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Author Topic: Chem Dog  (Read 2292 times)

Offline Aun

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Chem Dog
« on: December 20, 2012, 12:53:41 pm »
0.1
Don't Get Up


    Penal Squad 16S723R scattered as the missile exploded in their midst, shrapnel slicing the top off of Chen
« Last Edit: December 20, 2012, 01:31:59 pm by Aun »

Offline LinnScarlett

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Re: Chem Dog
« Reply #1 on: December 20, 2012, 03:15:21 pm »
Oh, nice, hefty! I like. The more Cans of Raw Shock thrown about, the better I say.  ;D

I especially like how you're just 'thrown in there' wondering what this is going to be about, and then this happens! I totally didn't expect it, really nicely pulled I think. Penal Legions don't get enough love in writing, I tell you! It's good to see someone give them some screen time amid all the dozens of Space Marine stories.

Extra cuddos for girls in Penal Legions, talk about hitting two rarities in one go!
(Being a girl, I might be biased in this, but I always like it if there is a girl along that can hold her balls)

I'll go ahead and assume that, like me, you are looking for more than just flattery; so I'll try and spew some of my thoughts here. They're mostly things that I would have personally done differently, so it's >all< just my opinion, but I thought hearing it might give you another writer's perspective and maybe help you in a next piece you write. :)

The first thing I noticed, and in my mind the most important thing (the rest is REALLY just me blabbing, motivated by my personal preferences), is the length of the 'action' sentences. It might sound like a trivial thing but there is power to how sentences are build. I find that short, to the point sentences, following a certain action course, build the fast pace and tension that action generally has. Currently, I felt some of the sentences ambled on a bit and it was more like reading a report (or someone recounting) the battle, than actually being there. So, you might want to have a look at trying some different things with shorter, grammatically simple sentences. It can do amazing things when it comes to making a story 'feel' quick and aweful the way action is. Just give it a try sometime!

The second is slightly less important, but might help you with expressing yourself/what you wish us to 'see' in our mind's eyes. It's another technicality thing with writing and that is the following: "general perpose verbs have no business being used in fiction", unless you can't help it (it happens) or have an intention with it concerning the 'character' of the figure whose Point Of View you describe and whose 'simple' view is key to the 'flavour' of the story.

General perpose verbs are verbs like: "walking", "saying/yelling", "running" etc. They don't tell you 'how' something is done, just 'that it is done', if that makes sense. Don't use them, if you can avoid it. Use more specific pseudo synonims. I know this can be hard, especially if English isn't your first language (it sure as hell isn't mine), but you can do it. I can, so I am sure you can too! To help out with this, I'll share you some of the MUCH better alternatives for at least these three verbs, which we tend to use all the time as writers. If any verb is unclear, don't hesitate to ask and I'll clear them up, as some might be chiefly british english (which I prefer to write in because of its eloquence in some words/ grammar habits). ;)

RUNNING:
Barreling, bolting, bounding, bustling, darting, dashing, fleeing, flitting, flying, hasten, hurrying, hustling, jogging, leg(ging) it, rushing, scooting, scrambling, scudding, scurrying, shooting, skedaddling, skittering, sprinting, spurting, tak(ing) off, tak(ing) flight, trotting.

SAYING (to avoid the infamous "X said, Y said, then Z said")
Adding, affirming, announcing, answering, asserting, claiming, conveying, declaring, disclosing, divulging, estimating, expressing, guessing, imagining, implying, judging, maintaining, mentioning, mouthing, opining, put(ting) forth, reciting, remarking, repeating, replying, responding, returning, speaking, stating, suggesting, telling, uttering, verbalising, vocalising, voicing.

Examp: "Nikki declared", "Andre guessed" and, the poor boy "uttered in shock" (or even stammered! or stuttered!)

WALKING:
Ambling, cantering, gliding, lumbering, marching, pacing, plodding, prancing, shuffling, sauntering, shambling, sneaking, stalking, striding, strolling, strutting, stumping, traipsing, trudging, wandering.

So, there you go! Avoiding general purpose verbs will 1. easily fix your story feeling 'bland' and 2. it gives us a TON more information about what *exactly* your character is doing, without you having to spend a sentence on it. It's all about descriptive value, when it comes to writing, as I am sure you know. And general perpose verbs have no descriptive value at all, so they're better left by the road side whenever you can.

The last two notes I have, are personal things. One is slight typos (always check before posting!) which is not something you can always help. Sometimes one just slips through, I know. And the other is a bit 'bigger' thing in my mind, and partially technical as well as preferance: starting "spoken text" on a new line, and keeping "the spoken lines" (or even all actions) of one character together in one text 'block'. There is a few little bits now that were (to me) quite confusing/a bit of a hassle to read. An example is this one:

Quote
« Last Edit: December 20, 2012, 03:39:44 pm by Linn Scarlett »
I need more time to do the Emperor's work!

You can read my stuff on 2S's Fluff and Stories.

Or, you can come visit my author page on Archive of Our Own. WARNING: NC-17

Offline BigToof

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Re: Chem Dog
« Reply #2 on: December 21, 2012, 04:41:51 pm »
I really liked this one too, as Chem Dogs were (and still are) an old favorite of mine.

Looking forward to more on the series.

Not really sure why, but Nikki also seems to stand out more than the others, and I'd love to see more of her.

.
..
...

Wait... that came out wrong.

Best,
-BT
BigToof Points:

Cammerz: 8
Waaaghpower: 1
The Man They Call Jayne: 3
Mabbz: 6
Archon Sharrek: 3

Offline LinnScarlett

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Re: Chem Dog
« Reply #3 on: December 21, 2012, 06:07:09 pm »
Not really sure why, but Nikki also seems to stand out more than the others, and I'd love to see more of her.

I agree.

...and I might even agree that way too... hrm

*moment of introspection*  ::)

I need more time to do the Emperor's work!

You can read my stuff on 2S's Fluff and Stories.

Or, you can come visit my author page on Archive of Our Own. WARNING: NC-17

Offline Aun

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Re: Chem Dog
« Reply #4 on: December 22, 2012, 02:26:43 am »
Thank you very much for the responses, especially for your advice Linn, I do appreciate it. I've tried to take it into account with this next piece. Please let me know what you think.

1.0
Blink of an Eye, Pull of a Trigger


   
« Last Edit: December 22, 2012, 02:37:58 am by Aun »

Offline LinnScarlett

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Re: Chem Dog
« Reply #5 on: December 23, 2012, 09:17:35 pm »
Oohhhh yes, much easier to keep track of everybody this way - at least for me! A big improvement!

Hmmm 1 Catachan, 2 ladies... I am beginning to see things here... :P
A Catachan in a penal legion, man he must have REALLY been wild! (Hmmm... Catachan...  ;D)

The kid was a nice touch, my Inquisitor senses started tingling as soon as you drew attention to him! That was a very tense bit there, nice job! I also like how we got to know a bit more about the other troopers through their talk with one another. The same goes for the bit of background in the end (it's always the prometheum, isn't it? Hehe!). The story moved well and had good 'jumps', if you ask me. A step up from your previous piece, in my humble opinion.

Ok, on to some more theorycrafting (...).
I read your story (both pieces) again, and I think I found one of the things that sometimes 'makes it feel as if there is no end to your sentence'. I read one, and I am mentally winded and slightly confused when its over. I will illustrate it with an example. Compare these two pieces:

"Once upon a time, as a walk through the woods was taking place on the part of Little Red Riding Hood, the Wolf's jump out from behind a tree occured, causing her fright."

"Once upon a time, Little Red Riding Hood was walking through the woods, when the Wolf jumped out from behind a tree and frightened her."

Now think, what makes that second sentence so much swifter, clearer, and easier to read and understand than the first?

....


....


....


I will tell you: In the second sentence all characters are the SUBJECT of their sentences, and all the important actions are their VERBS. It's an exaggerated example, but it is important. When you write a sentence, makes sure that you know A. who it is about and B. what that person is doing. In some of your sentences, you appear to want to unite various people and their doings. You can do this, of course, but you have to make sure it is clear who is doing what or confusion will ensue.

Quote
He could feel plenty of eyes sizing him up as he followed the wheel ruts of a main thoroughfare back to his own squad, weighing the potential gains and risks.

Who is 'weighting the potential gains and risks'? I assume the owners of the eyes sizing Santiago up. However, this is not clear from the sentence in and of itself, there is too much space between 'the eyes' and 'the thought' of the people to whom the eyes belong. Making sure the two are together immediately solves the problem:

'He could feel plenty of eyes sizing him up, weighing the potential gains and risks, as he followed the wheel ruts of a main thoroughfare back to his own squad.' Presto!

Another example of a sentence that was mildly draconic in that way:

Quote
Staging Point 17 was anything but a bustle of activity noted Santiago as he wandered through the camp carrying three bottles of Blue Fire
*breathless*

This is where I tell you another one of the 'tricks' I was told to writing in a way that makes things easy to read: read your story, to yourself, aloud. If you run out of breath, you need more interpunction (, . ; etc). If you stop and frown and then continue, your sentence is unclear (even to yourself, nevermind how confused the reader is going to be!). Of course, this works best if you read it back a few hours after you did the actual writing. You will see that you will easily spot some of the major things readers are going to trip over. The important thing to remember is that YOU know what YOU mean to say, the reader does not. The reader ONLY has your words. It is therefore very important to make sure you say exactly what you mean (it sounds redundant, I know, but it can be incredibly hard).

Back to your sentence:

'Staging Point 17 was anything but a bustle of activity, noted Santiage, as he wandered through the camp carrying three bottles of Blue Fire.' <--- reads better, doesn't it, with a breather in the middle?

However, if we apply the tweak I gave in the previous quote, you will see it becomes better yet:

'As Santiago wandered through the camp, carrying three bottles of Blue Fire, he noted that Staging Point 17 was anything but a bustle of activity.'

As you can see: the character and his actions are at the front and relatively together, and that whole sling of extra information he notices comes after. The order in which words, or in this case entire sentence parts, are put together can make all the difference between a frown and a fluid read.  Many readers will stop or drop a read if its too much of a struggle or requires too much 'active thinking' to understand it. We must therefore make it as clear as possible, while still saying what we want to say. Having the subject and main verbs early on nearly always makes for a clear sentence.

I know this stuff can be difficult/irritating to grasp and tackle, but if you teach yourself now to start paying attention to these things, they will become quickly second nature to you. Before you know it, you won't even think about using them anymore, you simply do. And your writing will be the better for it (in terms of reader-friendliness), I can garantuee. :)

If you are seriously interested in improving your writing style, I can recommend picking up a copy of 'J.M. Williams and G.G. Colomb's "STYLE: Lessons in Clarity and Grace". Rather than one of those grammar nazi books, it deals with 'how' to write, not 'what' to write. It will show through many illuminating examples and helpful excersizes why we read some texts as obtuse and boring and others as interesting and easy. And, most importantly, it will show you how to do this to your own texts!

(It is difficult to explain exactly why some things (in my opinion) do or do not work, as I do most of my writing 'on feel alone'. I tweak my texts endlessly 'until they feel right'. If you want, I can 'edit' a piece of your writing some time - just to show you what I would have done different. Many roads lead to Rome when it comes to writing, and seeing another road might help you find your own :))
« Last Edit: December 23, 2012, 09:33:58 pm by Linn Scarlett »
I need more time to do the Emperor's work!

You can read my stuff on 2S's Fluff and Stories.

Or, you can come visit my author page on Archive of Our Own. WARNING: NC-17

Offline BigToof

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Re: Chem Dog
« Reply #6 on: December 24, 2012, 02:08:04 pm »
Yes!

More Chem Dogs!

Really liking this series, it's very nostalgic for me, and has that gritty, yet darkly amusing aspects that I do love about 40k.

Best,
-BT
BigToof Points:

Cammerz: 8
Waaaghpower: 1
The Man They Call Jayne: 3
Mabbz: 6
Archon Sharrek: 3

Offline LinnScarlett

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Re: Chem Dog
« Reply #7 on: December 24, 2012, 02:14:34 pm »
Yea, I agree. Aun really delves into a (far too little) used corner of the Imperium that allows for so many callous plots and sinister pasts. The sheer amount of  :o and  :'( you could rake in on this particular setting is amazing. The penal legions are my favourite plot hook, save for the Inquisition/Inquisitors. Don't get me wrong, I like the Space Marines and all their gimmicks too, but EVERYBODY writes about that. while the strength of the Imperium is, story telling wise, in the underlighted parts of its sprawling universe: so much to be seen, so much to be told. I really hope Aun will continue writing and improving on this story, the uniqueness of the plot and characters alone already deserve it!  ;D
I need more time to do the Emperor's work!

You can read my stuff on 2S's Fluff and Stories.

Or, you can come visit my author page on Archive of Our Own. WARNING: NC-17