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why not workshop?

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Nobody has any question about writing anymore, so we all must be pretty good writers, right? So why don''t you all show off your skillz by workshopping this story for me? (Warning it''s about PG-13 rated due to mild references to bisexuality.) Hearts Or Nello Also, somebody should post about proper/useful ways to workshop a story. My definition : making lotsa marks on it with a red pencil.

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Well, I was hoping someone else would define it because I''m lazy, but oh well. Workshopping as story, as I have experienced it, goes like this:

1. Author presents a complete story to a group of reviewers, usually between 3 and 10.

2. All reviewers read the story, suggest both spot and overall improvements, and comment on each others'' suggestions.

3. The author is supposed to avoid commenting on his/her own work except to answer direct questions after the reviewers have already read the story and expressed their opinions.

4. The author takes the combined suggestions of all reviewers and revises the story.

5. Repeat as desired, using fresh reviewers each time.

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Mmmh Constructive criticism. That''s how I call it. I get the idea.

Now to find a moment to read and comment properly ...

youpla :-P

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Guest Anonymous Poster
Are you looking for comments here or via email?

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Fair warning, I''m pretty picky, and plenty brutal with the red pen. Ask Paul Cunningham.

Just the first paragraph with this post.

"... 17 merchant Estates, each ruled by its Queen."

You seem to go a little heavy with the caps. The words estates and queen are not formal titles here. It''s a style choice, so not necessarily bad.

Mixing ''merchant'' with ''queen'' is unusual. Could be good, could be bad, but it would take some solid writing to get away with it.

Then you jump to

"Prince Jessop ..."

And the train derails. The opening paragraph moves from a general description of the city and its political setup to a specific individual without transition.

At this point I''m still getting my head around the idea of a city being large enough to support 17 queens and you jump to a specific character. The physical description is very out of place at this point.

The name "Orchards Estate" is a good phrase. It lets me know that estates are considered to have formal boundaries and gives me a bit of a feel for it at the same time.

"...and his parents had decided that the useful thing to do with him would be... "

Excessively wordy. This whole sentence has several subclauses that make it long. I don''t see any style benefit to using the longer sentence here.

" ... other Estates..." - caps again.

"...preferably with that Estate’s Princess-heir."

Awkward construction.

"Jessop wasn''t so sure..."

Here''s where I have real beef (again). You''ve start with a general description of the political environment (sentence 1 and 2).

Then you introduce to a specific character out of the blue (sentence 3), but at least you spend a good chunk of that sentence trying to connect him to the political environment that you have described.

Then you move to the opinions inside that person''s head (last sentence). You lost me again. It''s another big jump without any transitions.

You have shifted point of view 3 times in the first paragraph. I don''t mind the author taking a bit of time to find his voice, but that''s a little much.

At this point, I have no sympathy for this character. I barely know anything about him. He''s a prince that is expected to have an arranged marriage. But the rather soft language used in describing the arrangement (the long phrases of the previous sentence) don''t suggest that this is a horrific practice for the local culture.

So why is his reluctance so important that the author needs to tell me directly how he feels?

You want I should continue with the rest of the piece, or wait for further discussion?

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Well in a RL workshopping environment I''ve usually been asked to do batches of 20 double-spaced pages, which would be most of my story. I think smaller increments are better for this message board format - one scene (scene breaks are marked by asterisks) seems like a useful size. Maybe if you had comments on more than one scene you could put each scene''s comments in their own post? I''m going to resist commenting for several days so as not to bias anyone else who may be motivated to post their comments.

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Okay then, I''ll add comments on paragraph 2,which takes it to the end of the first scene.

Para 2 starts "Like any good little Prince,"

Ouch. First, the caps. Second, the previous paragraph stated that Jessop had come of age. This phrase sounds like he is still a child.

It continues "...[he] craved someone to set his heart on...". This does not appear to have anything to do with being a Prince, especially if arranged marriages are common. the introductory phrase to this paragraph has got to go.

Then compare the first part of the sentence "good little Prince", "set his heart on", "love forever" with the last part "find one''s soulmate." The former phrases fit together in the context of a medieval fairy tale, but the latter doesn''t fit very well. It''s too serious or perhaps too modern.

Sentence 2:
Delete the "And" at the beginning. I''d strike the word "certainly" too. It doesn''t add anything.

I''d recommend replacing the euphemism "interesting" with the word attractive.

Sentence 3:
"Just recently..." This phrase doesn''t appear to be relevant. What the author is interested is in the subject matter of Jessop''s dreams, not the time frame.

"...plagued by dreams..." cliche. So much so that you spend the next sentence trying to make up for it. I''d say reword this phrase and remove the next sentence.

Are you trying to convey the character''s process of discovery or laying out a brief back story? If the former, spend more time on the character''s feelings as he learns about sexual desire. If the latter (which is what I suspect you want) then focus more on laying out the conflict between his own desires (for both men and women) versus his duty to being a Prince.

It doesn''t need to be a grandiose heart-wrenching conflict, just the seeds at this point, which will set up the rest of the story.

Last 2 sentences:
"...searching for a solution..." solution to what? Erotic dreams? An alternative to the monogamous culture?

Captain''s Logbook, Library - caps again. These do not appear to be proper nouns.

polyamoric doesn''t need to be in quotes.

Putting the word primitive in quotes creates a small problem. So far the author''s language matches that of the protagonist. That is, it feels like Jessop is telling the story, first person point of view. With the word primitive in quotes, the author steps out of this voice and adds an editorial comment.

So who is telling the story? If it''s first person, then remove the quotes. It seems likely that Jessop would consider the islanders primitive as well. Or else remove the word entirely, since a discussion of the state of the islander culture never occurs.

If the author is telling the story in 3rd person, then Jessop''s inner thoughts would be better exposed by dialog.

The same thing happened in the first sentence now that I think about it - if you want to use the soulmate phrase, change it to ''his soulmate'' or get out of his head entirely.

Change "sexualities" to sexual practices or something similar. Individuals have sexualities, peoples typically don''t.

Finally, his theft of the book seems unimportant. As part of the chronicle of his sexual discovery it is a milestone, but the details of how he acquired the book, not to mention the care he took to see that they had an extra copy, seems out of place. At best, a crude attempt to humanize the character.

The second paragraph is like the first in that the author is all over the map. It begins with the protagonist''s views about the arranged marriage and changes into a brief chronicle of his explorations of his sexuality.

The character is confused about what he wants, which is acceptable, but the author comes across equally as confused which is unfortunate. A single soulmate vs a polyamoric solution, for example. Is the prince coming of age and stepping up to be an adult, or is he a "good little Prince" ? Is this story a conflict between monogamy and polyamory, or simply a chronicle of one man''s discovery of his own sexuality?

It''s an ok first draft, but so far it just doesn''t seem to have a tight focus. The language choice is a mixed bag, which is tolerable since it''s not advertised as professional quality, but the structure is lacking. Figure out what the story is about and write that. the rest is tangential at best and should be treated as such.

I''m done now. Someone else can take up the criticism for the rest.

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I''m reading it again now (Got caught up in the story and forgot to do any proofreading...)

I like it so far, keep going...

Faradhi Sobriet-Treves
Press to test... *click* Release to detonate...

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