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DESPERATE 4 CRITIQUE

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  • #85409
    The Fledgling Artist
    @the-fledgling-artist

    Hello writer friends. It is I, the fledgling artist, AKA the wannabe-writer. I have next to no writing experience and have written next to no things. Literally. So.. This is me, mustering up every ounce of discipline and bravery I have. I wrote a (short) thing, and I’m asking for critique. I need to know some things, guys.

    1. How bad am I actually?

    2. Am I doing anything right whatsoever?

    3. How do better?

    4. What is my most glaring weakness (and how do fix)

    … Um, I think that’s it. I want you guys to be completely honest with me. I don’t want to be torn apart here, but that’s probably what I need.

     

    I should tag people, I guess.

    *tagging*


    @daeus-lamb
    @evelyn @I-david @Kari-Karast @Gabrielle Pollack  @Taylor Clogston @theinconceivable1 @any-one-who-can-spare-the-time @I-need-need-help-guys

    *scared*

    "Though I'm not yet who I will be, I'm no longer who I was."

    #85410
    The Fledgling Artist
    @the-fledgling-artist

    Karina sucked in a breath of the frozen air. Only a few flurries of snow sprinkled down from the grey sky, but the dark clouds and dropping temperature alluded to the storm to come. The wind tugged at her burgundy cloak, chilling through to her bare arms.

    She knew Max was inside the worn stone tower behind her starting a warm blaze in the hearth within. The vibrant glow seeped out from under the splintered door, illuminating the powdery snow around her.

    Karina knelt down, resting against a blue fir. It’s branches feathered out above her, shielding her from the icy wind. She reached for a handful of the blue needles, mindlessly tearing them up and fiddling with them in her hands as her thoughts wandered. The fresh herbal scent brought memories of her childhood. Good memories. Memories of carelessness at it’s very best. Bright-eyed wonder at the little things, like watching a falcon build a new nest to welcome its little ones to the world. Fits of laughter with the people she called home, rolling in piles of blue fir needles or rolling down hills freshly covered with glittering snow.

    She gingerly pulled a worn piece of sackcloth out of her cloak and unwrapped the crisp twine holding the cloth from falling away from the dark colored blade. The knife’s blade fogged against her warm breath. She squeezed the blue hilt tight, wondering how someone as intelligent as her friend Vyn could manage to be such a dummy.
    The dagger used to fill her with feelings of anger and rage, but she was numb to all feelings of hatred toward the sharp object now. All she could feel was the sting of betrayal. She had tried many times to leave it behind, but she couldn’t get herself to abandon it. Everything would have been easier if she would let it go. Move on with life.

    “Vyn, why are you such a dummy,” Karina mumbled, wiping her face with the wool cloak. Her cheeks were too numbed from the cold to feel the rough fabric against her skin.

    Karina sucked in a sharp breath. She didn’t realize she was holding it in as she counted the flurries as they drifted into her lap. Everything would be easier if she moved on. He wasn’t coming back.

    He’s not coming back.

    She repeated the phrase in her head, squeezing the knife’s hilt tighter in her dry, white knuckles. Did Vyn really think leaving behind a stupid trinket for her would make this any easier?

    He’s not coming back.

    She exhaled leaning back against the rough bark of the fir. Her grip on the knife relaxed before she dropped it, letting it land on the rippled cloak folds of her lap.

    “He’s not…” She grabbed the knife, using her other hand to push herself up off the tree to stand again. She untangled the strip of twine string and stuck it in her pocket. “-Coming back.” She spat, throwing the knife over her shoulder. She didn’t feel the freedom she thought she would in riding herself of it. Though, she didn’t really get the chance to feel anything before a pained shout sounded behind her.
    “Max!” Karina twirled around. “I’m so sorry! I didn’t know you were standing there!” She ran over to the mound of snow Max was bent over on. She knelt down next to him. “Are you okay? Where did you get hit?”

    Max handed Karina the knife he’d been holding up to his chest with a grin. “You want this back?”

    Karina snatched the knife from him with a huff. “I can’t believe you! I thought I impaled you or something.” Karina tried to be stern, but a relieved giggle escaped her lips.

    “You can’t impale someone with a dinky little knife, silly.” He chuckled, offering a hand to her as he stood up.  His smile faded away as Karina hugged herself to stop her shivering. “Why are you still out here? I got the tower all warmed up.” He gestured behind the cluster of blue firs at the long-abandoned tower they’d decided to camp in.

    Karina shrugged. “I just like it better out here. The open space…”

    “Is great for carelessly chucking around sharp objects.” Max finished.

    Karina shifted uncomfortably, wrapping her cloak around her tighter. “Yeah, it’s great… for that.”
    Max nodded with a knowing look before pulling his scarf off. He hesitated like he often did when he couldn’t think of anything funny to say, before offering it to Karina.

    She stared down at the dark green fabric before wrapping it around her neck, tucking her thick auburn hair underneath it. She frowned as Max leaned against a tree. “You know you don’t have to stay out here.”

    Max nodded. “I do. But I want to.” He looked out at the thick clusters of trees below them. He didn’t say anything else as Karina started pacing back and forth, carving out a trench in the snow.

    “I’m sorry. I’ve been so selfish.” She stopped, slapping her forehead with a frozen palm. “I shouldn’t have made us wait so long. We can leave now, Max. I’m ready to leave.” She shivered.

    Max shook his head. “No, It’s okay. You don’t have to rush this. We can stay longer.” He rubbed his freezing hands together.

    “For what? I thought-“ Karina stared down at her dark boots. They were covered in white flecks of powdery snow.  “I thought Vyn would come back.” She exhaled. “He isn’t though. Is he?”

    He left us.

    Max hesitated. “I don’t think so, Rina.”

    Karina blinked. “Now what? We can’t stay here. We can’t go back to Drakelle, and we don’t know where Vyn and Mira went.” She shivered again. Her hands were burning from the cold, but going back inside was the last thing she wanted to do. She wanted to run far away, past the mountains ahead of her and back to the piles of blue fir needles and snow that glittered like stardust.

    “I don’t know what to do tomorrow, or the day after that,” Max wiped the frozen drops off Karina’s cheek with a smile. “But now, we go inside where we won’t become icicles and we lay down to get a good night’s rest.”

    Max’s hand felt warm in Karina’s as he walked with her back to the tower. The soft glow of the embers danced off their footprints. Karina paused, squeezing the blue hilted knife one last time.

    "Though I'm not yet who I will be, I'm no longer who I was."

    #85422
    theinconceivable1
    @theinconceivable1

    @the-fledgling-artist: YOUR BACK!!! How was bible school?!?!

    1. Uh, not bad, like, at all! I’m a harsh critic and this is good, maybe even really good! : D You are very, very far from bad XD

    2. Yes XD

    3. Uh, I honestly don’t know XD I mean, the context is vague, I don’t know who Vyn is, why their hear why she feels she has to stay ect… and I don’t think you really claified that, like, at all. But the writing and prose itself, really good! : D

    4. Like I said, IDK XD Really good job! (I had no clue you could write like that!)

    INTJ- trying to grow into real wisdom; James 3:17

    #85424
    R.M. Archer
    @r-m-archer

    I’ll come back to this in the morning and give my thoughts. I only have a couple pieces of critique. Your description, for the most part, is really good. You should try to capitalize on that strength throughout your writing and use it to an even fuller capacity. 🙂 But yeah, I’ll be back in the morning and let you know the handful of places I saw you could make improvements. 🙂

    Fantasy/dystopian/sci-fi author. Mythology nerd. Worldbuilding enthusiast. Singer. Fan of classic literat

    #85435
    Veraza Winterknight
    @kari-karast

    So… I’m really really really bad at critiquing but I’ll give this a shot!

    1.Um, like, not at all. You’re actually really good! I mean, I knew you were decent at writing from seeing your RP posts, but this… this is good.

    2. Absolutely!

    3. Um…………………..no idea. (like I said, bad at critiquing.) I do agree with Inconceivable that I have no idea of some of the context, though.

    4. I have no idea. Sorry!!

     

    And…. @aislinn-mollisong Over here.

    "You can dance with my henchman."

    #85437
    Aislinn Mollisong
    @aislinn-mollisong

    Okay hi, yes, you don’t know me, but WOW ZIKERS I AM IN AWE, KIDDO

    1. Not very bad at all. You have actual real talent, no joke, really and truly.

    2. Yes yes YES. Your descriptions are PERFECT. As someone who struggles at description in particular, I can’t get over how well you executed it. Your dialogue feels totally natural too.

    3. You’re doing great so far, but if I had to say something, maybe use slightly less adjectives? Again, you seem to be pretty epic at description, but slightly less adjectives might make it a bit easier to get into the flow of the sentences.

    4. Glaring weakness? What? I see none whatsoever.

     

    (Also sorry, you don’t know me, don’t feel creeped out I was called in here by a friend)

    Hero with an overactive imagination

    #85441
    R.M. Archer
    @r-m-archer

    @the-fledgeling-artist  Do you mind if I copy the piece and tweak it in a comment? (I’ll put my edits in bold or something, so they’re easier to see.) There are some things that I’d be able just comment on, but it might be easier for some of them if I can either change them directly or put my thoughts with the section they go with. If not, that’s fine, but I figured I’d ask. 🙂

    Fantasy/dystopian/sci-fi author. Mythology nerd. Worldbuilding enthusiast. Singer. Fan of classic literat

    #85442
    The Fledgling Artist
    @the-fledgling-artist

    @r-m-archer Not at all. Go for it! 🙂

    "Though I'm not yet who I will be, I'm no longer who I was."

    #85443
    The Fledgling Artist
    @the-fledgling-artist

    @theinconceivable1 Aww, thanks! I appreciate you taking the time to read my creation. Bible school was a LOT of work, but I loved it very much. I’m actually thinking of going back for a longer term. ^-^


    @kari-karast
    Thanks, Kari! You’re always so encouraging. (And thanks for tagging Aslinn!)


    @aislinn-mollisong
    Wow I don’t even know what to say to that. Thank you so much. I feel really inspired to keep practicing now. 😀

    "Though I'm not yet who I will be, I'm no longer who I was."

    #85444
    Veraza Winterknight
    @kari-karast

    @the-fledgling-artist

    Aww you’re so sweet! And you’re welcome!! *hugs* (No prob. 🙂 )

    "You can dance with my henchman."

    #85446
    R.M. Archer
    @r-m-archer

    Karina sucked in a breath of the frozen air. Only a few flurries of snow sprinkled down from the grey sky, but the dark clouds and dropping temperature alluded to the storm to come. The wind tugged at her burgundy cloak, chilling through to her bare arms.

    She knew Max was inside the worn stone tower behind her, starting a warm blaze in the hearth within. The vibrant glow seeped out from under the splintered door, illuminating the powdery snow around her.

    Okay, so she’s right outside the door, basically? If not, how would she be able to see what’s significantly behind her? If so, you’ll probably want to clarify that. Maybe she can feel a tiny bit of the warmth seeping through the door?

    Karina knelt down, resting against a blue fir. Its branches feathered out above her, shielding her from the icy wind. She reached for a handful of the blue needles, mindlessly tearing them up and fiddling with them in her hands as her thoughts wandered. The fresh herbal scent brought memories of her childhood. Good memories. Memories of carelessness at it’s very best. Bright-eyed wonder at the little things, like watching a falcon build a new nest to welcome its little ones to the world. Fits of laughter with the people she called home, rolling in piles of blue fir needles or rolling down hills freshly covered with glittering snow.

    She gingerly pulled a worn piece of sackcloth out of her cloak and unwrapped the crisp twine keeping the cloth from falling away from the dark colored blade. The metal fogged against her warm breath. She squeezed the blue hilt tight, wondering how someone as intelligent as her friend Vyn could manage to be such a dummy.

    The dagger used to fill her with feelings of anger and rage, but she was numb to all feelings of hatred toward the blade now. All she could feel was the sting of betrayal. She had tried many times to leave it behind, but she couldn’t make herself to abandon it. Everything would have been easier if she could have let it go. Moved on with life.

    “Vyn, why are you such a dummy,” Karina mumbled, wiping her face with the wool cloak. Her cheeks were too numbed from the cold to feel the rough fabric against her skin.

    This line of dialogue repeats what we already read two paragraphs ago. Just changing the wording might help, or cutting it earlier and waiting for this dialogue to communicate the same thing.

    Also, should we assume she’s crying here, hence the face-wiping? You might want to specifically mention that, if so.

    Karina sucked in a sharp breath. She didn’t realize she was holding it in as she counted the flurries as they drifted into her lap. Everything would be easier if she moved on. He wasn’t coming back.

    He’s not coming back.

    She repeated the phrase in her head, squeezing the knife’s hilt tighter in her dry, white knuckles. Did Vyn really think leaving behind a stupid trinket for her would make this any easier?

    He’s not coming back.

    She exhaled, leaning back against the rough bark of the fir. Her grip on the knife relaxed before she dropped it, letting it land on the rippled cloak folds in her lap.

    “He’s not…” She grabbed the knife, using her other hand to push herself up off the tree to stand again. She untangled the strip of twine string and stuck it in her pocket. “Coming back.” She spat, throwing the knife over her shoulder. She didn’t feel the freedom she thought she would have in ridding herself of it. Though, she didn’t really get the chance to feel anything before a pained shout sounded behind her.
    “Max!” Karina twirled around. “I’m so sorry! I didn’t know you were standing there!” She ran over to the mound of snow Max was bent over on. She knelt down next to him. “Are you okay? Where did you get hit?”

    Did she spit or did she spit the phrase? That will affect the punctuation there.

    Also, I think this should be three paragraphs, not one? (with a break after she tosses the knife, unless she physically spat in which case it would be after her “Coming back”; and a break before “Max!”)

    Max handed Karina the knife he’d been holding up to his chest with a grin. “You want this back?”

    Karina snatched the knife from him with a huff. “I can’t believe you! I thought I impaled you or something.” Karina tried to be stern, but a relieved giggle escaped her lips.

    “You can’t impale someone with a dinky little knife, silly.” He chuckled, offering a hand to her as he stood up.  His smile faded away as Karina hugged herself to stop her shivering. “Why are you still out here? I got the tower all warmed up.” He gestured behind the cluster of blue firs at the long-abandoned tower they’d decided to camp in.

    Is the fact that they’ve decided to camp there something that readers of the story will already know? If so, I’d cut that section of the sentence. And I’d probably also remove the descriptor “long-abandoned,” since you do a decent job of showing that early on.

    Karina shrugged. “I just like it better out here. The open space…”

    “Is great for carelessly chucking around sharp objects,” Max finished.

    Karina shifted uncomfortably, wrapping her cloak around her tighter. “Yeah, it’s great… for that.”

    Max nodded with a knowing look before pulling his scarf off. He hesitated, like he often did when he couldn’t think of anything funny to say, before offering it to Karina.

    She stared down at the dark green fabric before wrapping it around her neck, tucking her thick auburn hair underneath it. She frowned as Max leaned against a tree. “You know you don’t have to stay out here.”

    Max nodded. “I do. But I want to.” He looked out at the thick clusters of trees below them. He didn’t say anything else as Karina started pacing back and forth, carving out a trench in the snow.

    “I’m sorry. I’ve been so selfish.” She stopped, slapping her forehead with a frozen palm. “I shouldn’t have made us wait so long. We can leave now, Max. I’m ready to leave.” She shivered.

    Max shook his head. “No, It’s okay. You don’t have to rush this. We can stay longer.” He rubbed his freezing hands together.

    “For what? I thought-“ Karina stared down at her dark boots. They were covered in white flecks of powdery snow.  “I thought Vyn would come back.” She exhaled. “He isn’t coming, though. Is he?”

    He left us.

    Max hesitated. “I don’t think so, Rina.”

    Karina blinked. “Now what? We can’t stay here. We can’t go back to Drakelle, and we don’t know where Vyn and Mira went.” She shivered again. Her hands were burning from the cold, but going back inside was the last thing she wanted to do. She wanted to run far away, past the mountains ahead of her and back to the piles of blue fir needles and snow that glittered like stardust.

    This is a little bit info-dumpy. This is another spot that might be different if this is part of a bigger story, so we wouldn’t need the background because we’d have seen it more in action.

    “I don’t know what to do tomorrow, or the day after that.” Max wiped the frozen drops off Karina’s cheek with a smile. “But for now, we go inside where we won’t become icicles, and we lie down to get a good night’s rest.”

    Max’s hand felt warm in Karina’s as they walked back to the tower. The soft glow of the embers danced off their footprints. Karina paused, squeezing the bluehilted knife one last time.

    ——–

    All right, so really the main issues I saw with this were wording-based/grammatical, as you can see. (Though I’m not sure it’s clear what punctuation I changed, since punctuation is so tiny that bold doesn’t really make a difference. :P) Your biggest issue with wording is using unnecessary prepositions (“knelt down,” for instance), and a couple of places where tenses are tricky (for instance, talking about something that in the past she wished she could do in the future, e.g. let go of the sting of betrayal), but those are things that can pretty easily be cleaned up in editing. The core of your writing seems to be pretty strong, and for a first draft this is more than decent. The tenses (and punctuation) are really the only things I’d worry about in a first draft, you might want to study those a little and understand the rules a bit better, but other than that it’s mostly surface-level things that can be fixed in editing. At least that I can see. 🙂

    Fantasy/dystopian/sci-fi author. Mythology nerd. Worldbuilding enthusiast. Singer. Fan of classic literat

    #85451
    theinconceivable1
    @theinconceivable1

    @the-fledgling-artist: *holds up his hands defensively and his eyes go wide* you arnt going to go all emotional on me are you!?! But, as long as you don’t hug me or something, your welcome XD (and honestly, it was really good. I wouldn’t say so if I didn’t think so ; D I don’t do ‘nice’ at the cost of truth XD) Anyway, what did you learn? Also, did you make a bunch of really cool friends?!? Oh, cool, what convinced you to go back?

    INTJ- trying to grow into real wisdom; James 3:17

    #85457
    Taylor Clogston
    @taylorclogston

    (JSYK, there’s no space in my user tag, or anyone’s as far as I know)

    Your description is generally strong. Very nice there. You can strengthen it by more carefully selecting your modifiers.

    In general, we want to use as few words as possible to describe a thing, and nouns and verbs are more valuable than adjectives and adverbs. If a modifier is redundant or doesn’t provide much meaningful information, we should cut it. For example, we know a blaze will be warm, at the very least. You just told us the fir is blue, so you don’t need to tell us the needles are blue again. The fact that the twine is crisp doesn’t really matter. “Fresh herbal scent” seems redundant to me, and I’d personally cut one of those, and probably change it to “medicinal” which seems to me a more precise way to say the same thing.

    People often suggest avoiding adverbs completely, but I don’t think we always need to go that far. Adverbs are considered a poor time-saving trick that lets us forego several words of description by using one word, but it has the disadvantage of being necessarily abstract, and so rather than presenting something concrete (a red apple, for example) we ask the reader to take the idea of an action and apply a quality to it which varies wildly depending on the reader’s life experience and preconceived notions.

    For example, pulling sackcloth gingerly from a cloak relies on the reader knowing what “gingerly” would look like. This might not be a huge issue, but it removes a great deal of control from the author’s hands, and the effect can add up over the course of the story.

    The suggested alternative to adverbs is the use of more precise verbs. For example, instead of gingerly pulling cloth, Karina might shimmy it free.

    I’d encourage you, as an exercise, to go through and remove 50% of your adverbs and adjectives, replacing as many as you feel like with more concrete nouns and verbs. You won’t necessarily have a better story at the end of it, but I think you’ll find you like at least some of the changes better, and it can cement the idea in your mind for later writing.

    As Archer pointed out, you have a small recurring issue in using “it’s” when you should be using “its” (if you cannot say “it is,” you do not use the apostrophe) and in using unnecessary prepositions like in “knelt down.”

    Also, be careful of starting a paragraph or sentence the same way too closely together. You have two paragraphs start with “Karina sucked in a” in a short period of time, and in general you probably start paragraphs with “Karina” and “She” too much. (oh, and remove one instance of “piles of blue fir needles,” that’s too complex a construction to have more than once in such a short story without leaning on the repetition as a literary device)

    This isn’t something to address here, but I just wanted to point out you start about three quarters of your sentences with a subject. The use of relatively low variety in that can make your story feel a bit claustrophobic, like it doesn’t have a ton of room to breathe. Again, that isn’t an issue here, because I think it serves the story, but if you write something longer in the future where there’s more movement of time and space, maybe pay extra attention to starting sentences with a variety of different parts of speech to break up sentence flow and give the story room to breathe.

    Some little things–People don’t generally throw things over their shoulders, because throwing things in front of you is just so much easier. Maybe have Karina do a spin in frustration and hurl the knife at the tower wall, maybe hoping to break it, and then realize Max was watching her as she does so? Also, the “he’s not coming back” bit goes on for longer than I’d like. I’d add a bit of cause and effect to her rumination, like having her turn over the knife in her hand and then see someone’s name carved into it, and have that trigger the “he’s not coming back” and then the leaving back against the tree.

    Aside from that, this is better work than I’d expect from someone of the level you proclaim to be. Good job. Keep reading, keep writing, keep asking questions, and you’ll improve.

    One last bit that another artist friend of mine found helpful was realizing he was allowed to “sketch” or “doodle” in writing as well as in visual art. Like, he was having an issue thinking “oh, I’ll never make such and such a worthwhile finished story,” but it’s okay to just jot down sentences or bits of stories or whatever with no intention of ever turning them into a finished work of art. Maybe you already knew that, but just thought I’d mention it =P

    "...the one with whom he so sought to talk has already interceded for him." -The Master and Margarita

    #85458
    The Fledgling Artist
    @the-fledgling-artist

    @r-m-archer Thank you so much. I know this must have taken you a while (time you could have been using to work on your own writing). I really, seriously appreciate it. Is there anything specific you noticed that I should make more of an effort to work on in my next writing thing?

     


    @theinconceivable1
    Oh, you know me. I could start sobbing on you at any given moment. *winks*

    WOW, that’s such a loaded question. I learned a lot. If given enough time I could write the longest essay paper. The classes I took were specifically on, The books of Daniel and Revelation, an introduction to Biblical counseling, and I audited (that means I didn’t have to do any of le homework. x) ) a class about early church history.

    I know so many things now. Before I took Dan/Rev I didn’t even know what the word Eschatology meant, let alone understand anything whatsoever about it. It’s still a really confusing subject, but I know a few things now. Yay.
    I think more than anything else I got from counseling is the importance of Christians discipling one another and being willing to dig into each other’s messiness, and being willing to stay there with them until the Lord brings change.
    Just being in such a focused environment- focused on learning about God- was so incredible for me. Everyone was so willing and eager to talk about what God has/is doing in them, and very much encouraged me to do the same. In hearing/talking about God so much, I became more aware of his presence in my life.

    I did make some friends, it wasn’t hard. Everyone was so sweet. But, I don’t think I was there long enough (or maybe I just didn’t talk to the right people, ya know?) to make any “life-long” “super deep” “bestfriendsfolife” kind of relationships. Along with it being such a short period of time, I can be a really hard person for people to talk to. xD

    Hmm, I’m not sure. It just felt right and made sense. I really want to keep growing in my relationship with God, and I want to be better equipped for serving God and his body of believers. I think Bible school did both for me, but I’m by no means finished.

    Have you considered going to a Bible school at some point?

    "Though I'm not yet who I will be, I'm no longer who I was."

    #85459
    The Fledgling Artist
    @the-fledgling-artist

    @taylorclogston Aaah, thank you so much. I really appreciate all your insights! Honestly, I wish I could repay you guys for the time you spent reading/analyzing/instructing. I definitely want to try your suggested exercise. And I really appreciate your doodle analogy. My older sister (a writer) has told me something similar before, but it’s something I definitely need to hear again.

    "Though I'm not yet who I will be, I'm no longer who I was."

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