The mountains reached up to the sky, shouting with rage, “I will reach you some day.”
The sky only laughed, still far away, but the earth did tremble at the mountain’s might.
I don’t usually talk football. Or really watch football since my college days. Packers normally do better when I’m not watching. But I did today.
I’m a Packer fan. Despite this, I wanted to congratulate the Bills. Congratulations on your novel approach to tackling wide receivers before they get the ball, waving your hands in the air covering a receiver while not looking at the ball, for pulling on hands before a pass reaches the intended receiver. I’m not sure why no other team has come up with these novel approaches to defense. The league should probably come up with a plan to not allow these tactics. I thought they were already in place, but again, it’s been a while.
While I know there were a half dozen important passes the Packers dropped all on their own, I can’t help but wonder if they were preparing for the course correction the Bills had been providing all day long, and so were confused when the ball was at their hands, and no one had touched them. I find it fascinating they didn’t show the second interception over and over again. But if you look at the way Nelson was already being crumpled over by the Bills’ defender, you stop wondering why they wouldn’t want to show the pass interference over and over again. I meant interception. Totally meant interception. Because what’s pass interference?
I congratulate the Bills as they got better at hiding it than when they played the Patriots. Apparently while straight out pushing the guy couldn’t be overlooked despite an abundance of knee pads and mouth wash, smashing your face into a receiver and blocking their view with raised hands while never once looking at the ball can be overlooked.
So to the Bills. To your novel approach to football, your victory against the Packers, and to cheap refs.
I was asked the other day to critique someone’s work. I thought, alright, it’s only around 1500 words, why not? You know why not? Because I don’t have many friends and I’d like to keep the few I have. That’s why not. But I was idealistic and thought this individual meant it when they inferred heavily a desire to improve their storytelling skills. So I got down to work.
It was the first thing my friend ever revealed publicly to the world, and another friend of mine informed me I really needed tact when helping people. I took this advice and decided I would point out two things in need of help, and then point out the good things. That’s what you do, right? Don’t overwhelm them, point out the largest flaws, and then heap on the compliments. If the writing is so abysmal there is no praise to be had, I just keep postponing until she gives up on me ever critiquing it. Easy peasy.
I read it. It was well written, but lacked a concrete conflict, climax, and resolution, which is the basis of any story. If it was not supposed to be a 1500 word short story, this would have been a great 1500 word scene in an overall work. The descriptions were refreshing and the concept was unique to me. Granted, I only read fantasy and she very obviously doesn’t write fantasy.
“I can do this,” I said to myself, knowing I could word this just right so she would feel uplifted and educated, rearing to write some more. So I noted about the plot and structure help required, complimented that it was primarily an internal story which equates to literature in most circles, and said that overall she has excellent raw potential which just needs shaping. The quality of writing was not a problem.
The individual with no training (though I know training has only a sliver to do with writing), decided to lash out at me, tell me I was in the wrong, and everything for plot structure was obviously there. I tried pointing out why it wasn’t, how to guide it so that they did exist, and to put it in a sequence which would create a compelling short story. I informed my friend it would be a good idea to keep these structure guides in mind, and rewrite it. Fundamentals are immensely important when starting, and I was trying to enforce that. This ended more poorly, but at least I got a thank you.
When you ask for a critique, this is what I want you to ponder. First, do you mean it? If not, go to a loved one, a mom, or someone who will say “nice kick” when you take out their legs, and ask them to read it. Just to read it. Then go back and ask how it was. They will smile, say everything was fantastic, you’re so talented and witty, and they can’t wait to read more. They got a quarter of the way through it, in reality, but it doesn’t matter. You just want those words. Mom may have finished it and used a nail gun to attach it to the fridge.
If you do mean it, contemplate where you are in your writing journey. If you have not learned the fundamentals, that’s what you need. Picasso became the artist he is because by the time he was a teen he mastered everything presented to him. He mastered the fundamentals. After that, he created an entirely new art form. He did not start out experimenting, but moved into it when he had nothing else to learn from the basics. Or masters. Or anyone ever to exist. If you get advice pointing you towards fundamentals because you miss out on the basics like good character creation and plot structure, listen to it. All stories need conflict. Especially if you’re just starting. Those conflicts need a climax and resolution. It’s like a woman. You need to make it all the way to cuddling before you fall asleep, or she may not come back.
Sometimes what is said is opinion and even a supposedly negative critique can confirm you hit your target. I’ve had people say, “Your book is stupid because dragons.” Perhaps I should not have shown my fantasy work to someone who reads all inspirational books. Another person expected my story to read like Tolkien, and was disappointed it read more like Hemingway. I’m a minimalist fantasy writer. In both cases, I confirmed that I was writing the way I aimed to write, while being told it’s bad. Those who liked dragons and Hemingway enjoyed the story. Mostly. My mom put it on the fridge.
Your best option is to sit there and listen. Write down notes as to what you think in comparison, what you should change, and so on. I’ve rarely seen someone do exactly what I tell them, so I rarely try to tell them exactly what to do. But the suggestions often spur a thought on what direction to go, and when I’m helping someone, that’s all I can ask for. If they did exactly as I told them (correct punctuation aside, which rarely is my punctuation correct), it would be me, not them. In a critique, I’m only there to unlock their ideas.
Once finished, ask questions, but make sure you’re allowing it to be open and accepting. “Why did you think there was no conflict?” When they explain, keep probing and you will find your conflict or how to better express it. “Why was Johnny two dimensional?” We’ll start with his name and go from there. Give yourself over to the story is no longer only yours. It is out in the world, and you asked that person to contribute a portion of their soul to yours. Because that’s what writing is. And they’re not trying to tell you your soul is inadequate (usually), they’re just saying maybe you could express it better.
In short, accept critiques with grace. Give critiques with tact. It is a skill most of us need to work on. I know I do in both departments. But at the very least, if you’re going to ask for help, listen to it. Even if only with one ear.
Eris told us about it. There was something down there, in that forsaken pit. In that pit we found Phogoth. What could she fear down there more than Phogoth, the great cyclops, forty feet tall with his guts hanging out. He broke five chains, the metal of those links thicker than me. What the hell could possibly be scarier than that?
But she lost her sight, or at least the sight with her eyes. She sees things, other things, and that sight is why she said we need to go down there. We need to see what she saw. What five other Guardians couldn’t survive seeing. It’s insane. But here we are, standing at the edge of the Hellmouth, waiting to jump. To jump down into this pit to find out what could scare the creepy blind woman.
“Ready?” Arch punched my arm, the cape of his hood floating behind him. He checked his gun one more time.
“Yeah,” I said, inhaling deeply. My shotgun was loaded, pulse rifle was at the ready, and ice breaker was charged. I would be okay. I would see in the darkness.
“I hear it’s damned scary down there,” Dart said, walking past us both. He wore a gaudy trench coat made of such sturdy material the eternal battles did not fray it. “A little excited in the drawers about it.”
I snickered and we walked to the edge and activated the catwalk. The thin metal walkway went out over the Hellmouth, looking straight into the heart of the moon, and at the end, right in the center of the pit, there was a hold that glowed blue. I said, “I guess we jump in here.”
“Titans first,” Dart motioned to me.
“Wouldn’t have it any other way,” I muttered, then jumped down into the darkness. Into a realm that defined darkness, for none has ever been nor will ever be of such a complete lack of light. Until we arrived.
Darkness Below starts tomorrow! Excited for it. My brothers and I are waking up early tomorrow to get in the story and strikes. I will be up by 4am. Going to bed around 8:30 tonight to be refreshed for the festivities. Tomorrow night is the raid. There are few game releases which have had me this giddy. Looking forward to seeing what’s there.
I caved the other day. After being disappointed I couldn’t buy an FWC shirt from Destiny, I purchased the Last Light Installation shirt and a Titan water bottle. What’s a Titan? It’s a force of nature which wrecks bad guys. That’s what. In Destiny, I play as a Titan and it is by far my favorite class. You are the hammer and shield, with which all things are forged and impurities are purified.
We have kick boxing classes at my gym, so I will be getting into those to break up the monotony of swimming, though I still do enjoy swimming. Just as soon as I get over this devestating cold. It’s a little something to make the work out routine less of a routine and more entertaining. Without entertainment, I’m sunk. Punching a bag is very entertaining.
I can also purchase one for around $100, so that might end up in my living room. My Titan training has begun!
The arms are really turning out nicely, though the gut has definitely suffered over the past two months. I’ve been eating horribly, and that will change now that I’ll be eating at home. It’s hard to eat well when you’re at your own apartment for three meals in seven weeks.
I hope all your goals are coming along nicely. Life has been great, and hopefully it will continue to be incredible. Aside from having more snot than I thought physically possible and a really sore throat. And bloody nose. Oh did it bleed yesterday. It was all “Faucet on!”
Keep up the good work!
In piercing lakes drown me
As you look into my soul
And judge me good.
In brown silk wrap me,
Which, with flowery aroma,
Shrouds us as we connect.
In seraph’s music serenade me,
As soft skin slides across each
Other, licking foreign lips for more.
In my arms, enfold, while
We speak of days past
Days to come.
For you have drowned me,
And in those frozen lakes
I am reborn.
Shorts and Serials
life is what you make it. go live.
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Speculative Fantasy Writing
Along With All That Glitters In This Strange Mind Of Mine...
Through my eyes.
reading and writing, scifi and fantasy
my poetry, short stories, flash fiction, ect
Speculative fiction with a side of love story, and sometimes poetry.
A Dreamer's Retreat
What Bestselling Book Trends Can Tell Us
Writerly ways for Family Historians and Storytellers
writer of fantasy fiction, lover of life
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The novelist's job is to put into words what cannot be put into words. — Ursula K. Leguin
stories for my kids
Novels by Cody Brown