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TooMuchAbstraction
Oct 14, 2012

Hubris

Fun Shoe

You might write your p-zombie's inner narrative as a Chinese Room, a sequence of inputs (external stimuli) and corresponding outputs (behaviors). Something clinical like that should help distinguish it from a normal person.

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D-Pad
Jun 28, 2006


TooMuchAbstraction posted:

You might write your p-zombie's inner narrative as a Chinese Room, a sequence of inputs (external stimuli) and corresponding outputs (behaviors). Something clinical like that should help distinguish it from a normal person.

Yeah a pzombie is basically a Chinese room as far as the inner workings go.

Stephen King has a collection of short stories that came out maybe 3-5? years ago and one of them deals with a guy who invents a device that detects consciousness and to his horror discovers that the vast majority of people are pzombies. I'm sorry I can't remember the name of the book or story, but I would suggest tracking that down to give you some ideas.

magic cactus
Aug 3, 2019

We lied. We are not at war. There is no enemy. This is a rescue operation

D-Pad posted:

Stephen King has a collection of short stories that came out maybe 3-5? years ago and one of them deals with a guy who invents a device that detects consciousness and to his horror discovers that the vast majority of people are pzombies. I'm sorry I can't remember the name of the book or story, but I would suggest tracking that down to give you some ideas.

I'll look for it, thanks!

D-Pad
Jun 28, 2006


I've reached my first (brief) action scene, and having no experience I would like to get some general feedback about it. Any and all critique is welcome.

A few things to note:
- words bracketed by asterisks are proper nouns for setting specific things I'll be coming back and naming later
- *lizard name* is a lizard pack animal carrying the supplies. *Orshal* is the species name
- *lizard thing* is the beast that attacks them
- Ashlan is the main character's reluctant companion and has a tracker embedded in his hand that will kill him if main character dies.

Edit: The forums broke the formatting a bit. It looks much better in Scrivener

quote:


He was jolted from the memory as *lizard name* bellowed in alarm and rapidly backed away from a jumble of rocks ahead of them, the lead rope burning the palm of his right hand as it was jerked from his grasp. Ashlan gave a cry of panic as he went after the beast and their precious supplies, struggling to grab the rope and stop *lizard name* before they lost the one thing that would keep them alive in this godforsaken place. He peered closely at the rocks, trying to discern what had alarmed the beast so. Gripping his pistols, he removed them from their holsters and winced at the sharp pain where his right hand had been chafed by the rope. He began to cautiously approach the outcropping. As he moved closer he felt he was being watched and came to a stop, not knowing what danger he might be walking into. He could hear Ashlan from a distance cursing the *Orshal* as he attempted to bring it under control and began to turn to gauge if his assistance was needed when he caught a sudden flurry of movement from the rocks out of the corner of his eye.

He turned in time to see a *lizard thing* explode from it’s hiding spot in a cloud of dust, rushing towards him at incredible speed, and he fired off a panicked shot before it was upon him, his aim spoiled by the rope burn. It slammed into him with unbelievable force, knocking the air from his lungs and bowling him over into the compacted dirt of the wastes, his head striking the ground stunning him badly. His pistols were flung from his hands, and he instinctively raised his arms as the beast jumped on his chest and lunged for his throat. Unable to take a breath to yell for help, he struggled to keep his throat from being torn out by the *lizard thing’s* razor sharp teeth. The *lizard thing’s* hot breath stank of rot, and it was covered in large armored scales that looked impervious to his pistols even had he hit it with his panicked shot. He could see no vulnerable area, the scales overlapping and not presenting a chink in which he could jab the knife he kept strapped to his side, and knew his life was measured in seconds. With no other option, he jammed his left arm into the *lizard thing’s* mouth and a sharp jolt of agony lanced up his arm as the beast bit down with great force. With his right arm, he reached down and pulled out the *special dagger* he had been given by the Brotherhood’s armorer at the outset of the journey and swinging his arm out wide, he plunged it down through the eye of the *lizard thing* and into its brain. The creature juddered, it’s long tail slamming repeatably into the ground before falling still and releasing his arm.

His vision was beginning to tunnel as the effects of the struggle and lack of breath took hold and with great effort he pushed the corpse off of him. He took heaving breaths as he paused for a moment before looking at his arm. His hand was ravaged, the extent of the injury obscured by a large quantity of blood, and puncture wounds tracked up his arm on both sides to the elbow bleeding profusely. The pain was incredible but seemed distant as he realized his vision continued to darken despite the air he desperately sucked into his lungs. He attempted to stand and only succeeded in falling back to his knees before he pitched forward onto the ground unable to make his legs obey him.

As he lay sprawled on the hardpan, a strange calm came over him and the pain retreated as if happening to someone else. He suddenly remembered reading of the *lizard thing’s* deadly venom and was reconsidering whether shoving his arm in its mouth had been a wise strategy when a shadow fell across his face. He felt rough hands roll him over and saw Ashlan leaning down over him.

“You’re dead.” Ashlan said, a look of despair across his features. He absently rubbed the back of his hand, “I’ll be soon following thanks to the gift you gave me.”

“No. My pack.” He croaked. “My kit, get the kit.”

Ashlan hurried to *lizard name* pulling his back from its back and emptying the contents upon the ground. “What am I looking for?” He asked, desperation coloring his voice.

“Black tin…Yellow tube.” He croaked. “Stab it in my thigh.” His vision darkened further and he heard Ashlan mumbling to himself from a great distance as he searched for the medtek. As he slipped into unconsciousness he felt a prick in his leg before the blackness enveloped him.

General Battuta
Feb 7, 2011

This is how you communicate with a fellow intelligence: you hurt it, you keep on hurting it, until you can distinguish the posts from the screams.

Just reacting to your first paragraph, keep an eye on the rhythm of your prose. Most of that paragraph is sentences of the form "Words, comma, words." When you repeat the same structures over and over it tends to lose the readers and sap the energy of the piece. Try to break it up. Use short sentences too. Like so.

Generally I think prose should obey a rough pink noise distribution—short sentences should be the most common, mid-length sentences are moderately present, long sentences are rare. Sentences present in proportion to their simplicity.

General Battuta
Feb 7, 2011

This is how you communicate with a fellow intelligence: you hurt it, you keep on hurting it, until you can distinguish the posts from the screams.

Also I think the phrase 'blackness enveloped him' is under a fifty year moratorium. It's not your fault, it's just been depleted of all meaning by constant overuse.

D-Pad
Jun 28, 2006


General Battuta posted:

Just reacting to your first paragraph, keep an eye on the rhythm of your prose. Most of that paragraph is sentences of the form "Words, comma, words." When you repeat the same structures over and over it tends to lose the readers and sap the energy of the piece. Try to break it up. Use short sentences too. Like so.

Generally I think prose should obey a rough pink noise distribution—short sentences should be the most common, mid-length sentences are moderately present, long sentences are rare. Sentences present in proportion to their simplicity.

Thanks, this is definitely something I had already noticed I have a tendency to do and will work on it.

take the moon
Feb 12, 2011




General Battuta posted:

Also I think the phrase 'blackness enveloped him' is under a fifty year moratorium. It's not your fault, it's just been depleted of all meaning by constant overuse.

yea lol. Envelopes is an awkward word especially. Pokemon has it right when their adolescent PC's just black out in active voice

also u could chop the paras & use the old Gibson "then [char name] was [actioning] while [exciting context] happens" as openers which he does in every action scene he writes

or just avoid action cuz lol if anyone reads books for things happening. books are about feelings and thoughts with skin navigating uncertain emotional terrain and in this essay I will

Chairchucker
Nov 14, 2006

The man was stunningly well dressed. He had a smart looking jacket, and a really neat looking cape, the lining of which was shimmering and sparkling in more than Oriental splendour, which is a great deal of splendour indeed, just ask Kipling.

General Battuta posted:

Also I think the phrase 'blackness enveloped him' is under a fifty year moratorium. It's not your fault, it's just been depleted of all meaning by constant overuse.

Instead try using

DARKNESS
IMPRISONING HIM

Safety Biscuits
Oct 21, 2010



He became an epistle to nothingness and was sealed inside light's oblivion.

Djeser
Mar 22, 2013



the darkness hugged him :)

Screaming Idiot
Nov 26, 2007

JUST POSTING WHILE JERKIN' MY GHERKIN SITTIN' IN A PERKINS!

BEATS SELLING MERKINS.


Fun Shoe

IT GOT DARK

Leal
Oct 2, 2009

If you LP what I LP
And if you work retail like I work retail
You would also scream like I scream


Djeser posted:

the darkness hugged him

take the moon
Feb 12, 2011





Antivehicular
Dec 30, 2011

I wanna sing one for the cars
That are right now headed silent down the highway
And it's dark and there is nobody driving
And something has got to give


Ultra Carp

Just use the classic "alas, I died instantly"

Pththya-lyi
Nov 8, 2009

THUNDERDOME LOSER 2020

I always liked the phrase "They [did/sensed something] and knew no more" but I guess it's a cliche now

take the moon
Feb 12, 2011




everybody gets dead

REMEMBER SPONGE MONKEYS
Oct 3, 2003

What do you think it means, bitch?


take the moon posted:

everybody gets dead



Done got kilt.

Kilt real good/dead.

PiCroft
Jun 10, 2010

I'm sorry, did I break all your shit? I didn't know it was yours

I’d like some advice on a murder mystery plot. Is it a good idea to have the killers motivation be caused by an evil supernatural influence?

The basic setup is the protagonist is trapped in a location with a cast of characters and a malevolent force Influences one of them to start killing by using the inner psychological trauma of the killer to manipulate them. They kill opportunistically and maintain a normal facade until they feel confident they can overpower those remaining,

It feels kind of cop-outey to me and I while I intend to ensure the supernatural side of the plot is given ample clues and exploration, having the killer be influenced like this feels like it might make the reader feel cheated.

Djeser
Mar 22, 2013



Yeah that's fine IMO. I'm not a big murder mystery reader, but it doesn't sound like you're trying to play a trick on the reader. You're not setting up a locked-room mystery where the answer is "a demon teleported in and killed them".

Up to you how much you want to lay out about the supernatural beforehand. My approach would be to establish supernatural motivations as a possibility early on, whether or not the characters think it's plausible at first.

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010


Legit Cyberpunk


PiCroft posted:

I’d like some advice on a murder mystery plot. Is it a good idea to have the killers motivation be caused by an evil supernatural influence?

The basic setup is the protagonist is trapped in a location with a cast of characters and a malevolent force Influences one of them to start killing by using the inner psychological trauma of the killer to manipulate them. They kill opportunistically and maintain a normal facade until they feel confident they can overpower those remaining,

It feels kind of cop-outey to me and I while I intend to ensure the supernatural side of the plot is given ample clues and exploration, having the killer be influenced like this feels like it might make the reader feel cheated.

So: Twin Peaks?

PiCroft
Jun 10, 2010

I'm sorry, did I break all your shit? I didn't know it was yours

Djeser posted:

Yeah that's fine IMO. I'm not a big murder mystery reader, but it doesn't sound like you're trying to play a trick on the reader. You're not setting up a locked-room mystery where the answer is "a demon teleported in and killed them".

Up to you how much you want to lay out about the supernatural beforehand. My approach would be to establish supernatural motivations as a possibility early on, whether or not the characters think it's plausible at first.

Thanks. My plan is to establish ambiguity as to wether a direct supernatural force (a monster), a banal human killer with banal motivations (revenge) or something else as being possible explanations, with each having valid clues suggesting them, but having the true cause be slowly uncovered as the other causes are gradually discounted with fresh evidence.

sebmojo posted:

So: Twin Peaks?

To my shame, I've never seen Twin Peaks.

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010


Legit Cyberpunk


You should fix that imo

Safety Biscuits
Oct 21, 2010



Sounds like a bit of a Scylla and Charybdis here. If you don't carefully establish what magic can do, it might seem you're tricking the reader anyway. If you do, you'll imply that it's relevant and might give the game away.

Also, what sebmojo said.

SimonChris
Apr 24, 2008

The Baron's daughter is missing, and you are the man to find her. No problem. With your inexhaustible arsenal of hard-boiled similes, there is nothing you can't handle.

Grimey Drawer

Does anyone feel like giving me feedback on a 17k word historical fantasy novelette?

The editor of "Fantasy and Science Fiction" said that he liked the idea and the history, but that the beginning of the narrative felt rushed.

If interested, pm me your email and I will send a google doc invite .

Edit: Might as well add the full message from F&SF:

C.C. Finlay posted:

Dear Simon,

Thank you for giving me a chance to read XXX. I thought there was an interesting idea (and piece of history here), but at the beginning the narrative felt rushed to me, which pushed the characters toward the background. Overall, the story didn't quite grab me and I'm going to pass on it for Fantasy & Science Fiction. But I wish you best of luck finding the right market for it and hope that you'll keep us in mind in the future.

In the meantime, we hope that you are doing well and staying healthy.

Best regards,

Charlie
--
C.C. Finlay, Editor
Fantasy & Science Fiction
fandsf.com | @fandsf

SimonChris fucked around with this message at 14:22 on May 22, 2020

take the moon
Feb 12, 2011




gently caress it I'll do it but itll be a skim or I'll read the opening chapters or w/e. a whole novelette is a lot to read lol

I don't have pms but im diseascipline @ Gmail dot com

SimonChris
Apr 24, 2008

The Baron's daughter is missing, and you are the man to find her. No problem. With your inexhaustible arsenal of hard-boiled similes, there is nothing you can't handle.

Grimey Drawer

take the moon posted:

gently caress it I'll do it but itll be a skim or I'll read the opening chapters or w/e. a whole novelette is a lot to read lol

I don't have pms but im diseascipline @ Gmail dot com

Thank you . I realize it is a lot to ask, so any feedback is welcome. I am certainly not expecting line editing.

SimonChris fucked around with this message at 18:19 on May 24, 2020

take the moon
Feb 12, 2011




also if if I ever punked anyone for not writing w/ the pathetic excuse of they have a job im sorry lol. I have not written a word each day I've worked. Lit. Get home and pass out

if anyone has any Advice on writing Fiction on days u just feel like sleeping off after work plz post up

Shageletic
Jul 25, 2007






take the moon posted:

also if if I ever punked anyone for not writing w/ the pathetic excuse of they have a job im sorry lol. I have not written a word each day I've worked. Lit. Get home and pass out

if anyone has any Advice on writing Fiction on days u just feel like sleeping off after work plz post up

Write during work!

Dont get fired!

SimonChris
Apr 24, 2008

The Baron's daughter is missing, and you are the man to find her. No problem. With your inexhaustible arsenal of hard-boiled similes, there is nothing you can't handle.

Grimey Drawer

take the moon posted:

also if if I ever punked anyone for not writing w/ the pathetic excuse of they have a job im sorry lol. I have not written a word each day I've worked. Lit. Get home and pass out

if anyone has any Advice on writing Fiction on days u just feel like sleeping off after work plz post up

I try to write just a single sentence on such days. A single sentence is easy, and once I have written it, I often feel like adding a few more!

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010


Legit Cyberpunk


Yes, just set aside like 30 min before work with a goal of writing a sentence.

SimonChris
Apr 24, 2008

The Baron's daughter is missing, and you are the man to find her. No problem. With your inexhaustible arsenal of hard-boiled similes, there is nothing you can't handle.

Grimey Drawer

Speaking of Fantasy and Science fiction, the editor has some really good advice in his Duotrope interview:

https://duotrope.com/interview/editor/28/magazine-fantasy-science-fiction-fsf posted:

Q: Describe the ideal submission.
A: It is submitted in standard manuscript format (as described here: http://www.sfwa.org/wp-content/uplo.../06/Mssprep.pdf ).
The title is unique and reflects the major themes or other content of the story.
The first line is interesting.
By the end of the second paragraph, I'm caught up in the story and want to find out what happens.
It holds my attention all the way through.
When I reach the end, I've thought thoughts I've never had before and felt things I've never felt before and feel like my time was well spent.
And when I go to send the author a contract and check, their contact information is all there on the manuscript.

C.C. Finlay, Editor on 01 February 2016

https://twitter.com/ccfinlay/status/721144970426486784

I need to work on my introductions.

SimonChris fucked around with this message at 18:58 on May 25, 2020

Wallet
Jun 19, 2006



take the moon posted:

also if if I ever punked anyone for not writing w/ the pathetic excuse of they have a job im sorry lol. I have not written a word each day I've worked. Lit. Get home and pass out

if anyone has any Advice on writing Fiction on days u just feel like sleeping off after work plz post up

Only advice that applies whether you're trying to write on days you work or not: find ways to reduce the friction when you go to write. What works for you probably isn't what works for everyone else, but as others have noted I find it much easier to try to get in some writing before work rather than after. That used to be just talking to a recorder in my car on the way to work but that's kind of out the window right now.

The biggest one for me when working on larger projects is that whenever I'm going to stop for the day I take five or ten minutes to write down the next thing that needs to be done and anything I've left dangling. It's much easier to get started when I don't have to figure out what I need to be doing first.

ketchup vs catsup
Nov 30, 2006


I appreciate the advice about finding time to write before/in between/after more pressing life things, but do y’all ever notice differences in the words you produce in those short moments vs longer dedicated stretches?

If I write 300-500 words and stop, the likelihood that those words are good is much lower than if I write 3000-4000 and stop.

Fumblemouse
Mar 21, 2013


STANDARD
DEVIANT


Grimey Drawer

ketchup vs catsup posted:

I appreciate the advice about finding time to write before/in between/after more pressing life things, but do y’all ever notice differences in the words you produce in those short moments vs longer dedicated stretches?

If I write 300-500 words and stop, the likelihood that those words are good is much lower than if I write 3000-4000 and stop.

I don't tend to notice that because I write quite slowly. But I'd imagine this would be a really hard thing to judge for yourself. There are a lot of reasons why 3-4k might feel better - more happens, more gets resolved - but are they actually better quality? Maybe, and in your specific case it could be a 100% of the time thing, I dunno... but it's hardly a truism that inspiration can only strike over several hours.

Secondly, and more platitudinously, those 500 words you have written at 5am are editable, extendable and join-uppable later on, when you do have time up your sleeve. The 3-4k words you didn't write after work are not.

General Battuta
Feb 7, 2011

This is how you communicate with a fellow intelligence: you hurt it, you keep on hurting it, until you can distinguish the posts from the screams.

I don't blame anyone who can't write when they have a full time job. I can't even write if I have a chore to do later in the day. I need my 9 AM start and nothing else on my mind.

Djeser
Mar 22, 2013



If you've got more time to write, you've got more time to get into a groove. I feel that longer writing periods are more productive, but any writing is always better than no writing. Sometimes it's just down to what you can squeeze in, and that's fine.

General Battuta posted:

I don't blame anyone who can't write when they have a full time job. I can't even write if I have a chore to do later in the day. I need my 9 AM start and nothing else on my mind.

I'm the same: having to 'be ready' for something later almost always ruins my ability to focus, unless it's like four or five hours away at minimum. Keeping track of time takes up too much of my mind to focus on the words.

I say "almost" always because once I nearly missed a plane flight because I was on a roll writing that morning.

Leal
Oct 2, 2009

If you LP what I LP
And if you work retail like I work retail
You would also scream like I scream


I feel that I come up with a bunch of stuff at work cause god knows mentally sinking into myself is way better then actively experiencing american retail. Especially NOW.

Then I get home and get loving baked and I aint got time for this writing poo poo I just want to eat extremely calorie dense food and play video games.

Fashionable Jorts
Jan 18, 2010

Maybe if I'm busy it could keep me from you


Why didn't anyone tell me that writing in first person is such a breeze?

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take the moon
Feb 12, 2011




lol nice tessa v av

yea i managed to write half a sentence before work and then churned out some trash before i went 2 sleep. the system works

lmao djeser yr av also

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