Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween! + NEW STORY: "Star Crash" + Story Collection Thread + Next Up... + This Friday...

Happy Halloween, all! I know I stayed in and got irritated every time the doorbell rang...even though my mom was doing all of the candy stuff! What did you do? Most of you probably did some form of trick-or-treating, a tradition I upheld myself for a time, going as Harry Potter for the last 6 or 7 years of my trick-or-treating life. This was my third year not going out. It was also the year I officially decided that trick-or-treaters annoy me. I'm sorry. But I don't like little children ringing my doorbell every three minutes. Especially not when I'm talking to my mother about serious matters during dinner. Argh!

Today marked the first anniversary of "The First Hour." In its honor, tomorrow, I'll put it up as the Featured Story for a month or so. If you haven't read it yet, it's the perfect Halloween story, especially when read immediately following "Twelve Chimes!"

This past week, Tuesday night (late) specifically, marked the launch of my latest story. Again, sadly, it was not "The Shadow Loop," my planned Halloween story for this year. For more details on that, please see my post immediately preceding this one. Instead, it was a short story written as part of a school assignment, titled "Star Crash." It's an adaptation of William Shakespeare's The Tempest, space! It takes the overall/main plot of the play and puts it in the context of the first scene of the play...but all in space! It's an interesting read! "Star Crash" launched late Tuesday night (my time) on the Zelda Universe Forums as my final story to be released as an individual thread (I'll get to that shortly), it launched Wednesday afternoon on Figment, and finally, it launched on Thursday afternoon on deviantART.

This next point is more directed at my readers on the ZU Forums or anybody who ever reads my stuff there. On Wednesday, I began compiling all of the short stories I'd ever posted anywhere on ZU into a single thread. Friday morning marked the completion (for now!) of this thread, when I posted "Star Crash" into it. The thread is a place where readers can view in their full texts all of my short stories (minus "Chosen Ones" and "The Blind Man Who Could See") and where ZU members can post feedback for any or all of my stories, from my newest to my oldest, without necroposting, which goes against ZU forum rules. From now on, all of the short stories that I post to ZU will be posted exclusively in this thread. No longer will they have their own threads for each one. You can find the collection here.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

"The Open Gate" & "Freeing Truth" Reception + Musings on School + The Fate of "The Shadow Loop" + Another Original Song!

It's been a bit (uh huh) longer than I'd originally planned since I wrote my last post. Well, anyway, I promised some reception for some of my newer stuff so I have that for you now!

On good ol' ZU, general member and Writing community member Anju_Amnell started a thread in which people could ask her to read their works and then comment on them. So I did that, asking her to take a look at my April 2011 story, "The Open Gate," (released July 2011) and my September 2011 story, "Freeing Truth." Which she did. This was quite possibly the first constructive criticism I've ever gotten from anybody besides my teachers at school, which is a nice change of pace. That said, you'll see that she also liked both stories overall. First, you'll see Anju_Amnell's feedback for "The Open Gate," which was actually the second piece she looked at of the two; then, you'll see her feedback for "Freeing Truth." Here we go:

Okay, this piece seems a little more fully formed even though its older, there is less trouble spots, and if I had to give any criticisms, they'd be the same as my last, though not so frequent.

I enjoyed the imagery in this, there are some beautiful things.

I crossed the street and walked through the open, black gate, drops of water on the iron causing it to shine.
I felt like this short story wasn't fully completed though, like the ending was rushed, or some element was forgotten. What happened to your need to contact your mother? Your feeling for anyone outside? I sort of felt as if you were trapped, but then thoughts of being trapped never really crosses the character's mind. Maybe like the character was actually in a coma, and couldn't come out so his mind was providing the only necessities it could, but again, there were no real second guessing moments. I suppose the strife of the story was missing.

You really have some solid, hard hitting imagery and writing bread crumbs that keep falling from your pockets, and I feel like the little bird pecking at the crumbs behind you, waiting to find the loaf. In other words, if you keep writing, and perfecting you art you'll improve so much that I'll expect to be reading your first novel. There's a lot of potential in your work, more than I see in most.
-Anju_Amnell, ZU Forums, 9/12/2011, here
Okay, first and foremost, I want to make it absolutely clear, that I loved this story. Its an exceptional piece of creativity, and I hope you'll continue writing and improving your craft.
I can see a few problems that might cause you to lose readers in the first half of your story however. Which is a crying SHAME. So here goes the detailed breakdown.

privileges and permissions that would normally be granted to princes
Great use of alliteration. This is VERY strong writing.
There are many, many weak spots in the story however, such as places where you use the same word too soon, like 
Despite the likely consequences of even laying eyes on the Light, many denizens of the kingdom travel far and attempt (rarely successfully) to sneak past the royal guards and cleverly break into the not-so-secret hidden room behind the throne room without alerting the guards.
Though this one would be a super easy fix, since you can change"alerting the guards" at the end of the sentence to, "alerting them."
(at the end, the light coming from the Light gets a little confusing as well) Radiance is a good replacement for the light coming out of the Light, though there are many equally good words.
Second point of weakness (and I have the weakness threaten me quite a bit) is using phrases or words that I really don't need. The problem with this, is that in the end, you end up sounding almost like you're stammering for something to say. If you've ever been told not to say "ummm..." in an interview, its the same concept.
Here's an example, and how you could make it stronger.
And so, Damen had a legitimate reason for being in the royal castle during the time when he planned to swipe the Light.
Damen had a legitimate reason for being in the royal castle during the time he planned to swipe the Light.
Also, this spot doesn't make much sense, and I know it does to you, however its one of those things that you look past because you understand it best.
his parents were determined not to spoil their son, despite his being a prince, and they deprived him of many of the privileges and permissions that would normally be granted to princes, such as huge feasts, any toy in the world…even friends—Arten’s parents decided that he should make all of his friends,
It sounds as if they decide to not allow him to have friends at all , and then decide to let him. Perhaps you meant predetermined friends?

One more thing is that as a reader, direction is hardly ever important. So whether the character is to the right, turns to the right, or heads north, doesn't really have any true meaning to us, since we have no real sense of the geography of where you are, nor does it usually matter if they imagine them to one side or the other. Its like telling someone who is in outer space, without a reference, to turn head north. 
Okay, so that is the best help I think I can give you but this is an awesome story and I think you should write something with a series of installments so that we can all keep reading, or even start a general short story thread, so that you can continually post new stories in it, without having to worry about it becoming a "necro thread". As long as you're still working on something you can keep posting it in one thread as far as the writing forums go, even if someone doesn't comment, and as long as its progressive, and not just thread bumping.
Good luck- keep writing, and maybe you'll take Holden's place as my favorite ZU writer.  
-Anju_Amnell, ZU Forums, 9/12/2011, here 

Thanks for the wonderfully constructive feedback, Anju, and I will take it to heart in the future! It is my dream to surpass Holden and take over the Writing forum (just kidding! Holden, you're awesome!). Actually, I had written this relatively long response to your feedback (also thanking you) back on the same day in the quick reply box in your thread, but something happened, and I wound up losing everything I'd written. And I was too lazy to rewrite it. So I won't rewrite it here, but I did want to let you know that I read your feedback and that I had meant to thank you that same day. So thanks again!