Advice? (12)

1 Name: Bookworm : 2009-05-17 23:37 ID:8nj2cBV7

I am currently in the process of writing a novel. Progressing nicely, but I've encountered a little problem. I have no one to criticize and/or give advice on the style or direction of the story. Where would I have to apply to have my creation criticized?

2 Name: Bookworm : 2009-05-19 14:42 ID:yIIZbRLV

Don't you have lettered friends? It's good to have someone that partially shares your vision to help with the book. Also, find someone who doesn't, and will only focus on form.

3 Name: Bookworm : 2009-05-19 20:25 ID:edSgvsyX

When you're done, put it down for a year. Come back later and reread it.

That strategy has worked wonders for me: I've chucked everything I've written so far in the bin!

4 Name: Bookworm : 2009-05-20 22:42 ID:9+oVdxyz

you could post it here... but I'm probably biased against it already because you've opened with "I am" rather than "I'm".

5 Name: Bookworm : 2009-05-22 00:29 ID:8nj2cBV7

Might as well...

Here's some fragments:

  1. Pre-Page
It doesn't take much to botch even the greatest of things.

Not quite as much as it should, at least. At some times, one might find it ridiculous how easy it is to spoil something widely considered solid and unchangeable, how fragile in reality these things can prove to be, faced with superficial trifles of no significance, of size so small he deems it blasphemous for them to carry the ability of interfering with the flow of order in reality.

Imagine a machine so great and tall it reaches the azure expanse of sky and looms even higher, beyond the façade of deliciously white clouds. In which cogs and pistons move in constant clattering, steam belching out of uncountable exhaust pipes, heat sinks and engines embed in the monstrous, metal body. Imagine it hum ominously, oblivious to all the measly engineers and janitors bustling about within its bowels, a tower of steel, working in figurative forehead's sweat to achieve a greater goal, which we—tiny humans—couldn't even hope to conceive.
It certainly carries that baleful, yet curious kind of charm, does it not?
Now envisage a single, tiny screw, living inside the pockets of an engineer's jacket, just like many of her bigger sisters in the machine's insides, whereas for her, the world consisted of but two walls of fabric and a bundle of dirty flock, one day deciding to leave its containment. Picture it jumping out of clumsy engineer's jacket, and dive between the pipes and machinery. Picture it hitting against one piston, a metal beam, a gear... Hear the noises it sends down the endless, steel innards as it falls lower, and lower, and lower... Until caught between two unfortunate parts, finally put to sleep, along with her captors. That which was supposed to move, now stands still. Roars of grating carry through the guts of the machine, and everything resonates in response. That, which couldn't be stopped, now comes to a standstill. Gears halt in their circular tracks. Pistons lose the pressure. Pendulums hitherto ever unrest, cut from their source of power, cease their movements. Everything, in a cacophony so great the people flee in fright, comes to a stop.
All solely because of a puny, little, adventurous screw.
The thing is, nature abhors stagnation, and whither was void space, new elements start to grow, brought by either man, gods, or other unexplainable phenomena. Alternate routes and bypasses spring to life; changed, but alive again, the machine returns to life, to resume its breathtaking song, once more.

That machine is our world. Humongous for us—humans, who in their insignificant size can't help, but deem it great regardless of its relative meagreness towards the rest of the Universe; our small, green planet in the endless sea of blackness, a safe haven for over six milliard beings exploiting its goods—and only a speck of dirt for everything else in existence. Right they are, in looking down at us, for just like the steel giant, our world too is fragile as a sand castle on a restless shore. Prone to changes that may come, whether wrought by our hands, the will of gods, or any other outside influence, unfavourable winds and currents, vulnerable to anything larger than half its girth. How a single, little modification—let alone a chunk of space rubble—could change the run of history I dare not to wonder; the fact stands firm.
The muck we're in right now might just be an effect of someone screwing around. It might as well be not.
Perhaps, if we hadn't gone down the roads we did, there wouldn't have been so much to complain about right now.
But frankly, does it lay in our power to undo the changes and shape the past to fit our whim?

I honestly think not.

We can only follow, move by move, the fates prepared for us, and hope, in obedient silence, for the best. Even if the reality we face is a different one we wished or expected to see, the spectacle has to go on. No other way for us to exist.
No other way to go on.

6 Name: Bookworm : 2009-05-22 00:31 ID:8nj2cBV7

1. Page One

For starters, let us imagine a forest path, one like many others we all have strolled down in our lives. Hairpin road of trodden dirt between rows of towering, aged stems, topped with parasols of green, buzzing leaves hanging above like a natural arcade, a peculiar shield from the blistering, afternoon sun. Below them, thicket of bushes brushed by joyous breeze sweeping past like a cheer of a child, giggling between the branches, stroking the bugs' wings to their displeasure. See how it picks up grains of sand, and sends them to frolic at knee level in innocently whirring bunches. Little rocks let dull clatters out when the hooves of a bay draught horse scatter them around in a lazy prance. Iron hoops of a cart's wheels grind against the gravel in a steady fashion, almost like a background noise to break the unsettling silence of the woods. 

Though the animal didn't pay much heed to the grossly outré lack of other travellers, its owner, a young-looking fellow in a brown vest more than minded the unusual peace. His hair winnowed by gentle sweeps of breeze as grain on the fields you'd see miles back, in the lowlands he had left behind the clock round away. Dry, unhealthy, yet vividly brown strands swayed to and fro, to his mild displeasure. Woods always brought colder air than the fields, it was one things he had learned to hate during his courses in these parts. He yanked the still smouldering cigarette out of his mouth and having extinguished it on the soil of his boot, threw it aside.
― Relax, Troszka, —I raised from the bench on the cart, and gently patted the horse's bum.— Take it easy. It's not that far.
The four-legged lady snorted drowsily as if to say “I know, my dear. It's not the first time we're riding this road, you know.”, if horses could think such thoughts. Though its indolent gait could put to sleep even the most energetic of steeds, I couldn't help but feel nervous regardless. The silence wasn't exactly suspicious, seeing how we were in deep forest after all, but the trail to the Grangers' encampment had always sent shivers down my spine. I hadn't met a single messenger or a merchant on the way, and it had me wonder. Only two possibilities came to mind. Either it was simply a lazy day, like many others, or the camp was no more, razed to the ground by the so-called Forest Freebooters, so common around this area in recent weeks. For the sake of my ego, as well as my pouch, I assumed the former, and fell back onto the bench, sighing out loud, more of annoyance than unrest. Troszka endorsed that sort of behaviour with another snort, twisting her neck back to look at her disturbed companion. In response, I grinned cockily at her disdainful look.
― Don't worry, —I assured.— In case something happens, we're not going to go down without a fight, are we?
Contrary to one would expect from a regular horse, Troszka seemed to nod her head a little, as if to agree with my boastful claim. In the worst case, I would be the one to protect her, after all.
Not that she had any other choice.

7 Name: Bookworm : 2009-05-22 00:33 ID:8nj2cBV7

We had arrived at the makeshift gate shorty before nightfall, and the welcome committee didn't fail to lead us with suspicious eyes all the way from the farthest swerve, to the nearest barrier—one of the two guarding the camp's entrance from potential intruders. In reality I doubt it would have stopped anyone or anything, had the guards gone away for a cup of beer or whatever else it is guards abandon their posts for without a second thought.
― They're looking at you because you're so pretty, my dear.
Of course, they weren't, but her constant sputtering suggested a soothing lie to be more than in place. A couple of rectangular, wooden keeps protected each side of the gate; from them, tall fence spread around the camp's territory—roughly the diameter of a small, countryside lake—a border of erect logs and barbed wire, tall as two, adult men, thick as the eldest of trunks it was built of. At the first glance, one would be forced to admire the persistence of people who came up with the idea of rooting out a bunch of trees in the middle of nowhere, only to circle it with a barricade that took even more time to construct, just to place a dozen or so tents inside, for no apparent reason at all. Little would they know. The Grangers had their own mysteries, which only a few outsiders knew at the time. Well, there was one mistake they had made, though. Technically speaking, while the barrier itself could hold off a small battalion of lightly-armoured infantry, the gates couldn't stop a frightened horse from turning it to splinters.
Nevertheless, while I could have whispered a word or two about most recent trends in the field of fortifications to the camp's Chief, I had decided not to. One had to do his best to preserve traditional ways in those times of rapid change, even if the cost was the inevitable demise of those who strayed too far behind the train of progress.
As we neared the entrance, one of the two warders—be it the more courageous or stupider one—stepped forth from his post, and signed us to halt.
― Hail, sir, —He put his glove's tips at his forehead, while Troszka traced the movement with unhealthy curiosity sparking from her pupils. I cast her a deprecatory look.— What's your business with us Wood Caste? May I take a look at your belongings? These are dangerous times, you understand.
His studded leather armour squeaked unpleasantly when he lowered his arm, and glanced at my cart's boot, covered from sight and rain by linen tilt I'd bought specifically not to let nosy so-and-sos like him ogle my goods without my consent. That it created problems of this sort whenever I had to pass by a post was a small price to pay for the bits of privacy I otherwise received. Somehow, having my commodities looked upon by strangers always made me wince inside.
In spite of that, we all did start our careers from essentially zilch, didn't we? I had little choice but to unfasten the cover's strings, and show the newbie my potentially dangerous wares.
― Personal things, —His eyes followed as I pointed to a small chest stuck into a corner, giving me an acknowledging nod. Then, I shifted the finger to a couple of red jerry cans scattered haphazardly in the wagon. — And petrol.
― Petrol? What for? The fête? —The soldier scratched his head with the oversized glove, whilst casting me a surprised glance.
I let the question slip by unnoticed.
― Your boss' order. You're new here, aren't you?
The guy straightened up in a purely military manner and gave me a wide smile.
― Yes, sir! —His enthusiasm was almost palpable.— Second day on the post, sir!
One of his teeth was missing, right on the very front. I frowned involuntarily. No matter how you looked at it, judging from his stature and face, he was still one with milk under his nose.

8 Name: Bookworm : 2009-05-22 00:33 ID:8nj2cBV7

I'd passed through those gates enough to earn the trust of regular guardsmen, and in consequence, be let through without these pesky controls and scours happening every single time, and now it would seem, I would have to go through it yet again. Ah, how disgraceful it was, if not outright annoying. Then again, it also wasn't his fault. I was probably getting angry at nothing.
― We ain't getting too many merchants 'round here lately. —The guy continued.— In fact, you're the first one I've ever seen to pass these gates.
― That would explain a couple of things. Here I've been wondering about the desolate roads. Problems with Freebooters?
― Exactly, sir. —He gave a gloomy look.— The swaggers' been getting cockier and cockier since all the shindig in the City.
Most of them probably saw chances of profit in the coup, though, I bet. No overturn in history had gone by without filling a bunch of pockets on the way before, that one not being an exception, as far as my knowledge went. After all, I too attempted to rake in a handful when crap had hit the fan a couple of weeks back. Misfortune had it all my efforts came to nothing in the end, just the opposite from what I had vigorously wished to see. In place of a full pouch, me and Troszka had to share our meals for a few, consecutive days. Wretched luck, always ready to mess me plans up.
― I see. Lucky me, then. Reaching the camp in one piece and whatnot. Though, —I made a happy smirk.— There's one thing you ought to know before I pass. Maybe.
The newbie guard pricked up his ears, counting on god knows what.
― Yes, sir?
― I'm not a merchant. Not per se. —The questioning look he gave me while I fastened the tint back on was really amusing to watch. Honestly, he really was a new soul to the whole mess. Swallowed the excuse without a wink. However, the mind games aside, there were no lies in what I said. There really had been an order placed on petroleum. What I am referring to, is his credulity. And also the ignorance, now that I think about it. Had I been a pirate, he would have long been laying dead and cold in the brush! He would surely one day learn the feat the hard way, I thought.— I only carry things that were specifically ordered. No exotic booze to sell this time around, pal.
― Aww, —He moaned, genuinely disappointed.
― But, —Whereas I beamed as friendly as I could.— If you place an order for some, I might try and acquire a crate or two.
Jestingly or not, he let a cheerful laugh out, waving to his accomplice to open the gates. At least one of the two had enough oil in his head, it seemed, as he approached the huge, wooden wheel, and without any further ado, albeit with a pair of heavy wheezes, turned it round three or so times. Old planks groaned plaintively, when the way inside stood finally open for us to pass. I hopped onto the cart with relief worth of greater happening.
― When will you be leaving, sir?
― Tomorrow afternoon, I think. Going to stay for the night. The Chief is my old friend.
― You're buddies with the Chief? You serious? —Honest disbelief could be felt in his tone.— I apologize.
Acquaintances more than buddies, actually. Or brothers in business, if such expression could be used to describe a pair of partners who had exchanged a dab of goods back in the times, and had went together to the bottoms of many bottles as celebration almost always afterwards. The Grangers' Chief was a tough, middle-aged man whose alcohol tolerance was one to behold. Perhaps I had made a mistake in not bringing any hard percents with me.
― Don't sweat it,— I shrugged the guard's worries off.— I'll be sure to prompt him a good word or two about your assiduity.
― A hundred thanks! I guess. Have fun tonight!
He waved me a troubled goodbye, and I, responding in kind, urged Troszka to move on, and enter the safe haven of Grangers' base at the long-awaited last.

9 Name: Bookworm : 2009-05-22 00:34 ID:8nj2cBV7

The camp had always seemed larger on the inside than on the outside to me, probably the merit of it being surrounded by impassable thicket from all sides but the one we had come from; maybe the fault of vast, unused spaces always spread between the numerous tents and shacks, for some bizarre reason set up near the barricades, while the centre had always remained empty, save for a dais with a single gibbet in the middle. Now, however, it would seem I had walked in on something big. Instead of usual emptiness, the plaza abounded with hustling people, each busy with his or her own task. Porters carried piles of planks and poles on their backs; men in white aprons bustled about numerous stalls tacked together by the tents, some still in preparation, some already assembled and burdened with what seemed to be cooking equipment; I even spotted a bunch of buskers somewhere amidst the mess, tugging and their poorly made guitars' strings, trying to raise their hellish groans above the overall turmoil. Whatever was occurring there, had to be the fiesta mentioned by the warden.
Fortunately, they weren't busy enough not to notice a cart coming at them at a turtle's pace, and obediently stepped aside whenever Troszka snorted, miffed by them crossing her path. If there was one thing I loved in her, it was the disregard for everyone other than herself. Such a humanly trait, if I may say so myself. At first, some had been quite reluctant to interrupt whatever they were doing just to let a lazy horse pass, but after a brutal bump of Troszka's nose or two—that didn't end favourably for the ones on the receiving end—they learned their lesson, and let the selfish gal have the right of way. I didn't even have to touch the reins; my girl led me straight to the Chief's tent, and parked right by the side. That memory of hers had sometimes been better than mine, I had to admit.
Disregarding a complaint from a stall owned we had just knocked over, I jumped off the bench, and onto the soil. Troszka looked at me expectantly like a child that has just meticulously fulfilled a parent's order and expected a prize in return. No favours without payback, huh? I swore to myself I'd make a merchant out of her one day. She quickly filched the sugar cubes off my outstretched palm, and indulged in her own world of sweet goodness, while I turned to the oh-so-familiar tent, a tad regretful about the end of yet another course. The mood of my butt, on the other hand, seemed to be at odds with that of its owner, and demanded I decisively refuse any seats that might be offered in the following five hours. Frankly, there was no reason to disagree.
The tent of our client was as I had remembered it, as was the denizen thereof. In more ways than one, entering this particular place was synonymous with entering a bears' cave, and truth be told, whenever I had to walk inside, my back ran with unpleasant goosebumps all over, despite there being no apparent reason to; or should I say, just the opposite. As the biggest dogs often turn out to be incorrigible fondlers, the Chief, whose enormous looks could send several lions to their grave, was also a sociable, friendly person. In spite of that, you could easily tell the place belonged to a warrior of a man. Numerous evidence assured so, starting with cold steel arranged neatly on oaken racks, through heavily worn-out pallets that served as a makeshift floor, to piles of animal furs, of wild boars and other fauna, laying in the corners. I suppose it was them that filled the tent with a sickly scent of unwashed hair.

10 Name: Bookworm : 2009-05-22 00:36 ID:8nj2cBV7

Luckily, the owner of said was present at the moment, sparing me the trouble of wasting additional minutes in idleness. In fact, as soon as the curtains of his 'front door' had been drawn, his eyes were already there, on me; and only hesitated for a moment before sparkling with joy seen in the eyes of a man who's met a long-lost friend in times of after-war disarray. Such happy greetings really were the man's style.
― Ah, my favourite errand boy! Finally here! —I swiftly dodged a wrestler's embrace, and simply nodded his disappointment off. There was enough oil in my head not to go arms-in-arms with that guy. The Chief, though, was far from getting unmanned by something so trivial, it seemed. He simply wouldn't be himself if he didn't try.— How was the travel? Safe?
― I'm in one piece, yeah, —I said.— Quite fortunate, considering I've heard you had a bit of a problem with the pirates, hm?
― Yes, yes... —The Chief then gestured to a desk and a chair by one of the walls. I promptly refused, taking note of a large object covered with dirty sheets on the aforementioned.— They've been getting nosy as of lately. That's one of the reasons I specifically placed an order at your company.
― Speaking of which. —I interjected, eager to get down to business at once.— It's all safe and sound in my cart. Six cans of petroleum, exactly according to the message. By the way, I don't suppose it has anything to do with the commotion outside?
The Chief grinned mischievously from under his rich beard. It must've taken at least a year to let it grow to such size.
― As a matter of fact, —He replied.— It has everything to do with the 'commotion' outside, as you put it.
― What's the occasion?
― We have reached a turning point in the history of our little society, my son. —I clicked my tongue at his words. Not loud enough for him to fear, but I've never been a person to hide my annoyance, even in most ridiculous of circumstances. I knew he called every single, male villager with the name, yet it still ticked me off quite a bit. Furthermore, his beaming face added to the flames.— Thus, we're having a festival to celebrate the happening!
― What's the occasion? —I repeated.— A tree grew on old Barton's head? They found a dead squirrel in Great Oak's hollows? Don't keep me in suspense.


And that's it for what I'm going to show. There might be some grammar/spelling issues, because my best writing times are often late at night, when the foreign mind tends to mess the syntax up. I always try to check and fix what I did last night in the morning, but... yeah, I can never be sure.

11 Name: Bookworm : 2009-05-27 08:39 ID:D4lElN8f

> It doesn't take much to botch even the greatest of things.

I feel like I've heard this line before, but I like it.

I would read the rest of your story if I wasn't meant to be cramming for an exam atm.

12 Name: OP : 2009-05-27 22:10 ID:8nj2cBV7

Eh, I didn't rip off anything, or at least anything I've read, but it's not a rare way of thinking, now is it.

If you think you'll still be interested after you've done banging knowledge into your head, here's a link for the text done by the 28th of May:

I would love to get some feedback.

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