Aileo's Writing [Desperate for Improvement!]

Questions, skill improvement, and respectful critique involving game writing.
Post Reply
Message
Author
User avatar
Aileo
Regular
Posts: 56
Joined: Tue Sep 28, 2010 8:44 pm
Projects: Unnamed short project
Organization: [ctrl] + minds
Location: New Jersey
Contact:

Aileo's Writing [Desperate for Improvement!]

#1 Post by Aileo » Thu Dec 22, 2011 1:22 am

Hello, good people of the forum. I'm not fond of my writing style and I was in the middle of writing a VN, when I realized the writing deserves a little bit more color. I don't think it's terrible but I think it could use more. Anyway, I posted couple of samples of writing not from my work in progress, and wondered if a few fine folks would look them over? Please tell me what I could do to improve.

The first is a sample from a writing assignment I had in my English class this semester. I was supposed to write an excerpt of what could be a larger story. This is an example of my prose writing.

Code: Select all

History always remembers the epic, but never the men. The tales always grew bigger in the telling, until one was not sure if it was a fifty foot high dragon defeated with a five foot long sword or a fifty foot long dragon defeated by a five foot high sword.  The heroes were just as grand, in jewel encrusted armor, vanquishing terrifying foes and vanishing, leaving the world at peace. He would be mysterious, one with the land, a paragon of virtue. One would never suspect he could have been a writer of bad poetry or cheated heavily at cards.

In the end it doesn't matter, thought Lloyd, as drank his ale under the local pub's pavilion.  Despite all the amenities and accolades he received as a hero, no seemed to ask about the well-being of the person who served the public.  The line of birch trees that surrounded both sides of the open area where he sat offered him no cover, and yet no one approached him.  He had been one of many in his merry band of cohorts, and it had suited him fine; there was a certain peace to be had in the anonymity of such a group.  

But sometimes he wondered if he'd made a difference.  There would always be wounded, beaten people. The forgotten faces who were down so far that the workings of the wider world didn't matter. In his starry-eyed youth, Lloyd had once imagined he'd helped these people, too. But his jaded, older self knew better and was ashamed. What was the use of being a hero if all could not reap the benefits? He was tired of it all. He craved his once simple life before he became one of the chosen.

He was tired, and he wanted out.
The second example is from a failed attempt at writing a fan fiction. It was for Mass Effect 2, not that I think it makes a difference. This is a bit of a dialogue exchange between Female Shepard and a man named Kaidan.

Code: Select all

"Maybe you're right. But maybe you feel that you owe Cerberus because they saved you, if they really did." Kaidan shook his head. "You've changed, but I know I belong. I am an Alliance soldier. Always have been, always will be." 

As he turned to go, Shepard laughed bitterly. "That's not the only thing that changed about me." She closed her eyes as Kaidan turned to look at her again. He nearly dropped his jaw when he saw a familiar, if weak, blue energy formed around Shepard. He would have remembered that. "Shepard? But...but weren't you a...?"

She dropped the energy field. "...A soldier? Oh, I was Kaidan. But when Cerberus sought to rebuild me they decided that I needed an edge. So here I am, a biotic. A Vanguard, to be exact. The heavy armor makes me tired now, but I can shield myself. Or I would, if it wasn't for the fact that I am like a baby asari when it comes to handling my new powers. At least I can still use some of my guns."

Kaidan didn't say anything, but did notice she was no longer carrying her beloved sniper rifle. His mind worked overtime trying to handle this new development. Shepard took his silence as a signal to continue. "And the rest of me? They had to rebuild me from the ground up, Kaidan. I don't exactly look the same. It's a serious mind trip to look in the mirror and know that you no longer have your mother's eyes."

She took a step forward. "If you think for one moment that I'll give Cerberus the time of day for taking away part of my identity, for lying to me and for what they have done in the past you are mistaken. The changes they've made on me are just a measure of control, I know that. And despite how I've changed, there are people willing to stand by my side, even working with Cerberus. Garrus, Chakwas, Joker, they're all with me and fight with me, Kaidan. I...was hoping to convince you to join me. It'd be just like old times."

He felt like he had just been slapped in the face. It wasn't like old times. It's been two years. He mourned her loss and now here she was, a practical stranger, asking him to give up the normal life he had tried to keep in her absence. He shook his head no. "It won't, Shepard. I will never work for Cerberus." He really did turn to go this time. "I know where my loyalties lie."

She tried one last time. "At one point Kaidan, your loyalties were with me." He ignored her, but couldn't help but give her one last look. "I have to report back to the Citadel. I'll let them sort through what happened here. Goodbye, Shepard. And be careful."
Any takers? :oops:

User avatar
Rewritten Ennui
Veteran
Posts: 279
Joined: Thu Jul 14, 2011 1:50 pm
Organization: TwinTurtle Games
Contact:

Re: Aileo's Writing [Desperate for Improvement!]

#2 Post by Rewritten Ennui » Thu Dec 22, 2011 3:04 am

I'm no master writer but I notice that your sentence structure doesn't vary too much. Some of them are rather choppy and break up the flow, which may be the main thing that's bothering you. Don't be afraid to combine sentences and learn to hear what sounds good and flows easily. Also, you aren't consistent with your tenses. Read over a few sentences and you'll notice that it sounds off. If you don't mind, I'll use some of your sentences as examples.
History always remembers the epic, but never the men. The tales always grew bigger in the telling, until one was not sure if it was a fifty foot high dragon defeated with a five foot long sword or a fifty foot long dragon defeated by a five foot high sword.
I would rewrite it as:
History always remembers the epic, but time always distorts the memory of the man. Tales grow more ridiculous with every telling until it's unknown whether it was a fifty foot high dragon defeated with a five foot long sword or a fifty foot long dragon defeated by a five foot high sword.
Notice how I changed a few words and placed emphasis on some of them. IDK if this is better, but that's just how I would write it >_>
There would always be wounded, beaten people. The forgotten faces who were down so far that the workings of the wider world didn't matter. In his starry-eyed youth, Lloyd had once imagined he'd helped these people, too. But his jaded, older self knew better and was ashamed.
Choppy describes this part well. Sometimes short and direct sentences work well, but be careful not to over use them. They get tiring. After a long time, you get bored. Reading them over and over again just gets hard. Do you see what I mean? You want to save these kinds of sentences for ideas you really want to emphasize.
There would always be the wounded, the beaten, the forgotten... the people who the world abandoned long ago. In his stary-eyed youth, Llyod had once imagined that he would be able to help these people rise from their condition. Alas, his jaded, older self knew better than this, and was ashamed of his earlier idealism.
My rewriting of the same idea. IMO, this flows better.
She took a step forward. "If you think for one moment that I'll give Cerberus the time of day for taking away part of my identity, for lying to me and for what they have done in the past you are mistaken. The changes they've made on me are just a measure of control, I know that. And despite how I've changed, there are people willing to stand by my side, even working with Cerberus. Garrus, Chakwas, Joker, they're all with me and fight with me, Kaidan. I...was hoping to convince you to join me. It'd be just like old times."
Let's focus on the dialogue. These are just my stylistic preferences, mind you.
She took a step forward. "If you think for one moment that I'll give Cerberus the time of day for taking away part of my identity, for lying to me and for what they have done in the past, you are mistaken. The changes they've made to me are just a measure of control, I know that. And despite how I've changed, there are people willing to stand by my side, even working with Cerberus! Garrus, Chakwas, Joker... they're all with me and will fight alongside me, Kaidan. I... I was hoping to convince you to join me as well. Think about it; it'd be just like old times."
Periods are so dull. They don't convey that much emotion, as compared to exclamation points and question marks. I mean, I love exclamation points! As opposed to loving exclamation points. Remember that the audience can't hear the exact tone of a piece when it's all text, so you need to give them clues. You get what I'm saying? Keep them engaged with emotion.

But the main thing you should keep in mind is that writing a VN is much more different than other traditional forms of writing. You no longer have to pay so much attention to describing the setting, and you need to focus more on dialogue. It's like writing a play, almost. I'd say you're writing decently, and there's some room for improvement. Still, you're pretty good. Experiment with those other punctuation marks; semi-colons are a favorite of mine :D As are exclamation points! Question marks are cool too, don't you agree? Colons: the thing following it doesn't even need to be a sentence. Just play around with your keyboard and vary your sentence structure.
For reference, here's a handy-dandy website with grammar rules. I use this site all the time and it's trustworthy. Sometimes there's a pop-up, so just click out of it and you can pretty much relive your English classes >_>
I've swapped accounts to CheeryMoya, so this account is no longer in use. Refer to the new account if you want to contact me.

Twinturtle Games Website

purple_pockets
Regular
Posts: 33
Joined: Wed Dec 07, 2011 7:18 pm
Contact:

Re: Aileo's Writing [Desperate for Improvement!]

#3 Post by purple_pockets » Thu Dec 22, 2011 9:27 pm

@Rewritten Ennui: I am not so sure if she wants it to sound like that. :D (first couple of sentences)
I think she was going for a certain feel, and I felt that I was in a medieval fairy tale when I read those first two sentences. But I really understand what you were trying to say. The way you put it was a lot clearere. I agree with you on the rest.

I think that it is really hard to write something well, and I think that this was a very good try. I am not very good at fiction writing, but I do notice some things that could potentially detract from the overall feel. As Rewritten Ennui wrote, you do repeat similar sentence structures. Its a hard thing not to do, because one almost feels like there is a rhythm, and it feels quite unnatural to break up the rhythm when you finally get into the flow of writing. This sort of thing is quite common. I used to roleplay online with a bunch of other players, but couldn't help but get tired of reading the either incredibly long emotes/says or incredibly short ones. There was no middle ground. Being rather naive towards the methods of fictional writing, I would fall into this trap all the time, and wonder what was wrong with my story. What was happening was that I knew what I wanted to convey, but it all came out in a big blob of text. Although what I was saying in the middle of the paragraph was related to its beginning, the ties weren't as clear as I would like. To supliment the fact that my emotes weren't organized, I began to write lengthy sentences with as many large words as I could fit. The outcome was somewhat like (okay, a lot like) the second paragraph from your first sample. It had large words and a slight poetic feel to it, but ultimately was amateurish. My sentences seemed heavily contrived and unnatural because I bogged it down so much with unnecessary length.
Of course, I know that story writing is a little different. Stories are longer-term, and require more commitment. The plus-side to a short story format is that you as the author can revise to your heart's content. I will try to make suggestions how you could write it a little better. In the next few paragraphs, I will show you that a bit of revision can go a long way.
The heroes were just as grand, in jewel encrusted armor, vanquishing terrifying foes and vanishing, leaving the world at peace. He would be mysterious, one with the land, a paragon of virtue. One would never suspect he could have been a writer of bad poetry or cheated heavily at cards.

I might re-write this like this:
The heroes were just as grand, they came in jewel encrusted armor and owned the land. They would vanquish terrifying foes and leave the world at peace. They were mysterious, and paragons of virtue, no one suspecting that one may have been an author of terrible poetry or cheated heavily at cards.
In the end it doesn't matter, thought Lloyd, as drank his ale under the local pub's pavilion. Despite all the amenities and accolades he received as a hero, no seemed to ask about the well-being of the person who served the public. The line of birch trees that surrounded both sides of the open area where he sat offered him no cover, and yet no one approached him. He had been one of many in his merry band of cohorts, and it had suited him fine; there was a certain peace to be had in the anonymity of such a group.

I might re-write this passage like this:
In the end it doesn't matter, thought Lloyd. He had been one of many in his merry band of cohorts. It suited him fine. There was a certain peace to be had in the anonymity of such a group. Despite all the amenities and accolades he received as a hero, no one seemed to care for the well-being of a public servant. Lloyd drank his ale under the local pub's pavillion, a line of birch trees surrounding two sides of that open area. He was in plain sight, and yet no one approached him.

I have no idea if that is better or not, but it may help if you group some similar ideas together, like I grouped what the heroes had, what they did, and what their personalities were like. I am sorry if I changed the meaning of your sample. I will admit, I am just a student right now, and I don't know a lot about writing. One thing that I have learned though is that it is important to be brutally honest with yourself, but don't insult yourself. If something doesn't sound right, chances are it isn't right. If you can't figure it out, ask a friend if they notice anything. I am sorry if I was too wordy, but I hope you get something out of it. :D
A teenager's favorite phrase:
No sé y no me importa.
Translation: I don't know and I don't care

User avatar
Aileo
Regular
Posts: 56
Joined: Tue Sep 28, 2010 8:44 pm
Projects: Unnamed short project
Organization: [ctrl] + minds
Location: New Jersey
Contact:

Re: Aileo's Writing [Desperate for Improvement!]

#4 Post by Aileo » Fri Dec 23, 2011 2:19 pm

Ah, thank you both so much! You have given me a great deal to keep in mind while I'm working. It really is hard to think about variations in the structure when you're writing. I'm not an English major either, so as long as what I see is grammatically correct, I think it's fine. I will take all of what was said and hopefully it will make a difference in the writing of my project.

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users