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  1. #1
    Brandon Cleveland
    Guest

    Rate my dialogue and character desc (850 words)

    Finally, after what felt like hours, the train stops and the gravity defaults to a natural state. The AI representation welcomes me to the zone, and the door slides open - forcing in the unfiltered and dirty air of the Industrial Zone into the sterilized innards of the train.

    Already, I can tell the air here is difficult to breathe and foul to the taste, much like where I just came from. A third industrial revolution had come and gone, and the result was twenty miles of unusable territory with a thousand year half life.

    It's not until I take my first step off that I notice two men stationed to the right of the loading deck. The area here isn't well lit, and bits of dust and sediment obstruct a lot of the view.

    They're human in shape, but that's all that can be told about them so far.

    I get closer, and assume they are representatives of whatever MICAH is, and at this point - I'm thinking that it could be a group rather than an individual.

    The first thing is to light a cigarette up. It's been far too long and I'm way too stressed. Strangely enough, I can taste the air, even through the cigarette's filter. I though the natural smell of the Outback was bad, but it has nothing on this.

    Active beam lights on the tops of the buildings make seeing anything not within the range of the beams impossible. The sediment kept mobile by the sharp winds made me conscious not to breathe to heavy, not that I could anyway, not after what I saw on the train.

    It's so dark outside the beams of light that the glow of my burning cigarette illuminates the six feet in front of me with orange.

    I can slightly make out the features of the two humans. They don't look like professionals, that's for sure. If I'm not mistaken, they look like they just crawled from the sub sector of an n-Build.

    The taller one, who's not very tall, wears a red perforated tank top - less cloth than holes, really. It's quite cold out here, and I'm wondering how he's not shaking from head to toe. He's wearing an eye mounted computer system, used mostly by cops for ID purposes. It glows a slight red, showing that it's active.

    The eye mounts have other uses: x-ray vision; body mass and temperature measurement; as well as Extra race identification. I think that would've helped with the symbiotic earlier.

    The man's rail thin, like he hasn't eaten in weeks. His face, from what can be seen of it, is bony as well. His features are chiseled, and he resembles nothing more than a synthetic addicted thug with flashy eye equipment. His mohawk adds an extra foot to his height.

    His friend is the opposite - short and fat with a trench coat not unlike mine. No fancy tech, just a stained t-shirt and tattered slacks.

    The fat one speaks first.

    "Lookin' for someone, are we?"

    "We are," I say. I know better than to expose myself or purpose here before they ask or state it. "And you?"

    The one with the mohawk answers. The smile on his face is wide; his crooked teeth visible even in the low light of the burning cigarette. "The same I'd say."

    Silence follows, and it's as disturbing as it is long. "Mind if I get a cig from you?" The tall one finally asks.
    "Sorry, this just happens to be my last."

    There's that disgusting smile again. "Something tells me you got a full pack on you."

    Already, I can tell that these guys aren't MICAH. They're slimy, sniveling thugs wearing hot merchandise to appear as something that they're not. I don't have the time, or the patience.

    "Well then, it's too bad that fancy eye piece doesn't assist in taking hints," I say. I flash my teeth in emulation of him, the cigarette gripped tightly in between.
    "Well look here, Rorschach," the fat one says. "Got ourselves a smart one, don't we?"

    "It appears we do."

    "Say, you've been askin' for a jacket like this one for what, a month now?"

    "About a month."

    "And this fella seems like the type that'll help you out, don't he?"

    "That he does."

    No good strong armed or thief tells you what they're thinking. All they're doing is giving me time to think of a hundred different ways to handle this situation. They aren't good at what they do by any means, not dressed like that. Probably spends all those robbery credits on synthetic coke. Didn't they know that stuff eventually makes the brain leak through the sinus cavity and out the nostril?

    The fat one appears as if he’s got something else on his mind other than his friend’s lack of jacket. Unsurprisingly, he extends his left arm out, and in a clumsy fashion, gives it a good shake. In his fat little grubby hand sits a laser knife, its blade glowed a deep red hue. I give him credit for trying.

    I burst out laughing for a multitude of reasons. If he could’ve seen himself and the unstructured maneuver of expelling that blade, he’d laugh himself.



  2. #2
    Smiling Curmudgeon
    Guest

    Re: Rate my dialogue and character desc (850 words)

    Some questions and comments---

    If this is the beginning of the tale, I'm utterly lost as to what is going on. If it's later, okay.

    I like the tone. I read it as a sort of dark tale.

    Consider "light up a cigarette."

    Consider "a perforated red tank top-more hole than cloth."

    Consider "I can barely make out." The phrase you're using is awkward to this reader.

    What does "slight red" mean? Mebbe "dim red."

    There are a number of minor typos and grammar errors.

    Dialogue works for this reader.

    Writing in first person present tense is a major challenge. I write in first past, which is sufficient challenge for me.

    I like this but I don't have any idea what is going on. Perhaps that's intentional. If it is, you gotta come clean very soon.



    cur

  3. #3
    Ord Retniap
    Guest

    Re: Rate my dialogue and character desc (850 words)

    This isn't really dialogue or description related but your first sentence tripped me up:

    "Finally, after what felt like hours, the train stops and the gravity defaults to a natural state."

    The switch here between having your verbs in past tense (felt) to present tense (stops) strikes me as clumsy. I didn't notice any other instances of this in my (very quick) scan of the rest of your work so I'm guessing this is just an oversight.

    The dialogue is fine. No unnecessary adverbs or attribution, it wasn't confusing and it 'rang true.'

    I'm not sure what specific feedback you're looking for here but one thing that I always worry about when I'm writing my own dialogue is whether the reader can 'hear' how the dialogue is being delivered by the characters; whether the reader can detect sarcasm, aggression, fear, etc, without me actually saying "he said fearfully." You've achieved this here and I had a good sense of character at the end of the passage - your main character is clearly a no-nonsense, no-panic, confident type.

    The description isn't quite as good as the dialogue but it isn't dire, it just needs tidying up. Take these two sentences, for instance:

    "The man's rail thin, like he hasn't eaten in weeks. His face, from what can be seen of it, is bony as well."

    If the man is rail thin, as you've told us, it strikes me as unnecessary to also tell us that his face is also bony. If the rest of him looks like he hasn't eaten in weeks then I'd be surprised if his face wasn't bony. Cut out unnecessary or obvious details and it'll read a lot better. IMO the only description of this guy that you should keep is the fact that he's thin and has a mohawk - lose the chiselled features and the thin face.

  4. #4
    gulliver h
    Guest

    Re: Rate my dialogue and character desc (850 words)

    It seems to get better as you get deeper into the scene--that's not bad. Most writing does that. And nearer the middle/end, it becomes kind of intriquing and sharp.

    What does 'gravity defaults to a natural state' mean? Because you almost lost me right there. If it's something particular to your 'story world' that's one thing, if not...it's just meaningless.

  5. #5
    Matthias Zierholz
    Guest

    Re: Rate my dialogue and character desc (850 words)

    There are various details I would change eg:

    A slight inconsistency in the development of the character:
    ‘I’m way too stressed’ is somewhat inconsistent with the extreme calmness and relaxedness the protagonist shows a few paragraphs later.

    I also have a problem with:
    ‘ … I notice two men stationed to the …’, ‘…they’re human in shape …’, ‘
    If they are men one would assume they’re human unless you call males of other races ‘men’ as well in other parts of your story. Also, 'stationed' should be changed to 'positioned' or similar.
    And
    I can slightly make out the features – I don’t think you have the right adverb

    There are some more bits and pieces mostly addressed in the above comments so I would think the section still needs some general tidying up.

    On the other hand, I did enjoy reading this and could read some more, which is a huge plus as internal consistency, correct syntax and close attention to diction does not make a good story or even an enjoyable paragraph. If you fix up the detail, you’ll have something here. I agree with Ord that you are succeeding in developing the character of the protagonist nicely through his reaction to the situation.
    Also, the exchange between two wannabe bullies and an intended victim is believable and something that is familiar to most which helps the reader in assessing the character’s reaction.

    Mat

  6. #6
    nom de plume
    Guest

    Re: Rate my dialogue and character desc (850 words)

    Brandon, this is much better than what you posted a while back! I also sense mounting tension and am intrigued.

    Other than the suggested changes of phrases, I have a few things:

    "I know better than to expose myself or purpose here before they ask or state it. "

    I don't believe he had any intention to expose himself How about just saying something like, "I know better than to reveal my purpose unless they ask."

    "The eye mounts have other uses: x-ray vision; body mass and temperature measurement; as well as Extra race identification

    Dunno but it seemed this sentence was put in for exposition. I don't sense another purpose for it. It's only one sentence, so no big deal; just wanted to give you my reaction as I read it.

    "unstructured maneuver of expelling that blade".

    Of course, i'm not familiar with this high-tech world but "unstructured" seemed overwritten. Perhaps "clumsy" would do the job just as well.

  7. #7
    Mark Phillips
    Guest

    Re: Rate my dialogue and character desc (850 words)

    I think that the beginning tense shift is fine. It indicates one of two things, we are coming from a part in the book that was past tense and we are now in the present, or it is describing something that happened and now we're experiencing things that are happening. Either way it's fine. Consider the way you talk, let's say you hate rollar coasters, like I do, and you get off one. You think or say, that felt like hours, now let's go to the ski ball machine. See how our thinking/speech changes even though we, as people, are always in the present tense. Breaking the rules is sometimes okay, especially when it mirrors real life, it relaxes people and lets you take them away into your story.

    I would change, "human in shape" to They looked human. Looked could be in italics. It conveys the same message that there are beings in this world of yours that aren't human, without being clunky.

    Now on to my two pet peeves.
    Go through this and see if you can pull out the adverbs, those are the ly words. Like, Unsurprisingly. There aren't many of them, but lose them if you can bare to.
    Also this sentence:
    "In his fat little grubby hand sits a laser knife, its blade glowed a deep red hue."
    This is a passive voice sentence. I hate the passive voice. Try this.
    "He held a laser knife is his fat grubby hand, its blade glowed a deep red hue."
    I can see that you put the laser knife next to the phrase that motifies it, which is normally correct, but I don't believe that my, active sentence, creates any confusion and if you think it does, there are many more ways to construct this sentence avoiding the passive tense.

    Just my fifty-three million pesos.

    Mark

  8. #8
    Brandon Cleveland
    Guest

    Re: Rate my dialogue and character desc (850 words)

    Hey everyone, I really appreciate your comments and critiques.

    I've done a lot of editing with my manuscript, and I think it's for the better.

    The excerpt is from chapter 8, which isn't a good one to start with. In my next post, I'll display the first 800 words of my first chapter.

    Again, thanks everyone.

  9. #9
    nom de plume
    Guest

    Re: Rate my dialogue and character desc (850 words)

    Here we go again!

    MP said:
    ""In his fat little grubby hand sits a laser knife, its blade glowed a deep red hue."
    This is a passive voice sentence. I hate the passive voice. Try this.
    "He held a laser knife is his fat grubby hand, its blade glowed a deep red hue.""

    The original sentence is NOT passive voice!

  10. #10
    jayce
    Guest

    Re: Rate my dialogue and character desc (850 words)

    Correct, nom.

    But it is a comma splice. Better would be, "In his fat little grubby hand sits a laser knife, its blade glowing a deep red hue."

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