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  1. #21
    Jeanne Gassman
    Guest

    Re: Need a critique. First Chapter.

    Conor,

    You're welcome. Some more thoughts for you...

    Have you considered writing this as an epistolary novel, as a diary or journal, perhaps? This would allow you to develop his interior life without sacrificing external action. In fact, the diary could be a reflection of the stress he feels when he has to interact with others.

    Also, think more about the psychological component of this character. Even with despair, there is still desire. The character may exhibit inappropriate desires or hyperfocus on trivial desires, but that can provide a contrast to the sense of aimlessness and ennui. For example, I'm finishing a novel about a MC who is mentally unstable. He has built a new life after committing a heinous crime when he was a child. His DESIRE is to hold on to that fragile world and cover up his crime. When a change (always important to create tension) in his circumstances threatens to expose his crimes and his past, he sets out to murder the person he believes will destroy him. And this is a historical novel, not a contemporary one, but human nature is still human nature.

    Any psychologist will tell you that depression is anger directed inward. If your character is aimless and depressed, how can you use that rage to create tension in both your character and the story?

    Have you read Crime and Punishment? It's a good book for understanding paranoia. Lots of internal monologue there, too. If I can think of other books that would be helpful, I'll pass them on.

    Jeanne



  2. #22
    Conor Beaulieu
    Guest

    Re: Need a critique. First Chapter.

    I was actually weighing that idea in my head. Was just worried that I don't have the know-how to execute it efficiently. I toyed around, and by simple replacing chapter-heads with dates, it kind of brings a cohesion to the story.

    Also, I completely understand the desire with despair, and child psychology is an extremely easy subject for me to research. My dad has been a teacher in every level of schooling his entire life, and I was inundated with child psychology subjects until I was about 14. The beginning of chapter two, and the introduction of a female element into the story, even fleeting, is meant to humanize him, and show his somehow childish desires.

    I would appreciate any literature you could recommend.

  3. #23
    junel ;-)
    Guest

    Re: Need a critique. First Chapter.

    "I need some advice on how to keep my readers hooked through the melancholic areas of the book, though. I feel like if I stretch it out too long it'll end up putting my readers off completely."

    my thoughts exactly, thats why i mentioned earlier:

    "The lead up is a bit long, i would consider making that shorter."

    these melancholic breaks are so introspective, you run the risk of abandoning your reader, and worst still, your character maybe perceived as whiny and self-involved.

    You have a real conundrum there. Essentially, i did enjoy the melancholic musings, but they are flawed, as they do not drive the story forward.

    That's why you need to keep them short in the begining, the story needs to remain the main focus, and in the latter stages, when your reader is more involved in the story, and the reader has journeyed with your character and built up sympathy or empathy, you can delve into your characters inner-self more.

    That's the only suggestion i have at the moment. I post if i have anything more.

    just one final thing:

    "I get the feeling with this one that I have to accept it wont be for everyone. That if I try and cater to everyone, nobody will get fed."

    I think your right there. If you try and 'cater' to everyone as you say, i think it will diminish the quality of your work. but that does not mean there is not an audience out there for it.

  4. #24
    junel ;-)
    Guest

    Re: Need a critique. First Chapter.

    p.s. i have not had a look at chapter 2 yet, will do when i have time.

  5. #25
    Jeanne Gassman
    Guest

    Re: Need a critique. First Chapter.

    Conor,

    More books for your reading list.

    For examples of epistolary novels, take a look at these works:

    Diary of A Madman, by Nikolai Gogol
    The Screwtape Letters, by C.S. Lewis
    The Color Purple, by Alice Walker

    An excellent book for understanding rage directed inward:
    She's Come Undone, by Wally Lamb

    Hope that helps.

    Jeanne

  6. #26
    Conor Beaulieu
    Guest

    Re: Need a critique. First Chapter.

    Thanks, you two. Jeanne, do you have any suggestions for retaining the introspective style of the musings, but helping it propel the story forward?

    I really, really don't want to abandon the quality nor quantity of interior dialogue.

    Going to be picking up the Screwtape Letters ASAP. Love me some C.S. Lewis.

  7. #27
    Jeanne Gassman
    Guest

    Re: Need a critique. First Chapter.

    Conor,

    Crime and Punishment, by Dostoevsky, is a good choice for that.

    Other books that work with interior monologue and/or unhappy characters:

    White Oleander, by Janet Fitch

    To the Lighthouse, Virginia Woolfe

    That should be plenty to get you started. Be sure to take notes on what you think does or doesn't work. Look at the way they blend the interior with the exterior. How do they keep the stories from becoming claustrophobic?

    Jeanne

  8. #28
    Conor Beaulieu
    Guest

    Re: Need a critique. First Chapter.

    Okay, Dostoevsky it is. Reworked the "dream" paragraph.

    It was a grand staircase, and the the landing held a massive window of amber, honeyed glass. Through this window stood a garden, with ancient oaks. The leaves fell, in eternal autumn through this window. And they looked like embers on the wind. On this window hung a painting, a painting of the world aflame. A determined, sad fire. An inferno of passion. A blaze of knowing we are all coming to an end, and burning in spite of it. And the world was on fire. And the monster wept.

  9. #29
    Chris Anderson
    Guest

    Re: Need a critique. First Chapter.


    It was a grand staircase, and the landing held a massive window of amber, honeyed glass. Through this window stood a garden with ancient oaks where one could watch fall the leaves of eternal autumn, embers on the wind. On this window hung a painting of the world aflame. Is the painting nailed to the window or the wall next to it? Not a great sentence here. A determined, sad fire. An inferno of passion. A blaze of the knowledge that we are all coming to an end, and burning in spite of it. I'm not sure I understand the "burning in spite of it" hereThe world was on fire. The monster wept.

    I'm not a pro editor, just another author. I was following this thread and love your emotion in the writing and passion for it. I'm also here looking for help and advice, so I try not to intercede too much. This paragraph is powerful to me and close to great. I re-wrote some of it a little to experiment, take what you want, or fire back. Mostly I tried to "speed it up" and make it cleaner. Too much repetition it seemed. I love watching writing evolve when you try completely different takes. Kill your darlings and see what grows!

    FYI...

    it's = the shorthand of "it is"

    its = possessive, as in "its arm", the arm belonging to "it".

    someone correct me if I'm wrong on that!

  10. #30
    martin shaw
    Guest

    Re: Need a critique. First Chapter.

    That you Grid man!

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