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Author Topic: Teacup Event #2: Writing Workshop: Discussion  (Read 8998 times)

Vatina

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Teacup Event #2: Writing Workshop: Discussion
« on: June 14, 2010, 10:39:03 am »
This is where discussion and critique about the writing workshop chapters will take place.

General forum rules must be obeyed - that is, be nice. Critique should be constructive and helpful as we try to help eachother improve our writing skills. Please keep discussion in a  friendly tone.
« Last Edit: November 09, 2010, 12:04:57 pm by Ruler »

number473

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Re: Writing Workshop: Discussion
« Reply #1 on: June 14, 2010, 02:45:20 pm »
Oh, it seems I'm the first one to reply to chapter one. First some notes on specific things:

 - 'took an instant liking for me' -- I think it should be 'took an instant liking fto me' if I'm not mistaken.
 - “Ring! Ring!” -- A stylistic choice, but I would have written 'The telphone rang' rather than using the onomatopoea. Not wrong in a light novel/ more informal setting, though.
 - Akiko, Natsuko -- I believe the sister was introduced as Natsuko, and the childhood friend as Akiko, but the sister is refered to as Akiko from the point where the mother calls.

General notes:
I like the toungue-in-cheek style. I think that the cliched subject matter makes it seem a bit overdone, though.

Edit: Returned to continue ^^
I read it again, and all things considered, the overdone-ness works. The relationship between the siblings seems a bit stretched, as though it isn't developing as a natural progression. It's allmost like it came out of nowhere, especially since the sister seemed to catch on to it too. I'm willing to let it slide for the purpose of the premise of the story, though.

I totally lol'ed at the anime/vn cliche in the psychiatry textbook ^O^
« Last Edit: June 14, 2010, 05:39:21 pm by number473 »

Vatina

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Re: Writing Workshop: Discussion
« Reply #2 on: June 14, 2010, 06:21:23 pm »
First chapter up, yay! And now for comments - in spite of starting this project, doing this isn't especially my forte. Well, here goes:

I agree on the style, it works well. Sounds like a sort of detached commentary on himself which can be effective in its own way (some stories I really liked were written that way).
I also think it transitions well from general musings about his life and into the present story. I barely noticed the "close" relationship between the siblings before their conversation in the end dispite Shinji's constant denial throughout. Just shows how used I am to anime and the endless innuendo I guess!

I was also surprised at how much it seems the sister is into Shinji already - her reaction to his comment on going out for dinner made me think she was far more love-struck than him xD

The relationship in itself and the sister who is awesome at cooking also made me go "aww no" at first though. But Shinji's "condition" somehow makes it a little more interesting.
Of course there is also only so much you can do with an introduction.

That's what I can think of for now...

lordcloudx

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Re: Writing Workshop: Discussion
« Reply #3 on: June 16, 2010, 05:10:04 pm »
Thank you for the insightful comments and critique, you two.

I'll add my comments for Vatina's chapter now. First of all, you had me worried for a moment there. Great job on misdirecting the reader. Stuff like "Nothing more of notice happened that night" and "we went to our separate rooms for the night with no more thoughts about the awkward episode earlier that evening" made me think that you'd be taking the story into a completely new direction.

Good to see that my fears were unfounded though, I kinda enjoy the relationship between Shinji and Natsuko. I laughed when you used the lunchbox thing to continue the string of cliches from my previous chapter.

I'll make a single complaint here: it seems like the chapter cuts out abruptly with Shinji just mentioning that there's still half a day of school left. I would have preferred something more conclusive in order to transition into the next writer.

Some grammar/punctuation nit-picks:

"After we got home we went to our separate rooms for the night with no more thoughts about the awkward episode earlier that evening."  - I think this is missing a comma or two.

"I close the door behind me and remember that tomorrow is our new semester" - maybe change "our new semester" to "the new semester?"

"I’m sprawled out on my desk with closed eyes as a prime example of the lazy student, when someone calls out for me again." - Something feels off about this sentence. I'd suggest breaking it up just to be sure... or maybe BTW's dormant proofreader/managing editor can help us out  ;)

You've also switched to using first-person present-tense in the narration, while my chapter was mostly first-person past-tense. This isn't really a complaint though. I think it'd be interesting if the next writers added their own unique style to their chapters.

MoonlightBomber

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Re: Writing Workshop: Discussion
« Reply #4 on: June 16, 2010, 05:37:44 pm »
Alright, now that I've read and understood the first two chapters, there's another nitpick I'm noticing. "Cozy" was misspelled as "cosy". Or is it British English?

So... my plan for chapter 3 is... pump up the action for the latter half of the day. But expect it after the weekend since I'll be busy preparing for an upcoming convention.

number473

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Re: Writing Workshop: Discussion
« Reply #5 on: June 17, 2010, 08:54:19 am »
The main issue I note is a bit of tense trouble. I can't really tell you if it's fifth-person participating perfect prefect or what, since I'm not really clued-up on the terminology, but I did note that there is a bit of an inconsistency between past and present tense.

For example:
"After we got home we went to our separate rooms for the night..."
"I close the door behind me..."
(These are the starts of two consecutive paragraphs)
The former is past tense, the latter present. This can be somewhat jarring to the reader - the change-over, I mean. Either past or present tense is okay, you just need to make sure you know which one you're using and stick to it. The problem shows up more often in first-person writing since in third person the usual thing is to just stick to past tense.

Another example of this is:
"As we leave the hallway behind I’m sure I heard giggling somewhere behind me."

"I’m sprawled out on my desk with closed eyes as a prime example of the lazy student, when someone calls out for me again."
Should be "prime example of a lazy student." You usually call out to someone. But I think that it is the single comma there that is throwing things off the most. Maybe this:
"I'm sprawled out on my desk with closed eyes, as the prime example of a lazy student, when someone calls out to me."

"...of the little girl on the picture..."
Should be "in the picture."

Ellipses should be exactly 3 dots. Although I willing to let it go as a stylistic choice because it's the only thing in the quotes.

And:
Quote from: dictionary.com
Also,  cosy,  cozey, cozie.

You got me with the misdirection too. I would have liked to see more of their conversation at lunch, though. It seems to me that their relationship hasn't really been 'demonstrated' to the reader yet.

Hime

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Re: Writing Workshop: Discussion
« Reply #6 on: June 18, 2010, 05:34:35 pm »
My comments on chapter 1:

Overall, I like the style a lot. I think it has a kind of movie-like feel due to the way the story progresses. The first-person narrative has been richly written and somehow tells the reader a lot about the protagonist, I think.

I see two points worth developing upon: first one is, I don't know whether or not this was intentional, but the beginning of the story (where the matter with Akiko is handled) has a different tempo from the rest of the text. As a reader, I felt it was a lot 'slower', which can be a good thing, but I'm not sure if you want that to happen right at the beginning of the story where the reader has to choose between reading and not reading.

Secondly, while even I'm not sure whether even I see this as a flaw, as mentioned before, the progression of the sibling's relationship seemed a bit abrupt. Then again, it might be that the relationship between Shinji and Natsuko has developed in a bit crooked direction from the very beginning due to his condition and the narrative saying it hasn't is simple denial, which might even be more realistic.

Also, you might want to add a quotation mark here:
Quote
“I'll get it, Natsuko. I didn't want to disturb her studies. Besides, it was probably just mom checking up on us.

I'll write my comments for chapter 2 later on, hopefully soon.
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lordcloudx

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Re: Writing Workshop: Discussion
« Reply #7 on: June 21, 2010, 04:40:55 pm »
Going to comment on chapter 3 now. Sorry, MB. No offense meant, but I seriously did not like this chapter.

There were just too many new elements introduced which were never even explored or foreshadowed in the previous chapter. I feel that chapter 3 doesn't even try to transition smoothly from the things which were being developed in the last two chapters and just tries to force things to take a new direction - but even, worse, it doesn't even give the next writer a general idea of what that new direction should be.

They go to a  maid cafe and suddenly there's Akiko speaking Tagalog in a maid costume. Seriously, where did that come from? There seems to be a total lack of consideration for the next writer.

Also, chapter 2 explicitly states that nothing of note happened, but now you say that there's this incident where they held hands. Sure, it works as an addition to the string of cliches, or rather, it would work if the same protagonist from chapter 2 hadn't said that nothing happened at all.

I know you were probably trying to develop a love triangle thing, but you just introduced too many unexplained things in all at once without foreshadowing or caring for the consequences in the next chapters.

That's how I feel about it, anyway. This comment is obviously heavily opinionated, so take it with a grain of salt.

Hime

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Re: Writing Workshop: Discussion
« Reply #8 on: June 21, 2010, 04:47:30 pm »
My comments on chapter 3:

Honestly, this one left me a bit confused.

When writing in a collaborative story, a writer should never forget to mind their participating colleagues and the preceding efforts made by them. I think the main problem with you chapter is that you ignored this; I shall elaborate.

In terms of expression, the third chapter disagrees with the two previous ones clearly. While chapters 1 and 2 are written in a serious, even if light, manner, the third chapter seems to me like a niche comedy. Invincible sharpshooters and terms like "fangirl squee" do not seem to fit the overall style and kill the story's credibility. I suggest you edit such expressions out.

It also seems to me that this chapter introduces far too many new elements, which will make it very hard to continue from. While previously it was said that nothing happened during the siblings' time at the family restaurant (did you miss this?), the reader now has to face the incident at the restaurant. Again, I suggest you edit this so it follows the earlier storyline.

Somehow, another new element, the introduction of a Filipino maid
Spoiler for Hiden:
(who is Akiko, right?)
seemed uncomfortable to me. You have to remember that almost none of the other writers have any idea about the language, so writing lines in the language comes off as inconsiderate to me, even if translated - it is very hard to continue from. Not to mention the next writers would have to find a reason for the maid to be talking in a foreign language when advertising a café on a Japanese street, which to me sounds like too much of a challenge to give to the next writer. If one wanted to continue logically from that, I think it would require great efforts, making the writer unable to focus on the actual writing, which should be the main point of the exercise.
Spoiler for Hiden:
Also, there was no previous mention of Akiko being Filipino or knowing the language, which feels like an abrupt, unwelcome twist.

Other than that, the chapter seemed rather fine to me, but even so, unless number473 feels like taking the aforementioned challenge, I suggest MoonlightBomber takes another look at his chapter to make it in chord with the rest before we move onto the next one.
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Vatina

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Re: Writing Workshop: Discussion
« Reply #9 on: June 21, 2010, 05:03:07 pm »
First:

Thanks for the comments on my chapter. Seems like my english-fu is still weak!

As for switching tense... I didn't even notice that when I was done ^^; Writing too much visual novel prose has had a strange effect! (As for tense-errors, they are a weakness of mine... must try and keep an eye out for that.)


On to chapter 3:

Quite some development in the story here - it seems that quite a bit happened in that restaurant after all, making the siblings acting even more close now. This could be used to bring the story along faster, getting to juicy parts like going out and having a love-triangle, but then again it feels a little forced. Maybe if the pacing had been better it would have been a little more believable.

And I have to agree with the others, the Tagalog threw me off ^^; For a moment I was confused whether the story really took place in Japan, or if it was some strange hint towards Shinji's relations. My next thought was "why would she advertise in a foreign language?". Of course I'm assuming that Tagalog is not common japanese knowledge when it might be(?), and that this could be a special Filipino maid cafe.

Apart from those minor oddities it is a well written chapter, and one that is obviously eager to bring on the action ;)



Aaaand for something general:

3 chapters now! With 6 writers in total, we have passed the half-way mark. When this round is over, would the writers then be interested in keeping this story going for a round 2 (meaning people can sign up to write another chapter), or should it end with chapter 6?

mikey

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Re: Writing Workshop: Discussion
« Reply #10 on: June 21, 2010, 06:15:00 pm »
Quote from: Vatina
(As for tense-errors, they are a weakness of mine... must try and keep an eye out for that.)
Actually, this is a very interesting sub-topic.

Quote from: number473
The main issue I note is a bit of tense trouble. [...] but I did note that there is a bit of an inconsistency between past and present tense.

For example:
"After we got home we went to our separate rooms for the night..."
"I close the door behind me..."
(These are the starts of two consecutive paragraphs)

The former is past tense, the latter present. This can be somewhat jarring to the reader - the change-over, I mean. Either past or present tense is okay, you just need to make sure you know which one you're using and stick to it. The problem shows up more often in first-person writing since in third person the usual thing is to just stick to past tense.
I can only say with complete certainty about my own native language (though I would guess this will apply to many languages) - when used in narration to emphasize a certain moment, switching tenses doesn't sound wrong. Sometimes it's even more natural than sticking to theoretically correct same tense.

The example given above is a nice one - I often use it this way - when retelling something, I describe events in the past tense, but when I want to stress an event in a more immediate way, I switch to present tense. This is quite normal in speech, where you say "So I was in this forest and then BAM - this bear jumps at me."

Again, I can really only speak for my native language, but while narrating, I see nothing wrong with switching tenses to accentuate a situation, as long as of course the reader knows it is happening in the past (there is a difference between switching tenses like described above and an actual error with tenses where the reader is confused about what happens now and what happens in the past).

I would also split it into various areas - narration, thoughts, direct speech etc which can have differently structured "tense switching" - meaning have some sort of a natural pattern to them, or some form of (even subtle) consistency - otherwise it is indeed a bit jarring.

It may be I am just more tolerant, but I don't see a problem with sometimes switching tenses to relieve or emphasize immediacy. Again, I'm not talking about real errors, just these subtle things.


Hime

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Re: Writing Workshop: Discussion
« Reply #11 on: June 21, 2010, 06:57:27 pm »
I think it goes like that in most languages, mikey, but in English, there seems to be an emphasis on correct tenses. Especially in a literary text, changing tenses mid-sentence is generally considered blatantly 'wrong', even if it makes very little sense to us non-native speakers - or that is what I was told on an English course, anyway. But even so, sometimes a writer can make a better impression by breaking grammatical rules, just as you said.

From what I have seen changing tense is kind of a taboo in English, a bit like using the same word over and over again is: even if neither matter in many, many other languages, when writing in English people see it as a degrading factor if certain rules are not followed here.
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MoonlightBomber

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Re: Writing Workshop: Discussion
« Reply #12 on: June 21, 2010, 08:47:40 pm »
Well, everyone's comment on my chapter is quite a shock to me. Seeing that I'm still having convention hangover, I wrote this chapter in a whim. I will consider the major points you've made, and will make amendments this afternoon.

number473

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Re: Writing Workshop: Discussion
« Reply #13 on: June 22, 2010, 07:18:47 am »
"So I was in this forest and then BAM - this bear jumps at me."
It's okay in a spoken, informal context, particularly the one you've just mentioned. It is very much slang, though. I can't compare it to other languages (well, the only other language I know seems to agree, but it is a related language, and I don't know it well enough that I could say conclusively, and it's not a good language to give as an example anyway), but in English it almost always sounds downright weird when you switch tenses. The above is an exception - I think it's continual use has made it sound reasonable. In writing especially I would strongly discourage it.

About chapter 3: I don't have much to add, the above comments pretty much cover it. I don't mind writing the next chapter with this one as it now stands, sounds like a challenge. the inconsistencies aren't good, though. I'm mostly just worried that thing start to spiral out of control...
But if we'd wanted to write something more serious we probably should have picked a more serious topic, or something.

lordcloudx

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Re: Writing Workshop: Discussion
« Reply #14 on: June 23, 2010, 04:08:37 pm »
Chapter 4 comments:

Good job! I like the introduction of the new character and the tension that follows between the three girls. It seems that Akiko has quite a reliable friend there :). Interesting how you made Akiko all weak and whiny while making Mizuko the assertive type. Is this an intentional use of a foil character?

In this chapter, we also get to see Natsuko gradually taking the relationship between her and Shinji a step further without being too abrupt.  I'm glad that you also remembered to use Shinji's gynophobia to make the sequence of events take a logical turn.

The sudden introduction of Mizuko and the fact that Akiko had been sending letters to Shinji does feel a bit forced, but at this point, it's a minor issue given what you had to work with.

“Ah, I guess when I wasn't getting your letters I though you had lost interest and moved on with your life.” - little typo here though = thought.

"That fellow class member of mine would have to level up quite a bit for us to get to that situation." - I don't get it. Who were you talking about here?

Great chapter over-all. Good set-up for the next writer. I'd like to see how Shinji responds to this situation now that he's spent this chapter pretty much as a shocked spectator.

 

anything