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Thread: please critique

  1. #1
    Jillian Eaton

    please critique

    This is a brief section out of a new piece that I have been working on. I realize that this is not the beginning and may be confusing, but I'm looking more for a critique of the writing style (choice of words, natural flow, descriptions, grammar, etc.).

    In the scene that I am posting three men are sitting together around a table, having returned from a battle earlier in the day. The book itself is set in modern day; this is a flash back. I haven't determined exactly what year it is yet, but am trying to convey through their speech and descriptions that it is sometime during the Dark Ages.


    “…and when I ripped the head from the man’s shoulders, did you see his eyes?” the largest of the three, a great burly man with beady black eyes and a dark brown beard, slammed in his meaty fist into the table and laughed loudly.

    “Aye, Igor, and that you did it with your bare hands was even more impressive.” said the man sitting to Igor’s left. “Just how did you accomplish such a feat?” he continued, his blue eyes narrowing.

    “When I fight I feel the strength of a hundred, nay, a THOUSAND men! You have seen it, Thesis! I can tear a man from his horse at full gallop and snap his spine before he has hit the ground.” Igor boasted as he leaned across the table to tear another leg from the boar. Waving it in the air, he grinned at the other two men, revealing rotten teeth that oozed with puss and chunks of meat. “On the battlefield, there is no man that can stop me. No sword that can fell me. No axe that can wound me. Soon, the ******* will feel the crush of our army and they will buckle beneath its weight as the ****** did today!”

    Thesis and the other man looked at each other, their expressions dark with suspicion and doubt. “But my friend, your strength seems uncanny. Surely there is a secret? A food that you eat, a potion that you take?”

    Igor’s beady eyes shifted from one man to the other. “Why do you question me so, Thesis? Why would you look at me so, Demetri?” He demanded, addressing the smallest and darkest of the men for the first time. “Is it not enough that I lead us in battle, day in and day out? That I lead us to victory?” Raising the boar leg to his mouth he took a vicious bite, grinding his teeth down on meat and bone.

    “We would only know your secret, Igor.” Demetri soothed, raising his hands in a gesture of peace. “So that we could assist you in battle instead of fighting death off with our swords and axes and shields. You carry none of those, yet you are the strongest among us.”

    “Aye, the strongest! Yet you are next in line for the throne, Demetri, not I. Does this make me question you? No, it does not!”

    “My father is King.” Demetri reminded Igor, his voice quiet, although the growing edge in it was unmistakable, “It is the natural order of things. Should I die, you know that you would be second for the throne. You and Thesis shall be my closest advisers and confidants when my father passes, so please, friend, pray tell where this Herculean strength of yours comes from.”

    Igor’s eyes narrowed and he curled his upper lip back, shifting his gaze from Demetri to Thesis and then back again. Suddenly his hand shot out and lifted the dead boar. Raising the animal effortlessly above his head, he grasped it with his other hand and squeezed. With a loud cracking of bones and sinew, the boar was reduced to nothing more than a pile of dust.

    “Witchcraft!” Thesis gasped as he recoiled from the table, his hand reaching for the sword at his hip. Demetri did the same and in unison the two men stood, their faces holding equal expressions of horror and disbelief.


    Thank-you for your time.

  2. #2
    Brandon Cleveland

    Re: please critique

    I can picture the scene in a poor lit tavern, wood tables long as they are wide and a bunch of blokes drinking and laughing.

    But, I feel this needs a real good edit. it's missing words; words that are in place aren't correct; and the transitions between characters and paragraphs are "off" if you ask me. It just doesn't flow.

    My suggestion: read it out loud. Before you do that, give us a point of view. I can't tell if it's Igor's POV or Dmitri's. I'm sure it's none, but you not only alienate the characters and make them cold, you alienate the reader. I didn't feel for any of these characters. Here's how I would write it instead:

    “…and when I ripped the head from the man’s shoulders, did you see his eyes?” the largest of the three, a great burly man with beady black eyes and a dark brown beard, slammed in his meaty fist into the table and laughed loudly.

    "... and when I ripped the head from his shoulders, could you see his eyes?" Igor asked. He was the largest of the three; a burly bastard with heavy black eyes and a brown beard laden with blood and meat from the day's battle. He slammed his heavy fist hard against the table, knocking over cups of ale and plates of boar.

    Give us more, let us feel the character. If he's scary, then make him scary. Show us his power.

    “Aye, Igor, and that you did it with your bare hands was even more impressive.” said the man sitting to Igor’s left. “Just how did you accomplish such a feat?” he continued, his blue eyes narrowing.

    The blue-eyed man to his left agreed. "Aye, Igor, I saw it. I also saw that you did it with your bare hands - sh!t myself I almost did."

    This sounds like a group of mean, cussing mutha****ers, so make them that way.

  3. #3
    John Ian

    Re: please critique

    One thing I noticed is that you use a lot of saidisms for the dialogue. This would include anything that replaces the word "said". You also need to use commas not periods within the quotes. I'd suggest looking over some basic tenets of writing dialogue.

    I'd also cull many of the exclamation points. Overuse can annoy and numb the reader to those parts you really wish to emphasize.

    ...did you see his eyes?" The largest of the three...
    "My Father is King," Demetri said, reminding Igor.... (This could also be considered as-you-know-bob conversation since in the previous statement, he states that D is next in line for the throne)

    "Witchcraft!" Thesis said in a gasp...

    So overall, I'd recommend cutting out the saidisms and working on the basics of writing dialog. Otherwise, seems interesting.

  4. #4
    Author Pendragin

    Re: please critique


    I don't know if I am getting middle ages, perhaps if you added something from the times like winches, gauntlets, or mace and chains that would say medieval. Right now, I am just getting barbarian. Me big...Can rip your head off...Stay away... Oooooh oooooh. I keep thinking of Attila the hun.

    Also I don't know if Igor is a medieval name, maybe you should look for some names online, Author is not a bad start Overall, I liked what you had going on, I think it has a nice feel to it.

  5. #5
    Chris Hill

    Re: please critique


    When you say ‘Dark Ages’ do you mean the real, historical Dark Ages? Or a fantasy version of the Dark Ages? Or possibly the Dark Ages of an alternative world you’ve invented?

    I feel a lack of context here. Context, IMHO, is crucial. Every single scene must be set squarely in it’s context; in the physical and moral context of the story. Once the reader is accustomed to your style, you’ll be able to provide context in a shorthand that your reader will quickly catch on to. I think it’s missing here though.

    You know where your story is set; we don’t. If you’re dedicated to your story, you’re living it, breathing it every day. What makes it live for you? Get that down on paper. Give the reader the significant details which make your story unique. That’s a good enough place to start if you’re concerned about setting the scene.

    In my opinion.


  6. #6
    Author Pendragin

    Re: please critique

    Wow, everyone on this site has some unique comments to bring, that's interesting Chris.

  7. #7
    Joe Zeff

    Re: please critique

    Except for "Thesis," the names all sound Russian to me; was that intentional? Also, I find it hard to believe that a boar would be crushed to dust. Oozing bits of flesh and shards of bone, maybe, but not dust. If nothing else, the juice should be squirting out between his fingers.

  8. #8
    d d

    Re: please critique

    I just got called James F. Cooper the other day for making my action a bit unrealistic.....and they were right.

    I think you are suffering from the same malady.

    Igor sounds like an evil, disgruntled Samson, but the things that he does would almost certainly need a supernatural explanation.

  9. #9
    martin shaw

    Re: please critique

    I kept reading. Its very easy to follow; would need to see more. Err, I think the pig was 'crushed to dust'by magic Joe.

  10. #10
    junel ;-)

    Re: please critique

    Yeah, i think i also got the pig to turn to dust by magic, which is why Thesis gasps 'Witchcraft.'

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