New Year, New Font, New Passion

January 10, 2011

I’ve always used to Times New Roman to type. Always. I’ve never even considered using anything else to type.

But, this year, I spontaneously decided to change the font of my WIP to Georgia… and I love it! Ever since changing, I’ve had a renewed passion for writing, and the words are just flowing out onto the page. I’m easily going over my daily 250 words which I try to write each day, in record time! (It can usually take half an hour to get my 250 words. I haven’t timed myself in Georgia font, but it doesn’t feel like 30 minutes).

What font do you use to write?

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In-House Critique #4

February 18, 2010

Name: Little Scribbler
Title: Poseidon’s Trident
Genre: Action

First 250 words:
Private Adolf Bauer rested next to his shovel and wiped his brow. Digging was hard work in the best of conditions. In the heat of the midday sun in the Indian desert, it was torture. Beads of sweat trickled down his red face, off his unshaven chin, and onto his filthy uniform. His uniform had been tailored for combat in Europe – not digging in the desert. Still, he decided, digging in the scorching desert for a weapon was better than being around for the rising tensions in Europe.

“Bauer! Hurry up!” barked Captain Eberhardt. “You do not want to keep Fuer Hitler waiting, do you?”

“No, sir!” Bauer yelled back as he grabbed his shovel, and returned to the digging. All around him, men, soldiers like himself, dug furiously in the sand in a grid format. For a weapon. What that weapon was, Bauer didn’t know. But he had overheard the captain talking.

A weapon that would ensure world domination for Hitler and the Third Reich.
A weapon that would destroy London.
A weapon that would destroy the Jews.

The day wore on, and Bauer whistled as he worked. His hole soon turned into a trench, then a large pit. Soon, when the men around him complained, he turned to thinking about his wife, Eva, and his two young children, Dirk and Abigail, back in Berlin. They all missed him terribly, Bauer was sure of that. But they preferred his digging in India over the  alternative of combat in Poland. At least they could be sure he would return safely. Even if he couldn’t tell them what he was doing.



Readers: Would you read on? Why or why not? What did you like? What didn’t you like? What could be changed?


In-House Critique #3

February 17, 2010

Name: Merrilee Faber
Title: Under the Datura Tree
Genre: Magical Realism
Blog: http://notenoughwords.wordpress.com

First 250 words:

I was on the tail end of another game of who-gets-the-kids with my ex-wife when I arrived at the crime scene. My old blue bomb had one go at the steep driveway and decided it was too much. She stalled and started rolling down the hill towards the crowd at the bottom of the drive.

I dropped the phone and wrestled with steering wheel and spongy brakes. She finally swerved around and into a neighbour’s hedge, to a round of catcalls and applause.

“Goddamn bitch,” I muttered as I picked up the phone again.

“What?”

“Sorry, not you. Look, I can’t take the girls this weekend, Carol. I’ve just got too many open cases, and I’ll be working overtime.” I struggled out of the car and hurried up the drive. “It’s not my weekend, anyway. What about your mother?”

“She’s in hospital again for another set of x-rays. Damn it, Mike. I need to go to this workshop. What am I going to do?”

“Well, you’ll just have to get a babysitter.” I looked up as I came to the top of the drive. Senior Constable Rowe was standing under the wattle trees in front of the house.

“I have to go Carol. I’ll talk to you later.”

“No, wait, Mike-”

I flipped the phone closed as I reached him. “What have we got?”

“Couple in their 50’s,” said Rowe, “Allen and Marjorie Winebrenner. Throats cut with a kitchen knife, no sign of a struggle, no sign of forced entry.” He led the way towards the house.

Readers: Would you read on? Why or why not? What did you like? What didn’t you like? What could be changed?


In-House Critique #2

February 16, 2010

Name: Saint Ash
Title: The Thirteenth Rib
Genre: New Weird
Blog: http://saintknowall.wordpress.com

First 250 words:
Gavin Miara always wore clean socks and an old shirt during an assassination. Clean socks because he firmly believed in having one small comfort in the long hours of a hunt, and an old shirt because the black ichor of skinshifter blood always left a stain. Today he also carried a leather case scavenged from a gutter. Blood spatter had hinted at its previous owner’s fate, but the stains had washed off easily enough and it had quickly become his favorite prop. With it swinging importantly in his hand and his brisk stride, he appeared as any other businessman walking down the busy streets of South Gemini City.
People crowded the sidewalks like bees swarming on a hive, avoiding puddles of melted snow that threatened to wet their ironed trousers. Fedoras bobbed in the presence of ladies. Gavin followed the ripple of people toward the tall glass buildings nestled in the city’s heart. A bronze clock loomed above the clustered architecture, ticking off each minute until another sky rib became visible. Fifteen of the great ribs already curved across the sky, ripping through high, thin clouds and casting shadows on great swathes of the city below.
Gavin’s mouth twisted as he glanced at the ribs, and then at the clock. He was early, and so was his target.



Readers: Would you read on? Why or why not? What did you like? What didn’t you like? What could be changed?


In-House Critique #1

February 15, 2010

This kicks off the in-house critique session I’m hosting. There are a few places left. If you’re interested, see here for details.

Name: Feywriter
Title: Trinity Coven
Genre: Contemporary Fantasy
Blog: http://marywjensen.blogspot.com

First 250 words:
The black Labrador squirmed in Kaelin’s arms as she wrestled it into the filled tub. Jep consistently fought bathtime. She finally got him in and reached for the shampoo, one arm holding Jep still. She worked the suds into his fur, working up a nice lather when the office phone rang.

“Miley? Can you get that?”

The shelter owner didn’t answer. The phone rang on regardless. “James? Anyone else here?” They must have left for lunch already. Kaelin groaned. Maybe if she took her time washing the dog, the caller would try again another time. Five rings, six, seven. Jep was well rinsed off and tensed to escape at the first sign of weakness. Kaelin released him in defeat and he leapt out of the tub. “Don’t go too far. You still need a good dry and a brushing.”

Ten rings and still going. She dried her hands on a towel, then threw it on Jep’s back. The lab shook himself, dislodging the towel and spraying water. Kaelin ducked around the corner to grab the phone. She returned to retrieve the towel and kneel by Jep, now gnawing on a rubber bone. She answered the phone on the twelfth ring, tucking it between her ear and shoulder.

“Animal Haven. How can I help you?” She ran the towel over the dog.

A young male voice answered. “Is Kaelin Fontaine available?”

“That would be me.”

“My name is Blake Wyndham. I was notified recently of your parents passing. I’m sorry.”

Readers: Would you read on? Why or why not? What did you like? What didn’t you like? What could be changed?


Critique Feedback

August 4, 2009

If you didn’t already know, Beth down at Writing It Out recently hosted a critique session, and I was lucky enough to have been critiqued.

I learnt several things from the comments. The bad news is that the readers weren’t hooked (crap!), but the good(ish) news is, their complaints were all the same, and they’re all pretty simple.

Things Done Well:

  • The beginning. They loved it. I don’t think there was a single person who didn’t comment on the earthquake.
  • Writing style

Things To Improve:

  • Mentioning the time and the Richter Scale. Seemed to modern.
  • To many details in the opening.
  • Atlas, the MC, doesn’t seem 3D

There were other things, but they were the main ones. And it’s a shame, because I really like the opening I already had, but, I have to do what needs to be done.

Other Things To Change:

  • Change ‘Domesticated Animals’ to ‘Farm Animals’
  • Introduce Atlas earlier. Perhaps with roof falling on him.
  • Remove repetition in one paragraph. I used same term a couple of times.
  • Play around with the opening, two people commented I should start a bit later in the tale.
  • Combine the first two paragraphs by cutting down on the details.

So, as you can see, there is a bit to do. I think some of the confusion came from me excluding the time, date and location that appears in the top corner.
And so, after all the fixing up, I came up with three possible openings. I still think the original is the best, but no one seems to agree.  I’ve posted the three possible openings below, to where they ended on the original. Feel free to have a look at them if you like, and if you do, let me know what you think.

Possible Opening #1:
June 12, 1420BC
Island in the Mediterranean Sea

The earthquake hit a few minutes past midnight. It was one of a kind – so powerful, nothing of the same force had ever been felt on the earth. However, the majority of the catastrophic force sent by the quake was absorbed by a single, oblong island, positioned in the Mediterranean Sea.
The effect was immediate on the island. In the islands sole city, flimsy timber houses were flattened instantly, the occupants either killed or running from the rubble screaming in terror, many falling due to the violence of the shaking earth. Wooden walls toppled over, and farm animals – pigs, goats and horses – scurried off away from the city, seeking non existent shelter. Entire forests were unearthed, and large faults opened up, displacing large amounts of rocks and dirt.
Then, it was all over.
Only one resident of the city was awake at the time of the quake. Atlas, one of the islands greatest warriors, had been sitting on the sandy beach at the time of the earthquake, musing at his failed attack on Athens. When the brutal rumble had ceased, Atlas picked himself up off the sand. Almost immediately, he knew something was wrong. Water lapped at his toes, and he frowned. The water was eating the beach. Then he heard the screams.
Atlas raced back towards the city, and his home. Arriving at what was left of his house, he let out a horrified roar of emotional pain. Tears swelled in his eyes, as he desperately dug at the rubble. He found a hand, who he identified to be his wife’s, and he pulled at it, but it was no use. She was dead. Tears poured freely, and he tried to find his teenage son. Atlas dug desperately for a few minutes, when through the silence of the night, he heard sobbing. A faint glimmer of hope surged, and he dug furiously. He found a foot belonging to his son, and he dug around it, uncovering his son, miraculously alive.
“Minos!” Atlas shouted in happiness, grabbing his son, and holding him tight. “Are you injured?”
“No, father.” Minos sobbed.
In the distance, Atlas could hear a crowd wailing in distress.
“Come, Minos. We must join the others. We must make sure we save who we can.”
“What of mother?” Minos asked.
“She is… I was too late.”
Atlas walked in silence with his shocked son, quickly arriving in what was left of the city centre. Of the original 10 000 inhabitants of the city, fewer than 300 were left alive. When he arrived, the crowd gathered around him, begging him to take charge and help. Standing on a pile of rubble, he bellowed:
“People of this city! The Gods have sent a curse to us, for failing the capture of Athens. Our King and Queen are dead, and our houses destroyed. Many of us have been killed, and I have seen the curse from Poseidon!”

Possible Opening #2:
June 12, 1420BC
Island in the Mediterranean Sea

Atlas was jolted awake by a violent shuddering of his wooden house,  and the screams of terror from his wife. Around him, the walls shook brutally, and sections of the roof were falling in. Looking outside the window, Atlas noticed the trees being unearthed, as if by an invisible giant shaking them out of the ground. A terrible creaking sound was heard, and Atlas looked up at the roof, the source of the noise. It gave once last creak, and fell in on the hut.
Adrenaline pumping, Atlas rolled off the small hay bed, and onto the floor. His wife shrieked, and attempted to move out of the way, but to no prevail. The heavy timber ceiling slammed down on her distraught body, crushing her instantly.
Then it was over.
Atlas swallowed, terror and grief welling up inside him. Suddenly, the wall behind him groaned, and fell in. It crushed down on Atlas’s tall and muscular body, slamming him to the ground.
Head throbbing from a wooden plank to the head, Atlas heaved the wall off of him. His once golden beard was stained red by a cut. A  similar cut sat on his forehead. As he sat amidst the rubble, he heard a tiny sob. Immediately, his ears pricked up. “Minos! Minos, where are you?” He called.
“Father! Father!” His teenage son called out. A faint glimmer of hope surged, and he dug furiously through the ruins. He found a foot belonging to his son, and he dug around it, uncovering his son, miraculously alive.
“Minos!” Atlas shouted in happiness, grabbing his son, and holding him tight. “Are you injured?”
“No, father.” Minos sobbed.
In the distance, Atlas could hear a crowd wailing in distress.
“Come, Minos. We must join the others. We must make sure we save who we can.”
“What of mother?” Minos asked.
“She is… I was too late.”
Atlas left the wreckage, his son trailing silently behind him. He glanced at the beach, which was nearby, and gasped. He sprinted towards the ocean, stopping at the beginning of the sand. Water licked his toes, where there should have been a large sandy beach.
Atlas stared at the sight, dumbfounded, when the wailing returned. The great warrior took one last look, and moved away, heading towards the wailing. He walked in silence with his shocked son, quickly arriving in what was left of the city centre. Of the original 10 000 inhabitants of the city, fewer than 300 were left alive. When he arrived, the crowd gathered around him, begging him to take charge and help. Standing on a pile of rubble, he bellowed:
“People of this city! The Gods have sent a curse to us, for failing the capture of Athens. Our King and Queen are dead, and our houses destroyed. Many of us have been killed, and I have seen the curse from Poseidon!”

Possible Opening #3:
June 12, 1420BC
Island in the Mediterranean Sea

Amidst the carnage and the stench of death of what was once a great and powerful city, the islands greatest warrior, Atlas walked in silence, dumbfounded at what he had witnessed inn the previous five minutes. He headed towards what was once the city centre, his teenage son, Minos, trailing silently behind.
Emerging at the centre, he was met by his close friend, Brisan, who was closely followed by a large crowd of wailing citizens, all mourning the loss of their houses and loved ones.
“Atlas!” Brisan said. “You must take charge. The people, they need a leader.”
“Aye,” Atlas replied. “I have scouted the area, and I have bad news.” Atlas stood up upon a large pile of rubble, with the few survivors, less than 300 of the original 10 000 occupants, crowding around him.
“People of this city! The Gods have sent a curse to us, for failing the capture of Athens. Our King and Queen are dead, and our houses destroyed. Many of us have been killed, and I have seen the curse from Poseidon!”