Sign in to follow this  
JohnHurt

An extract

Recommended Posts

This is a bit of something I'm working on. Not necesserily game related, but I just wanted some opinions on the style. If this isn't appropriate I'll delete it. Many thanks. For God's sake once again into the nocturnal misery factory. Mechanical bladders on legs imbibing toxins surround me. Thin things in tight cloth flapping their milk sacs around. I could say they are but the buzzing of flies to me, but that would be to deny the wonderful sensation of anxiety that I feel right now. That comforting feeling like being punched in the stomach. That gorgeous dry mouth and unstayed leg nodding under the table. That unique yet welcome clamming of the hands signalling the return of my oldest friend. Many people come and go through my life. But this one's always with me. Nonchalantly giving me the V's whenever I start to feel even slightly at ease with myself. She never lets me drop my guard. She reminds me to keep the defences up. Keep that loving wall between me and them. If I were to ever slip into the cycle that they occupy - that Newtonian ballet of work and karaoke, misery and drinking - I don't think I could carry on. I’m not even sure what it is that keeps me coming back to these things. An oasis of humanity must exist in every desert. In movies, the loner comes to the watering hole and finds his sole mate in amongst the backbrush. The misunderstood anti-hero finds his redemption in the arms of a spiritualised local. This is what keeps me alive these days. My unerring contempt for humanity on one side of my brain, and a romantic optimism on the other is what keeps me going. I stand in a spot tonight relatively safe. No one gets too close and I hold my own quite well - draining a bottle of something that smells like rubber - fully aware of the hypocrisy of my very presence here. Scanning the room looking for something. A flash of recognition maybe. Nothing. A couple of lipstick lesbians flirt for the amusement of the local boys. White stripes on tracksuit trousers glow in the ultra-violet. A girl surreptitiously cheats while her boyfriend is at the bar. Cigarettes hover in front of darkened faces. Someone near to me is mouthing the wrong words to the song that's playing. A couple of neo-retro-styled gothic-funk-punk-warriors devour each other's faces at the bar. There’s supposed to be a band playing tonight. The band is called Templeton Peck, an obscure reference to a character in the A-Team. I stand there for a while and try not to imagine what they look like. The fact of the matter is, that they probably look like me – self-conscious and sweating into their space-invaders t-shirts. In fact, maybe I’m one of them and I don’t yet realise it. We come from the same generation. A generation of half-wit psuedo-intellectuals who rethink what Karouac and Burroughs have thought a thousand times before, but have nothing new to add to the subject. The first-born of the five-minute-attention-span kids, culturally abandoned by the ‘70’s and ejected into the ‘80’s from where we never learned to walk. A nation of backwards-looking retro-fitted starwars-atari-battleoftheplanets fuelled morons desperately looking for something even remotely original but completely unable to think beyond the shackles of a habitually enforced false nostalgia. I’m drinking too much again, so I shake my head a couple of times and order a double vodka and coke.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Wow, I really really like this.

The first few paragraphs sound so alien that it sets a tone for the rest of it that makes you think it could go anywhere. I don't know if it *quite* fits with the rest of it (the guy likes anxiety???), but in some strange way it does fit after all. (As long as he feels anxiety around these guys, he knows he's not quite one of them, even if he does later lump himself in with them.) Even the video game references...I've personally never been to a bar where video game geeks were cool, and this makes me wonder whether this is a different kind of bar/universe, or whether he's filtering everything/everyone through what he is.

Basically it comes across to me as a contrast between being alien & belonging, only maybe there's not such a big contrast after all because sometimes you don't *want* to belong, but even when you don't you do. Even when everyone tries to be wildly unique, they end up all being the same underneath. There's a lot more to it, but it's one of those gut-level things that it's hard to express except as a confusing mishmash of images...which you've already done better than I can anyway, heh.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
All I could really get out of it is that it seems to be drawing on the experience of a young American, at least in its choice of vocabulary. Probably urban or suburban. It's about people seeking...what? entertainment? Seems somewhat recursive for a game idea.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote:
Original post by dodecahedron
seems to be drawing on the experience of a young American


Interesting, I tried to make it as British as possible. Oh well, we *are* the 51st state afterall! ;)

Basically this is a bit from a novel I'm writing, I was bored and decided to post the only clean bit I could find.

Thanks for the comments. onxyflame you pretty much hit the nail on the head there. He *does* like anxiety in a way, but only because he has had it for so long, that it is what makes him feel normal. Relaxation holds a special fear for him!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
What I like in novels is a certain level of subtlety. For example, I like in your excerpt that you don't re-describe the aliens ("mechanical toxin imbibers" and "thin things with milk sacks") in non-alien terms after you establish that it's actually a bar or club.

However, this description isn't what I'm really interested in about your character. I want to know how he's feeling, so I can identify with him. You are going to hit a lot of computer geeks square in the face with this character because a lot of us feel like he does, but almost none of us literally see people as mechanical bladders or milk sacks. His *emotions* are what we are going to identify with, not his incredibly extreme view of others. A lot of us get this sort of feeling, and we want to pretend that people are meaningless but really we want nothing more than to have them pay attention to us. But it is because this emotion is the most important part of your story to me that I was so disappointed that you used the line "I could say they are but the buzzing of flies to me, but that would be to deny the wonderful sensation of anxiety that I feel right now" to describe it. You do a good job of showing the reader how your character views his world, but you really don't SHOW us how he feels about it - instead, you have him TELL us. So, though I like the subtlety you use in your description of his views, I would really like to see a lot more craft go into showing us how he feels.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I think this is a very good piece of writing--it reminds me of my own, only dressed up in somewhat presentable clothes--and it does something that I believe is nearly essential--it provides a resounding effect inside the reader. It sounds true, which is your first responsibility to the reader.

I have to disagree a bit on the demonstration/extrapolation (show/tell) bit. I think this is fine. My own style tends more towards telling, but through dialogue, and this provides a sense of telling in a different way. We can tell what he feels and what he thinks by the word choice and the way it's written. It provides an interesting little game to the reader, deciphering the meanings behind it. Were it written poorly, the act of deciphering it might prove annoying, but given how well it's written, it was enjoyable.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I really like this as well.

The first few sentences threw me, though, and while I liked them, they were almost too extreme. Considering that this is an excerpt coming from a larger text, though, I don't think that's really a problem. At first, I thought this character was robot or android or something, the way they were describing the humans around him. As if humans were completely incomprehensible and utterly alien to him.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Humans are totally incomprehensible to him. Have you ever had one of those days when you feel so totally overwhelmed by humanity that you shut down and stop seeing people as independent entities? I know i have! The novel is all about that inability to ever fully get to grips with the "otherness" of those around us, and how it is possible for someone to become completely detatched from society while at the same time conforming to its rules. It's about the way the mind "defends" us from reality by changing our perception of it.
The show-don't-tell arguement has always been a bit tenuous for me. It's more of a guideline for the "bigger picture", although I am doing some telling in this extract, it's an unavoidable side-effect of writing in the first-person. But in the larger scale of things i'm showing the reader how the character is slowly falling into a cycle and pattern of thinking, which will ultimately guide him to his salvation (if that doesn't sound to horrendously pretensious!).

Thanks for all the feedback, i really appreciate it - it forces me to attempt to justify my ramblings ;)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
to reiterate what Taolung said, the first paragraph is almost too much. to be honest, i read it, had an inward groaning moment, thought "great, another writer using obscure words and over dramatic descriptions," and moved on to the replies. once i had read the praise, i went back and reread the exerpt, and ended up liking it. one of my biggest pet peeves is when writers replace good, solid words with fluffy ones in an attempt to sound smarter, or better. i'm not saying that that's what you did, it could just be the way you write, but saying that (for instance) something was "unnecessary" is just as good as saying it was "superfluous", and saying it was "bad" or "good" is no worse than saying it was "maleficent" or "marvelous", or whatever other fancy words you can come up with.
again, i'm not trying to imply that you did it on purpose, it's just that you don't have to be fancy to be good. craft your message and the way you say it well, and there is no need to use flowery language, unless you plan on continuing it throughout the entire piece (some that is hard to do without becoming boring, even if you have a great thesaurus on hand).
eh, anyway, good stuff other than that. there was a lot of telling as versus showing, as someone else mentioned, but that can be ok, since we're kind of hearing his inner voice, and if those are the thoughts that he's having, then why not tell us?

feel free to disagree with me as much as possible, i'm just an amateur, and throwing in my two cents. :-D

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I agree that using flowery words is unnecessary, and is one of my pet hates as well. Apart from the first 3 sentences (which where phrased to give a sense of the characters detatchment), I'm not aware that I have used particularly "clever" words.
Of course, choice of language is not down to the writer, but the character's and indeed the narrator's voice (this applies to the third person).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

Sign in to follow this