12.29.2006

HH Com 612

""There's too little blood in the bitch! Too little to have a bath in!" it is a primal, Neanderthal shriek, reeking of fury, vomiting gases of insanity." This is how my first novel 'The Necessary Man' begins.

The story is about a Special Forces soldier who lives in a time when all the world is a giant reality show and the most popular show is about war. He has a (His) cold, devious boss who treats him like an action doll to be manipulated – including engineering for him to suffer the
death of his wife, "The hummingbird wings buzz of the pulse guns throbbed and blood and bone flew. And injured, dying, Grrurn's eyes caught Gavvy and even in the desolate loneliness of that moment, cold calculating evil streamed out and slammed into Gavuscer, Grrurn roared
in rage, "You pay for it traitor! You pay for it!""

Finally the soldier is pushed to vengeance and destroys the way his world functions in a massacre high up in the 'Death Zone' on Everest. As a punishment he is sent to a time when the world has become a single, universal consciousness – here, he is forced to confront all
his own demons.

The Necessary Man is speculative fiction and is complete at 399 pages and 104,549 words. As smooth and slippery as slate with the whiplash blood-spray of a slit throat, the novel uses a combination of verse, interviews and straight third person narrative to tell the story.


This isn't a hook and the writing is fat. Ditch all the stuff in red and compare to see how you need to whip this into shape. Don't worry about your hook; clean up your book. If the hook is fat, the book most likely is too.

9 comments:

December Quinn said...

Grrurn and Gavvy?

Sounds like an alien minstrel show.

dancinghorse said...

You're madly in love with your own prose, but from the outside it looks overwritten. Pare down, prune, simplify, make it clean and sharp. Modulate the tone until it's dead on, and make every word count. And don't forget to tell your story.

Very few writers can get away with prose this purple. Better to move it toward a lighter shade of lavender and let the story show through.

Anonymous said...

:Tired editor:

The Running Man, but with with more gore.

:Switches to the History Channel.:

Anonymous said...

Verse?

Anonymous said...

I have to agree with Dancinghorse: the fact that you keep quoting your prose suggests that you're bonded with it, but it's overdone. There are good bits, but you're suffocating them in too much wordage. What you need to do is work on your style, so I'm going to give a few examples in the hopes that it's helpful:

'Vomiting gases of insanity', for example, is far too wordy - 'X of Y' is a slow formulation to read - and it's also vague, as 'gases of insanity' doesn't mean anything. It isn't physically possible either: you can't shriek and vomit at the same time, and you can't vomit gas at all.

Be careful of repetition. You don't need both 'primal' and 'Neanderthal', as they say pretty much the same thing. And with 'shriek', well, 'primal shriek' sounds too close to 'primal scream', which is a form of therapy, and Neanderthals are supposed to grunt, not scream. In fact, you don't need either: if the guy is yelling about bathing in blood, he's hardly a gentleman. What he says should be enough to convey what he's like. So primal and Neanderthal are extraneous in themselves, but then you heap up 'reeking of fury' and the gases of insanity thing as well. You see what I'm getting at? You could prune this down drastically without losing the sense. The idea of bathing in blood is a good strong one, but too much repetition around it and you're actually padding the blow. Removing adjectives and images can give things more impact, because there's less distracting verbiage around it.

You use too many abstract words. Desolate loneliness, cold calculating evil, all in the same sentence, doesn't actually convey very much: it's too general. You need to convey details so readers can actually imagine what's happening rather than just being told that it's evil or desolate.

Your images are too elaborate. They need to be crisp and brief. The 'whiplash bloodspray of a slit throat', for example, is too long. Slippery as blood-smeared slate, perhaps. It's a good basic image; I can clearly picture how slippery blood on slate will be. But as you're just trying to convey the quality of slippery in that image, the shape of the bloodspray, and what kind of injury caused it, aren't relevant.

I'm not trying to have a go at you, but if you seriously want to sell your work, the style needs some major editing. You should probably join a writing group; purple prose is a habit that takes a bit of practice to break.

Drama is great, but overdo it in the writing and the readers will be less involved. What you need to work on is streamlining your prose. And, based on your prose, I'd avoid poetry altogether until you've calmed your style down a bit. You've got some potential buried under all the words, and if you want it to emerge you'll have some work to do, so good luck with it :-)

dana p said...

Wow, everybody's in a good mood today! I thought this would get WTF-ed to hell and gone.

You've received some very concrete and very detailed advice, author -- take it seriously and your writing can only improve.

I'll try not to snark (that really should be left to the expert), but "vomiting gases of insanity" is just laugh-out-loud bad. Sorry. Somebody had to say it.

But if you can channel the passion and energy you're putting into your writing into *improving* your writing, who knows what's possible?

Anonymous said...

""There's too little blood in the bitch! Too little to have a bath in!" it is a primal, Neanderthal shriek, reeking of fury, vomiting gases of insanity." This is how my first novel 'The Necessary Man' begins.

Um. If I read that as the first line of a book, I'd put the book straight back on the shelf. But then again, I'm squeamish. There might be an audience for that sort of thing. I do admire the passion you inject into the writing, but it's a little too in-my-face for my tastes.

One thing I'll note is that the dialogue itself tells us a lot about the speaker. You don't need to describe to us that this person is insane or shrieking, because how many ways could the character speak that line? Of course they're screaming; of course they're loopier than a corkscrew.

If you stripped that dialogue bare - left off the reek of verbal fury-farts, etc. - it would be much more effective writing. That's what Miss Snark means by the writing being fat; fewer words would actually give the writing more impact.

Kit Whitfield said...

Also a general tip: you don't need to mention the page extent, as page extents vary depending on formatting, and they don't know what yours is. Agents just want word counts, which are much more reliable.

And when it comes to the word count, round it off, probably to 105k, or even to 100k for the sake of neatness. Every book gets edited a certain amount, so the exact number of words may change, plus there's bound to be at least a couple of occasions where you've typed the word 'and' twice by mistake (we all do that). Over-precise word counts look inexperienced. All they need is a rough idea of length so they know whether they're dealing with a slim volume or a doorstop.

Good luck.

Twill said...

Hmmm. Here's a simple way of thinking about it -your query *IS* a writing sample regarding your novel. It doesn't need to *include* a writing sample from your novel. And it certainly doesn't need to *evaluate*
the writing in your novel.

Just show the other guy what you write, and what the novel is going to be like.