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  1. #1
    author author
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    More narrative for comment

    The musky floral fragrance of the jungle night drifted in and evaporated in their heads like fine cognac. It was a heady aphrodisiac, available for the breathing. It came with no warning label and no guarantee but thousands had used it to their great satisfaction.



  2. #2
    Jeanne Gassman
    Guest

    Re: More narrative for comment

    The problem I have with this is that one doesn't normally associate cognac with evaporation. When I think of cognac, I think of sipping and swirling. I may sniff the glass, smelling the perfume of the drink, but that is not the same as evaporation. Metaphors and similes must have an internal logic. The comparisons you make have to make sense while creating a slight surprise for the reader. This might work better:

    "The musky floral fragrance of the jungle night drifted in and overwhelmed their senses like the perfume of a fine cognac."

    Also, I would either delete "musky" or "floral." I would use only one descriptive word here. They tend to be somewhat conflicting in nature. Floral is often a sweet odor, while musky evokes a darker, heavier scent. I'm not sure I like the use of the word "breathing." You want something that gives the sense of inhaling deeply, I believe. Think about the ways one ingests an aphrodisiac. This will help you focus on a more appropriate description. How would I search for the right word here? Hit the thesaurus and the dictionary. Look for all the ways one can take in an aphrodisiac and then select the image that is closest to what you need.

    You need to put a comma after "guarantee."

    Sometimes I feel that people depend too much on receiving rewrites from this forum. I think critiques are more beneficial if they steer you in the right direction, allowing you, the writer, to find the answers on your own.

    Just my two cents... Hope this was helpful.

    Jeanne

  3. #3
    . Bree
    Guest

    Re: More narrative for comment

    "Sometimes I feel that people depend too much on receiving rewrites from this forum. I think critiques are more beneficial if they steer you in the right direction, allowing you, the writer, to find the answers on your own."

    I rarely have time to critique, so I rewrite, because I find it's quicker and easier to do, hoping it's of some help...but I agree, advice is much better.


    But the sample above is a bit overwritten--too much information about the jungle fragrance.

  4. #4
    Jeanne Gassman
    Guest

    Re: More narrative for comment

    Bree,

    I hope you don't think I was directing my comments at you. I find your critiques here to be spot on. A lot of times I feel that people here seem to be asking others to do work that they can (and should) do on their own with just a little guidance. If author-squared's example had been something from my own writing, I would never even ask for feedback. This is the type of thing that I would catch and fix by reading aloud and listening very carefully to the diction.

    For me, it's much easier to critique in context. When I can see how a scene (versus a three-sentence description) fits into the overall structure, I can provide more useful feedback. If I see an author consistently struggling with the same type of issues, I may point a few of them out and rewrite them to show him HOW to make the fix. Then I will just flag similar examples, suggesting to the author that he apply the same approach as I used on the rewrites. Does that make sense?

    I belong to a critique group in my community that has about 16 very active members. On the average, I read and critique approximately 36,000 words every two weeks. This is in addition to the time I invest in my own writing and the demands of my part-time teaching job. That's the main reason I rarely critique writing on this forum. But I do think you do an excellent job of critiquing and commenting on work that's presented here.

    Jeanne

  5. #5
    author author
    Guest

    Re: More narrative for comment

    Hi Jeanne,

    Thanks for the comments. You have been most helpful to me on this site and your opinion is always welcome.

    I'm hesitant to publish more than a sentence or two on a public forum and so I haven't posted an entire scene. I post certain things to learn certain things. My post was not intended to request rewrite assistance. I know that other authors have requested rewrite assistance in Writers Craft. I only wanted a general reaction which you gave me and more.

    I would never ask anyone to rewrite something for me. What would be the point of that? It takes away all the fun. : )

    I'm not quite sure of the rules here on Writersnet and have been figuring them out by trial and error. As you can tell, I am still confused.

    I belong to other writing groups but thought I'd try to get a critique or two here. I hope no harm done.

    Thanks again for your time.

    Best Regards

  6. #6
    . Bree
    Guest

    Re: More narrative for comment

    "Bree, I hope you don't think I was directing my comments at you.."

    No Jeanne, not at all! I was just excusing myself, as I can only manage the odd rewrite, and am never sure if that helps or not!

  7. #7
    Jeanne Gassman
    Guest

    Re: More narrative for comment

    Sorry, authorx2, I didn't mean to sound so harsh. I guess I was just expressing my own frustration over the fact that I do see some people post material on here with the expectation that someone else will always "fix" it. Since I don't do many online critiques, I suppose it shouldn't matter. But I do feel that, if you want to succeed as a writer, you have to learn to edit and critique your own work. A second pair of eyes is always helpful, but total dependence on "writing by committee" is ultimately detrimental to the writer. You have to find your own voice.

    What I was trying to do with my rather brusque comments was to point out to you to some common problems I see in your writing. You have an excellent vocabulary and a good feel for how to evoke mood. I suspect that you are on the brink of a break-though--pushing past the tendency to overwrite to finding the exact words you need to set the scene. If you can learn to control the vocabulary and be very precise with your word choice, you will be a powerful writer.

    Don't despair and don't give up. There are no real "rules" for this forum other than the ones Hamish posts for participation. And some of those are often ignored.

    Here are some suggestions that you might find helpful:

    Rather than focus on a single paragraph, concentrate on the scene. Read every word out loud, listening for what I call the "false note." You want to listen for the awkward phrase; the sentence that makes you take a breath; the pacing that is too quick or too slow; the overdescriptive adjective/adverb combinations; and the almost-but-not-quite-right word.

    If you're not sure about word choice, take a trip to your thesaurus and dictionary. Look in the thesaurus for the synonyms. Look in the dictionary for good examples of usage.

    A scene is a dramatic element that needs to build and subside. It should have an degree of tension that propels it forward. Sentences and paragraphs build that scene with the same forward movement. Shorter sentences speed up the pace and are often used for action sequences. Longer sentences are used for reflection and description, creating a more leisurely pace. When you read aloud, listen to the rhythm of your sentences and paragraphs. Always push the climax of the scene to close to the end of the scene, but you can still create smaller climaxes within the scene in individual paragraphs. A group of scenes should establish a rising tension to end the chapter on a major turning point.

    Whew! I think I've just given you a lecture on the craft of writing fiction! Sorry about that. Please do continue to post for feedback. I can't promise that I will do many online critiques (no time!), but I can tell you that it would be easier for me to give more specific feedback if I saw this graph in the context of a larger scene. I would know immediately then if this excerpt (the one posted today) was just an anomaly with the overwriting, or if it was a tendency you're fighting to overcome.

    Good luck to you. Perhaps I'm feeling a little crabby today because I have to do a major housecleaning! (Company is coming.)

    Jeanne

  8. #8
    Joe Zeff
    Guest

    Re: More narrative for comment

    That was beautifully written, although it might be leaner. You're on the right track. As far as "musky floral" goes, I'd either cut one, or add a third. People find groups of three satisfying, and it seems to work well. It's probably too much, but "musky, floral, exotic" might fill the bill.

  9. #9
    author author
    Guest

    Re: More narrative for comment

    Thanks Joe, Very kind of you. I liked your poem too!

    Jeanne,

    Thank you for taking the time to write out a lesson for me. I will make certain that I learn something from reading it.

    I know what you mean about the major housecleaning! Crabbiness is of course excused in its face.

    Very loud cheerful fast music helps me when I clean, Latin contemporary, hip-hop and electronic dance music especially.

    There's a lot of it to choose from on the upper channels if you have CableTV or satellite.

    My fav cleaning CD is Paul Van Dyke, Politics of Dance (electronic). When I put it on everyone gets out of my way. : D))

    Of course your family will think you've lost your mind!

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