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Author Topic: Just a sample  (Read 483 times)
B.W.French
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« on: October 24, 2017, 06:08:40 PM »

Just a sample of my writing, an attempt to write a mystery novel that is not unreadable. Your OPINION is vital!!!!!!!!!!!

        A black Citroën DS19 pulled up in front of the house. I instructed Étienne to run outside, while I would wait in the hall. A moment later, I heard the noise of the car doors being slammed, I captured the voice of Étienne, followed by the sound of footsteps on the porch, and finally, I saw a man entering the house.

   The newcomer was no more than sixty years old. He wore a black raincoat left unbuttoned, the belt dangling on each side of it. He moved slowly, looking tired, his arms hanging down like two pendulums, closely parallel with his body.
   As soon as he entered the hall, his wide and rounded shoulders cast a bent shadow over the floor, adding to its plane surface, a curved dimension, giving the illusion of a black rainbow rising from the ground at his feet.

   His face, annoyed me at first sight. It was as if its image, in entering my brain, had switch off the cells responsible for my inner peace, and got directly on my nerves. He looked grumpy, and as he walked, he was sniffing, his nose up in the air, and squinted around as if he were deeply thinking, or blinded by the sun.

   When he saw me, standing near the staircase, the stranger came towards me. His small blue eyes were half hidden behind long and bushy brows that fell over his lids like two tiny branches of a weeping willow. His fair complexion could have been a bright spark in his physiognomy, if not for the fact that it rendered the dark pores of his face more noticeable. But the most salient feature of this unsightly, yet, curiously interesting man, was his mouth. The lips of this small and round facial opening were pressed tightly against each other, the lower one, sticking out, in some show of defiance towards whoever or whatever was the mysterious cause of the disapproval that was displayed on his face. At the same time, the inside of the bulging lip, kept shining under the light of the chandelier, a detail that was perhaps symptomatic of a liver problem, itself, being the possible consequence of a taste for rich food, and heady wine.

   “I’m Commissaire André Girodot. Judiciary Police.” He declared, in a soft voice, unexpectedly soft for a man so tall and strong, but, after all, not so surprising in the view of the tiny size of his mouth. “Are you Morsirisse?” He added.

   “That’s right. I’m the guy who called you,” I answered.   
 
   “What happened?” he asked, bending his head sideways, close to his shoulder. “It’s quiet in here!”

   “Sure, it’s quiet, Commissaire! The Baron Armand de Valfort was just found dead in his room, with a bullet in his head!”
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gushags16
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« Reply #1 on: October 25, 2017, 12:28:43 PM »

I think there are some nice descriptions in this, but I'm being thrown off by a couple of things. First, there are some strange word choices, a few instances of passive voice, and WAY too many commas.

The commas are taking me out of the writing. Commas make me pause in my reading, and when I pause in weird places, I start to notice the writing more than the story.

Just a sample of my writing, an attempt to write a mystery novel that is not unreadable. Your OPINION is vital!!!!!!!!!!!

        A black Citroën DS19 pulled up in front of the house. I instructed Étienne to run outside, while I would wait in the hall. A moment later, I heard the noise of the car doors being slammed a car door slammed, I captured the voice of Étienne, followed by the sound of footsteps on the porch, and finally, I saw a man entering the house.

[If it's written in first person it's unnecessary to tell us "I heard" the noise of a car door being slammed." First person means that if you say, "A car door slammed," we understand that the narrator heard the car door slam. And I "captured" the voice of Etienne is a strange word choice. It takes me out of the story.]


   The newcomer was no more than sixty years old. He wore a black raincoat left unbuttoned, the belt dangling on each side of it. He moved slowly, looking tired, his arms hanging down like two pendulums, closely parallel with his body.   [I would rather your story start here.]
   As soon as he entered the hall, his wide and rounded shoulders cast a bent shadow over the floor, adding to its plane surface, a curved dimension, giving the illusion of a black rainbow rising from the ground at his feet.  This has great description occluded by too many commas. The sentence should read: 

As soon as he entered the hall his wide and rounded shoulders cast a bent shadow over the floor, adding to its plane surface a curved dimension, giving the illusion of a black rainbow rising from the ground at his feet. Stylistically, I might further edit this sentence to be:

As soon as he entered the hall his wide and rounded shoulders cast a bent shadow over the floor, adding to its plane surface a curved dimension: a black rainbow rising from the ground at his feet.

   His face, annoyed me at first sight. [No comma necessary in that sentence.] It was as if its image, in entering my brain, had switch off the cells responsible for my inner peace, and got directly on my nerves. <-- I don't think this sentence needs any commas. You have three. You could argue for commas around "in entering my brain," but it's definitely not necessary before "and."


I didn't edit all of it because some of them could be style choices and I didn't want to harp on it more than I already did. As I said at the top, there is excellent description sprinkled throughout these few paragraphs. Unfortunately the punctuation is making that great description difficult to read.
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B.W.French
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« Reply #2 on: October 25, 2017, 06:49:54 PM »

HI! Gushags!
Oaaaaah! Great comments!! I love it! I will use them as a general guidance throughout my writing. Thank you. I wished you could edit my manuscript, if I ever finish it.
B.W.
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Munley
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« Reply #3 on: October 27, 2017, 04:09:02 PM »

Just a sample of my writing, an attempt to write a mystery novel that is not unreadable. Your OPINION is vital!!!!!!!!!!!

       A black Citroën DS19 pulled up in front of the house. I instructed Étienne to run outside, while I would wait in the hall. A moment later, I heard the noise of the car doors being slammed, I captured the voice of Étienne, followed by the sound of footsteps on the porch, and finally, I saw a man entering the house.


A number of commas are errors. If you cut those out, I don't think you'll have too many. I'll highlight and bold the ones that are outright incorrect.
[I agree with Gushag's suggestion to start here.]


   The newcomer was no more than sixty years old. He wore a black raincoat left unbuttoned, the belt dangling on each side of it. He moved slowly, looking tired, his arms hanging down like two pendulums[,] closely parallel with his body.
   As soon as he entered the hall, his wide and rounded shoulders cast a bent shadow over the floor, adding to its plane surface[,] a curved dimension, giving the illusion of a black rainbow rising from the ground at his feet.

   His face[,] annoyed me at first sight. It was as if its image, in entering my brain, had switched off the cells responsible for my inner peace[,] and got directly on my nerves. He looked grumpy, and as he walked, he was sniffing, his nose up in the air[,] and squinting squinted around as if he were deeply thinking[,] or blinded by the sun.

   When he saw me[,] standing near the staircase, the stranger came towards me. His small blue eyes were half hidden behind long and bushy brows that fell over his lids like two tiny branches of a weeping willow. His fair complexion could have been a bright spark in his physiognomy[,] if not for the fact that it rendered the dark pores of his face more noticeable. But the most salient feature of this unsightly, yet[,] curiously interesting, man[,] was his mouth. [I think the 2 commas I left in the last sentence would be optional. ]The lips of this small and round facial opening were pressed tightly against each other, the lower one, sticking out, in some show of defiance towards whoever or whatever was the mysterious cause of the his disapproval that was displayed on his face. At the same time, the inside of the bulging lip[,] kept shining under the light of the chandelier, a detail that was perhaps symptomatic of a liver problem, itself, being the possible possibly the consequence of a taste for rich food[,] and heady wine.

   “I’m Commissaire André Girodot. Judiciary Police.” He declared, in a soft voice, unexpectedly soft for a man so tall and strong, but, after all, not so surprising in the view of the tiny size of his mouth. “Are you Morsirisse?” He added. [There are several punctuation/capitalization errors here. Open a page of any novel and note how the dialogue is supposed to be formatted.]

   “That’s right. I’m the guy who called you,” I answered.   
 
   “What happened?” he asked, bending his head sideways, close to his shoulder. “It’s quiet in here!”

   “Sure, it’s quiet, Commissaire! The Baron Armand de Valfort was just found dead in his room, with a bullet in his head!”



Wonderful descriptions that give us a real sense of the character. I would definitely read on.

I suggest looking up commas on a good grammar sight.
-- Don't separate a subject from its verb with a comma, unless there's a clause or participial phrase between the two. (Whether those interruptions get commas depend on certain things too long to go into here.)
-- If a sentence begins with a dependent clause, a comma should follow the dependent clause.
-- Don't use a comma if the dependent clause comes after the independent clause.
[The last two sentences I typed are examples of rule.]

There are other rules about commas to know. But I want to stress that the characterization and promise of a good story are in this opening.

So many punctuation errors are likely to lessen your chances (when compared with an equally intriguing story by another writer) of an agent or editor choosing to take your manuscript on. A lot more work for them.
« Last Edit: October 29, 2017, 09:30:05 AM by Munley » Logged
B.W.French
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« Reply #4 on: November 11, 2017, 07:58:33 PM »

Hi, Munley!
Thank you for your comments. I am already working along the line you indicated. I will, if necessary, try to find someone smarter than me to correct my punctuation.
I thank you again, and forgive me if it took me so long to answer but I was busy working to put food on the table. The sad fate of a sad amateur.
BW
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lazyprotagonist
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« Reply #5 on: November 15, 2017, 07:38:01 AM »

First off, you have some great descriptions in here. I'm a little jealous because I can't write first person and write great description (I tend to turn lazy in first because "the character wouldn't describe that" which is a lie and a lousy excuse).

Gushags16 and Munley have covered almost everything I wanted to say.

The only suggestion I might add. And this may just be a personal thing, so take it with a grain of salt, is to just delete "looking tired" from the sentence below"

"The newcomer was no more than sixty years old. He wore a black raincoat left unbuttoned, the belt dangling on each side of it. He moved slowly, looking tired, his arms hanging down like two pendulums, closely parallel with his body."

To me, your description of him is so rich here that I can tell the man is tired without you telling me he is.

Again, this may be me so take it with a grain of salt. I really enjoyed reading your work.
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