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  1. #1
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    First critique request

    A little background - this story takes place in a fictional Star Wars universe that overlaps with a lot of other sci-fi universes. (Buck Rogers, Battle Star, Black Hole, Doctor Who and more) It was initially intended to be a stop motion video that I was going to make for my best friend of almost 40 years. We have collected sci-fi toys since Star Wars was released and we had may fun adventures as children with these toys. We have both continued to collect over the past four decades although we have not been able to spend much time together, since he has been in the Marine Corps for 26 years.

    I've realized that the stop motion video is going to take an insane amount of time, so I decided to try to turn it into a story instead. My friend is retiring soon and I would love to share this story with him. Since it is written for an audience of one, there may bean occasional word or phrase that could seem a little strange. The story is based on the fictional universe that we created as children to be able to combine the toys from all of the shows that we collected.

    I currently have 52 pages written plus another 74 pages of notes and basic ideas that need to be added. I have the basic ending written but there is still a large gap in the middle. Also, modern music was part of our universe so that is why it's included in the story.

    I'm sure this sounds completely silly to most people but I really think he will appreciate this a lot. EDIT: The first chapter was more than 1000 words so this is the first part of it.
    Last edited by Ledopmi; 07-08-2016 at 08:08 PM.

  2. #2
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    STRANDED




    The Planet Tatooine: a hot, desolate wasteland, where scorching winds carve massive dunes across an arid surface. Twin yellow suns sit high in a pale blue sky, baking the glistening skin of an ebony land speeder, as it skims across the broiling sand. Davisco Drow sits confidently at the controls of the Black Rat, dark sunglasses masking his ice blue eyes. Tim Potty’s Running down a Dream is blasting from the Rat’s sound system as the Jet Sound signal processor’s visual display dances with the beat of the music.

    It’s been seventeen years since he lost his wife to that bounty hunter. For seventeen grief filled years, Dav has searched the galaxy for the spineless coward that abducted her. Some say revenge leads to the dark side, but for Dav, this isn’t about revenge. Killing Elkor Greem is nothing more than closure, the long overdue end of a tragic story. The man's death will not bring Xaelle back, nor will it heal the chronic wound in his heart, but, if he can at discover her fate, then maybe, there is a chance that he will finally be able to let go.

    Xaelle is the only reason he’s on this **** hole of a planet. Over the years, Dav has learned to follow any lead, no matter how insignificant. Experience has taught him that even a seemingly worthless scrap of information has the potential to lead to something greater. Recently, he discovered one of those scraps; faint rumors of a man in hiding, a man Dav knew in his youth. The chance that this man will posses any useful information is slim, but even a slim chance is infinitely greater than none at all.

    In the distance, beyond the shimmering sand, a small white stone dwelling begins to materialize. Reaching out with the Force, he is able to feel the presence of the one he seeks. Unfortunately, that feeling turns out to be the fading sense of what once was. The man he knew as Obi Wan Kenobi is no longer here. All that is left is a faint imprint, a slight distortion in the Force. Dav stops the speeder beside the tiny house and enters through a broken front door.

    Inside, he is greeted by stark emptiness, not only visually but emotionally. The house had been ransacked, most likely by Jawas and it seems no one has lived here for some time. A few broken dishes lay scattered across the floor, joined by some overturned containers with various powders spilling from them. Other than that, the house is empty. Maybe the old man died somewhere out in the vast sea of sand, or maybe Tuskins got to him while he slept. Either way, this was another wasted trip.

    Disappointed, he climbs back into his speeder and sets off in the direction he had come from, back to Mos Eisley, where his ship patiently waits for his return. The upbeat song no longer fits his mood so he searchs through his music library for something slow and sad.

    Dav is lost in thought, remembering his seemingly perfect life with Xaelle. Everytime he happened across new lead, powerful memories of her would come flooding back. Those memories would stir up even more powerful feelings. Feelings of love, feelings of loss, ethereal happiness mixed with tormenting pain. As he continues to day dream, an object begins to take shape on the horizon, an object out of place in this wasteland.

    Dav turns off the music and his right hand instinctively finds its way to hilt of his light saber. His fingers gently caress the smooth metal before returning to the control wheel of the speeder.

    As he closes in, it becomes clear that the object is another land speeder. Initially, he thinks it may be abandoned but then he notices someone exiting the craft. His next thought is, this could be a trick; someone pretending to be stranded while accomplices hide in ambush, ready to rob anyone nice enough to stop and render aid. The thought is quickly dismissed. No one is going to sit in the middle of the waste, hoping for a victim to pass by. This person must really be in trouble, but that doesn’t negate the possibility of danger.

    Stopping beside the pale white speeder, he is now able see that the stranded person is a pretty young woman with long dark hair. She is wearing buckskin knee high boots with a matching thigh length skirt. He doesn’t need to use the Force to sense that this woman is afraid.

    Dav exits the Rat and removes his sun glasses as he walks toward her. The bright light from the twin suns causes him to squint. “Hello there! Having problems with your speeder?” As he approaches, the woman casually moves around to the opposite side of her vehicle, creating a barrier between him and her.

    With a forced smile, her voice cracks when she speaks “I… I’m waiting… for my boyfriend. He should be here any minute now.”

    Dav responds to the obvious lie “I see…well, if help is on the way, I’ll leave you be.” He nods before turning around to walk back to the Rat.

    After only two steps, the woman calls out “Wait!” Dav turns just enough to look at her with a sideways glance. “Yes?”

    The woman hesitates, “I… I was just wondering… maybe… since you’re here…”

    Dav continues for her, as he faces her fully. “You would like me to look at your speeder, to see if I can fix it.”

    Her response is short and quick with another forced smile. “Yes, if you don’t mind.”

    He casually walks back to her speeder. “No, I don’t mind. What problems were you having?”

    Keeping her distance, she replies “It just quit. I lost all power.”

    Dav walks to the front of the vehicle and opens a hatch to examine the conglomeration of electronics beneath. “Hmmmm…That’s not good.”

    Curiosity gets the better of her and she inches a little closer, leaning in to see what he is looking at “What is it?”

    He looks up to face her and she quickly backs away. “I’m afraid this vehicle isn’t going anywhere under its own power.” He points to a blackened area in the far right corner. “The control circuitry for your main energizer is scorched. It looks like something overloaded it.”

    Her eyebrows narrow as she examines the burned circuitry, crossing her arms under her breasts. “Wonderful. I told him that Nubian booster would cause problems!”

    Dav closes the access panel. “I can stay here with you, if you’d like, until your boyfriend arrives. It’s not safe out here alone.”

    She looks up at him and sighs “No one is coming. I don’t have a personal com and since the speeder has no power, I have no way to call for help.”

    “I see.” Dav scratches his beard as if in thought. “I suppose I can give you a ride. Where were you going?”

    “I was on my way to Mos Espa to see my cousin. I missed her wedding and I wanted to spend some time with her.”

    Dav grimaces. “That’s a little out of my way. I’m headed to Mos Eisley.”

    Her eyes widen as a look of exitment forms on her face. “Oh! Well that’s perfect. Toshi Station is on the way. If you could drop me off, my boyfriend works there. I can pay you for your trouble.”

    Dav nods his head. “I’ll take you, but you don’t need to pay me.”

    A shy smile forms on her lips. “Thank you.”

    He extends his hand with a grin. “I’m Dav.” Still on the other side of the speeder, she accepts the gesture. “Camie.” Dav grips her hand tightly. “Nice to meet you, Camie.”

    As he climbs into the Rat, Camie stops and gently runs her hand over the giant black rat painted on the glossy black hood. “I love you speeder!”

    Dav puts his sunglasses back on relieving his eyes from the harsh sunlight. “I built it myself. It was just a rusted hull when I bought it.”

    She replies as she slides into the soft black leather seat. “It’s beautiful.”

    Starting the engines, he simply says “Thanks.”

    They drive without speaking for a short time, until Camie breaks the silence “So, do you live in Mos Eisley?”

    Dav glances at her “No, I’m not from this planet. I’m just visiting on a…personal matter.”

    Camie tilts her head slightly “Might I ask for more details?”

    Dav smiles back “You may ask…”

    Camie continues. “But it’s none of my business.”

    Dav grins without saying a word and turns the music player on.

    They sit without talking for a few minutes until Camie speaks again “I was born here; lived here my whole life. My family are moister farmers. I’ve only been to the city a couple of times. It’s a wild place. Sometimes I think I’d like to move there, or maybe Mos Espa, where my cousin lives. I hear it’s even bigger than Mos Eisley.”

    Dav glances at her “Why would you want to live in a city?”

    “For the excitement. It’s so boring out here. I don't know, maybe I wouldn’t like living there, but I would at least like to spend some time. Fixer wants to get married, and I’m alright with that, but…I would just like to have an adventure at least once in my life before becoming the good little farm wife.”

    Dav looks questioningly at her “Fixer?”

    Camie chuckles “He’s my boyfriend. It’s his nick name. All the boys have nicknames. Biggs, Wormy, Hobbs, Windy…I suppose it’s kind of silly, now that I think about it.”

    Dav laughs “I’m trying to imagine what ‘Wormy’ looks like.”

    Camie grins back “That’s Luke. I’m actually the one that gave him the name. He’s an annoying scrawny little worm that’s always bugging me. I think he has a crush on me but (she shivers)…EEEWWW! Just the thought makes my skin crawl.” She pauses then continues “Most of them are gone now, left for the Academy. Luke was the last to go.”

    “But you decided to stay?”

    Camie, seemingly lost in thought, replies “Yeah, Fixer doesn’t want to get involved. He says we should just mind our own business. What the Empire does has no effect on us.”

    “Is that what you believe?”

    Camie, snapping out of her trance responds “Me? Oh, I don’t know. Honestly, I don’t like the Empire, so I would never want join.”

  3. #3
    Senior Member John Oberon's Avatar
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    So this is just a little story for your friend, or do you want to publish it?

  4. #4
    Rogue Mutt
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    I thought it was mostly OK, though it’s hard to imagine this in a Star Wars movie. But I suppose there are people living somewhat normal lives in that universe, right? So ordinary things like a vehicle breaking down have to happen.

    Tim Potty’s Running down a Dream is blasting from the Rat’s sound system
    Is this a reference to something?

    he’s on this **** hole

    If you’re going to swear, you should come up with a made-up word like “frak” on Battlestar Galactica.

    His next thought is, this could be a trick; someone pretending to be stranded
    His next thought is: this could be a trick, someone pretending to be stranded

    She is wearing buckskin knee high boots
    Buckskin? Come on, be more imaginative.

    creating a barrier between him and her.
    Them

    her voice cracks when she speaks
    speaks,

    obvious lie
    lie,

    woman calls out
    out,

    The woman hesitates,
    Actions (or anything that isn’t a form of “said”) are not dialog tags.

    she replies “It
    replies,

    him and sighs
    sighs.

    Dav grips her hand tightly.
    Return between speakers

    They drive without speaking for a short time, until Camie breaks the silence “So, do you live in Mos Eisley?”

    Dav glances at her “No, I’m not from this planet. I’m just visiting on a…personal matter.”

    Camie tilts her head slightly “Might I ask for more details?”

    Dav smiles back “You may ask…”


    All of those need a comma or period before the quote mark.

    Camie continues. “But
    continues,

    but (she shivers)…
    Did she say she shivered? Otherwise you need to put it outside of quotes.

    Overall an OK story but you need some help formatting the dialog.

  5. #5
    Senior Member John Oberon's Avatar
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    Can't believe you're calling him out on commas, lol.

  6. #6
    Rogue Mutt
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Oberon View Post
    Can't believe you're calling him out on commas, lol.
    Those are important commas. It's all part of formatting the dialog properly, which a lot of people seem to have trouble with.

  7. #7
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    Thanks for the critique. I know some of the words need to be changed I just haven't figured out what I'm going to replace them with yet. I don't want a normal curse word, at first it said 'armpit of a planet' but I didn't like that. I want something that sounds like it could be from Star Wars or another sci-fi story. I don't like 'buckskin' either, but like the other word, it's a place holder until I find something better. The Tim Potty reference was just an attempt to add humor. The original spelling was Tom Petty. I was re-reading it one day and changed the two letters on impulse.
    There are two main things I am unsure of.

    1. Do I need to be more descriptive?

    2. I am trying to avoid using 'he said', 'she said', 'said Dav', 'said Camie'. It's something that kind of annoys me. When I read silently, I find myself ignoring those words, but I also listen to audio books where they are always spoken. They seem out of place. I'm sure I'm just weird but I would like to avoid this as much as possible. I try to convey an action by the character so the reader knows who is speaking. I don't know if this is a good idea or if I should just give in and use the tradition forms of identifying the speaker.

    I was definitely confused about those commas. Thanks for letting me know.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ledopmi View Post
    I try to convey an action by the character so the reader knows who is speaking. I don't know if this is a good idea or if I should just give in and use the tradition forms of identifying the speaker.
    Here are the "actions" you used to identify the speaker in the last ten or so paragraphs:

    Dav glances at her
    Dav looks questioningly at her
    Camie chuckles
    Dav laughs
    Camie grins back
    Camie, seemingly lost in thought, replies
    Camie, snapping out of her trance responds


    These are empty calories. You implied it yourself that said tends to disappear (that's pretty much universal); for sure, a simple said is far less intrusive that annoyingly trivial actions. If you feel compelled to use action tags, at least give them story value.

  9. #9
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    No, it's just for my friend. I may share with others if they want a copy. It's all for fun.

  10. #10
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    The Planet Tatooine: a hot, desolate wasteland, where scorching winds carve massive dunes across an arid surface. Twin yellow suns sit high in a pale blue sky, baking the glistening skin of an ebony land speeder, as it skims across the broiling sand. Davisco Drow sits confidently at the controls of the Black Rat, dark sunglasses masking his ice blue eyes. Tim Potty’s Running down a Dream is blasting from the Rat’s sound system as the Jet Sound signal processor’s visual display dances with the beat of the music.
    Basically, this, and the entire opening section, is an info-dump on the setting of a film the reader can't see. And your protagonist is ignoring it, so why does it matter to a reader? Remember, they came to be entertained, and you used 761 words before the protagonist gets out of the car in setting the scene by telling the reader about things no one in the story cares about. So in the first three manuscript pages not a damn thing that matters happens.

    You're trying to write a story, but you're still thinking in cinematic terms. But no matter how accurately you describe the scene, you give only a fraction of what people would get in an eyeblink were it a film. You've described a single static frame in that time but in the time it takes to read that description the film version would have shown the entire section you posted and much more.

    That's why we can't use the skills of one medium in another if that medium doesn't support it. We can give visual details on the page, of course, but because things must be described one item at a time, we have to limit that description to what absolutely matters to the plot, character development, and scene setting the directly supports those first two.

    The short version: Since the medium differs the skills must, too, and you need them. Here's one example of the kind of things you need.

    Hang in there, and keep on writing.

    Jay Greenstein

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