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  1. #1
    dorian kabana
    Guest

    intro to novella, critique please!

    I'm looking for critique on my form, and also to hear how the plot is received. Are the descriptions too brief, or scattered? Is there poor flow anywhere? How's the word choice? Anything helps, thanks!

    It was nearly four in the morning when the mist was heaviest over the ocean water. The moon had shed enough light for the evening and was dimming, though the sun had yet to break the horizon. In this darkest hour a single gentleman, clad entirely in black, approached the docks of Ambuke, guided by the feeble lighthouse above town. It was rare that the island received visitors traveling alone, as the journey to Ambuke was long and arduous and exceptionally lonely. There were no dolphins or flying fish and the birds were all seagulls, likely the exact same ones the entire time. It was not until near Ambuke’s shore that things became interesting.
    The sole gentleman had a lantern with him and was on a small schooner which looked incapable of deep sea travel. He took an empty spot and anchored. The town was dark but for the streetlights down the main avenue.
    There was one man awake beside the newcomer, and he rushed from the lighthouse to greet the man.
    “Good morning!” he called from atop the ridge which divided the town from the beach and the docks. The man looked up as he approached and tipped his black feathered hat.
    “Welcome to Ambuke. What is your business?”
    The man climbed the stairs so they could speak face to face.
    “I’m looking for Fjord Sijmond.”
    The guard looked puzzled for a moment.
    “Oh! You mean Fjord Sijmond.”
    “Um… yes.”
    “He’s sleeping.”
    “Is he?”
    “Everyone is,” the guard said, “it’s four in the morning.”
    “I had no idea. I haven’t seen a clock in a long time,” said the man. He smiled.
    “Well, I can wait.”
    The guard nodded.
    “Do you need a place to stay?”
    “I have my boat, thank you,” and he returned to his boat to wait until morning.

    * * *

    The guard awoke the next day to a loud knocking at his door. He answered, distraught to find the mayor, Frank de la Franco, with an angered look on his face.
    “Hey, @!#$!”
    Frank was known for his lewd tongue and poor English, as it was his second language.
    “What?”
    “Where’s Fjord? ****er.”
    “He’s not at home?”
    “No. And Jake say you say someone was in the dock looking for him last night.”
    “Yeah.”
    “What he want with Fjord?”
    “He didn’t say.”
    “You ask? Dumb @!#$!”
    “No. Is the schooner still in the docks?”
    “No! What @!#$ you think I come and ask you for if schooner still in the ****in’ bay, we don’t go and just ask myself?”
    The guard held a stunned look on his face for a moment.
    “What?”
    Frank stormed out and followed the winding path to town from where the guard’s hut was, with the guard in tow.
    “I seriously didn’t understand that last thing you said.”
    “Shut up!”
    Fjord going missing was an important issue, and the normally gleeful mayor was taking his duties seriously now.
    They walked quickly through town and to the lighthouse. The entire town of Ambuke was not much over a kilometer wide, and the housing was scattered about the hills surrounding it. There was an inn, a pub, and a few basic stores which carried the few imports the island received, but not much else.
    “Jake!”
    They were in the lighthouse now, three of them.
    “Did you see the schooner leave?”
    “No.”
    “Were you @!#$ awake?”
    “Yeah. I just never saw it pull away. In fact, I don’t remember it being here when I took over for Tom.”
    “Bull****,” said Tom. “It was here.”
    “Either way, it doesn’t matter, the ship’s gone now,” said Jake.
    “And so is Fjord. Horrible tragedy,” said Frank, “both of you. This horrible tragedy you have committed.”
    “I agree, Frank,” said Jake, “should we go look for him?”
    “Yes. Go.”
    “In our boat? Or…” asked Tom.
    “Or what? La Maria Juanita? Sure, take her.”
    There was a flash of excitement in each of the young guards’ eyes. La Maria Juanita was the repaired mother ship which had brought the original inhabitants of Ambuke to the island, and she was a gallant and wonderful ship with power and finesse. She was the pride of the island and sat in the bay, used only by permission of the mayor.
    Frank de la Franco let the news settle as he smiled his trademark smile, full of shining teeth which were the product of his monopoly over the extremely limited toothpaste supply.
    “I’m kidding, dopes,” he said. “Ha ha ha!”


    * * *

    “He’s Mexican,” said Jake. “I’m sure of it.”
    “Naw. I’d say there’s some Greek or Armenian. Maybe Turk or Arab. Something with some fire to it, you know?”
    “No. I don’t. I’m not racist and I don’t stereotype like that.” They were brothers and got along well except when Jake, the younger, saw an opportunity to prove he was the better of them, even when there was no one watching.

  2. #2
    the cat came back
    Guest

    Re: intro to novella, critique please!

    I'm sorry, but I have an exceptionally low tolerance for passages that are not formatted for paragraph breaks -- hit enter. So, I'm only going to comment on the first section.

    I basically like it, though I see things that can be improved. There are questions in my mind, which is good. Who is the man and what does he want? There are things about him that are intriguing, especially given the paucity of detail, but I would like to know just a bit more about him, so that I can "see" this mysterious figure, some intriguing little detail or two.

    It was nearly [omit] four in the morning when the mist was heaviest over the ocean water[omit]. The moon had[omit] shed enough light for the evening and was dimming, though the sun had yet to break the horizon. In this darkest hour[omit clause] a single gentleman, clad entirely in black, approached the docks of Ambuke, guided by the feeble lighthouse above town. It was rare that the island received visitors traveling alone, as the journey to Ambuke was long and arduous and exceptionally lonely.[how about "arduosu and lonely"?] There were no dolphins or flying fish and the birds were all seagulls, likely the exact[omit] same ones the entire time. It was not until near Ambuke’s shore that things became interesting. [how?]

    So, you see, I think you have a bit of a case of adjectivitis.

    The sole gentleman [That sounds funny to me, as if he was the only one there with any manners] had a lantern with him and was on a small schooner which looked incapable of deep sea travel. He took an empty spot [on the dock?] and anchored. The town was dark but for the streetlights down the main avenue.

    There was one man awake beside
    [s] [/i]the newcomer, and he rushed from the lighthouse to greet the man.

    “Good morning!” he called from atop the ridge which divided the town from the beach and the docks. The man looked up as he approached and tipped his black feathered hat.[/i] [nice]

    “Welcome to Ambuke. What is your business?”

    The man climbed the stairs so they could speak face to face.

    “I’m looking for Fjord Sijmond.”

    The guard looked puzzled for a moment.

    “Oh! You mean Fjord Sijmond.”[/i] [That exchange puzzles me. Was it a problem of accent?]

    “Um… yes.”

    “He’s sleeping.”

    “Is he?”

    “Everyone is,” the guard said, “it’s four in the morning.”

    “I had no idea. I haven’t seen a clock in a long time,” said the man. He smiled.

    “Well, I can wait.”[/i] [append to preceding paragraph]

    [i]The guard nodded.

    “Do you need a place to stay?”

    “I have my boat, thank you,” and he returned to his boat to wait until morning.

  3. #3
    the cat came back
    Guest

    Re: intro to novella, critique please!

    I looked briefly at the next two sections.

    The impression I'm getting is that this is really choppy, not just that it's skipping from situation to situation, which is fine, but the whole tone. It feels like passages from three different books.

    Initially, I liked the switch from the stranger to the swearing fellow, but the whole narrative tone has changed, too.

    This doesn't work for me.

    But I feel that you're a good writer.

  4. #4
    dorian kabana
    Guest

    Re: intro to novella, critique please!

    ahh precisely what I'm looking for... thank you! I believe I'm a good writer but I am highly unorganized and definitely have problems with using too many words... I'm very wordy and have troubles keeping the tone readable.

    I'm glad you noticed the horrific shift in tone as well. I noticed it as I wrote it but have real trouble keeping myself confined to a particular style as the story progresses; i feel as though I hop around too much without settling on a particular tone. i feel like the first and second part of this are entirely different works, which isn't what i'm going for. any suggestions for what might help cure this inability to settle?

    Last question. I did not append the "Well, I can wait" part to the preceding paragraph because I wanted to denote a pause without saying anything. It's a style choice, and as you assumed correctly about who was saying it, i'd like to continue using that; do you feel it may be too distracting from the flow of the work to do something like that? The point is to interrupt the "flow" purposefully, as it matches the conversational tone.

    Thanks for the feedback! Very helpful =)

  5. #5
    Rob Roy
    Guest

    Re: intro to novella, critique please!

    You are really good at mystery, painting a mental picture, and word smithing. You jump in there. I am proud of my attention deficit disorder, and you kept me reading. That's saying something.

    It's much better than many books I've read. Frank is a memorable character, bringing friction to the story.

    I like the first part of this one sentence:

    Frank de la Franco let the news settle as he smiled his trademark smile, full of shining teeth ....

    Very good. But 'frankly' [please pardon the pun], I don't like the way the sentence ends:

    "which were the product of his monopoly over the extremely limited toothpaste supply."

    Maybe I'm just a spoiled American. It doesn't feel real to me. It's like you are trying really hard for people to hate him. Maybe more subtlety would be a good idea.

    Please don't get me wrong. You are good with words and story telling. Just my two cents. I wish you the best.

  6. #6
    Rob Roy
    Guest

    Re: intro to novella, critique please!

    "I'm glad you noticed the horrific shift in tone as well. I noticed it as I wrote it but have real trouble keeping myself confined to a particular style as the story progresses; i feel as though I hop around too much without settling on a particular tone. i feel like the first and second part of this are entirely different works, which isn't what i'm going for. any suggestions for what might help cure this inability to settle?"

    I'm bran new myself and never had my own writing critiqued by a pro. But one thing I did read is that it's best to rewrite after the story is finished for your first book or so until you 'find your voice', which comes from practice. If you stop and rewrite too often, then your new voice is more likely to shift.

    But honestly, I don't think you should be too hard on yourself. You're doing a good job, and I bet you'll 'find your voice' over time. In fact, just a hunch from some newbie, I bet that it is a good thing for our inner voice to shift a lot. This is an important phase in our writing career. [Waiting to see who jumps on me. Did I utter a blasphemy?]

  7. #7
    cara k
    Guest

    Re: intro to novella, critique please!

    'I did not append the "Well, I can wait" part to the preceding paragraph because I wanted to denote a pause without saying anything.'

    I agree that this sentence should have been added to the preceding paragraph. You don't want to confuse the reader. I know you didn't want to say anything, but if you want a pause, just say so. 'He paused.' 'He hesitated.' Or something else, like, 'His gaze swept the area.' Something like that. Sometimes, you can even use an ellipsis between sentences. '...I haven't seen a clock in a long time.... Well, I can wait.' In this case, though, I have to say that I don't think the ellipsis is necessary.
    Good luck.

    --Cara K

  8. #8
    Karen Campbell
    Guest

    Re: intro to novella, critique please!

    I'll second Rob's opinion. You created a strong sense of mystery and your writing shows promise. If this is your first draft, it will be rewritten anyway. Don't worry yet about achieving a consistent style--it will come.

    What an interesting world you're creating, in which items as trivial as toothpaste are in short supply.

    Karen

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