Hey everyone, hope you all had a lovely new years, recently I got some comments on a short story I posted that I couldn't be more thankful for, however it seems like one big underlying problem is making conversing interesting. So here's a little blurb from it, and I'm curious if these new conversations are actually interesting/funny or at least not boring plot helpers? I'm just curious because I've always had trouble with this and am trying to refine it, so if you have any time I'd love feedback! So here it is.
I walked along the grey pavement, even though I was only 11 years old, I had learned to grasp difficult concepts, considering how that's what I lived with. This deliberate feeling of anguish was from my inability to know what was best for me. All this at the age of eleven was rather difficult to deal with. The grey chipped sidewalk gave me a lingering feeling of nostalgia, I had walked through this neighbourhood before, although I didn't have a place to call my own, this developed into a habit of just traveling around, and before I knew it life was just sort of steering me around.
I had attempted to make friends with other kids my age but that usually was far too stressful for me, due to my abilities, I wasn't ever sure what I could make happen, and either way I felt like I was slightly more mentally mature.
Taking another step my foot phased into the ground and suddenly there was only dirt in my face as I was falling, heading deeper and deeper into the earth, phasing through the upper mantle, I started to breath really quickly.
What if I got stuck down here? I thought to myself as I fell faster and faster through the earth. I can usually influence anything to a degree with my abilities but I try to keep that to a minimum, as I stood now my powers had an unpredictability to them, which is what scared me most.
I had started to fall through magma so this must mean I was getting close to the center, unsure of how fast I was moving, I had been falling for at least an hour. I try not to let it fill my head but I believe I've affected peoples lives before with my abilities. There was a time when I was younger and I had started to cry, not bothering to hide it and I looked for someone to just talk to and be around.
I knocked on the door and no one ever answered my calls, with this overwhelmed feeling the building merely ended up disappearing, no sound, no place where it went, it had ceased to exist. I prayed for a long time that nobody was in that house.
Beginning to reach the end of my journey I was traveling through rock again, and eventually flew out of the ground feet first, causing me to come back down to the ground landing on my head. I looked around me seeing that I was on a beach, which I found was rather quiet, nobody around.
Perfect now what am I to do? Looking out to the ocean curiosity seeped into my body, I loved the ocean and all the mysteries it contained, a kid had once told me that his parents said that deep in the ocean it was a magical place.
Beginning to walk out into the ocean it felt odd, I had never really tried to swim before, but how hard could it be? Turns out not hard for me because I could just keep walking, I sank weirdly quickly and I wasn't sure if swimming was this hard for everyone or if it was just another inconvenience that I had.
I didn't need to breath so I could just kept walking as the water got darker and darker. Eventually the ground here was covered in a thick layer of sediment and ash, and I was able to see a little bit from the volcanic openings spewing out ash and heat, that also sent a warm glow across the darkened ocean floor. My pace was slow, but I don't know if you've ever tried walking in water, but it's not easy!
Taking a break I sat down, stirring up more of the dust, looking around I realized a squid and a fish had come over to check out what was causing the disturbance. I laughed at the thought of them talking to me, a rather ordinary looking fish came and nibbled at my clothes, these could be my new friends, so it seemed only polite to introduce myself.
"Hello, my name is Clyde, Who are you guys?" The fish currently near me produced glowing lights all around it's body which was a sight to behold, I imagined it with a spacey voice.
"If ya want man you can call me spark." He sort of dragged his words, but I laughed again at the silliness of this.
"Good to meet you spark, is that your friend over there?" I nodded to the squid which seemed sort of short, like a baby squid, and it had a thin layer of skin between every one of its tentacles.
"Ohhh bro that's Demaine, she's quite the character." He kept nibbling at bits of my shirt as I turned my attention to the squid.
"So you're the new kid on the block?" I gave her a sultry voice, as she bobbed around near me.
"I guess that's what it seems like, although is this really a block?" I giggled at my quick wittedness, the consuming darkness around me seemed so much less scary when I had these friends around me.
"No it's just a saying you silly child, if you want to stay I'd suggest talking to Gunter." Demaine bobbed in a direction that caused me to look at a starch white crab with fuzzy arms outstretched over a volcanic opening, I treaded over and sat next to him, the warm water flowing into my face.
"Excuse me, are you Gunter?" The crab didn't bother to move as he responded with an Australian accent.
"Howdy that's me why, why who's asking?" I couldn't contain my smile as I laid next to him looking deep into the crevice.
"I'm Clyde Green, Demaine said that I could talk to you about a place to stay." Spark was still nibbling on my back, and Demaine bobbed around in the background.
"The question is mate, do you want to be 'ere, hmm?" His question caught me off guard, but I have felt more happy than ever before, so maybe that kid was right, perhaps the ocean was magical.
"I feel pretty at home down here, so if I'm allowed then I'd love to stay with you all." Gunter eyed me up and down in my mind before responding.
"Well bud, welcome to the family, you can have the crevice over there you weird fishy." Nodding towards a lovely little nook in the floor that I crawled into, promptly falling asleep.
His inner monologue makes him sound ancient, observant, and introspective - until the end where he gets stupider and starts hoping the fish will be his friends and laughing at his own poor jokes. The dialogue is childlike and a bit on the corny side. It doesn't mesh.
The first half is a lot stronger than the second, though he does not seem as young at 11 in the first paragraphs.
Perfect thanks, I wanted it to seem more like finally he was getting a chance to be a child again, but yes I think I should try to make it more subtle!
Sweet I'll adjust it!
Yes of course!
This feels like a strange amalgamation of Gregor the Overlander and the Tunnels series, except without the intrigue that either of those things offered. Protagonist self reflection is cool and all, but a little more information about what the hell is going on will go a long way.
Sweet thanks! I'll try to explain it more without word dumping the basics of what's going on.
I also hope you had a nice New Years. I am glad to see that you have been so receptive to feedback and have been striving for self-imrpovement. That is one of the best ways for an author to get better. I do feel like you have a distinctive voice to your writing; your protagonist pays heavy attention to their surroundings, and seems to be a very reflective person. Your vocabulary is also really good. I think you have a lot of potential.
As some of the others in this thread have mentioned, your description of the scenery does sometimes come across as repetitive. I also feel like some re-organization of the sentences within each individual paragraph could help your writing to flow better. Finally, as some people mentioned in response to your previous post, you need to try and break up your sentences with periods, instead of just commas. Connecting multiple independent clauses without proper punctuation produces run-on sentences. If you take a look at some of the articles written on this site, there are some fantastic ones regarding exactly this.
To help you a little bit with with your writing, I've made some commentary on your first paragraph. I hope it is helpful towards you.
I walked along the grey pavement, even though I was only 11 years old, You mention the part about the grey pavement and being 11 later in this paragraph I had learned to grasp difficult concepts, considering how that's what I lived with. Can you be more specific? In what way did the protagonist live with this?This deliberate feeling of anguish Your use of the word 'this' makes me think you're referring to aforementioned feelings, but you've never described them before was from my inability to know what was best for me. Can you be more specific? Why did the protagonist have this inability? In what context did they 'not now what was best for themselves'? All this at the age of eleven was rather difficult to deal with. The grey chipped sidewalk gave me a lingering feeling of nostalgia, I had walked through this neighbourhood before, although I didn't have a place to call my own, this developed into a habit of just traveling around, and before I knew it life was just sort of steering me around I can understand the point you are trying to make in these last few sentences. The prose could be quite good, with some tweaking of sentence structure and grammar.
Keep in mind that the best literary pieces are those that have gone through many stages of revision, regardless of how talented their author is. The better you get at this, the more polished your final product will be. I wish you the best of luck with this.
Thank you so much! That had a lot of good points too it and I see what you guys are saying about the whole scenery descriptions I write, I've pretty much rewritten the whole first paragraph because I did see that it didn't make much sense for him to be this kid that is so experienced and mature and all of a sudden go back to his roots. So I've rewritten that section and tried to make it more cut and dry about what's going on since it's not usually good to leave the readers confused about what's going on, but also I'm attempting to inform the readers and also leave them guessing as to what could be the real reason behind certain actions since this is becoming a choose your own adventure story. Thanks again I'll go look over it with this in mind!
No problem, MrMainStream. I'm glad you're so optimistic about feedback. That's the best attitude to have when attempting to improve any skill.
Thank you, I hope your holidays were also great! I am glad you are improving this; it was a neat idea. I like mythology and stories about gods existing on another plane. Taking criticism is also a huge skill to have. That being said, and as other have mentioned, this still needs a bit of work. I’ll try to give something helpful, keep in mind that my only goal is to help you improve. I do not intend this to be mean:
I see this paragraph already has a ton of comments, so my review will be short. Expand the important things and cut out the unimportant ones. Writing can be good and detailed, but usually you must be careful what you spend time describing. This paragraph leads me to assume that the sidewalk is HIGHLY important. More detail is given about it than the main character.
Some of these commas need to be periods. This whole paragraph is one run-on sentence. I am also confused about these abilities. Do they make him age mentally or something? I would give more details about “what I could make happen” because that is interesting. Tell me a little story here to explain why the main character is nervous. Maybe he set a classmate on fire accidentally or broke someone’s arm with super strength. Think about it, we have no clue what is happening and all you say is that we don’t know what is happening. This is a golden chance to foreshadow by revealing what the main character has experienced. That will make us nervous about his powers too. Just do it in a separate sentence…
Finally, some foreshadowing! What is his power though? I know it is unpredictable, but it should follow some set of rules. So far, he can hurt people, has accelerated thinking, and falls through objects? I would try to define his powers, so they are consistent. Usually gods are like “the god of fire” or something that defines what they can and cannot do. If he is the god of fire, water wouldn’t randomly shoot from his eyeballs. You can make his powers anything though. I just feel like this is a weak showcase of his powers going haywire. Unless he is like the god of thieves, and he can pass through walls to steal things, I don’t think this is a meaningful display of his powers. Is he going to use this power in a more meaningful way later in the story? If not, I suggest you show us a power we will see again so it is more rewarding when he learns to control it.
Falling through the earth, again, seems strange, but the bigger issue is the timing of these thoughts. If I was falling through the center of the earth towards the magma center (next paragraph) I would be freaking out more. This is such a rational explanation of his inability to control his powers. I do like the last sentence (starting from the second to last comma, which should be a period), but I think the character needs to be affected more by what is happening. It might be better to have this paragraph in the story, minus the first two sentences, somewhere near the beginning when the character is brooding over how stressful his powers are.
So, he is still falling, and he isn’t trying to fix it? This whole scene just seems weird. I also do not really get a sense for what this power is. Is it as simple as passing through objects? Or is this meant to show off his ability to withstand high temperatures and pressures? Does he feel the heat, or does that also pass through him? These are things running through my head. I would evaluate the purpose of this whole scene. What is it trying to tell the reader? However, the last few sentences are good introspection about his powers. They are just, once again, out of place. If you were falling off a building, would you think, “I wonder if I am living out my full potential? I always felt like I could do more with my life.” Or would you think, “Oh my god, I am falling off a building! Please, someone help me! What do I do? AHHHH!”
Door? We are at the center of the earth, right? I am lost. Was the falling a metaphor? Or is the door metaphorical? This is unclear. Are you continuing the thought from the end of the previous paragraph? If that is the case, then they need to be in the same paragraph. The purpose of paragraphs is to separate thoughts, so this story seems like two separate ideas. I would take the sentence that starts with “There was a time…” and move it to this paragraph. Also, if this is an example of his powers, I like it more than the falling scene. Maybe get rid of the falling thing and use this example instead? Once again though, what is his power? He is now wiping entire buildings from existence on top of everything else. What is he the god of?
Okay, so, gravity pulls to the center of the earth. This bothers me that he fell through the earth. If he had no control, he would be trapped at the exact center of the earth in the molten core. Gravity isn’t an elevator shaft that leads to China. I do not want to sound mean, but this whole falling thing has a lot of flaws.
I would name the kid. “Johnny, a kid I went o school with, once told me…” The ocean is starting to seem important. This is a good setup if the ocean is the source of his power or something. If the ocean isn’t important to the plot, it seems odd that it is refenced as magical. That seems to line up well with his “magical” powers he can not control.
A lot is happening here. So, is he walking on the water or like walking on the ground beneath the water? That is unclear and confusing. I read this as he walks on water, then falls in and sinks. I would expand on things here to make it clearer what is happening.
Okay, he is walking below the water. This is as strange as the falling through the Earth scene. Why would he just walk out into the ocean to possibly drown? Now we can add water breathing to the power list though. Does he have a weakness? The last sentence uses too many “but”s and awkwardly breaks the fourth wall. The narrator talks to the reader, rather than commenting on what the he is experiencing.
Fish friends seem weird, but I guess for a friendless kid it could make sense that he is desperate for a connection. Fish normally go away from disturbances though. Is he the god of fish? This whole thing seems farfetched. I would go more for the “he tries to be a normal kid, but strange things keep happening around him” opposed to “He falls through the earth and talks to fish on the other side”.
"Hello, my name is Clyde. Who are you guys?" The fish currently near me produced glowing lights all around its body, which was a sight to behold. I imagined it with a spacey voice.
There are a significant number of grammar errors in this small paragraph. See above in red. Also, is the fish really talking or is he imagining things? Again, you are saying he is imagining it in this paragraph and the actual conversation, with quotation marks, is on the next. This makes it hard to tell if it is real or not.
Do you laugh because it isn’t really happening? I kind of like the idea that he is making up friends because he has none, but you need to be clear about if this fish is talking. We can’t make an assumption, since the main character just fell though the earth and is breathing underwater, reality doesn’t apply. You have to state what is possible and what is not after breaking reality so hard.
To be fair the conversation is much better than your game. The characters are fun, and everyone shows a unique personality. The dialogue itself is more natural, but this scene is even stranger than the last. I have a bad feeling that the next line is going to be “You wake up back in your neighborhood, having dreamed everything before this.” It is just too out there for me. Why is any of this even happening? Also, if he is talking to himself, how did he catch himself off guard with an unexpected question? He sort of had control over what question was asked. There are a lot of questions, but if that is what you are going for it worked. I think your showcase of his powers could be much simpler. Like the house disappearing or someone getting hurt by a supernatural explosion and display of strength. Ending the first page here almost makes it HAVE to be a dream sequence. That, or he becomes aqua man. How else is he getting back to the neighborhood he started in to continue the story?
A backstory is what you need, but I am not sure this is the best one for where you are eventually going. Maybe tell us about when he was in school and the event that made him want to stop going. Perhaps we can hear about how he grew up; he doesn’t seem to have a home or family. Something that is meaningful to where he is now, or where he is going to eventually be. Foreshadow more and reveal why the character is the way he is.
I hope something in there is helpful! If you have questions on anything let me know. Good luck writing your updated story! I will read and re rate once you put it up again!
You my friend are a national treasure, thank you so much for all this, I've already redid a lot of the beginning part and later I'm trying to have clydes character as very shy, and that is from the event when he was younger, and creating this complex where he in turn just talks to himself. But yes you're absolutely right about not directing the attention to things that aren't important, and the thing about the fish friends is I'm not nearly an advanced writer to try to form coherent sentences when it's just him talking for the specific characters. Which is why I hoped it would be an easier story to follow if you just had these characters in his head spelling to him.
A national treasure, I like that! I am glad you found my rants helpful! Having an idea of his personality is a great start. I like the angle of "he only talks to himself." Just make sure we know these fish are imaginary. Maybe he can do all of this without actually falling through the earth into an ocean too. A lonely kid talking to imaginary friends is very believable and interesting as a coping mechanism (again this is my opinion).