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About Robinski

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    Fighting unnecessary capitalisation since June 2013

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  1. I'd suggest going to listen to the Writing Excuses podcasts in which they discuss the sliders. There are several casts, I think.
  2. The more I hear about it, the more I am tempted to try Scrivener. All those folks can't be wrong, can they? (I mean, large numbers of people have been wrong about things before, but... ). Okay, major plus point straight away for the free trial--30 days, but only on the days you use it--so, use it once a week the trial lasts 30 weeks! Also, twelve older versions available to DL if you have an older operating system (I guess?). I am definitely going to try it next time I start a project from scratch.
  3. I see. I'd say that had better be really good, because it gets done a lot, and I think it will influence the rest of the story considerably. How do you write school as a space opera? Well, Ender's Game is how you do that*. Oh, boy, that's funny! Thank you for putting a smile on my face (* I do not endorse the views of Orson Scott Card, which are repulsive and reprehensible.)
  4. See, now I totally want to sign up.
  5. Thanks for sharing, @Sarah B! I signed up to Quarancon, which happened a few weeks ago, but ended up not attending anything. I find it difficult to commit to times for things. I would sign up to WorldCon, but I'm not convinced I'd get much from it due to time issues.
  6. I'm confused -- are you saying I didn't rely to the reader's default assumptions about the main character's race? I feel like I'm missing something here. That's how I read it, and yes, I liked that line. LOL. Also, I don't mind that style, I think it can work well, and I think just needs polishing for clarity. But it does tend to commit you to using it regularly, maybe entirely, certainly in some situations. Chopping in and out, I think, could be problematic. Yes, agree. I forgot to mention that in my critique. I think they are clear voices, and clearly different voices too, which is well done.
  7. Sorry I'm even more of a bit late. (page 1) - I like the (tentative?) title of the story. I am less keen on 'Overture' as a title for an opening. It's quite hifalutin. It could be seen as pretentious if the tone of the story doesn't match, and the style doesn't carry off the - "The room wasn’t spherical" - So why comment upon it. Your first line is critically important, and presently it's describing to me what the room isn't. That's really weak, IMO. I read excellent guidance from a published author to the effect of 'How compelling and engaging do you think it is for the reader when you describe what something isn't?'. It's disorienting. - This grip aside, I'm am actually quite engaged by the first paragraph. I think the description works, and it intrigues me. It's just that first line. - Hah! I've just remembered that I read this before when you PM'd me that writing sample. Interesting to get to comment upon it now in some detail. (page 2) - It's all very intriguing as to what it going on; how she can be dead and not dead. Oh, is it a Schroedinger's (sp?) Cat thing? - Why would the sides of the bridge be unprotected? Seems unnecessarily dangerous. What if the ship had to make evasive manoeuvres? Even an experienced hand would be thrown off. (page 3) - So, the prologue...It's very obscure and puzzling and kind of confusing. I think it needs tidied up bit, but that does not mean revealing all the mystery. I kind of like how obscure it is (I tend to like that sort of thing), and it makes me intrigued. This is the core of the mystery, presumably, and our MC--whoever they might be--presumably will encounter the case of this woman who is dead? Alive? I don't really know. - New page for a new chapter. I know it's 'just' a reading group sub, but it's worth studying manuscript format to get into good habits. There are various sources; I use - There are some nice character details for C, makes me interested in her, and want to know more about her. (page 4) - There are two very 'tell-ing' statements in brackets. "C herself, of course, had done her bachelor’s and masters in four years, and had just finished her PhD program in astrophysics". To me, they don't sound like the sort of thing she would think herself. It makes me wonder who is narrating. There are ways to work this information into the narrative more naturally. Here for example... 'C found 'playing dumb' irksome. Getting your bachelor's *and* masters in four years should count for something, getting a PhD in astrophysics should be recognised, not supressed, even if it was for the sake of the assignment.' - I was carrying this comment for a while, but I'll spill it here: Where is she? What are her surroundings? I do't know what these weird clothes look like, or what she looks like. I've got nothing to picture in my head. There is very little description, which is okay up to a point, but at some point the reader wants to have a picture in they head, and the less you give them, the harder it is for them to do that. They are reading because they want to see the picture that is in the author's head, but if you give them nothing to go on, they can't imagine what you are imagining. (page 5) - "C was distinctly uncomfortable when it came to such things" - This must make her job as an undercover agent difficult for her. She foes not seem ideally suited to this kind of work. Shortly after, she's startled by a noise. I'm trying to peg how old she is. Wild guess 20? With N being maybe 14? (page 6) - "especially after what happened to their parents" - What happened? Why keep it from the reader? Too much mystery become annoying after a while. Not there yet, but it is a thing. - Huh? Wait, what...? So, this is POV change flashback? Okaaaaay, but who is the main character? This is a fair bit less interesting than a secret mission involving a changed identity. (page 8) - Skimming the dialogue because I've read it already. OVERALL As noted, I actually liked the prologue. I like a puzzle, a mystery. I think it can read smoother and clearer, however, without giving anything away. I would the sale a bit wordy in various places. That's rich coming from me, I can assure you, but I have set myself the task of whittling down the words. It's still possible to write complex, thoughtful prose without it being cluttered. Vocabulary goes a long way towards sophistication without throwing words at the page (not saying that is what you're doing), brevity is a skill, just as much as anything else though. The chapter itself; I found the flashback structure a bit awkward. I was all ready to be following C, and then found myself with N, who is a school kid, and therefore I am immediately less interested, because I relate less well to her situation (as an adult). The thing is, I don't think it's clear what type of story this is. I don't it's clear who the audience is (notwithstanding the blood in the prologue). I'm not great with the different grades, but N almost reads like Middle Grade to me, maybe? And C like Young Adult, but then there is something that might be gruesome going on in the prologue, which makes it more Adult? So, I'm confused, and I also don't know who the main character is, so I don't know which way the story is going to go. The language is good, what's on the page. I think the grammar and expression is fine, if unpolished (aren't we all at this stage in the process?). I think there is a real lack of description that hampers me imaging the setting, and the characters. I think it has potential, but I don't know if I'm reading a mystery (following C); a space opera (ok, can be both); a character in education story (following N). I just think the lack of clarity (story, genre, audience) is the main issue at the moment. Good work on your first sub though, well done and congratulations We have had some train wrecks over the years, and this is definitely not that, IMO. I'm interested to read more just to find out what kind of story it, apart from anything else, although I'm hoping you'll just tell us in the forum
  8. Oooh, totally. I listened to the audio books of those John Scalzi books I mentioned above (Lock In and Head On). Scalzi pretty exclusively uses 'said' and nothing else. The second book was narrated by Will Wheaton, and was fine, because he did not play it up, be almost skipped over the 'said' quickly and softly, but the first narrator...she kind of hammered every single 'said' and I really struggled with it.
  9. Yeah, my method is similar to Mandamon's by the sound of it. I like having the flexibility of different (Word) docs. I don't use enough of the features, but Mac is really good with split screen, super, super easy. I don't have two minors, but just bash away with two 'facing' docs for writing and notes. I leave a fair few notes in the body of my text in different colours. I don't use enough of Word's features. That's something I should work on.
  10. Er, well, I don't know if it was any better when I was in school. It's long enough ago that I can't actually remember... [edit] p.s. - I mean the grammar can work, but I need to understand that we are talking about the ability to walk past the woman, that she was blocking the path, which is the bit that I don't think is clear. So like, "She was tall and thin, we could have walked past her, but she stood in the centre of the path", for example
  11. Hi, oh, Dwarfy One, Apologies for the delay in commenting on this. (page 1) - I mean, I know it's just a critique sub, but I think there is value in following and practising accepted submission format, in particular in relation to this piece, double spacing of lines, but with no paragraph spacing. I know it's 'just' a sub to us, and not meaning to make a big thing about it. I don't mind reading this at all, it's just an observation. - "nights hiding from thunder" - Nice line. (page 2) - "She ran and jumped. Smooth rock slipped between her fingers." - I did not understand the height of the boulder, that it was quite that tall and she needed to be hauled up. Also, I don't think stone slips *between* her fingers. That implies it's loose. - "Mum made me some" - Where is the mother at this point? She seems to have disappeared. - End of Section 3 (I suppose, counting the first couple of lines as a separate section). I like it so far. It has a gentle style, and the child's perspective comes over well, I think. - Wait, why is there a section break there? There is no break in the narrative: we carry on from exactly where the previous section left off. That's disorienting, and unnecessary, as far as I can see. (page 3) - "He…he…" - This line and the few that follow, there are a lot of stutters and pauses and interruptions. It's confusing to me. I'm not sure who's speaking, or what they are getting at. - How to you 'hold one half'? The lanugage is unclear to me here. - "but her foot connected with a pile of leaves. They scattered everywhere." - Confused. Where did the pile of leaves come from? I'd like a more specific account of which pile we're talking about and how it got there, on top of the boulder. - "The troll scowled at her" - Yes, she's a nasty piece of work! (part 4) - "She was tall and thin, but stood in the centre of the path" - [See Craft Nook post - This line confused me no end.] - "Might get people knocking on your door, know what I mean?” “I do" - I don't. (page 5) - "It’s your birthday. But be quick, and don’t talk to that woman" - Oh, I'm quite surprised that Mum would let her do that on her own, after how creepy the woman was. - "Susan’s eyes blinked open" - When did she close them? Is this because she's wishing for Mum to say yes? No entirely clear, IMO. - "She scaled the boulder" - She wasn't able to do this unaided before. - "The sun wasn't as high anymore" - Much more engaging to describe what is happening, and avoids describing was is not happening, IMO. - "The eyes were normal" - What does this mean? Normal how? Not very compelling description. OVERALL I really rather enjoyed this. It's a gentle story, but captures a nice natural tone, I think. I can picture the countryside settings, imagine the scene and the view. A little more glowing and evocative description would not go amiss, unless you are trying to keep for a word limit, but I sense you are not, so, a few more splashes of colour would be good, and smells, sounds too, to elevate the richness of the setting, which I think is a big part of the story. So, what is my take away? Well, I got a decent sense of S's emotional upset at her parents' separation. There didn't seem to be much evidence of Mum being the baddie, but that doesn't mean that S cannot read the situation that way. It doesn't make S 'bad' or unfair either, it just makes her a confused kid. The message of the story seems to be pretty much in the background, to me. It's wrong to steal. Fair enough, not really rocket science. Don't judge by appearances? I dunno, the troll behaved pretty much as one would expect (apart from not turning to stone with the direct sunlight). Mum turned out not to be all bad, and S turned out to be basically descent, going back to return the stolen leaf. If anything, I think maybe the story left me wanting a bit more. To understand the significance of the leaf, perhaps, and more about the troll, but I did not feel this in a strong way. I'm not sure that I had strong feelings about much in the story, but that's okay. Not every story needs to reinvent my world view for it to be enjoyable. Nice job, nice tone to the writing, nice characters. Well done.
  12. "She was tall and thin, but stood in the centre of the path" - Right, sorry @TheDwarfyOne, this is not aimed at you, but a general observation because I am seeing this in almost everything that I critique at the moment; everything. Anyway, not personal in any way, universal observation. [Edit: also, by the end I almost talked myself around, but there is still a point to it .] The word 'but' here is used as a conjunction, defined as the following. 1. used to introduce a phrase or clause contrasting with what has already been mentioned. "he stumbled but didn't fall" 2. used to indicate the impossibility of anything other than what is being stated. "one cannot but sympathize" The two parts of the sentence bear almost relation to each other. They're not interdependent, OR at least not obviously so [And that is why I started on this moan]. The woman could be short and stout, and stand in the centre of the path, or tall and thin, and stand at the edge of the path. There's just no OBVIOUS dependence between these two clauses, IMO. AT LEAST, not without further explanation. Is the point that Mum and Susan could have walked past the woman if she had stood at the edge of the path, because she is thin, but could not have passed her if she stood at the edge of the path, and was stout? That's the only explanation I can come up with that makes 'but' work between these clauses. The problem I have then is that it's not obvious (I don't think) that this is the idea behind linking these two clauses. Sorry for the rant, but as I started with, I have seen this a lot in recent subs through the group. If we (I'm positive I've done it too) are going use conjunctions, I think it needs to be clear what the message is for them to make sense, and not sound like run-on sentences. I guess what is clear to some will not be clear to others, but that's why we sub, after all! I'm enjoying the story, BTW. Full comments should be up by the time you see this, or shortly after.
  13. Sorry, @shatteredsmooth; @PiedPeterPiper and @TheDwarfyOne that I have not yet got to your subs from past weeks. I'll be catching up now that a certain two novels are duly critiqued.
  14. Furiously biting my tongue. LOL. Surely it's just a case of guarding against unwanted 'escape' of said blood into the general surroundings, which I would imagine is something that the general rule of thumb anyway in this society, for those genders which have to deal with a monthly cycle. Why would she need to do anything different? I did not get a sense that M's monthly cycle affected her any more physiologically than it did any other (non-magical) character with a monthly cycle.