Monday, July 4, 2011

The Current Update + Conceptual Dual-Release Launch + Reception on Figment

Well, the good news is that I've started the third chapter of The Current! And now that I'm into it, I should have it finished in a couple days or so. Don't worry. It will happen soon! Chapter three has also undergone a name change, in case you didn't notice it under the "Current Projects" (how fitting!) box on the right. Originally to be called "Chapter Three: The Current," for the obvious reason (if you read chapter two!) that Joe will be going down the Current in this chapter, I felt it was too simple and, since the novel's title is The Current, didn't really express what I wanted it to in regards to the chapter's content. The new chapter title is "Chapter Three: Insult to Injury," of which I will not disclose the relevance of at this point in time, due to it being a fairly major spoiler. Again, it should be up in a couple days or so.

As I mentioned in my previous post, today I have launched a dual-release of conceptual short stories that I wrote over the course of the past school year as English class assignments. The two stories, as I also mentioned before, are titled "The Blind Man Who Could See" and "The Open Gate," respectively. The former was released exclusively on Figment, and the latter was released exclusively on the Zelda Universe Forums.

"The Blind Man Who Could See," which I originally wrote last October, is a conceptual/spiritual story that sacrifices complexity in the plot and in the writing itself for an important, powerful message. Like "The Open Gate," this story is told from the view of the main character. This character is a young man who meets a blind, old man on the side of a street in London. From his conversation with the old man, his view of life is forever changed. The assignment for which this story was written was to write a short story borrowing elements, particularly the character of Vasudeva, from Hermann Hesse's classic novel, Siddhartha. It received a B+.

"The Open Gate," which I originally wrote in April, is more fantastical than its parallel release and carries less of a message. It is also significantly darker in mood. The main character stumbles upon an open gate across the street from where he is walking home, and he/she realizes that the gate is made entirely of pure gold and is studded with all kinds of gems and crystals. He/she decides to take a detour to see what lies beyond the gate, but he/she soon finds him-/herself walking down an endless road that provides for his/her every need in order to wipe the thought of turning back from his/her mind. It's a very chilling story! It received a B or a B+ (I'd need to check to remind myself).

I've (finally) received some more critique for my work, this time both on Figment, marking the first time I have ever received full reviews on Figment! A week ago (though I did not see it until today), a Figment user posted a (pretty long) review of The Current (obviously based on only the first two chapters). Then, today, only minutes after I published the story(!), a different Figment user posted a review of "The Blind Man Who Could See."

Here is what the respective reviewer had to say about The Current so far:

Let me begin with the characters. The way you started it and the dialogue exchanged between them all gave this sense of liking toward them. Nelson and his out-going, crazy, annoying yet jokster attitude made you instantly like him but also recognize his level of immaturity. Joe and the way he is so confident in what he does and getting what he wants, as well as the sweet man who cares about his kids but also has this nagging small conflict with his wife; it all made you respect him as the main character, one a reader can trust and always keep their fingers crossed behind their back, "I hope he doesn't die, I hope he doesn't do something stupid, I hope...I hope...I hope...". Job well done on the intro and characters, because the way they seemed so real, with true life, made me want to keep reading.
Okay, secondly, I think the writing and forshadowing is coming together in just the right timing and rythm! All the pieces kind of come together in a slow yet exciting way. I also like how it isn't too predictable, and for those readers out there who want something to keep them on their toes instead of knowing the whole future plot after the first chapter, this story fits those needs.
I don't nag about spelling or grammar, personally it's annoying when people comment on that or little random words of commas that I missed. Just wanted to let you know though, I enjoyed reading it just like an edited novel, with little to almost no mistakes!!
And lastly, my one, small little suggestion: sentence flow. It felt a bit choppy (at times, not all) and at some points of the story it made things confusing and caused me to want to skip ahead. It's a small thing because I didn't find it that many times, but just keep it in mind ;D
All in all, this is the longest review I've ever written, and it was for an incredible story that I REALLY HOPE YOU KEEP WRITING AND UPDATING!
-Naya B., Figment, 6/27/2011, here 

Thank you so very much, Naya! I have never, ever received higher praise that was so full and constructive for any of my works before! My approach to characters is either to make characters as realistic as possible or to make characters very generic with a touch of uniqueness about them. With The Current, I went with the former. And it seems I've succeeded! Characters tend not to be my strong point, so this means all the much more to me! As for exposition and plot progression, like pretty much all novels, the first chapter was dedicated entirely to exposition and, especially in this case, introducing the characters and the world in which they live. In terms of foreshadowing, I don't know how you could know that any of what I wrote is actual foreshadowing, but I can say that there is definitely some foreshadowing in there.... In regards to spelling/mechanics, this is something I pay all sorts of attention to; I am what the people over at the ZU Forums would call a "Grammar Nazi." This means I am very, very picky about spelling, grammar, and punctuation, and I am quick to correct myself and, admittedly, others. So it's no surprise that you'd find little or (hopefully) no mechanical errors in a work of mine! Finally, as far as my sentence structure and flow, I would like to formally acknowledge my writing style as being stylistically choppy. This is how I write. Some people don't seem to understand this style, especially plenty of my classmates at school, and some people, like you, Naya, just don't seem to care too much for it. Unfortunately, there is not much I can do to alter this at this point. Perhaps, as my style evolves, this aspect of my writing style will fade, but for now, this is how I do things. I'm sorry that it makes you want to skip ahead (please don't)! Again, thanks so much for your review, Naya! I found it very helpful, and I will do my best to keep all of your points in mind. And don't worry: the third chapter is coming soon!

Finally, as I mentioned earlier in this post, I received a (smaller) review from Figment user Ariel Magic-esi, of my new story "The Blind Man Who Could See." Here is what she had to say about this new release:
The story is very beautiful, and the subtle metaphor of the 'blind man who could see', as in, the people, no matter how limited their own lives, who know the truth of how important it is to help the suffering, is very well-done. The writing style is a little blunt at some points, not very flowery or anything, but I think that's a good thing because the message is more important than descriptions or fancy adjectives. It was a very good story and I would recommend it to anyone, especially to consider the message.
-Ariel Magic-esi, Figment, 7/4/2011, here 

Thanks, Ariel! To be honest, that metaphor was not intentional, but every reader takes something slightly different out of a story than other readers and even the writer, and I actually like that metaphor! I also admit to writing almost this entire story only hours before the assignment was due--don't try this at home, or at school, kids!--so stylistically, it's not my best work. But it is certainly true that the message is what is supposed to shine brightest, so like you said, flowery writing is not necessarily needed in this story. Thanks again for the kind words and helpful praise, Ariel!

Okay, people! That's about it for now! I want to let you know, just to get it off my back, that I'm getting one-and-a-half cavities filled on Thursday, and I'm pretty nervous about the Novocaine. That stuff lasts way longer for me than most people, and I hate it, hate it, hate it. Hopefully, chapter three of The Current will be out before then, though. And don't forget, Americans, that this Friday night sees the premiere of Torchwood: Miracle Day on Starz! Don't miss it, if you get Starz and are around! (Okay, that was random.) Anyway, until next time! Enjoy the new stories! Feel free to leave a review/comment in the comments area of this post (below, if you're on the blog itself) or on the respective story's page on the respective website, if you're a member!

(UPDATE, 15:51: It turns out that "The Open Gate" is my fifteenth short story release ever! 15th, people! Boo-yeah!)