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  22:43:09  16 June 2004
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Ian_C
The man lacking a plan
(V.I.P.)

 

 
On forum: 08/02/2003
 

Message edited by:
Ian_C
06/16/2004 22:44:45
Messages: 273
Okay, here are some thoughts;

Firstly, if you haven't done so already take a look at the stickied 'pointers to writing a story thread', there's lot of good advice in there which, although it may seem a lot to take in right now, will benefit you immensely in the long run.

Your hurdles are exactly the same that I had to face when I first started writing, I was all about the action. I would sketch a thread-bare character down and hurl them into immediate danger ( action felt great to write, after all ), the body count rose higher with every new chapter, I got so carried away I didn't even try to craft believable reasons for them to be in mortal peril.

Looking at your story, this is your first mistake. You've sketched down some characters and thrown them into immediate action, that's a problem. We need to know more about these people. We need to know why the main character ever ended up in the zone, being as rich as he is. I got the impression it was because his life was somewhat banal, he was isolated and safe and wanted to experience more, but it wasn't that clear. You need to emphasize his boredom with the 'safe', luxurious lifestyle, we need to feel his frustration, his desire to break out of it, perhaps he wanted to shock his parents? Perhaps they were always expecting him to do well and he rebelled against their expectations? The reader needs to bond with your characters, to understand them, to care about them, otherwise you're at an immediate ( and somewhat fatal ) disadvantage.

Ah, re-reading it I see that his plane crashed and they were forced into trying to raise the money to pay off the army, but it wasn't very clear. The scenes sort of bled into one another which is why I missed it the first time, if you want to make it clear that you are starting a new scene then the '***' in the middle of the page can denote a break, although it should only be used two or three times in a chapter ( IMO, of course ).

Here's an example of lean characterisation;


---QUOTATION---
Thomas, Jack, Lawrence, and Ella. Thomas was my best friend. He was great at science, but hated war or anything having to do with death. Jack was a little better about death. He was shy and was a great math student. Lawrence was what some people called a geek, shy, very smart, never heard of a gun. And Ella was always very excited, enthusiastic, and probably the toughest among us.
---END QUOTATION---



Right, you've got some definite characteristics to build on here. The important thing is adding 'quirks', every single person you know has a quirk, right? Right. Things are no different here, flesh these people out.

For example, you could say that Jack hides his shyness by becoming too involved with being the group Navigator. He calculates and studies the maps, becoming lost in his routes and the best way to trim distances, to the extent that it distances and estranges him from the others ( The Zone is a horrible place, people will try to find comfort and support in what they know, to regain some control, and he is a great math student ).

People are elastic. In essence, when you write a story, they are your play-dough. You can stretch them as much as you want to create new and thrilling situations, in a place like The Zone you can stretch peoples' personalities to their very limits ( another good thing to do for ideas on Zone characterisation would be to research what happens to peoples mindset under prolonged stress and danger, with the internet at your disposal it wouldn't take long and would add a lot ).

Next, know the universe. You have the anomalies, the artifacts, but you seem to have misjudged the character of the Dealer. It says on the main site that he hates Stalkers, he probably sees them as utterly disposable ( there are no doubt new ones every week, after all ) so what is the likelyhood of him giving them expensive weapons in the form of FN2000s? More likely he would send them out with the bare minimum, a pistol with three clips of ammunition, so they could prove they were worthy of his time, once they'd completed that harsh challenge then his manner might become more accomidating, but he is certainly not the kind of person to say 'this is a tough mission, take what you like' more likely you would hear him say 'this will be tough, a pistol and three clips is all you can have, but if you can't do it with that then why am I bothering with you?'.

Don't be too disenchanted by Amoki's grilling ( he gave me the same when I first came here, and that was far from my first story! ), although he may seem harsh that kind of criticism is extremely valuable in writing. Too often have I just shown my stuff to friends and family who have said 'marvellous!' but when I posed up a sub-standard Part3 here for my story then Amoki let me know it wasn't up to par. It hurt at first, but looking back a day later I could see exactly what he meant, I was glad he had been around to give me a wake-up call before I submitted that as a final piece.

I look forward to reading any future work of yours.
  07:26:38  17 June 2004
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Amoki
back with a vengeance
(V.I.P.)

 

 
On forum: 07/31/2003
Messages: 1729
THere is once a chinese idiom that goes like this: " Those involved are puzzled/confuse, but those who are watching are those who knows the best." My upbringing as an Asian/chinese means that I don't compliment people so that they feel good and have enthusiam to do more - so still trying to learn. But, when I let out a good commendable that is applauding the author, yout can almost gurantee that it is great (just like ChanSD5's ) and not kidding at all.
  07:49:22  17 June 2004
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Amoki
back with a vengeance
(V.I.P.)

 

 
On forum: 07/31/2003
Messages: 1729
additional tips:
1) Never involve too many characters if you want a griping story. Since you are an American, you make things more easily. Try picking 2 of my most favourite series (I am not American though" - '24' and 'Stargate Sg-1'. Ever examine how those stories rocks? They don't involve too many characters. Every guy has their way of reacting to the situation, have somethign to fear, something that love, somethign to protect. For example, Jack Bauer... I'm gonna leave this for yourself, you should have watch it . Writing a story is pretty much making a movie, only that this time the movie is the one that rolls in your (and the reader's) head and that movie is what you put in words. Now, this is the tricky part- you have to descript the movie! This normally involves your style. The less chracter you have, the more dynamic you can make them! Most good stories here have less than 5 characters, so unless you are a real pro, don't do too much. Even Ian C never dare to do too much- he has only 2 dynamic characters (Abrams and Lukin). The others are just mere side-characters that only venture in the end.

2) Language is never a problem. Most readers ebjoy sentence that is competent, yet rich in content. Don't put in too much flashy sentence. You only need one at the first sentence. Also make sure the intro is competent. A typical example is "The loss of innocence." Remember, this is not an attack, just an example. If you examine the author's intro, he can go something about Darwin;s law (and got it wrong and unapplicable ) stuff, while his story goes into choice, US army in Ukraine ( ), no interesting plot (good guy save the world by killing his superior so that an apocalypse bomb will not get discovered). As you can see- irrelecant. As you can see, first sentence always meant a lot, mainly about what genre the stories are. So always try to start your story with a well crafted story about what is going on, not an introduction on somethign else.

3) Don;t be afriad to make mistakes! Practice, practice, and practise! ( I can almost assure you, after the contest had stop receiving any new stories, most of us here have plenty of time. So if you can find the time to write, don;t be afriad to post it up and receive critism.

Writing is a very delicate thing, and you can't normally appreciate how good is a story done until you have tried doing it yourself.

And done worry too much about me. Sometimes the harsh comments is a sort of test. You can either cower in the corner, cry and lament about how amoki had critised you until you are so unworthy, and never venture at the forum again because you want to preserve your self-image (until the day that story is published and you receive your first bombshell critism) ; or you say to yourself "right. I have a lot to learn. Let see what can I learn." and ask why amoki says that, then correct yourself , and move on. Most of the time, after the author resurface, I'll go soft
  12:15:30  17 June 2004
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beowulfstalker
(Senior)
 
On forum: 05/25/2004
Messages: 78
amoki, i sent you another story(i hope it's better) still give your comments and flame me
  12:36:20  17 June 2004
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Chansd5
(Senior)
 
On forum: 11/26/2003
 

Message edited by:
Chansd5
06/17/2004 12:42:59
Messages: 124
beowulfstalker, the thing I noticed in your stories is that the actions of your characters are a bit shorter than usual. Now, this story has many potential to be really great, but its just the action (and some other things) that need some work on.

Instead of saying like, "I took potshots at the invading mutants, and killed 3 of them."
try something more detailed, for example, like this.

"As the overwhelming number of mutants assaulted my position, fear nearly overwhelmed me. I fetched the safety off my Kalashnikov, aligned the sights, and braced to fend off the enevitable onslaught that is to come."

Then, describe the bodycount in some good detail in your favorite description words.

Describe how each round created a cloud of crimson brain matter behind each mutant's head as the character's former hunting skills reminiscent back to him from his grandfather or something.

And yes, dont have too many characters. You have great potential, I like a good background of characters, it gives them depth. As always, write more, and Ill be sure to read it. Read my story Geneva, I think you'll like it and you can see how the actions were described. Write on!
  13:02:13  17 June 2004
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beowulfstalker
(Senior)
 
On forum: 05/25/2004
Messages: 78
i did read your story and thought your writing was very good, but i didn't like the moral. It just doesnt fit into the Stalker role. but i might just be an evil guy who thinks everybody in the Zone is bad.
  17:07:07  17 June 2004
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Chansd5
(Senior)
 
On forum: 11/26/2003
Messages: 124
If your talking about Geneva, she is not one of the stalkers. She is one of the former citizens of the zone still latching on to their desocrated homes since the first Chernobyl meltdowns.
  17:09:04  17 June 2004
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beowulfstalker
(Senior)
 
On forum: 05/25/2004
Messages: 78
oops, my mistake. I was thinking of another story. i really like geneva, everything. sorry for the mistake
  19:56:07  17 June 2004
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Amoki
back with a vengeance
(V.I.P.)

 

 
On forum: 07/31/2003
Messages: 1729
That's what I meant good... "Geneva" can be somethign that worth your time studying- study the way your story flows, how the story can be expressed...

Anyway, I have read through your story. Do you want me the review it here, or send it to your email? IT is indeed better than this one.
  21:02:49  17 June 2004
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Chansd5
(Senior)
 
On forum: 11/26/2003
Messages: 124
Post it here, I wanna read it.
 
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