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Umbra II
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[FONT="Franklin Gothic Medium"]Spectre

I don't know the protocol for introducing a work, so I'll simply jump to it.

Shadow-forms trudged away on a lone road of scarlet sand which cut across a barren, twilit landscape. Each figure was to some degree in the shape of a man, but all lacked something significant, something solid, something to give their twisted wraith-like bodies definition. Their smoky, shifting forms moved in a slow, almost dragging pace, which was reminiscent of a sleepwalker. They went only in one direction of the road, toward a darkening in the sky of such completeness that it must surely be offering the sweet solace of an oblivion equally thorough. Yet the road that was a bloody slash on through an otherwise monotonous terrain stretched on endlessly in the twilight, and every step taken by the shadow-figures seemed to cut away at their minds in bits and pieces, leaving them only with a vague dissatisfaction of having lost something crucial and irretrievable, and the unthinking and unthinkable desire to cross into the part of the land where not even the dim rays of the half-light could pierce the blackness.

Such was the state of affairs if this desolate and futile road and its despairing inhabitants when one of the shadows, grotesque like the rest in its incorporeality, hesitated on the path. The others passed it by, not knowing and not caring, understanding only the single minded urge to move forward towards certain, absolute Nothing, and doggedly pursuing that goal. Even so, still the specter hesitated, as half-formed thoughts and wants awakened in its mind. It had once been a man, one who had loved and had been loved, who had known a human’s pleasures as well as a human’s sufferings, who had lived and died, and for whom the entirety of his existence had been on the plane and the planet Earth. All these thoughts came slowly to the creature, and countless forms of flickery textures had passed it there when it finally came to understand what it had been, and what it had lost, the title and position of Self in a multitude (no matter how it struggled internally, it could not even remember the name by which it had been called.), had dawned on its faded and stagnant mind. This knowledge of self-ness, of being, stunned it into further vacillation, and for a time it was capable only of repeating to itself I-am, the great truth which was its only tie to reality and only talisman that warded the otherwise overwhelming pull from the black in the sky ahead.

As the murky shapes that made up its only company went past it, ignorant to the plight of the creature that had come to realize itself, it struggled with the desire to lose itself in the vast chasm in the sky, and the desire to find itself again the material thing it had once been. Its legs, if a shadow cast without real light could be said to have legs, shuffled back and forth with uncertainty. The tensions between the two conflicting needs heightened, and just as its anxiety reached critical peaks which shook the forms mind with incredible agitation, it became aware of a strange phenomenon. It was at once soothingly warm and horribly frigid, a sweet tone like the peal of a bell and a cacophonous screech of a terrible, mechanical quality, and carried with it the sensation of soaring tremendous heights and falling through unfathomable depths.

These and other sensations violently impressed themselves into the creature’s fragile mind, until, with a mute shriek of anguish, it ran blindly to the darkness, towards escape. The sounds and feelings immediately ceased, but the shape of smoke and shadow did not stop its flight until sometime after the echoes of the anathemas noise had faded from its dim thoughts, every step dampening its memory of the abhorrent impressions which still lingered in its mind, until at last it halted, unsure of what it was it had been running from. Over the time of what could have been have been hours or aeons the shade slowly recalled its history of existence, its more recent flight, and its current predicament. With what will was left to it, the shadow of a soul, determined to become human again and having only a vague idea of how to do so, listened for the tumultuous feelings of what it thought was its only salvation. Once more, the paradoxical sensations over took it, and once more the violence of the impressions provoked in it an equally violent urge to flee, but the specter held desperately to its hope.

Standing there without movement, it was the one exception to the tug which affected the mass of shadows like the moon on the ocean effects a tide. Those passing their fellow shadow-man did not seem to hear the roaring tone that was both strident and comforting, or feel the contradictory feelings of joy and pain. After a time, the sensations sparked within the shade what might have been its memories. At first it could only recall were only unspecific perceptions and ill-conceived images, but as it stood, the half-thoughts wound themselves together, connecting, arranging, forming pictures and sounds, smells and touches, all of which were a part of it and reinforced its now unrelenting imperative to its previous material life. These thoughts and these recollections served to slowly change the creature’s disposition towards the phenomenon from repulsed to totally captivated by its strange inflections and the strange stirrings and longings they inspired in the spirit’s confused mind. It sought now the strange feelings, the source of its memories of its past life, at first with uncertain feelings towards the nature of the sound, but growing steadily more confident that these sensations were the answer to its unspoken pleas to restoration.
Focusing its attention, it pondered the source of the strange occurrence. It did not seem to come from all around, indeed, the creature had the impression it was from a very specific source. But somehow, it came neither from the pitch black hole ahead, nor the bleak and empty lands to its sides. The shadow’s mind, already damaged from what it perceived as a rapid succession of events after the peace of monotony, was further astonished to discover that the origins of these strange sounds was behind itself.

In all its time despairing upon the red path named Void, it had never even considered that there was such a thing as a backward, and how could it? Until now it had always shambled to the firmamental vacuum whose silent imperative Cease! had been enough to override all lesser thoughts. Now it was faced the impossible, the inconceivable implication that all its dark dreamings that had shaped its idea of the dimensions of the wasteland were mistaken.

For a moment, it became unsure of itself. These doubts plagued and harassed its determination to find its reality, its Self, and it fruitlessly tried to apply something, anything, from its empty and forlorn stay in the half-lit plain which well suited its half-real occupants. After much strife, it vaguely recalled from the time when it knew what it was to be of Mankind that, if there is a place backwards, there must also be a motion backwards. With this revelation its course of action became clear. Before, it had vainly thought to find a way backwards by moving in the only direction it understood; forwards.

Slowly, each movement paining the specter and defying what must have a millennia spent on the one-way road which saw only the ink-stained section of the sky and heard only the psiren-call of a promised nothingness, the shadow turned itself towards the impressions.

It was immediately beset by a brilliant, dazzling light, which cut like a razor through the very fiber of its pseudo-being. Quickly, it turned away, avoiding the light that cut through it, revealed its fleshlessness and worthlessness To the thing that was merely a silhouette if a by-gone person, the light was a hate full and abhorrent thing. Still, though it had averted its gaze, it held fast to where it stood, for fear of losing the chaotic noise that held in it the secret to corporeality. How, it wondered desperately, could it face that awful, cutting light that was more real than itself? For a second time, it began to lose hope as it thought anew on the unatainability of its goal. Its heart-that is to say, the part within it that sought to come into being-sunk into wretched depths of despondency, and it began to think it had already failed, that it was unable to go any further. These ruminations lead to other, darker thoughts, dreams of self loathing and nihilism. It was with these considerations it once again considered a black-as-pitch place that was a hollow in the heavens (supreme irony to use that word here…). It thought about nothing, emptiness, how easy it would be to go back on its former path of self-destruction.

As if in reply to these foreboding thoughts, the pull towards the darkness made itself known. It, too, carried with it a sound, but this was far more pleasant than the ruckus behind the spirit. It called the creature which was once from mankind, promising a void so absolute, it could only be total annihilation, the ultimate death. The shade drank in the sweet scent ravenously, craving more as it consumed more. Something inside of it, something with feeble power, but unyielding purpose, tore it away before it could fully succumb to dark temptation. Perhaps it was that strange noise behind it that called, or perhaps it was the very memory of Self and selfness, but whichever it might be, it was sufficient halt it from its descent (for surely that pit in the sky could be said to have a pull synonymous with gravity.) With all of its weak force, the impulse that wanted this creature to live seemed to scream inside it. It was a shrill, faint scream, one that took all the energy it had and more to produce, and one that, should it be in vain, the already exhausted creature would not be able to produce it again. It went on and on, trying the specter for all its endurance, until at last it faded and died.

The shadow, as enchanted as it had been by the black psiren’s call, was once more dumbfounded, and it took it sometime to understand that the scream had in fact originated from within itself. A deep felt, sick feeling, echoed deep inside its half-being, and the creature, confused, examined it. Its mind, hazed, stuck somewhere between light and dark, could not comprehend the hole, the shriek, the sounds, or the light behind it, but as it struggled to grasp what it could, it seemed that its prior outburst had echoed back to it, somewhere inside itself. The silhouette groped, clung, and listened frantically, the urgency of the echo becoming more and more the creature’s own necessity. The echo seemed to get louder and higher pitched every second, and increased its already pressing urgency. An anxious nausea built up inside the heart of the miserable shadow, and it seemed now that the noise had entirely possessed it, held the once-man up and kept it from falling even as it used up the last resources it possessed.
At the ultimate tension, just as it was sure its form would truly be rent asunder, another noise one that seemed to originate within the echo that had exceeded its source in volume. As the creature listened, (indeed it could not ignore this anymore than a rock thrown into the air can ignore coming back down) it seemed in fact to be the some sort of message, a message the specter knew it must hear, knew it was what it was looking for all along. It strained to hear, as nausea grew within it until it was sure it was going to be violently sick, but, having no body, it could not vomit. And then, finally it grasped the message it was meant to hear:
“LIVE!”

and with that outcry it seemed the veil that had covered the creature’s thoughts was finally lifted. To its astonishment, it realized the replying cry had been own, and the shriek to live, to become, was no less or more than its own desperate desire. With sudden clarity, the shadow-thing truly saw where it was. Startled, it viewed the miserable creatures who barely seemed to be. With a vaguely desperate curiosity, it sought to ask these creatures of themselves, perhaps to gain some insight into its own wretched situation, but to no avail. The shadows, ever possessed by the dark vacuum, had no room in their thoughts for their anguished ex-companion, and continued forward on their infinite path of leaving. Seeing now in their lack of response an answer more terrible than anything it might have feared, the mirror image of its own abominable state, it knew more than ever before that it must escape this place, and return to its half remembered reality. It turned again towards the terribly real radiance, and though it again pierced the its shadowed form with light far more substantial than itself, it held the gaze of the glare with a determination felt all the way to its core of its being, stemming as much from its long-forgotten memories as its newfound horror of its surroundings.

Although it now faced a light brighter than anything it had conceived possible (the twilight natural to the land was not even comparable), it heard from behind itself (this distinction confused it but for a second) the sweet plea for nothing. This time, though, it was feeble, and had the opposite effect, for the wraith-thing imagined it could sense, almost smell, sickness and decay. Defiant of the call, and now even more assured of its purpose, it took a single, halting step towards the light. The pain nearly unendurably excruciating, a thousand fold worse than the first glance, and yet this time it was not repulsed, but in fact the opposite, it still wanted to proceed. The pain seemed to be melting something away, something black and sludged and scarred, and in doing so it was releasing, uplifting. It was no longer aware of the noise and the light as separate and distinct, but as joined, and the loudness of the noise was the brightness of the light. It took another, surer step, and then another, and another still, and before long it realized it was running.

With each foot fall (could it be? Certainly it noticed its passing become louder and louder, and it fancied that theses steps, these sounds coming from it, were reasons to be inexpressibly joyful) the light became more bearable, tolerable, and then, even welcoming. The spectre, coming nearer and nearer to the source of the light/sound, perceived now why its flight had been unhindered. It passed through the inhabitants of this abysmal plain, for their was little more to their bodies except smoke and shadow. It again focused it attention on those creatures of which it had so recently been kindred of, and who bordered on not existing at all, and saw that they were hardly moving at all, but really standing in place, shifting from side to side in an almost comical parody of walking.

Seeing this caused the creature to redouble its efforts, though it knew not why, so that it traveled faster than it ever had thought it might have, (and knew somehow) faster than it ever could have on the unwholesome sanguine streak that lead to nothing and nowhere. Moving faster still, it was soon approaching its goal, and it seemed only in moments it would reach the light and sound that were its destination. Looking backwards for the last time, it viewed the twilit place where it had spent what seemed to have been an eternity in the company of the others like itself that had once been human, and had shared its wretched existence with them, and felt towards them a feeling it could not describe, a strange version of pity towards those who had suffered with it. It felt no remorse for leaving the dark path or its dark end.

With that, Timothy Carlson burst through to the other side of the light
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[COLOR="goldenrod"]All right, I was planning on saying this before your comment in the thread in the Otaku Lounge, but the biggest thing that turns me off to reading what you've posted is that it's all run together. No breaks between paragraphs, no separation of conversation, etc.

So I see it and the first reaction is meh, I don't want to try and keep this straight. And to be honest I haven't. Because I don't like trying to do that. I like things broken into paragraphs and such since that just makes it easier for me to read.

So my suggestion would be to re-do the format to make it more appealing to readers. I'm sorry if that sounds harsh, but I really dislike things that run together.

[B]EDIT:[/B] Also, when I first started working on my Silver One story, I made the same mistake, running things together a little too much and that was the first thing my readers complained about. Since for me it was easy to keep track of since it was my story, but for them it was not. And now that it's been a couple of years since that started I have to agree with them. It's far preferable if there is at least some structure to make it flow a little better. ^_~[/COLOR]
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Thanks. I supposes simply copying and pasting from word was't the brightest move I could make. Do the new spacings help? Or were you refering maybe to my style of writing? (it sounded like it was just a format issue) Thanks for the feed-back, anyway. If you still find it hard to read, tell me.
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[quote name='SunfallE][COLOR="goldenrod"']...the biggest thing that turns me off to reading what you've posted is that it's all run together. No breaks between paragraphs, no separation of conversation, etc.[/COLOR][/quote]
[FONT=Arial]Excuse, excuses. :p

But yeah. I think you pretty much found out the hard way that this place comes complete with a shocking lack of Word formatting. You [I]can[/I] indent, of course, but then the system just offsets the entire selected text as indented, and doesn't really work the same way. All we can do to rectify this is ... well, pretty much what you went back and did. You might want to go back and check, though, to make sure you got all your paragraph breaks....

Bottom line, playing with formating here is much fun. (No, rly.)

Since I don't see it necessary to bash you with the "How to Use Language" stick, I feel a lot freer to be picky. I like getting to be picky.

As a warning, I might seem a little rough from here on out, but I'm just being truthful, and I'm really only trying to help in whatever way I can.

[center]--------------------[/center]
[QUOTE][I][FONT="Arial"]Shadow-forms trudged away on a lone road of scarlet sand [B]which[/B] cut across a barren, twilit landscape.[/FONT][/I][/QUOTE]
I'm not sure about this one, but perhaps "that" would work better here? At any rate, try it and see what you think.
[QUOTE][I][FONT="Arial"]Their smoky, shifting forms moved in a slow, almost dragging pace, [strike]which was[/strike] reminiscent of [B][COLOR="Red"]a sleepwalker[/COLOR][/B].[/FONT][/I][/QUOTE]
It feels like the struck portion just drags the narrative down. Unless you intended it that way...?

If you strike the "which was", change the red to plural. I'd want to add some material about the sleepwalkers, but that's a personal call.
[QUOTE][I][FONT="Arial"]...toward a darkening in the sky of such completeness that it must surely be offering the sweet solace of an oblivion equally [COLOR="Red"]as[/COLOR] thorough.[/FONT][/I][/QUOTE]
Just a suggestion. (^_^)
[QUOTE][I][FONT="Arial"]Yet the road that was a bloody slash on through an otherwise monotonous terrain stretched on endlessly in the twilight,....[/FONT][/I][/QUOTE]
This thought feels awkward to me. I think it's because you used "on" twice (bear with me); it doesn't feel necessary the first time, and if you add a "what was" after "through", it might feel better. Of course, there's always this option:
[indent][I]"Yet the road, a bloody sash through[/I] (or on; but not both) [I]what was an otherwise monotonous terrain, stretched on endlessly in the twilight...."[/I][/indent]
Again, that's just how I would probably have written it.
[QUOTE][I][FONT="Arial"][COLOR="Red"][B]Such was the state of affairs[/B][/COLOR] [COLOR="Red"]of[/COLOR] this desolate and futile road and its despairing inhabitants[B],[/B] when one of the shadows,[/FONT][/I][/QUOTE]
Ew. Too much unnecessary verbiage. You lose meaning like that; I'd drop the "affairs" bit, and leave it at "state", or possibly "(dismal?) state". You know: parentheses included for synonyms and what. (It's not [I]true[/I] editorial lingo, but still.)

...and watch your spelling. :p And add the marked comma, I think.
[QUOTE][I][FONT="Arial"][B]Even so, still [/B]the specter hesitated,....[/FONT][/I][/QUOTE]
Bleah again. One or the other; I'd drop the latter.

For the next bit, try out what I did to it. I think it might work better.
[QUOTE][I][FONT="Arial"]All these thoughts came slowly to the creature, and countless forms of flickery textures had passed it there when it finally came to understand what it had been[strike][B](,)[/B][/strike] and what it had lost, [COLOR="Red"]and[/COLOR] the title and position of Self in a multitude [COLOR="Red"]?[/COLOR] no matter how it struggled internally, it could not even remember the name by which it had been called [COLOR="Red"]?[/COLOR] [strike]had[/strike] dawned on its faded and stagnant mind.[/FONT][/I][/QUOTE]
That funky-looking mark after "been" is the only way I can currently think of to show a comma deletion. (The strike mark just sits over it, making it look like some sort of strange accent.)

As for the second half, since I don't know how you intended that thought to come across I simply showed you how it appeared to me; basically, your clarity became a little fluffy there.
[QUOTE][I][FONT="Arial"]...and for a time it was capable only of repeating to itself [U][COLOR="Red"]"I am"[/COLOR][/U], the great truth which was its only tie to reality[B],[/B] and [COLOR="Red"]the[/COLOR] only talisman that warded [COLOR="Red"](against?)[/COLOR] the otherwise overwhelming pull from the black in the sky ahead.[/FONT][/I][/QUOTE]
Regarding the spoken bit, I'd definitely set it off in quotations, and possibly italicize it. Fiddle around with it and see what you like.

The comma is a suggestion; the other two I think are necessary.
[QUOTE][I][FONT="Arial"]...and the desire to find itself again the material thing it had once been.[/FONT][/I][/QUOTE]
Again, this feels strange to me. I thought of two ways to fix it....
[indent][I]"...and the desire to find [COLOR=Red]for[/COLOR] itself again the material thing it had once been."

"...and the desire to find itself again[COLOR=Red][B]:[/B][/COLOR] the material thing it had once been."[/I][/indent]
Something like that. (^_^)
[QUOTE][I][FONT="Arial"]The tensions between the two conflicting needs heightened, and just as its anxiety reached critical peaks[COLOR=Red].[/COLOR] [strike]which shook[/strike] [COLOR=Red]shaking[/COLOR] the form[COLOR="Red"]'[/COLOR]s mind with incredible agitation, it became aware of a strange phenomenon.[/FONT][/I][/QUOTE]
I think that might work better.

Oh, and watch your possessives. :p

Like so:
[QUOTE][I][FONT="Arial"]...but the shape of smoke and shadow did not stop its flight until sometime after the echoes of the anathema[COLOR="Red"]'[/COLOR]s noise had faded from its dim thoughts,....[/FONT][/I][/QUOTE]
Heh.
[QUOTE][I][FONT="Arial"]...until at last it halted [COLOR=Red](again?)[/COLOR], unsure of what it was it had been running from. Over the [B]time[/B] of what could have been have been hours or aeons[COLOR=Red],[/COLOR} the shade slowly recalled its history of existence, its more recent flight, and its current predicament.[/FONT][/I][/QUOTE]
"Time" I think would be better as "course".

I almost forgot. In case you're wandering how I got those cool little dashes to pop up earlier, let me just say that the ALT+NUMpad system is really nice.

? = ALT+0151
? = ALT+0150 (which is what I used most frequently)

This message brought to you by the letter "æ" (aka ALT+0230).

Fiddle around with this thing. It's really cool.
[QUOTE][I][FONT="Arial"]Once more[strike][B](,)[/B][/strike] the paradoxical sensations over took it,....[/FONT][/I][/QUOTE]
Bad comma. Go away. :p
[QUOTE][I][FONT="Arial"]At first [B]it could only recall [strike]were only[/strike][/B] unspecific perceptions....[/FONT][/I][/QUOTE]
Yeah. :p
[QUOTE][I][FONT="Arial"]These thoughts and these recollections served to slowly change the creature?s disposition towards the phenomenon [B]from repulsed to totally captivated by[/B] its [U]strange[/U] inflections and the [U]strange[/U] stirrings and longings they inspired in the spirit?s confused mind. It sought now the [U]strange[/U] [U]feelings[/U], the source of its memories of its past life, at first with uncertain [U]feelings[/U] towards the nature of the sound, but growing steadily more confident that these sensations were the answer to its unspoken pleas to restoration[/FONT][/I][/QUOTE].
Yee-haw. Let's dig in.

First: might I suggest [I]"...from repulsion to total captivation to...."[/I] Admittedly, I still don't like how that feels, but I think the noun works better than the verb there.

Second: does it seem that you might want some more synonyms for the underlined words? I got called on redundancy once, too, so I know how that goes. Also, you use "strange" again in the first line of the next paragraph; I'd toy with word placement for a while to see if you need to change that one, too.
[QUOTE][I][FONT="Arial"]It did not seem to come from all around [COLOR=Red]?[/COLOR] indeed, the creature had the impression it was from a very specific source.[/FONT][/I][/QUOTE]
Seems to flow better.
[QUOTE][I][FONT="Arial"]Until now it had always shambled to the firmamental vacuum whose silent imperative [COLOR="Red"]?[/COLOR] Cease! [COLOR="Red"]?[/COLOR] had been enough to override all lesser thoughts.[/FONT][/I][/QUOTE]
Same thing. Also, what about italics and quotes there? Would they work, or just bother you?
[QUOTE][I][FONT="Arial"]Before, it had vainly thought to find a way backwards by moving in the only direction it understood[COLOR=Red][B]:[/B][/COLOR] forwards.[/FONT][/I][/QUOTE]
Colon. :p
[QUOTE][I][FONT="Arial"]...and defying what must have a millennia spent on the one-way road which saw only the ink-stained section of the sky and heard only the psiren-call of a promised nothingness,....[/FONT][/I][/QUOTE]
This feels awkward. I'm not really sure where you were going with this thought; I get the general idea, but it's a little vague. All I can think of to clear things up is this:
[indent][I]"...and defying what must have [COLOR=Red]been[/COLOR] a millennia spent on the one-way road...."[/I][/indent]
Other than that, I'm confused.

Also, did you mean to write "psiren" that way? If so, what are you referring to? (Honestly. I'm curious.)
[QUOTE][I][FONT="Arial"]Quickly, it turned away, avoiding the light that cut through it, revealed its fleshlessness and worthlessness[B][COLOR=Red].[/COLOR][/B] To the thing that was merely a silhouette[B][COLOR="Red"],[/COLOR][/B] if a by-gone person, the light was a [COLOR="Red"]hateful[/COLOR] and abhorrent thing.[/FONT][/I][/QUOTE]
[QUOTE][I][FONT="Arial"]For a second time, it began to lose hope as it thought anew on the [COLOR="Red"]unattainability[/COLOR] of its goal. Its heart [COLOR="Red"]?[/COLOR] that is to say, the part within it that sought to come into being [COLOR="Red"]?[/COLOR] sunk into wretched depths of despondency,....[/FONT][/I][/QUOTE]
[QUOTE][I][FONT="Arial"]It called the creature which was once from mankind, promising a void so absolute[B][strike](,)[/strike][/B] it could only be total annihilation, the ultimate death.[/FONT][/I][/QUOTE]
Technicalities.
[QUOTE][I][FONT="Arial"]Perhaps it was that strange noise behind it that called, or perhaps it was the very memory of Self and selfness[COLOR="Red"][B];[/B][/COLOR] but whichever it might be, it was sufficient [COLOR="Red"]to[/COLOR] halt it from its descent [COLOR="Red"]?[/COLOR] for surely that pit in the sky could be said to have a pull synonymous with gravity.[/FONT][/I][/QUOTE]
Like that, and drop the parentheses. Also, don't put periods inside of parentheses if the thought inside is a footnote/aside attached to the preceding/surrounding thought.
[QUOTE][I][FONT="Arial"]A [B]deep felt[/B], sick feeling, echoed [B]deep[/B] inside its half-being, and the creature, confused, examined it. Its mind [COLOR="Red"]?[/COLOR] hazed, stuck somewhere between light and dark [COLOR="Red"]?[/COLOR] could not comprehend the hole, the shriek, the sounds, or the light behind it[COLOR="Red"];[/COLOR] but as it struggled to grasp what it could, it seemed that its prior outburst had echoed back to it, somewhere inside itself.[/FONT][/I][/QUOTE]
Deep deep. :p

If you keep the first one, use a hyphen: "deep-felt". If you don't, it doesn't really matter.

I don't like that last comma there, but it's kind of functional as is. Your call.
[QUOTE][I][FONT="Arial"]An anxious nausea built up inside the heart of the miserable shadow, [B]and it seemed now that the noise had entirely possessed it, held the once-man up and kept it from falling even as it used up the last resources it possessed.[/B][/FONT][/I][/QUOTE]
Urg. Try this:
[indent][I]"...and it seemed now that the noise had entirely possessed it, [COLOR=Red]holding[/COLOR] the once-man up and [COLOR="Red"]keeping[/COLOR] it from falling, even as it used up the last resources it possessed."[/I][/indent]
Also, you're getting redundant again. :p (possessed)
[QUOTE][I][FONT=Arial]At the ultimate tension, just as it was sure its form would truly be rent asunder, [B]another noise one that seemed to originate within the echo that had exceeded its source in volume[/B]. As the creature listened (indeed it could not ignore this anymore than a rock thrown into the air can ignore coming back down)[B][COLOR=Red],[/COLOR][/B] it seemed....[/FONT][/I][/QUOTE]
How about this:
[indent][I]"...another noise, one that seemed to originate within the echo, had exceeded its source in volume."[/I][/indent]
It's a little clearer than you had, I think.

Also, you put your comma in the wrong place. The parenthetical appositive ? well, that's what it [I]is[/I] ? is attached to the preceding thought, not the one following.

This next one is a style thingummy.
[QUOTE][I][FONT="Arial"]And then, finally[B][COLOR="Red"],[/COLOR][/B] it grasped the message it was meant to hear:

?LIVE!?

and with that outcry[B][COLOR="Red"],[/COLOR][/B] it seemed the veil that had covered the creature?s thoughts was finally lifted.[/FONT][/I][/QUOTE]
First, add those commas, neh?

All right. I like the effect you want here. Unfortunately, the way you constructed it feels kind of clanky. [I]My[/I] version would have looked like this:
[indent][I]"...it grasped the message it was meant to hear?

"LIVE!"

?and with that outcry,...."[/I][/indent]
...but that's me. Play with this until it looks perfect to you.

Another style issue:
[QUOTE][I][FONT="Arial"][U]To its astonishment,[/U] it realized the replying cry had been own, and the shriek to live, to become, was no less or more than its own desperate desire. [U]With sudden clarity,[/U] the shadow-thing truly saw where it was. [U]Startled,[/U] it viewed the miserable creatures who barely seemed to be. [U]With a vaguely desperate curiosity,[/U] it sought to ask these creatures of themselves, perhaps to gain some insight into its own wretched situation, but to no avail.[/FONT][/I][/QUOTE]
Normally I wouldn't mind so much about things like this, but these sentences just jumped out at me.

You started four sentences in a row in the [I][U]exact[/U][/I] [I][U]same[/U][/I] [I][U]way[/U][/I].

Now, on their own they sound fine. It's only when you string them together that they start to feel funkeh, and all. Try switching some things up and see what happens.
[QUOTE][I][FONT="Arial"]The pain [COLOR="Red"]was[/COLOR] nearly unendurably excruciating, a thousand fold worse than the first glance, [B]and yet this time it was not repulsed, but in fact the opposite, it still wanted to proceed.[/B][/FONT][/I][/QUOTE]
Umm. What about:
[indent][I]"..and yet this time it was not repulsed; to the contrary, it still wanted to proceed."[/I][/indent]
Does that make sense? I don't think it carries the same feel as what you wanted, but I'm sure you can come up with something better. :animesmil
[QUOTE][I][FONT="Arial"]With each [COLOR="Red"]footfall[/COLOR] (could it be? Certainly it noticed its passing become louder and louder, and it fancied that theses steps, these sounds coming from it, were reasons to be inexpressibly joyful) the light became more bearable,....[/FONT][/I][/QUOTE]
Remember when I said stuff about punctuation and parentheses earlier? This one is fine. It works ? and I like it, but that's beside the point ? so don't feel like you need to alter this one.
[QUOTE][I][FONT="Arial"]Seeing this caused the creature to redouble its efforts, though it knew not why, so that it traveled faster than it ever had thought it might have (and knew somehow)[COLOR="Red"][B],[/B][/COLOR]....[/FONT][/I][/QUOTE]
You put your comma in the wrong spot again. :p
[QUOTE][I][FONT="Arial"]With that, Timothy Carlson burst through to the other side of the light[B][COLOR="Red"].[/COLOR][/B][/FONT][/I][/QUOTE]
I think that one was just a copy-paste error, but just in case....

[center]--------------------[/center]

I thought [U]Spectre[/U] was great. I deal a lot with the mind in what I write, so I connected easily to your story; besides, it's a great short about the rediscovery of life. Kind of a Poe-ish feel to it, but without the morbidness.

The imagery was well-written. I could see everything you tried to show me ? well, almost, but I already covered that. :p On my second read, I actually got into the shadow-Carlson's head, which made me rather happy.

It felt real, too; especially Carlson's initial flight from the noise of the Light.

I like it. A few bugs here and there, but I really like it. Good job.[/FONT]
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[COLOR="goldenrod"][quote name='Allamorph'][FONT=Arial]Excuse, excuses. :p[/FONT][/QUOTE]No, honesty, when something is run together it feels like I'm holding my breath to get to the end instead of having a pause. Picture that mentally if you will. It's a turn off to me when it comes to reading. I [I]like [/I]structure.

As for the story, to be honest, I'm gonna have to say I didn't care for it. It's an interesting concept but I've never cared for that style of writing. Just ask Allamorph *pokes* I don't like Tolkien or Shakespeare for pretty much the same reason. I even find Terry Brooks annoying at times for that very same thing and I like his books.

So please don't take it personal, I do think you've done a nice job and it was interesting to read. But it was overly descriptive and about a third of the way in I was ready to be done. *waits for Allamorph to sail in and smack her for being honest*

More importantly, don't let me stop you from writing. After all, in no way does my personal taste reflect on your ability to write well. ^_~[/COLOR]
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Thank you, really. Don't worry about sounding to harsh when it comes to grammer and style issues (my greatest weakness). It sounds like you put a lot of thought into your response, and I really appreciate it.

If you couldn't tell (you probably could), this is very close to my first finished draft. I wrote it first on paper (my mind goes blank creatively in front of the moniter), with minimal revisions as I put it in word. Editing is also a problem for me, so I thought, instead of revising it on my own, I'd let my favourite anime community take a crack at it. My bet seems to have payed off. :animesmil

[QUOTE]Their smoky, shifting forms moved in a slow, [STRIKE]almost[/STRIKE] dragging pace, [STRIKE]which was[/STRIKE]reminiscent of a sleepwalker. [/QUOTE]

I'll need to consider more development of the sleep walker comparison.

[QUOTE]...toward a darkening in the sky of such completeness that it must surely be offering the sweet solace of an oblivion equally [COLOR=RED]as[/COLOR] thorough. [/QUOTE]

I'm not sure. 'as' seems to get in the way, doesn't it? Spectre drags alot elsewhere, so I only see it as slowing it down. If I get another suggestion about that, then I'll include it.

[QUOTE]"Yet the road, a bloody sash through [STRIKE]what was[/STRIKE] an otherwise monotonous terrain, stretched on endlessly in the twilight...."[/QUOTE]

Adding in the the comma was a good move.

[QUOTE]Such was the [COLOR=RED] futile[/COLOR] state [STRIKE]of affairs[/STRIKE] of this desolate and road and its despairing inhabitants, when one of the shadows, [/QUOTE]

Again, good call. I don't want to add dismal, though because it already has enough description. I think this makes it flow better.

[QUOTE]Even so,[STRIKE] still[/STRIKE] the specter hesitated,.... [/QUOTE]

[QUOTE]All these thoughts came slowly to the creature, and countless forms of flickery textures had passed it there when it finally came to understand what it had been, and what it had lost, and the title and position of Self in a multitude – no matter how it struggled internally, it could not [STRIKE]even[/STRIKE] remember the name by which it had been called – dawned on its faded and stagnant mind. [/QUOTE]

[QUOTE]...and for a time it was capable only of repeating to itself "I am", the great truth which was its only tie to reality, and the only talisman that warded [COLOR=RED]against[/COLOR] the otherwise overwhelming pull from the black in the sky ahead. [/QUOTE]

Should I scratch out "otherwise"?

[QUOTE]...and the desire to find itself again the material thing it had once been.[/QUOTE]

That one's harder for me. I read many older works (Poe, as you mentioned), and a phrase like this is not uncommon. To clarify, it's another way of saying " to become again " I like your suggestions, though. I'll need to think.

[QUOTE]The tensions between the two conflicting needs heightened, and just as its anxiety reached critical peaks[COLOR=RED],[/COLOR] shaking the form's mind with incredible agitation, it became aware of a strange phenomenon. [/QUOTE]

Did you mean a comma, or the period there in your post? With a period, it doesn't make much sense.

[QUOTE]These thoughts and these recollections served to slowly change the creature’s disposition towards the phenomenon from [COLOR=RED]repulsion to total captivaison[/COLOR] by its strange inflections and the [U]strange[/U] stirrings and longings they inspired in the spirit’s confused mind. It sought now the [U]strange[/U] feelings, the source of its memories of its past life, at first with uncertain feelings towards the nature of the sound, but growing steadily more confident that these sensations were the answer to its unspoken pleas to restoration [/QUOTE]

I'll need more time to fix the repetition and adjust the sentence flow of that one altered one.

[QUOTE]...but the shape of smoke and shadow did not stop its flight until sometime after the echoes of the [COLOR=RED] ananthemous[/COLOR] noise had faded from its dim thoughts,.... [/QUOTE]

My mistake. I think I meant an adjetive. Or I could leave it as ananthema (unless I'm repeating somewhere...)

[QUOTE]...until at last it halted [STRIKE]again[/STRIKE], unsure of what it was it had been running from. Over the time of what could have been have been hours or aeons, the shade slowly recalled its history of existence, its more recent flight, and its current predicament. [/QUOTE]

[QUOTE]It did not seem to come from all around – indeed, the creature had the impression it was from a very specific source.[/QUOTE]

[QUOTE]Quote:Until now it had always shambled to the firmamental vacuum whose silent imperative – Cease! – had been enough to override all lesser thoughts.

Same thing. Also, what about italics and quotes there? Would they work, or just bother you?Quote:[/QUOTE]

Hmm, no, it's good as is. The command isn't actually being said, but felt.

[QUOTE]...and defying what must have been a millennia spent on the one-way road[COLOR=RED],whose travellers saw only the ink-stained section of the sky and heard only[/COLOR] the psiren-call of a promised nothingness,.... [/QUOTE]

I must have left the 'been' out. And, I thought giving the seeing and hearing to the shades would be less confusing.

[QUOTE]Also, did you mean to write "psiren" that way? If so, what are you referring to? (Honestly. I'm curious.)[/QUOTE]

In Greek mythology, a psiren (the word we get our word siren) was a creature that appeared as a beautiful woman who sung unearthly and enchanting music to passer-bys in the hopes of seducing and eating them. I am trying to compare the call of the Void to that song.

[QUOTE]And then, finally, it grasped the message it was meant to hear:

“LIVE!”

and with that outcry, it seemed the veil that had covered the creature’s thoughts was finally lifted. [/QUOTE]

[QUOTE]"...it grasped the message it was meant to hear—

"LIVE!"

—and with that outcry,...."[/QUOTE]

I gave a lot of thought to that, but unfortunately I don't feel it's right. I want the reader to stop there and read the line. What you're doing is smoothing it into one read. What you noticed as clanky I felt was a dramatic break in the movement of the piece. Does it seem more natural in that light?


[QUOTE]To its astonishment, it realized the replying cry had been own, and the shriek to live, to become, was no less or more than its own desperate desire. With sudden clarity, the shadow-thing truly saw where it was. Startled, it viewed the miserable creatures who barely seemed to be. With a vaguely desperate curiosity, it sought to ask these creatures of themselves, perhaps to gain some insight into its own wretched situation, but to no avail. [/QUOTE]

Again, I see what you mean, but I'll need to consider what I want done with it for a while. I suppose I did it like that because I was getting pretty excited at that point.:D

[QUOTE]The pain was nearly unendurably excruciating, a thousand fold worse than the first glance, and yet this time it was not repulsed, but [STRIKE]in fact[/STRIKE] [COLOR=RED] the contrary[/COLOR], it still wanted to proceed. [/QUOTE]

I know it wasn't exactly what you suggested, but at this point the story is moving quickly, and I want to keep pace. My other line was akward, yours a bit slow. I like the word 'contrary' here, though. What do you think?


[QUOTE]Seeing this caused the creature to redouble its efforts, though it knew not why, so that it traveled faster than it ever had thought it might have (and knew somehow),.... [/QUOTE]

[QUOTE]With that, Timothy Carlson burst through to the other side of the light.
[/QUOTE]

Yeah, it was.

Again, thanks for taking the time to look at this and provide thoughtfull feedback. It does sond a little Poe-ish, doesn't it? Actually, I was reading a lot of H.P. Lovecraft (if you love Poe, you'll love this guy. He's the 20th century Poe) and it's his style I used.

Like stuff concerning the mind, do you? Then you'll like where I got the inspiration for this. See that wierd guy I have for my avatar? That is none other than Søren Aabye Kierkegaard, the lesser known founder of existentialism. In his "The Sickness Unto Death" he talks alot about Self and the different forms of despair (not in the sense we use despair) One of the many ways he cope with our existance and the world is to run away from ourselves (an easier way to put it without going into the head-scratcher that is Kierkegaard is to say it's like Sartre's 'bad faith', seeing ourselves as a role (I am an otaku) instead of a fee-being (I chose to be an otaku)) During a prompt (a rather silly one, "Write about a time when an someone made an important choice") I had these things on my mind, and I thought, "Why don't I give them the biggest choice they can swallow? The choice to be oneself. And in my mind I saw it happening literally, and I just wrote (that doesn't usually happen to me).

I am now planning a series of interconnected short-stories with the same style of setting. Since I like to consider my self Christian (but I feel not always a very good one), I easily associated this place with Hell. So now I have a totally different version of hell: instead of another punishing us, it is we who punish ourselves unwittingly in Hell.

O.K., you must be tired of hearing me babble :babble: by now, so I'll be quiet now. Thanks you once again for your time and effort.:animesmil
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[quote name='Umbra II']Thank you, really. Don't worry about sounding to harsh when it comes to grammer and style issues (my greatest weakness). It sounds like you put a lot of thought into your response, and I really appreciate it.[/quote]
[FONT=Arial]Oh, I never worry about sounding harsh. I just want to make sure people know it's not malicious. (^_^)
[QUOTE][I]I'll need to consider more development of the sleep walker comparison.[/I][/QUOTE]
Really, all I was meaning was that it seems like the thought just terminates. Given the "smoky, shifting forms" and the "slow, [strike]almost[/strike] dragging pace", it feels like there should be something else describing the sleepwalker. That's all.

Oh, and go ahead and keep "almost" in there. It serves to break up the redundant feeling that emerges without it: "smoky, shifting forms"; "slow, dragging pace". You see?
[QUOTE][I]I'm not sure. 'as' seems to get in the way, doesn't it? Spectre drags alot elsewhere, so I only see it as slowing it down. If I get another suggestion about that, then I'll include it.[/I][/QUOTE]
Really, "as" doesn't take up that much time, does it?

The main reason I suggested it was to make the reference to the completeness of the sky's darkening easier to follow. Without it, the reader has to think for a second. With it, the reader is forced to ask "As thorough as what?", and that thought and the ensuing connection only take a split second.
[QUOTE][I]I don't want to add dismal, though because it already has enough description. I think this makes it flow better.[/I][/QUOTE]
Well, you put "futile" where I put "dismal", so I don't see it mattering. The only difference was that I kept "futile" back where you originally had it ? incidentally, you forgot to get rid of that "and" back there. (^_^)

[QUOTE][I]Should I scratch out "otherwise"?[/I][/QUOTE]
Naw, leave it there.

About what you struck there:
[QUOTE]All these thoughts came slowly to the creature, and countless forms of flickery textures had passed it there when it finally came to understand what it had been, and what it had lost, and the title and position of Self in a multitude ? no matter how it struggled internally, it could not [B][COLOR="Red"][strike]even[/strike][/COLOR][/B] remember the name by which it had been called ? dawned on its faded and stagnant mind.[/QUOTE]
I disagree. Name and Self are not the same thing, and with "even" there, the sentence implies that not only could the shade not recall itSelf, but it couldn't [I]even[/I] remember its own label. See what I mean?
[QUOTE][I]That one's harder for me. I read many older works (Poe, as you mentioned), and a phrase like this is not uncommon. To clarify, it's another way of saying " to become again " I like your suggestions, though. I'll need to think.
[/I][/QUOTE]
I thought for a moment, too, and if we deconstruct it, this is what we get:
[indent][I]"..and the desire to find."[/I][/indent]

"...the material thing it had once been" tells us what it wants to find; "itself again" is likewise a clarifier, indicating both that it had once found what it wanted to find and that it is important that the shade finds this thing [I]itself[/I].

I think that the complete wording is a bit confusing, though, and takes a bit of studying to adequately grasp. My first suggestion, then elaborated on the importance of doing the finding for itself while sacrificing as little as possible of the concept of losing oneself. My second suggestion focused mainly on the losing and finding of oneself, which was the main concept, and the importance of the [I]doing[/I] was obscured. The second one carries the most clear meaning, I think, but I like the first one better. I still dislike the sentence 'as was' because of clarity concerns.

And if it is such a common phrase, then how can I be sure you aren't plagiarising, hmm? [I]*loosens sword in warning*[/I]
[QUOTE][I]Did you mean a comma, or the period there in your post? With a period, it doesn't make much sense.[/I][/QUOTE]
Yes, I did; and no, it doesn't. :animeswea Oops.
[QUOTE][I]My mistake. I think I meant an adjetive. Or I could leave it as ananthema (unless I'm repeating somewhere...)[/I][/QUOTE]
I made that comment because I thought you were personifying the sound as an anathema, and just forgot to add the comma to make it possessive. The adjective works just as well, though.
[QUOTE]...until at last it halted [strike]again[/strike], unsure of what it was it had been running from. Over the [B][COLOR="Red"]time[/COLOR][/B] of what could have been have been hours or aeons,....[/QUOTE]
Well, the reason I suggested "again" was because the shade had already halted once, right? It had stopped, it had started running away, and it had [I]halted again[/I]. That's it, really. If you don't like it then I don't mind, since you [I]are[/I] the author, but I just think it makes more sense.

Oh, and I was being polite before. I really, [I][U]really[/U][/I] do not like "time". "Course" or "span" would be much clearer. [I]Much[/I] clearer.
[QUOTE][I]Hmm, no, it's good as is. The command isn't actually being said, but felt.[/I][/QUOTE]
Hunh. Yeah, you're right.
[QUOTE]...and defying what must have been a millennia spent on the one-way road, [COLOR="Red"]whose travellers[/COLOR] saw only the ink-stained section of the sky and heard only the psiren-call of a promised nothingness,....[/QUOTE]
Ah! It makes perfect sense now. (I [I]thought[/I] that's what you'd meant....)
[QUOTE][I]In Greek mythology, a psiren (the word we get our word siren) was a creature that appeared as a beautiful woman who sung unearthly and enchanting music to passer-bys in the hopes of seducing and eating them. I am trying to compare the call of the Void to that song.[/I][/QUOTE]
Ah. I did not know that. I knew the reference, of course, just not that particular form of the word. Thank you.

(Incidentally, it's [I]passers-by[/I]. Just so's ya know. :animesmil )

[QUOTE][I]I gave a lot of thought to that, but unfortunately I don't feel it's right. I want the reader to stop there and read the line. What you're doing is smoothing it into one read. What you noticed as clanky I felt was a dramatic break in the movement of the piece. Does it seem more natural in that light?[/I][/QUOTE]
Yeah, I knew that was the effect you wanted. Basically, my suggestions were just me trying to find a way [I]not[/I] to end up starting a sentence with "and". Trust me, I like your format better, but with the "a" down like that, you were making it feel like it was supposed to be a continuous [I]sentence[/I] (not a continuous [I]thought[/I]), and thus smoothing it into one read. In that light, just capitalize "and", and you'll be rid of the problem.
[QUOTE][I]Again, I see what you mean, but I'll need to consider what I want done with it for a while. I suppose I did it like that because I was getting pretty excited at that point.:D[/I][/QUOTE]
Yep. I do the same thing. I've just developed the ability to reread myself while I'm writing, and to retain a general idea of what I've put down. Repetition like that just kind of hits me when I do it, and then I can rewrite immediately.
[QUOTE][I]I know it wasn't exactly what you suggested, but at this point the story is moving quickly, and I want to keep pace. My other line was akward, yours a bit slow. I like the word 'contrary' here, though. What do you think?[/I][/QUOTE]
What I was doing there was synonymizing "in fact the opposite", giving me "to the contrary"; from there, I just found the way that the synonymous phrase made sense.

Perhaps this:
[indent][I]"The pain was nearly unendurably excruciating ? a thousand fold worse than the first glance ? and yet this time it was not repulsed, but instead still wanted to proceed."[/I][/indent]
It's a really odd sentence to work with, no? :D


[QUOTE][I]O.K., you must be tired of hearing me babble :babble: by now, so I'll be quiet now. Thanks you once again for your time and effort.:animesmil[/I][/QUOTE]
Don't mention it. It was my pleasure.

(I think I'll look into Lovecraft and Kierkegaard some....)[/FONT]
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