Bit of praiseA Story by Lowesy
You probably won't believe it but I finally read the piece you sent me :-). I'm really sorry it took me so much time, I know you know I'm busy but still, it took me ages to get to reading it, which is funny because it only took me about an hour now to get through it. But if that consoles you a bit, I still haven't read some 70 pages of articles on nutrition that a friend sent me about three months ago so it's not just your book that I've neglected.
So, to get to the point: I haven't read the whole piece, just from around the moment I'd finished the last time, so I can't judge the other pages but I could already see the changes you made in the bits I'd read before and I must say that it's a great improvement. Don't get me wrong, I didn't lie when I said before that this book was a lot better than the first one but this time it's still a lot better than the previous version. I remember that the last time I mentioned that you should do something about the description of Don when Cal visits him because it was confusing and now it's very clear what is going on in that scene and you didn't just correct it, you really wrote it well.
I don't really have much to say about this book at this point and it's not because there isn't much to say. I just like it so much, that's why. I'd like to have something to criticise but I can hardly think of anything. Well, there are a few things but for now it's nothing that just regular editing wouldn't help. You as the author can only correct so much, there always should be an edit done on a text, even though you'd probably find a lot of books out there, published by traditional publishers, I mean, not self-published, that would have the type of mistakes that appear in your book. Publishers often rush things, or they don't have money for a proper edit, so books with mistakes are published all the time. But I will still repeat this: even if you edit your book ten times, do have someone else have a final edit on it. But with the shape the book is in right now I'd say that you'd probably be able to find an agent that would want to look at it, and they would find a publisher and the publisher would then worry about finding an editor. Yes, the book is that good. I mean, this is only my humble opinion but you must know that as a reader I'm extremely hard to satisfy because I know there's a lot of junk out there and I don't believe that just because something has been published it's worthy of anything. Junk is not as hard to sell as we would think, so publishers publish junk and people buy junk and it will always be like it.
So, with that in mind, I can honestly tell you that I'm very excited about how your book is going to develop. I can't say that it's the kind of book I usually read and a book on this subject may be a very good book but it still wouldn't excite me (it depends on my mood, I guess, because I do read such books sometimes) but there is something about this book that draws me in. I like that a lot. I haven't read many similar books so I can't judge how innovative and original it is but I like the way the story's developing, and you've worked on the meaning of scenes so they actually do something for the whole story. It's not just a series of changing frames - different people, different locations. Now you're doing that A to Z thing I told you about. There is progress, there is something that links one scene with another, there is some issue that needs to be resolved, there is purpose.
Before, the purpose was probably there too but I couldn't see it from the way you wrote it, but now it's clear, and I want to find out what happens next.
I don't know if you want to be a writer or you'd just want to publish a book but I gotta tell you, you are skilled with words and if you're not sure if you should continue writing I can tell you you should. Some people have a skill and some don't, and you do. I could see that from your first book already, although you were too young to write a great book. But I could see that sometimes you could do interesting things with words. Then you totally surprised me with the first chapters of 'Shadows'. But now I'm really loving the way you're writing. I don't know, maybe it's just up my alley, maybe I like the way you formulate your thoughts but I don't think it's just me. I think you simply have a feel for the basics of creative writing. Your sentences are complex, I would say 'fuller', which means that not only are they longer, which is more natural for narration (thoughts flow, they aren't just bits of information), but also they have more meaning and they don't just communicate what's happening, they include everything else in the scene. I can't really describe what I mean but it's sort of like this: you give a piece of information about something but I see all the 'baggage' that comes with this information, I see the whole scene but also the emotions that go into it, and what has led to this piece of information being revealed, I see the characters' past, I see the motives. I wish I could give you some good examples but there are just so many, basically your every paragraph is like that, ha ha. I mean it. The scene when Cal is visiting Don is just one of many scenes in which everything works together. You have the portrait that tells Don's story, you have Cal's thoughts about their previous lives explaining the nature of their relationship now, you show what Don's life is like now, you show the meaning of the recent developments for the rest of the story so you give the characters motives for their future actions AND you have that glass break on Cal's face, which is actually the best way to show (rather than tell) what goes on between the brothers. But mind you, not every author breaking a glass on someone's face would achieve that effect so it's not just about writing about something drastic happening - it's everything that surrounds this action that makes it so strong and telling. That glass is just the cherry on top. And that's brilliant. I love the way you create tension in the book by using such images and it's so great that you know how to do it. You sometimes did it before as well but now it is there all the time. Everything flows, everything is part of something, you are in control of the world you created. You can actually see this world, you ARE in this world and you feel it. You know what your characters should be thinking, you know what they should be feeling, you know who they are and how that affects what they do, you know their histories and how that affects their personalities. I always think that it takes some knowledge of psychology to create believable characters because no book on writing can teach you to feel the right things at the right moments. You can analyze your writing, you can wonder about 'does this sound credible, would my character do this, would my character see this' but some things you just have to feel in your gut. Because when you do you make it possible for your readers to visit the world you created and I'm so glad you can do it. To be frank, it doesn't matter to me anymore what else I'm going to read about (as long as it's credible, of course) because it's written in such away that I can really feel it, experience it, and that's already enough. You make it exciting for me so that makes it worth reading. But of course, my previous notes still apply: you have to create a narrative that actually does something. The summary you sent me before didn't make me feel like there was enough story in it. But now I am positive that you're going in the right direction because I can see from the actions of the characters that there is something bigger going on there and there is something to wait for at the end.
I do have a bit of light criticism, though. Nothing serious, I'm not gonna rain on your parade now. But when you're describing Cal's dream (in italics) it would be better to write in in the present tense. I think that's how it's generally done, but more importantly, if it's a dream it would be something happening NOW. You're writing about what's going on in the dream, you're not simply describing the dream. If you were describing what Cal dreamt of you would skip the italics because italics suggest there's some break in the narrative - hence the present tense. That's actually practically the only reason to use present tense in a past tense narrative. Also, italics and the present tense are a great way to put the reader in the scene, to put him in Cal's skin, so it makes the experience of reading stronger.
Another thing I want to mention is that guy smelling of old spice and king Julian. There is absolutely nothing wrong with these two but keep in mind that everybody knows what Old Spice is and there is this king Julian in 'Madagascar' and readers will definitely think of that. If you're not opting for a comic effect maybe you could think of doing something about it. Maybe think of what old spice really means - use another adjective that would imply that the spice has lost its freshness. But like I said, there's nothing wrong here. I remember a Polish movie about a witcher. There was an actor playing the part of the king's soldier and when people in the cinema saw this actor they would laugh out loud every time - only because this guy had starred in a funny tv series where he played some stupid wicked neighbor with a very funny name. This role stuck to him so much that people just couldn't appreciate the guy as a new serious character, for them he would always be this other character. Or, I always wonder why this one company is called FCUK. Every time I see the name I see F**K and it just ruins it for me. I'm thinking, wasn't there really a better choice for a name that people wear on their T-shirts? I know that it's because this is the UK branch of the company but still, there's no way to escape reading it as F**K and that has negative connotations, and a company should avoid negative connotations, isn't it? Or, there is this (maybe Swedish) company called OSRAM selling their lighting products in Poland, and in Polish the name means literally 'I will s**t on you.' Every time you see the name you are reminded of what it means and the negative connotations are there. So, coming back to your kind Julian, if you want to make your king sound like a terrifying cruel man, maybe the name Julian is not the best for him because in the end, who'd be afraid of king Julian from 'Madagascar'? People sometimes get really stuck on such things, believe me. You're reading a gripping thriller and then some funny king Julian pops up like a jack-in-the-box, like some clown.
Just a thought there.
Also, why does Lowri's hair smell of coconuts? What kind of shampoo does she use?
And another thing: after Cal dies, what happens with his body over three days? Does it decompose? Does he bleed out? He was bleeding out at some point so how come he comes back to life and is ok? This is a small thing that your readers will forgive you for but still, try to come up with some lame explanation for how he managed not to rot before someone found him. It may be implied that his friend found him before he bled out to death but you should still explain it a bit. After all, there was an assassin in the room with Cal, what did the assassin do? He didn't finish him off and just left him like that? And why didn't Cal's friends bury him? Was he lying in his flat dead for three days and they expected him to come alive? You have to make some sense of this.
One more thing I see you still do occasionally is insert some half-sentences that break the narrative when you could simply write a full sentence instead that fits in nicely and doesn't disturb the flow. A half-sentence is rarely a sentence. You write, for example, on page 28, when Cal is leaving Prospect: 'Indication to leave. We stood.' You can easily turn this into a proper sentence. Compare it with what's on page 29: 'No fat starfish on the bed.' This one actually fits here very well. Can you tell why? Both are half-sentences but you have to recognize when it's a good thing to use one, and when quite the opposite.
Ok, last but not least, I want to say that I like what you do with the dialogue. It's more meaningful, more to the point, but also you manage to insert extra information in it. That's part of what I talked about before, about making the scenes 'full'. You convey a certain message in what the characters say so the dialogue serves its purpose (unlike before, when you used to have a lot of dangling dialogue that could be skipped) but also you add another layer to it, you make it possible for the reader to get immersed in the scene. Your dialogue expresses attitudes too, it's not just something that makes people communicate, and it tells the reader about who the characters are, not just what they do or what they will do as a result of this linguistic exchange - and you manage to do it in ver few words! That is very good. And one thing you do amazingly well, I think, is mix nice, complex, eloquent language with rough, foul, and simple talk of simple men. I can tell that you're in control of what you do because you use beautiful rich sentences in narration to describe what goes on in the scenes and what the characters are thinking and then you give them their own kind of talk and that's exactly how this type of character would speak in such situations. The pacing of dialogue is good too, when it's supposed to be short it's short, when it's supposed to be longer it's longer, you manage this flow really well. The pacing of the whole story is great, you give me time to think while reading, to take it all in, and when there's a need for things to speed up you write it in such a way that things go faster. I like the blunt dialogue agains the colorful sentences of narration, it prevents the story from being monotonous. Rhythm is extremely important in writing because writing is very much like a musical piece. People are designed like this - to seek rhythm in things. If you have too many fluctuations, if the rhythm changes drastically, it disturbs the reader, it pulls him out of the story so I'm really glad you can feel those little things that are so crucial. As I said before, it takes skill to do it (and it's hard to believe you do it so well now when you struggled with it before. You learn SO fast). I don't need to tell you that flow and rhythm are two of the things that make people turn the pages. If you don't have rhythm it's like driving the car without using the clutch - you know what happens when you change gears.
Ok, I think it's time to finish with all this praise :-). I'm just wondering what your family would say about your book now. You said that when they read a piece of your Eli story they didn't want to finish reading. I'm sure they would want to read the whole Shadows book. So, keep writing and send me more when you have more. Man, I can't even tell you how much your story-telling has improved, not just writing. And you're only getting started. And we know that practice makes perfect. But already now you can really grip the reader, put them 'in the zone'. I can see the characters, not just what they are wearing, I can feel the 'vibes' that they are sending out from little things you insert here and there - like when Cal is attracted to Lowri and you write that Lowri wasn't thinking of sex with Cal as he was (but there were many more things like that). It's such little things that are sort of on the side and accidental that add flavor and I'm noticing them because I'm analyzing the text critically but normally readers don't notice these things, they notice when they aren't there and they can tell you when a story sucks. Often they can't pinpoint what is wrong with the book but they FEEL what's missing. And even when these things are not noticed they add so much to the experience, they add so much to that layer that is beneath the story, and readers always respond to a story because of what lies underneath. It's something that's sort of in the unconscious. People have always read books not for the stories themselves but for what these stories do to them. A good writer is a writer that is not just skilled with words but who can reach deep into the psyche of the reader, who understands the complexity of the human being. As pompous as it may sound, that's exactly what you're doing. Maybe you don't know how you do it but you know how to do it and it's a gift. I still remember the scene in which Cal is walking through town and looks up at the sky he can see between the tall buildings, and he squints. It gave me shivers. I don't know what this scene did to me, I wouldn't say it changed anything in my world, but it was powerful, it was something I felt on some deeper level and even though I don't know the meaning of it, it was a great moment. It's silly but that's how it works. Such things can't really be pinponted but they give people a feeling of something being so good that it's almost too much.
So, I'll be waiting for more. I hope you're not too busy to find time to write. I promise to find time to read it, ha ha.
All right, time to finish this mail. I have to eat sometimes and I always forget to eat when I'm at my keyboard.
Take care. Ciao.
© 2012 Lowesy
Added on May 20, 2012
Last Updated on May 20, 2012
Abouthttp://www.youtube.com/user/TheFailedMusicians?feature=mhee www.twitter.com/authorlowes I'm back with avengance! Read, Review.....something else that begins with 'R' RR's are on for now but .. more..