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Thread: A Professor and a King

  1. #1
    Word Dispenser BookBeauty's Avatar
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    The Professor

    Finished work. Thanks all!
    Last edited by BookBeauty; 07-25-2011 at 12:36 PM. Reason: To fix it, of course. Dear Liza.
    There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written or badly written. ~Oscar Wilde.

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    I enjoyed reading this despite not being a fan of fantasy/sorcery. You managed to bring the two main characters to life and whet the reader’s appetite for what is to follow…

    As for taking out a red editor’s pen and identifying where this can be improved – there are a number of rather over-written sections where I think your enthusiasm runs away with itself. Although I can see you have adopted a style reminiscent of other ‘swords and sorcery’ stories from the golden age of fantasy fiction there are some expressions that are not exactly correct:

    Yet, the one thing he could not abide by was messiness!
    I think you mean ‘Yet, the one thing he could not abide was messiness!’ – ‘abide’ in this context means ‘put up with’ a certain condition – ‘abide by’ means to accept a particular set of rules.

    to replace them in the improper order
    improper’ isn’t the most appropriate word – perhaps ‘incorrect’ – or ‘replace them in the wrong order

    he could certainly sprint lithely to the step ladder
    I’m having difficulty picturing someone sprinting inside a library – and ‘lithely’ isn’t the way one would normally sprint since it’s a case of speed rather than flexibility. I don’t see the need for an adverb here anyway – adverbs should always be used sparingly. If they don't add significantly to the piece never use them.

    Almost as worse as messiness
    You cannot be ‘as worse as’ something – either ‘almost as bad as’ or ‘even worse than

    but in age they had dimmed into listlessness, a slight foggy glaze where once stood unrelenting focus.
    is a very awkward sentence which is almost incomprehensible
    – ‘in age’ should be ‘due to age’ or ‘through age
    – and ‘where once stood unrelenting focus’ is just nonsensical; 'focus' doesn't stand - nor is it ever unrelenting. Keep it simple – ‘his eyesight had dimmed into a foggy glaze’ says everything you want to say.

    as he watched it soar towards him in rapid succession.
    again ‘in rapid succession’ is meaningless because there is no series of events following each other (which is what the phrase implies) – so there’s no need to include it here at all.

    Rewarded with a lack of pain, and even a continuation of sensation
    Another clumsy way of saying ‘he felt no pain’.

    I would recommend you aim to simplify rather than complicate – particularly in the first section (library) where there are far too many tiresome asides (in brackets) and repetitions (in italics). 100 years ago this style might have been considered quaint or quirky, but such devices merely slow the narrative down and draw attention away from the story. Most reader would lose patience and give up.

    There are also a lot of descriptors – not always necessary since we have already pictured the characters in our mind so we don’t need constant reminders that the professor was ‘old’ and ‘rickety’ or that the vizier was ‘squire-like’, ‘poisonous’, ‘boy-like’ etc. etc.

    Constantly sticking a label on a character is just too much – as are phrases like ‘very cute’, ‘very brilliant’ or ‘enormous courage’. Trying to make things appear larger than life often has the opposite effect. What’s the difference between ‘courage’ and ‘enormous courage’? I would guess there isn’t one.

    Finally – plot-wise, I found the dialogue between the king and vizier rather difficult to follow and couldn’t fathom out why the king decided to launch an attack when he did.

    Who is Bruthol??

    And why did the professor assume the person who misfiled the book was ‘stout’?

    Rather perplexing – and detracting from the story…

    But a worthwhile effort and with a little judicious trimming it can be much improved upon.

    As for cookies – I don’t have a particularly sweet tooth. Just keep writing – and don’t worry about writers’ block. There’s no such thing.

    H

  3. #3
    Word Dispenser BookBeauty's Avatar
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    Ah Ha!

    Thank you very much for your input, hillwalker.

    It's exactly what I was looking for. Although I must admit, it is very embarrassing to see so many errors that seem so obvious. I almost want to apologize that you had to wade through it. I hope it wasn't too frustrating to read, at any rate.

    I agree with the King and Vizier dialogue. It's too rushed, and there's little motive or direction. I have kept coming back to it and muddling through it with little success, but I'm sure that I'll figure out something.

    I'm not entirely sure that writer's block doesn't exist, but there seems to be something that prevents progress.

    It seems to be a little voice in the back of my head that says, 'You're no better than the other 90 % of aspiring writers who want to write something fun and interesting, but fail miserably! You're a hack! Give up!'...

    Despite that, I keep trying. It's the only thing to do in my predicament, really. Just keep writing. And editing. And then writing some more.

    Speaking of which, I've edited with the suggestions in mind. Hopefully that helps! Unfortunately, I can't figure out what to do with the Vizier and King's conversation yet.

    Thanks again.
    Last edited by BookBeauty; 07-05-2011 at 04:23 PM.
    There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written or badly written. ~Oscar Wilde.

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    If you struggle to keep writing an entire story from start to finish it usually means you're not ready to finish it. Sometimes you have to walk away from a piece and concentrate on something new - but all the while your subconscious will be working. Then when you go back to it perhaps a week or two later you should find it's easier to pick up the plot and continue.

    It is important that you write something every day - no matter how trivial - just to remove the clutter from your head. That way there's more room for your imagination to focus on what you really want to write. It will also give you greater self-confidence in your ability.

    Good luck

    H

  5. #5
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    I decided to re-evaluate the Professor. The King needs a complete rewrite, which I will add at a later date.

    More importantly, I need to know if this is readable, or if my additions and modifications have caused a lack-of-flow. I attempted to take all critiques to heart and really put a lot of effort into conciseness. There's a lot of things added, though, and I wonder if I'm ruining it by jabbing at it so much, and showing the opposite of concise.

    I really wish I could see my own work through different eyes. It would make it so much easier. Sorry to bother you all again! Thank you in advance.
    There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written or badly written. ~Oscar Wilde.

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    This is a major improvement on your earlier version – you’ve fleshed out the bits that had scope for expansion, and removed the weaker parts.

    My only quibble would be

    The archway of cheap, soft wood and worn varnish seemed to beg for him to use it and flee from his predicament.

    Trying to personify the doorway is rather strange and sounds contrived – it would read much better if you told us that the professor was tempted to escape but was tied to that desk by his sense of duty.

    H

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    Hurrah!

    Oh, thank you so much!

    I feel now that I can finally move on now with the rest of the story and I'm so excited!

    I agree with the doorway-- Edited.
    There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written or badly written. ~Oscar Wilde.

  8. #8
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    Wink A King

    Finished work! Thank you!
    Last edited by BookBeauty; 07-25-2011 at 12:36 PM.
    There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written or badly written. ~Oscar Wilde.

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    The plot is very original, but this is a fairy story - written in the style of fairy stories - so it's a little rigid because you relate everything in chronological order and in a rather formulaic way. But that's as much the fault of the genre as anything else.

    There's still room for trimming here and there :

    Somehow, for some obscure reason, his observations were reciprocated with fervour.

    is tautology - 'somehow' and 'for some... reason' mean the same thing

    and many of the expressions are a little awkward :

    the Kingdom's most beloved, royal son who was not the King - It made a balance between the colours of golden strand and copper red - a much needed lift from your current activity - they were going to alleviate the burdens of his throne - he suffered with a lack of adoration of the people

    are just a few I plucked at random.

    I'm also curious about the strange ending as it suggests there's a new plot development when the story works much better as a stand-alone tale about sibling rivalry.

    H

  10. #10
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    Thanks so much for your thoughts, H. I went at trimming the bits you describe-- Anything else you, or anyone might notice, I would be pleased to continue with modification.

    As for your comment about being a tale on its own, I didn't really see that myself.

    I'm not certain if I even could see that if I wanted to, since the Professor and the King tie together closely in my mind.

    I suppose it could be a short story. I'm really going for a novel here, but I was posting the beginning to see what I could do to improve what I have to start with, and launch from there. I have more, but wasn't really planning to reveal much else here, at any rate.

    So, are you saying that this story would be much better ended here than to continue?
    There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written or badly written. ~Oscar Wilde.

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    Quote Originally Posted by BookBeauty View Post
    So, are you saying that this story would be much better ended here than to continue?
    With a little careful editing this is good enough to stand as a separate story.

    That doesn't mean you can't continue with your novel the way you have planned it - but since the wizard is not even mentioned until the very end his involvement seemed incongruous in the piece you have posted.

    Many writers (including Stephen King) have often started with an idea for a short story - got it published - then expanded it into a longer novel. So there's no need to worry about ending the story here - then including the exact same plot and characters as part of a longer piece sometime in the future.

    H

  12. #12
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    Hmm, well, this is where I lock up.

    I'm more than willing to make this a short story and send it out there. This careful editing is the issue-- Do I need to supply the story with more information in order to end it, or does it simply require trimming? Is the ending even adequate, being brought down by his brother?


    ... I had no idea writing could be this challenging
    There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written or badly written. ~Oscar Wilde.

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    Quote Originally Posted by BookBeauty View Post
    Is the ending even adequate, being brought down by his brother?
    ... I had no idea writing could be this challenging
    The ending is sufficient - the weaker sibling comes out on top through acting the fool even though he is also the more intelligent of the two.

    There's no need for any more background to flesh the story out I should think - just some tightening up here and there where you use 3 or 4 words where 1 will do.

    H

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