but not much later.

I don't think the prologue provided any information to the reader and is superfluous. This serves as a sufficient opening.

The tone is good and the opening let's the reader know that it is a murder mystery story with some science fiction aspects.
 
As for the writing, I actually just went start to finish, so this was written immediately after the prologue, and the prologue probably had more editing, if anything. Not much editing for any of it really, because it's where I struggle the most. I'm trying to move on to something new so I can keep learning on that front.


This is the third passage I've read in the past 24 hours where a writer states they are a discovery writer, but then seems to fundamentally misunderstand what that entails. I didn't say anything in the other two instances, but here I want to say something... because you appear to have ability and a decent story.

Okay, so there are two types of writing styles available to us... Plan and Discovery. These two types of writers do the same amount of work. The planner has made the decision to frontload their work prior to the first draft. The discoverer has made the decision to backload their work to after the first draft. One enjoys the planning process, the other prefers the edit/revision process. There is no escaping the work if you want a professional, polished product at the end. There are no shortcuts to writing real novels.

If you want to stick to the style of writing you have chosen, now that you have the first draft, this is where the real work begins. You will learn the most about this process by spending your time editing, revising, rewriting. Why would you not follow through on this, since this is the process you have chosen? How will you learn this part of the process if you move on to a new project? You're just further delaying what you need to both learn and do. ...With every single book you discovery write.

You do not want an agent to see this in its present state. It's probably a blessing that you received no reply to your queries. If you are serious about this story, and you've done your research and believe it has a marketable concept, then you need to get it to market quality first. It's not there, and it's not there because you haven't put the post-draft work in. I would've binned it halfway through the prologue without reading another page.

Above you admit you have to go check on how much weather dominates your descriptions. You should already know this if you're a discovery writer, because a true discovery writer would have pored over their draft, analyzing and re-writing it after first drafting it.

A discovery writer does not mean a lazy writer.

And I'm really sorry, because that's such a harsh thing to say to someone.

Sknox posted a link to a revision workshop in another thread that every discovery writer needs to know inside and out, if they are insisting on using that process:

At-Home Workshop: Revise Your Novel in 31 Days

And one last thing.... it is really unfair to us the critiquers to post excerpts here to be critiqued that you have no intention of editing if it doesn't pass muster. And unfair to your story too.

To everyone:

I am baffled when people say they are a discovery writer and then follow with editing is their weakness. If editing is your weakness and you don't like to do it, but insist on writing in discovery anyways, then you're really just a hope and a prayer writer, or playing around for fun-zees.

If you are poor at editing or hate doing it, planning is the process that helps you lessen that work. Obviously there are hybrids, and that's where most professional writers lie. More planning results in less necessary editing. Less planning, more editing. If you hate editing or it's not a skill, then save your ass, get off that discovery train and do some planning.

Apologies for not having the time to find a kinder way to say all of the above.
 
Overall comments: This is a good dystopian opening that makes solid promises for a good story. I liked how you slipped world building into the flow of the story. For me the promises of the story (what I'm expecting going forward) are
  1. Some scifi/supernatural aspect involving mind/body uploading or the afterlife
  2. A detective story involving insurance companies and the dead bodies
  3. A bleak, dark, rainy and wet world something like Rutger Hayuer's "Split Second" or "Blade Runner"


Specific comments (slightly out of order):
At least their Spirits had survived the fall.
As suspected, both Renters
With another soft ping a panel lit up next to him, with old fashioned buttons displayed on the touchscreen in small circles with floor numbers inside them.
These are some examples I liked of how you slipped world building into the flow of the story.
The first two, however, are promises: they involve world jargon. As a reader I will be disappointed if I don't start to get explanations of what these are slowly.

the rare vehicle streaming past
This threw me because I thought of expensive rare vehicles (like classic cars).

disturbingly wide-spread
disturbingly common would be better.

where shadow and the broader torrent claimed it
Nice imagery

Everything was taking too long tonight.
It was going to be a long night at this rate
although in the rain it felt longer
The "long night" theme may be tad overdone

His coat hung low on him too, but below his knees his trousers sat heavy with water
At some point I got too much description of the rain.

She paused as if imagining the scene.
Nice.

With another soft ping a panel lit up next to him, with old fashioned buttons displayed on the touchscreen in small circles with floor numbers inside them.
Nice way to describe decay and neglect.
 
I'm willing to re-assess my position if someone can point out to me where in The Maltese Falcon we get into Sam Spade's head. It has been exactly one forever since I've read Agatha Christie, but I can't think of an example of Poirot delivering us his thoughts. And they're both taking their cue from Sherlock, whom Doyle gives Watson to deliberately keep the reader at arm's length from Holmes's thought processes.

All of these are at least 50 years old. And I'd say we see quite a lot of what goes on in Philip Marlowe's head, and it makes Chandler's novels all the better for it.

My main feeling about this story is that it's very cyberpunk/film noir, and I think you could tone that down and allow something odder and more original to come through. If I see a man wearing a long coat at night in the rain, I'll think "Private eye", and when he's wearing a hat, I'll be certain of it. I was more interested in the oddities of this world - what are Spirits? - and that for me is what would keep me going, not, to put it crudely, the "Blade Runner bits". Getting a bit more of Floyd's POV - not necessarily much more - might make him more of a person in his own right and less of a stock figure.

I do like the way that you've not dumped a load of backstory and explanation on the reader. Even though we're in an SFF setting, "Cop investigates mysterious death" is enough to understand what's basically going on.

I never see much point in debating these terms like "discovery writer", "pantser" and so on. Maybe it helps people figure out what they're doing. What I can say with certainty, ten books in, is that you need to work out what works for you, and produce good and finished work that way.
 
@Wayne Mack and @msstice, thanks for your input, much appreciated – particularly your expectations, which means the opening is doing what I wanted, although clearly not to everyone’s taste.

@Toby Frost – also thanks, I definitely get where you are coming from. The clash between novel and classic was something I wanted to capture, but I agree it would benefit from getting tweaked to bring out the new a bit more. Again, much appreciated.

@Paul J. Menzies – Repeatedly taking the time to writing long responses (which are appreciated), but claiming no time to be kinder, doesn’t do you any favours. Just say you like the blunt approach. Personally, I think it’s a rather tired attitude, it makes me think of the participants in the Apprentice who have a toxic idea of what it means to be in business and what builds success. I’ve encountered it a lot in many different areas of life, it’s never edifying. It's worse in creative areas, where I would hope we encourage one another. Anyway, we can debate the labels and the assumptions people make on them elsewhere. For your reference, and the interest of others, the novel took a lot of time and planning - I can say it's true for me, and probably for anyone else attracted by the 'discovery writer' label, that there is a mix... (as I'm sure discussed in Creative Writing 101). I'm starting a new project precisely to try a different approach. I'm of the opinion, that I've encountered in many places, that it's better not to stay tending one book for years, but that moving on, trying new things, and coming back to projects as you learn - or even, shock horror, to multitask.

Anyway, for anyone else confused, I’ve posted here precisely so that I can make edits based on feedback where I feel it’s useful, valid and fits with what I’m doing. I really appreciate everyone's input, even those I won't be taking on board ;)
 
And one last thing.... it is really unfair to us the critiquers to post excerpts here to be critiqued that you have no intention of editing if it doesn't pass muster. And unfair to your story too.
I've been thinking a bit about the economics (if you will) of free critiquing. Your statement likely comes from a position of altruism: "I'm helping you write your book, I'd like some thanks, and to see it really helped you."

This is valid, but as a person learning to write (I think I will spend all my life learning to write - it is a rich art) I find it valuable to critique and read other's critiques of a piece. It lets me observe the diverse reactions of different people and start to build intuitions of how writing may be received by others.

In fact if person came to the forum and put up a piece to critique and never came back, I'd still consider it a win for me and everyone else if we had a nice set of critiques from each other to read.
 
@msstice

Thanks are nice, but that's not why I'm here. I just think that it's strange to post something for critique with no intention of changing it. I don't get the motivation. Now if people want to that's fine, but it will always still strike me as unusual, and generate questions about why they did that. Just as it will always strike me as unusual for someone to announce they're a discovery writer, but they hate editing and don't do much of it. There's a dissonance there with reality. And while there's always something to be gained from people posting their works---and I'm in full agreement with your observations on the value of critiquing regardless of feedback---there's always more to be gained if a dialog then occurs. There's quite a difference between wanting gratitude and finding out if your observations are accurate or trenchant, despite you linking those two things together at the end of your opening paragraph. Sharpening those observation skills helps us become better writers. We have to use them on our own works. So I'm much more in the second camp and I don't think expecting a little quid pro quo is unreasonable. Even the forum's rules and guidelines point out: Reciprocity is a good thing. It keeps the community going.

@otaylor

My reply, while direct and to the point was not harsh or derogatory, yet you seem to have taken it personally and clearly prefer a much softer landing. I apologize if I've hurt your feelings in some way. I was simply going off the information you provided and making a connection to similar comments I've seen elsewhere on this site. If you don't feel this observation applies to you, that's fine. Great actually. I'm glad you're not that kind of discovery writer, despite you making the following claim in your prior comment:

Not much editing for any of it really, because it's where I struggle the most. I'm trying to move on to something new so I can keep learning on that front.

Obviously, I mis-read that in some way.

And I have to say I find it a little ironic than I'm "under attack" in this thread for both criticizing and defending your excerpt. Kind of amusing actually. I must've done something right, lol. Oh well, win some, lose some. Regardless of everything, I do wish you the best of luck on whatever writing challenge you take on next, and I mean that sincerely. And if I ever get to the point of posting an excerpt in here, please feel free to take a rip at it, as long as it's an honest rip. Hope you have a better day.
 
@Paul J. Menzies
Genuinely, I'm surprised you felt under attack there. I already said I appreciated your comments, both criticisms and praise. I was just giving you my two cents in response to your tone, and general approach. In addition to what I said above, it struck me as cavalier, especially when new to a forum. But I get that public disagreements can leave us feeling pretty exposed.

Just a couple of remaining thoughts from me:

And I'm really sorry, because that's such a harsh thing to say to someone.
Maybe the misreading is catching, but I did take it as a little harsh, and the label of lazy writer as derogatory, even couched indirectly.

Thanks are nice, but that's not why I'm here.
Maybe give this a little thought, especially when your mode of thinking is 'you win some and lose some'.

In the end the internet, and this forum, is a diverse place full of all sorts of different people; we can all find ways to get along. I appreciate your encouragement, and good luck with your own creative endeavours. I'm cautious with my own criticism of others work, because, alongside everyone having diverse tastes, my own can change quite dramatically depending on mood. It's one of the reasons I find editing my own work difficult, and also why I appreciate the input here, even when it risks bruising my own feelings/ego.
 
I really liked the setting and the atmosphere and the general feeling that your descriptions evoked. The world building jargon you leaked in (Spirits and Renters) left me intrigued and eager to find out more. I think those two elements gave the story a really interesting vibe.

However, if i'm being honest I would be very hesitant to continue reading more because I'd be worried I would have to wade through pages and pages of description to get anywhere. If you look at the last four paragraphs, it mentions Sarah Lee's place as the next destination, but in order to get there we have to get through desrciptions of the weather, the pavement, the outside of her building, the entranceway, the foyer, the hallway, then the inside of the lift. I found myself glazing over at this stage. I do enjoy your descriptons, and the tone they create, but it was too much. I am guessing there was at least another paragraph describing Sarah Lee's floor and the hallway outside her room before we get inside.

And as for the PoV, I agree with Brian Turner here. I need more of it. I didn't get a feel for the MC here at all.
 
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