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  1. #1
    Junior Member
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    May 2012
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    Post A Strange Man- Introduction/ Rough Draft

    Looking forward to any advice and thoughts, Thank you.

    Chapter 1

    The world fears Andrew Collins, and Andrew Collins fears the world. He has no place in the world for him. All his life he has watched them without them knowing. He stares at the “normal” people and watches their movements. He has memorized every gesture, every expression, and every inflection of the voice or movement of the facial features. All of them are stored away in his mind and are pulled out to be used at will. When he has a friend that has a gesture or habit he finds appealing, he steals it. Like the way his best friend in the third grade moved his right hand while he talked, or how Jason Wilson in high school use to only half smile when he laughed. Andrew was the master of the actors. He had created the most believable character of all, himself; at least the self the world met.

    The real Andrew did not leave his apartment floor. The true Andrew was a scary thing; a man who saw monsters when no one else did. Who talked to people that weren’t there and suffered pain no one could see.
    The world was a strange place to Andrew and Andrew was a strange place to the world. The world had rules about what was real and not real, sane and not sane. Andrew knew the world’s rules but he did not understand them. He had never lived by them.

    Even at a young age Andrew knew he was different. He knew he didn’t fit in. It went past the teasing or the strange looks he got from his fellow students. It was the way he thought about things that even the teachers never considered. Like how he pondered on how he would never be anyone but himself his whole life and what a shame that was. How he longed to spend a day looking through another person’s eyes. Once he lost himself in thought so much he couldn’t remember what had happened all day even though he had traveled to and back from school on his own.

    He really became convinced of his peculiarity when in high school he started to get scared all the time. He would sleep all day and night and awaken tired. He found scratches up and down his back. His parents thought it was a bad mattress so they got a new one. The next day the random scratches formed words like disease or day of death. It was while in high school Andrew began to hide from the world his truer self. It was then things got better. He lost his virginity to a pretty girl that smiled when he held her hand. People called him friend and patted him on the back. He didn’t feel the loneliness anymore, and then the stranger came.

    He called himself Dionysius. He wore a simple suit and was somewhat short for a man with his allure. Andrew knew he wasn’t real, or at least no one else could see him. Andrew began to think he truly was a functioning lunatic. Dionysius assured him he was not. Andrew went to his parents. His parents went to friends. Those friends sent Andrew’s parents to a doctor. The doctor talked to Andrew. This was the first of three times Andrew would visit the mental hospital. After a time Andrew was let go and went to college. Andrew liked college. He lived on his own because his parents’ money let him. He felt no need to socialize or even communicate with the outside world. He stunned his teachers with his wit and knowledge. His papers were the talk of the campus among staff. That was when he met her.



  2. #2
    Senior Member
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    Aug 2010
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    Columbus, Ohio
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    2,360
    Pick a story and stick with it. There’s no story. It jumps all over the place.

    Pick a tense and stick with it. You start in present and slip into past.

    Your word choice and logic is lacking. He does not “steal” gestures and habits, he mimics or imitates them. How can he know the world’s rules, yet not understand them? And if he doesn’t understand them, how can he know whether he’s ever lived by them or not? His teachers never considered that each person is a unique and separate individual? Really? If the scratches form words, they aren’t too “random”, are they? To my knowledge, physical height has little, if anything, to do with personal allure. He feels no need to socialize or communicate, yet charms and amazes his teachers and fellow students, and then meets a girl? Sounds like a whole lotta socialization and communication.

    You drown your meaning with empty verbs and inefficient language. Take a look at this:

    The world feared Andrew Collins, and Andrew Collins feared the world. The world offered no place for him. He secretly watched the “normal” people all his life. He observed and memorized every gesture, facial expression, and vocal inflection he found appealing and mimicked them at will - like the gestures of a childhood friend as he talked, or the half smile of a high school friend when he laughed. Andrew was a master actor. He created the most believable character of all: himself…at least, the self the world met.

    See that? Says the same thing with 40% less words. I should not be able to remove 40% of your words and say the same thing. Your writing needs a diet.

  3. #3
    Senior Member
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    Aug 2010
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    By the way, Max, what do you mean by "effective"? What did you intend to accomplish with this piece?

  4. #4
    Member
    Join Date
    May 2011
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    32
    One problem I noticed is, you start by saying the world fears him, but then go onto say that no one ever see's the real him? From how you describe his interactions with the world it doesn't sound like anyone fears him, if anything quite the opposite

  5. #5
    Administrator
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    Aug 2011
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    98
    Hi Max, in addition to some of the other comments, I think a new approach may help you as you rewrite the chapter, and as you write fiction in general. Try to set the characters in motion in the first paragraph, the first line. Read the beginnings of already published works; short stories, novels, etc. As an example, take a look at the opening paragraphs of Faulkner's "Barn Burning" - you'll read those and immediately note that from the POV of the boy, he's hungry and he can't read. But Faulkner doesn't tell us that, he shows us. In your excerpt, you are using a lot of exposition, and as John points out, unnecessary words. Will's question is derivative of us not seeing Andrew Collins in action. You need to set the character in motion from the first sentence, and reveal him to us as he moves through the story and along the plotting.

  6. #6
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
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    262
    I agree with John's critique.

    When I read the beginning in the present tense and then was suddenly put in past tense--well, that's not a good thing right up front.

    The world was a strange place to Andrew and Andrew was a strange place to the world. Huh? Kinda sounds like a hippie back in the day, trying to be profound.

    Dragon had good advice. Get this story moving. Nix the exposition.

    Good luck!

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