Recently, I have been trying my hand at writing a book, pretty much, and the journey has been a long, LONG one. I've wanted to bash my skull in several times, but somehow, I always find my way crawling back to the keyboard to torture myself some more. But now, I just can't seem to slip back into my writing after a really bad break. Is it okay if I ask you guys to read some excerpts to gauge my writing and give me advice based on that?
Here is my first excerpt, written around late April/early May. Before you read, here is a little context: The protagonist is a boy named Arcas, and in this world, there are people called radiants, and they pretty much have powers gifted from the gods. At this scene, Arcas returned back home to his father being frozen in a paralyzed state, and the culprit being a boy (about the same age) named Nero. The two boys never got along in the first place. Here is the excerpt:
[The steel glistened in the forgelight, flickering into Arcas’ eyes like an untamed blaze. Cold sweat drenched the boy’s clothes; his heart drummed against his chest.
“Nero, are you crazy?” he said, his voice wavering slightly. An unsettling silence filled the room, leaving only the sizzling coals to echo against the walls.
The noble’s usually combed hair now looked unruly and unkempt, like a fire against the night. His forehead glistened with sweat, the light casting a sickening shade of pale upon his skin. Nero’s face was filled with a contorted scowl, the edges of his mouth turned downwards--but it was in the boy’s gaze which sent chills shuddering through Arcas. Rather than green irises, Arcas found himself peering into a black void of darkness, the boy’s eyes painted over with a lingering pulse of night and an abyss of disparity.
Eyes like the god of shadows himself.
“I believe I’ve been rather enlightened,” Nero spoke plainly, each word like a punch to Arcas’ gut.
“What the hells does that mean? Let my father go!”
“That, I can’t do.”
Arcas growled, a warmth beginning to grow inside of him, like the burn of hot embers. “I’ll kill you if you do anything to him!”
“Oh, I know you’d try. But watch this,” Nero said. Slowly, he lowered his blade from Arcas’ father’s throat; and for a moment, the boy felt a wave of relief burst from within. Then a jolting kick of despair flooded him, when he realized Phaidros made no movement. The old man did not step away, nor did his voice call for his son; but instead, remained frozen in place, as if bound still by invisible ropes. If Arcas hadn’t known better, he could have mistaken him for a statue.
“Father!” he screamed. Fire surged in his chest and from his body exploded a fury of rage. “What did you do?”
“You don’t have to worry about that--you’ll find out soon enough, perditae,” Nero spoke. Rather than his own voice, however, came a raspy croak at the last word, as if he’d just finished inhaling plumes of smoke.
“I swear to the gods, I’ll kill you!”
The boy slid his hand against one of the weapon racks, closing his fingers around the handle of a sword, and with a quick breath, slid it out before him. The metal glimmered in the light, casting a low glow against the wall. Nero was only unfazed by this, staring at the boy with dead voids.
“You’re still as stupid as I remember.”
Arcas seethed. He imagined running the sword through Nero’s gut, slicing upwards and spilling the boy’s insides onto the cold floor. To twist the blade into his stomach. See the face the boy would make as he died. The desire raged in him like a storm.
“The gods are not watching over you--” Nero said. With a crooked finger, he traced the outside of Phaidros’ cheek.
“Don’t touch him!”
Nero met the boy’s gaze for a moment, the two exchanging a fiery battle with only their eyes. After a tense moment, the guard lowered his hand.
“--because they are watching over me.”
A cold breeze washed over Arcas. “What?”
“I can feel it all; their power, that is. It burns deeper than fire ever could, and runs through me in a way blood could never. It’s only a little, right now, but gods--I never knew the power of the radiants could taste so good.”
“The three hells are you talking about?” The scream ripped through Arcas’ throat, leaving embers on the tip of his tongue. He tightened the grip on his sword.
Nero was many things: a liar, a cheat, and as much as Arcas hated to admit, a very capable fighter. But if there was one thing he surely was not, it would be that--a radiant.
“Of course you wouldn’t understand. You’re the stupid brother, after all,” Nero spat with distaste. In the dark, his eyes shimmered violently like lightning in the night. “Perhaps I should demonstrate.”
Slowly, Nero unfastened his arm guard, allowing it to fall to the floor with a clatter. Arcas felt his breath hitch.
Etched into the noble’s flesh, was a tattoo in the shape of a moon. Low and mournful like smouldering coals, the mark hummed a soft glow of blue, encasing the rest of his arm in a light shade of sky; while beneath the luminesce, as if Nero’s skin had become transparent, Arcas could make out the faint silhouettes of the boy’s veins pumping and pulsing with each breath he took. Even from across the room, he could hear--could feel--the whir of power trickling into the musty air.
The Mark of a radiant.
“I’ve always hated you, Arcas.”
Without warning, a tempest of black rose from around Nero, swirling like a storm. The shadows were liquid smoke, whipping through the room, as if he was stripping the darkness from the night itself; until the flurry of death filled the air with crushing gravity.
Scalding heat seared Arcas’ face. Shadows scratched at his eyes. Tears blurred his vision. His throat closed. Suddenly, he was blasted backwards. His body hurtled through the wall with a sickening crunch, wood splintering into the air in a cloud of dust. His back exploded in pain. Then, he felt the jarring force of the ground slam into him, sending white dots streaming to view. Blood trickled down his forehead, staining the white snow beneath him a dark crimson. His bones and body flared with fire. He gasped for air.
Arcas clawed the freezing patches of grass beneath him. In the corner of his eye the looming figure of Nero swam into view, enveloped by a wall of darkness.
“Look at my power now,” the radiant said, his voice a knife into the boy’s head. “Shadows from the god of darkness, himself--Noxos!”]
Now, I don't think this is bad, but it certainly isn't good. Keep in mind, this one was written BEFORE the break (and not the best example of my writing, but it was the most comprehensive piece without a long essay of context, LOL).
Next excerpt comes from a writing exercise I did AFTER the break (written like last week), because I felt like I just wanted to slide back into writing:
[Nothing but rot, tainting the world a dismal drip of gray. Nothing but exhaustion. Nothing but corpses which burned like torches in the black of night, or the faces of nobody whispering about the salvation that'd once unavoidable.
She was bleeding. She wasn't entirely certain how deep or how wide the gash was--but she was definitely bleeding. She could feel the warm stickiness seeping down the side of her leg, soaking her tattered jeans in dark crimson paint; and from the wound drained her life, spilling from her insides onto the cold pavement, as many before her had.
The girl's lungs burned with Haze, like the tips of knives scratching at her throat. Her skull seared with hot pain. White dots swam into view.
Her words simmered like embers in her mouth, fizzling out by the softest breeze of the wind. It wasn't because she didn't care, nor because she couldn't, but because--she realized--the fire, which had once raged inside her, had extinguished, leaving nothing in its wake but kindling.
Nothing but wet kindling.
Then a shadow, a nightmare brought to life, flickered before the girl, silencing her vision to the blind dark. Instinctively, she dropped her hand to the bulge of the pistol tucked underneath her waistband, curling her fingers around the jolting metal. She'd shot before. Even killed. But the girl knew this time would be different--like how cold compared to hot, or east to west. Impossibly different.
"Lyra!" she screamed, her mouth blazing with fire. "It's me, Vyna! V!"
That was her name, the girl. And her sister, Lyra.
"Don't do this!"]
Now, I also don't think this is too bad, but I don't know. It felt off to me when I was writing it.
This next excerpt was what I wrote today, as I was just testing out how to begin my new story. And well, I really didn't want to share this (because it sucks), but I really need help. So here it is:
[But now, here's the thing. I can't write anymore. I absolutely suck and I hate my writing--but I really don't want to hate it! Now, I also don't want to show you this (because of how bad it is), but to get my point across (and obviously, this excerpt's beginning was inspired by the one above):
I was bleeding–I wasn’t certain how deep or how wide the gash was–but I was definitely bleeding. The warm stickiness pooled down my arm, seeping into my clothes in a river of crimson. Pain seared my head. My lungs were molten.
Somewhere, Wen screamed.
I didn’t protest. I scrambled through the forest undergrowth faster than I’d ever ran before, ignoring the scratching branches and clawing wood cutting my skin raw. The trees were a blur of green and mush, hidden behind the glossy layer of tears welling in my eyes. I could have been running away from Karran, and I wouldn’t have known any better.
Off to my right, an ear-splitting shriek pierced through the forest, sending my gut somersaulting from my stomach. Wood cracked like thunder. The ground shuddered. And then suddenly, a tree, as thick as I was tall, tore through the roof of leaves, crashing to the floor before me in a violent explosion of splinters.
I skidded to a halt, breathless and flustered. My arm stung with lingering fire, every move pouring more kindling onto the wound. I clenched my jaw.]
This one I just can't get behind. And I know it might look like it's because of the new POV, but I also wrote it in third-person, and I still just hated it. I really do believe my writing has gone and is still going downhill. Whenever I write now, I just can't. And if I do, it's always in a way that I hate.
I need some help, guys. Please.
Thanks for the input! It's just, I don't know. I just haven't been having a good time writing lately.
But honestly, thank you for taking the time to reply. It does mean a lot. And I'm not entirely too sure about the text, I think it copied weird when I pasted it from the actual document.
Hmm, as Mizal mentioned, you do seem to be too hard on yourself. Your writing is far from terrible, heck I'd say it is good. Can it be better? Sure, but what can't!
Obviously, wanting to improve is a good thing, but try not to be too harsh on yourself, giving up is probably the worst thing to do if you actually want to write. I am a strong believer that as long as you at least somewhat think about your writing, it will get better just by writing (not the only way to go about it, mind you, but definitely a decent one).
From me, some advice, which you should think about and see if it can work for your situation, would be:
Write something happy A tone change might be an interesting exercise, might help you appreciate your current work more. Just an idea, and obviously I don't know if all your writing has this tone. Honestly tho, would be pretty funny if you are feeling bad just because of the less-than-happy tone.
Deep think! Think about the story/setting you have in mind, see if you can find plot holes or something that doesn't fit, like characters acting out of character. I've heard that sometimes the reason people don't like their writing is because there is something wrong with it, and I figure that there is no reason this 'something' can't be in relation to the plot/characters. You might be forcing scenes that wouldn't actually make sense given the established context. Say, would Nero really not kill the main good guy who will kill/befriend him later? (Keep in mind you know your setting better than I do).
Read a book Assuming you haven't read one in a while. Just throwing this piece of advice in here because it (probably) can't do any harm. Also heard plenty of times that reading can actually help your own writing, sort of learning by example, if you will.
While writing Make sure you are in a well lit environment and not sitting on a jagged rock. I felt like throwing this one in because I do think that the environment you are writing in can totally shape your outlook on the writing itself.
Read out loud This is probably my favourite proofreading piece of advice, so here it is (again): read what you have written out loud, or at least mouth the words. Can help make sure your sentences are flowing well, and that you are using the proper words. Sometimes when silently reading, you won't notice certain mistakes because you are reading what you think is there, rather than what is there.
That is all, but here, have a bonus question: Is the first excerpt the beginning of the story? Or just the oldest part you decided to share?
TL;DR Try writing a bit out of your usual genre/tone (assuming you got one). Make sure you are writing in a good place location wise. Read a book if you haven't in a while. Finally, I do encourage you to keep writing, your work seems to be of a high standard from what I've seen here, however 'getting over' not liking your work is a pretty personal thing, which can be hard to give general advice for, but I do hope you find something that helps you in that regard.
P.S. Your writing reminds me of the wheel of time, but it is white specks rather than black, and it also has jeans and guns. Other differences as well. Probably more to do with the general tone and setting, now that I think about it. Oh, thought of another tip, try another creative hobby for a bit, like drawing. Here is another one, how often do other people look at your work? If almost never, try sharing a chapter or something somewhere, or just some random short piece, to see what others think. Knowing there are people who DO like your work can help in realising that maybe, it really isn't that bad.
Honestly, this was one of the most encouraging messages I have received. I really want to thank you for taking your own time to reply to me, especially with this level of response. Your post has been received well, and thank you for your advice, I may very well do all of these!
And to answer your bonus question, all of the excerpts are separate works (just to clarify) and the first excerpt is not the beginning of the story. It's just the earliest part that I wanted to share.
Thank you, so much!
Ah, glad you found it helpful.
Regarding the excerpts, I, for some reason, assumed they were all the same story apart from the last one, so whoops. However it does make more sense now. Worth adding in that they all do leave me wondering about where the story will go, which is always a plus.
At any rate, I wish you luck on your journey!
Thanks for this! And sorry for the late reply.
So to address most of your points, I must say, I agree that it's confusing. I forgot the context that it was earlier shown that Nero was a noble with red hair (so his unkempt hair resembled fire). Also, I forgot to mention Arcas has a brother and his father is named "Phaidros." My bad, but thanks for pointing out that!
I really appreciate you looking at my writing and analyzing it; reading through the points you mentioned makes me realize a few stupid mistakes. I like the way you review. I need more people like that, LOL!