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Thread: Please Critique

  1. #1
    Author Pendragin
    Guest

    Please Critique

    The rain warped the cherry trees outside of the window. Jack Holt awaited Sir Linus Pencroft in the den of the Shepard mansion. His legs were crossed, fingers nervously tapped the arm of the plush polyester couch he was sitting on. A bolt of lighting flashed across the sky and the lights of the mansion flickered. Holt didn’t budge, his gaze was fixed on the fireplace.

    “Scared of the dark?”

    The voice came from nowhere. Holt turned in the direction of the voice and standing in the doorway was the silhouetted figure of Pencroft. Pencroft inched forward with his cane. Holt rose from the couch and attempted to help him, but Pencroft pulled away,

    “Don’t cuddle me,” Pencroft jerked his arm back “I can still manage on my own.”
    “Well excuse me for trying to help, old man.”
    “I may be old,” Pencroft walked over to the fireplace, pulled a cord,"but I can still walk”

    Pencroft sat down on the couch Holt was sitting on.

    “Sit down. Don’t wear your feet out on my account.”

    Holt quickly sat down on the edge of the couch adjacent to the one Pencroft was seated on. Pencroft hands came to rest atop his cane.

    “Well my boy,” Pencroft’s thick white eyebrows lifted, “Did you get it?”

    Holt pinched the air with his fingers.

    “This close Linus.”

    Pencroft snapped his fingers in disgust.

    “Bloody Hanson. Sore loser,” he sighed, “I’m beginning to hate that bugger.”
    “Uh ah,” Holt’s hand began to go into his pocket, “We’re not out of it yet.”

    He pulled a folded piece of parchment paper and Pencroft lunged forward,

    “Is that what I think it is?”Pencroft could barely contain his excitement.
    Holt shook his head and chuckled,
    “If my calculations are correct-”

    “Oh shut up and let me see my boy, “ Pencroft’s short arm extended, and his hand snapped at the paper. Holt mischievously pulled it out of his reach.

    “Not so fast old timer,” he jerked his head towards the coffee table in front of them. Holt waited for Pencroft to settle down and unfolded the paper slowly on the table.
    “It’s very delicate.
    “Ha ha, very funny,” Pencroft rolled his eyes, “Not my fault that God gave me big, strong hands.”

    “Yeah I know. I know,” Holt dismissed the sentiment with his hands, “Genetics. What happened to the old
    Pencroft motto about Strength?”

    Pencroft lifted his cane, “I’ve still got enough strength left in me to bring this cane upside your head.”
    Holt threw up his hands and feigned defending himself.

    “Now Linus, you don’t want me to get Aunt Martha on you”
    As feisty as Linus was, he didn’t dare cross Martha.

    “You had to bring that old bat up.”
    Holt laughed, “Hey all’s fair in love and-”

    “Yeah, yeah, just get on with it.

    Holt quickly glanced over the paper. It was a map of the amazon.
    “This whole area is a mess,” He lightly traced some lines on the map, “dense jungle, quicksand, pirahnas, swaps, it will take days to cross it and is that butler here yet?”

    Pencroft head turned towards the door.
    “I don’t know what’s taking the man so long.”



  2. #2
    Author Pendragin
    Guest

    Re: Please Critique

    Please tell me what you think.

  3. #3
    J. Herrick
    Guest

    Re: Please Critique

    I can tell you love writing.
    I am not sure if 'warped' is the word you want. A voice cannot come "from nowhere". It can come "as if from nowhere".
    I would keep reading. It sounds like you are trying to go for a Sherlock type story and I do enjoy those.

  4. #4
    Lea Zalas
    Guest

    Re: Please Critique

    Wow Author, you're prolific in your writing and it's always enjoyable to read.

    The voice came from nowhere. Holt turned in the direction of the voice and standing in the doorway was the silhouetted figure of Pencroft. Wouldn't it be better to say something like, A voice came from behind him (or whatever the direction is) and Holt turned in that direction. Standing in the doorway was the shilhouetted figure of Pencroft.

    Don’t cuddle me,” Shouldn't that be Don't CODDLE me,"? Unless he's getting up to give Pencroft a hug, then it works.

    Pencroft walked over to the fireplace, pulled a cord," I think using "and" instead of the comma after the word fireplace would work better.

    Lea

  5. #5
    Sam English
    Guest

    Re: Please Critique

    A mansion probably wouldn't contain a "plush, polyester couch". Maybe a silk brocade, but "polyester" in a mansion will signify "tacky", kinda like the Beverly Hillbillies. Unless that's the image you're going for...

  6. #6
    Cindy Kay
    Guest

    Re: Please Critique

    A.P.

    Love stormy night and old masion setting. I'll just make random comments on several passages.

    "The rain warped the cherry trees outside of the window."

    I think you need to work harder on this one. You mean, I presume, to bring to mind an image of how the rain washes over the window, distorting the view of the cherry trees. A nice image, but needs to be written precisely and focus on it by making it something your Holt is observing, making him stare out he window rather than at the fireplace.

    "His legs were crossed, fingers nervously tapped the arm of the plush polyester couch he was sitting on."

    Presuming you write about his fingers tapping to convey a sense of apprehension. If you start with his legs, I'd stick with them for the nervous image, how he's taping his shoe on the couch leg or something. Plush polyester isn't working for me. Although polyster is in fabrics that are plush, when we see the word polyester we think of stretchy pants, in no way plush. Figure out how you want your couch to look.

    "A bolt of lighting flashed across the sky and the lights of the mansion flickered. Holt didn’t budge, his gaze was fixed on the fireplace."

    Be careful of clauses like "across the sky." That's where we'd expect lightening to flash so the clause isn't necessary. You could bring us back out the window and have it flash in the orchard. Not sure about the "didn't budge." You were creating a nervous image; he's already drumming fingers so stressing imobility seems to confuse the crafting of his state of mind. He's really staring at a fireplace? Not at a fire?

    "The voice came from nowhere. Holt turned in the direction of the voice and standing in the doorway was the silhouetted figure of Pencroft."

    If he turns toward the voice, it can't come from no where.


    “I may be old,” Pencroft walked over to the fireplace, pulled a cord,"but I can still walk”

    When you stick what is a full sentence in between parts of a full sentence of dialouge, it's kind of awkward.


    "Pencroft sat down on the couch Holt was sitting on."

    But Holt is standing. Do you mean, "on the couch Holt had been sitting on"?


    "Holt quickly sat down on the edge of the couch adjacent to the one Pencroft was seated on."

    That's a load of couch-sitting placement. Do you need that much stage direction?

    "Holt pinched the air with his fingers."

    Pinched? That means he brought is thumb and index finger together.

    “Uh ah,” Holt’s hand began to go into his pocket, “We’re not out of it yet.”

    The movement of putting one's hands in one's pockets doesn't take long enough to warrant a "began to." Save that for something that will take some time, "began to work on a puzzle" or the like.

    Hope that helps.

  7. #7
    Author Pendragin
    Guest

    Re: Please Critique

    Thanks everybody,

    J,
    Yes, I think I do love writing. I think that the nanowrimo challenge really helped me get better at writing. Along with some helpful critiques from the writers board. One of the best being to eliminate "ing" and dialog tags.

    Lea,
    Thanks for the comments. I really wanted to post some writing. because I think a lot of the bickering that goes on this site is really not needed. This site provides a lot of great feedback.

    Sam,
    I wanted to go for something that was comfortable, but at the same time was different. I, however; like the idea of the silk brocade, I would like to use that if you don't mind.

    Cindy,
    I agree with your comments, especially the ones about the cherry trees. I tried a number of ways to work that into the opening, but I couldn't get it to work right. I knew I would have to somehow show the main character looking out of the window, but at the same time I didn't want a long sentence, so I decided to leave it as, "The rain warped the cherry trees". I am still trying to figure out how to rework that sentence. The other comments are great too, I am going to try to fix them. I agree, I think that I should use either fingers or feet. I like taking out, "across the sky" it reads so much better. Thanks a lot!

    If not, "the voice came from nowhere," what about, "The voice came out of thin air?"

    I tried to keep the story flowing, do you recommend a better way of incorporating action and dialog? What do you recommend for the couch?

  8. #8
    Laura M
    Guest

    Re: Please Critique

    I enjoyed your excerpt. Love the setting, the rain and the impatient old man. I'm curious what "it" is that he missed (by *this* much /Maxwell Smart) getting, and why Pencroft is so anxious to see a map of the Amazon. And what happened to the butler. I'd read more

    Would "the rain warped the cherry trees through the window pane" work/make it clearer? It's not longer anyway. If the window is big enough or in the right place, he could be looking out of it from the couch. Unless there's a reason he's staring at the fireplace (or can't look out the window).

    Maybe you don't need a direction for the voice? The voice filled the room? The voice intruded or encroached on the quiet space? insinuated itself? violated his thoughts? It's possible to leave off Holt turning to the voice too, I think. You could try "The voice came (seemed to come?) from nowhere. Standing in the doorway was the silhouetted figure of Pencroft."

  9. #9
    J.S. Wayne
    Guest

    Re: Please Critique

    It's not bad, Author. Most of the minor quibbles I had with it were pretty fairly covered already. Only thought I'd like to offer is you might consider giving us a little more description. We've got couch, window, fireplace. Is there anything else in the room that might give us more insight into your MC? Just a thought. Take it for what it's worth.

  10. #10
    Don Daffron
    Guest

    Re: Please Critique

    He lightly traced some lines on the map,[comma should be a period] “dense jungle, quicksand, piranhas, swa[m]ps, it will take days to cross it and is that butler here yet?”

    “. . . and is that butler here yet?”

    I think there should be a break here, perhaps a dash or a period and then: “Hey, what’s keeping that butler?” I think you’re trying to convey to the reader the character is stopping in mid-sentence and changing his thoughts abruptly. If I’m wrong about your intentions here, disregard, but I think it should be changed.

    My two cents.

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