Author Learning Center


  • Just KevinJust Kevin Chancellor
    I have no idea. Where is it? If you mean the Learning Centre that is.
    How Do. Pull up a chair. Would you like a cup of tea?
  • I think I spelled it correctly. There seems a lot of instructional videos on there but not much of a social aspect. I was looking for a forum, so decided to ask on here if anyone on here uses it.  

    Plainly speaking I'm shy and forgot to explain myself better. I realize I need help with my book and wanted to get someone here to friend me or tell me I posted an incorrect link. 
  • Author Learning Center is more of an information dump (I think they are paywalled too) for authors to get professional info and insight.

    If you're looking for writing advice or help, you're in the right place!
  • Just KevinJust Kevin Chancellor
    Ah, right. There's 100s if not 1000s of resources for writers on line. But do beware of ones that attempt to lead you in to buying 'help' or even towards expensive publishing services. The latter you can get here for free. The actual publishing that is. But you can also get tons of free advice on Lulu and not only within the forums.
    How Do. Pull up a chair. Would you like a cup of tea?
  • Skoob_ymSkoob_ym Librarian
    As a general rule, we on this forum are quite helpful and seldom overly brutal. If you'd care to post a bit of a story, we will certainly comment, and some of the comments will be useful.
  • Okay, Here's an excerpt from my book. ""Latest" version.  Clicky.
  • Skoob_ymSkoob_ym Librarian
    If I may...

    Before I say anything else, it is a proper story with a proper progression of correct English sentences, and we don't always see that, so thank you very much. There is a lot that could work well in the tale as it sits, though I would suggest that you review a few points...

    The grass dances in the warm breeze in celebration, back lit by the waning light of an afternoon sun. 

    I found this opening somewhat dissonant. For the grass to be back lit, we must be looking towards the sun, presumably from a very low angle. Also, it is "afternoon" which to me, with no other information, would seem to be... Two? Three? Four? But a moment later, it's dusk. Okay, you did say "waning light" but to me that suggests darkening towards evening, even twilight. 

    Maybe I'm too OCD on this point, but it seems tough to get a time fix here.

    Today is special.

    After a long drought, the thirst is finally quenched with the blood of a dove.

    Quenching a thirst with the blood of a dove strongly suggests either some very dark evil, or else a sacrificial ritual of some sort. It's making the story much darker in tone than the prior sentences made it. It's early evening, and BAM! BLOOD SACRIFICE, DUDE!

    If it were me, I would lay a bit of groundwork before jumping into the blood of a dove. Perhaps either more description of the otherwise peaceful and bucolic scenery, for greater contrast, or else a sense of foreboding that leads into the ominous thirst-quenching, for foreshadowing. Something about the growing darkness, the lengthening of shadows, the slow fading of the light... And then, the ominous declaration: That this day, doves shall die.

    Two young boys walk at dusk. One is dressed in black with a black cape while the other is in white with a rainbow cape of many colors. The boy in black raises a hand to the air and points at something in the distance as it happens. Equally sharp-eyed, the boy in white sees it as well.

    It tends to bother me -- and perhaps this is just me -- when a story begins in the present tense. It does tell us the scene -- that two boys are walking by a field of tall grasses at dusk -- but it doesn't give us a place to engage in the story. We are too far removed, too distant, too remote.

    First two boys walk. Then we hear how they're dressed. Then one of them points. The other also sees it. This is not capturing the imagination of the reader. The final sentence of the paragraph actually grates on me a bit. I very much dislike sentences that begin with a dependent clause. What if you made that paragraph read more like this:

    The two boys walked along the narrow lane. One, dressed all in black, swaggered boldly, his black cape snapping to and fro in the slight breeze. The other, dressed in white, drew his multicolored cape closer around him, as if to block the falling night. The boy in black, with a sidelong glance at his little brother, pointed a narrow finger at the sky. The boy in white, equally sharp-eyed, had seen it also.

    I've covered roughly the same points of exposition, with only one more line of text, but this paragraph, in the past tense, tends to introduce the characters. Later, when we see them squabbling over their grandfather's reprimands, we will already have a foreknowledge of their personalities. In the last line, I've taken the dependent clause from the front of the sentence and parked it in the middle. This gives it better verbal balance.

    If you apply these sorts of principles throughout the story -- going to past tense, drawing the "camera" in a bit tighter, and introducing ideas slowly, with a gradual transition -- in my opinion, you'd have something better and more engaging.

    It is always a good idea to ask yourself, "What, in my story, will engage with the reader?"

    I realize that this is a rough draft, and miles to go before you sleep, and miles to go before you sleep*, but those are some points to consider...

    I hope that helps.

    * Allusion is made to Robert Frost, "On Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening"
  • Skoob_ymSkoob_ym Librarian
    Examples of things that need a more gradual and more natural introduction: The agling* grandfather centaur; the goddess wrapped in a snake; the interplay between the eagle, the dove, and the raven; the smaller boy's power to resurrect the dead...

    Also, you may wish to fact-check eagle behaviors. In my experience, when raptors are high in the air, lesser birds hide themselves away, lest they become lunch. I believe that the eagle's reaction to a dove or a raven, either one, would be to dive on them and snatch them in his talons before carrying them to a convenient place for an uninterrupted meal. I could be wrong, but it bears checking.

    * I found myself pronouncing this "Aggling" (rhyming with haggling) instead of, as I assume you intended, "Aige-ling," that is, one who is aged. I might instead call him an elder, a white-hair, El Viejo, Grandad, Pops, patriarch, pater, paterfamilias, begetter, ancestor, old man, snow-mane, aged one.

    Just a thought. Hope it helps.
  • Skoob_ymSkoob_ym Librarian
    Too brutal? Sorry...
  • Skoob_ymSkoob_ym Librarian
    Okay. Good then. Trying to be helpful.
  • Papi_SoñolientoPapi_Soñoliento Southern Escarpment Hill Country Librarian
    I tend to let my work sit for a while. Whenever I approach the work to edit later later I do so from the POV of 'What did the putz I was leave me this time?'
  • Skoob_ymSkoob_ym Librarian
    I think that the new sample is a big improvement. It is easier to connect to the story, though the opening could still use a bit of fleshing-in. In general, the story seems more as if it is happening in front of us, as opposed to being told to us.

    A big step forward, imho.
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