jeffcorkern recent comments

written 1200 days ago

There's more raw talent in this than I've seen in quite a long time. I strongly encourage you to keep writing.

The main flaw in this is lack of focus. The writer doesn't quite understand the bones of his story, what the essential elements are.It's wordy, which is a common fault with beginning writers. I have the feeling the wordiness here is due to the writer groping to understand his story.

All of the above is frustratingly vague, I know. Here's a suggestion:

---Print the first chapter out.

---Take a pencil and draw a line between each scene.

---Then describe the purpose of each scene in AT MOST three sentences. (And even that is probably too many.) As in: Scene 1: Intro main character. Intro milieu. (And if you don't know what I mean by "mileu", get yourself some writing books and find out.)

(By the way, if I read a pitch that says a story is a fairy story, I expect to see fairies fluttering around in the first chapter. If I like fairies, I will feel DISAPPOINTED not to see any fairies. Your pitch promises a supernatural setting---but there is NOTHING supernatural in your first chapter, only vague hints. The reader WILL feel frustrated, I assure you.)

--- Then examine each scene and cut out anything that doesn't do what any of your three descriptive sentences say is the purpose of that scene.

CRAWL over every sentence. See if there's anything confusing. See if you can't say it in a shorter number of words. Make sure your sentence mean what you want them to mean. (Your pitch seems to say all scientists are long gone, and everybody's glad of it. Your story seems to suggest scientists are instead a down-trodden minority. Confusing, confusing, confusing.)

Keep your paragraphs as short as possible. Short paragraphs are easier to read. Long paragraphs are hard on a reader. Personally, I look at each sentence where an action occurs and see if it might work better starting its own paragraph.

You need to work on your grammar, too. This is the biggest fault of most beginning writers. Independent clauses require commas for the most part.

Hope this helps. view book

written 1204 days ago

"Of course the world is a dynamic place. It changes." Tense shift.

But a lot of talent in this. I get the impression it's too easy for you to write. This feels the teensiest bit wordy.

What age is this? Present-day? After an apocalypse? Far future? It's NOT clear.One of the duties of a beginning is to settle this question. What's your milieu? view book

written 1206 days ago

I read 1 and 2.

IMO, you are telling too much, not showing. There's very little action in the second chapter.

"King Richard was dead---" This is the point at which I would start the action.

"I must inform you the former King Richard is dead, milady," Sir Willoughby said. "The Plantagenet line is ended. I am here to take Edmund as guaranty of your good behavior in future."

Something like this. view book

written 1227 days ago

You have quite a bit to learn, Sean.

You have an interesting idea, and you seem to have that certain creative spark it takes to write. You also seem to have an instinct for how to write a story. You start us off with action, in the middle of a battle scene.

But you need to learn some of the basic mechanics. This will take effort. For what it's worth, I encourage you to make that effort. Like I said, I feel that basic spark here.

First, learn grammar. When I first started writing, I got me a basic college-level grammar workbook and worked the entire thing. I would suggest you do the same. It is just absolutely stunning how many wanna-be writers make no effort whatsover to learn grammar, and it isn't that difficult.

If you want your work to stand out from the rest, LEARN GRAMMAR.

You need to get some books on writing, too, and study them. I will let you make your own hunt. There are plenty of books out there.

A few random comments:

Your first sentence, properly punctuated, should've read: "Time, people say, is never-ending."

Your paragraphing needs work. Short paragraphs generally work best, and particularly for an action scene like a battle scene. They help create the illusion of motion. Short paragraphs are also more easily digested by the reader.

"Every time (I, should be capitalized---grammar problem) go to the window."

"Portals forged from demonic magics (typo) opened all over the world. Pouring through THEM (incorrect pronoun) came a tidal wave of macabre death and destruction."

Try this out:

"Let's go, men!" Captain Zara screamed. "Send these soulless dogs back to their fiery pit in Hell!"

The noise of battle drowned out most of what she said, except for those few close enough to to hear her. (NOT "had drowned", past perfect indicates an action occured in the distant past---grammar problem)All across the field, angels and demons were fighting a small part of the final war to determine who would dominate the Earth and mankind. (This sentence verges on being too long.) Zara was a captain in the Legion of Light. (Proper nouns should be capitalized---grammar problem. A more general problem is the story has stopped dead while you tell the reader something he doesn't really need to know at this stage. End the battle, and then you can casually drop she belongs to something called "The Legion of Light.") Her whole life HAD BEEN (past perfect)nothing more than preparation for this moment. (You're continuing to load the reader with information he doesn't really need to know. The story has frozen in motion while we learn about Zara, in the middle of a battle. This is a common newbie mistake, and it's called "info-dump.")

Hope this helps. view book

written 1227 days ago

This is a good story, but it needs a lot of sharpening.

You need to work on your grammar. In particular, run-on sentences. This story would communicate much, much better with proper grammar.

There's a real sense of pain here, of seeing life through the eyes of a six-year-old, but the story seems to come at the reader in flashes. There's no sense of continuity. We seem to jump from one spot to another.

Hope this helps. view book

written 1227 days ago

I read the first chapter.

This ricochets all over the place. There might be people who like this style. I found it very confusing. It feels unfocused. I wasn't in the story. You're going to have a hard time selling this.

Your first chapter needs to establish milieu and the main characters FIRST. This doesn't happen here until close to the end. As a result, the reader is more than a little confused as to what's going on, where, and why.

There isn't the slightest connection to the pitch I can see.

You draw your characters well. You could conceivably have problems using copyrighted characters from "Happy Days." This is the kind of headache editors prefer NOT to have to deal with. view book

written 1231 days ago

I read all seven chapters. You are, hands down, the writer with the most potential on the site. Your book will remain on my bookshelf.

But there are lots and lots and LOTS of little errors in this. Missing commas. Tense shifts. Past perfect not used where it's required. Run-on sentences. In spots, telling instead of showing. Inappropriate speech tags. (People do NOT smile words.)

This really isn't ready for publication.

In my opinion, for whatever this is worth, if an HC editor reads this, he or she is going to be VERY impressed by your ability to write.

He will NOT be impressed by your work ethic. There are errors in this that should've been corrected long ago. When somebody points out an error or something that's not clear in my work, I've got the corrections done and uploaded within ten minutes.

Your book is in the top 100. I think your story has ALREADY been read by an HC editor. It's on his watchlist, so to speak. I would suggest first finishing the book, and then fixing all the mistakes in it.

A few random comments:

Chapter Two: “and I know his why” Typo.

“They are constantly hungry, their shoes are worn through---“ Run-on sentence.

“Pascual shhed him, rocking him and telling him---“ Telling, not showing. Personally, if I have a chance to put something in dialogue, I do it. Because action keeps readers more involved than telling. Now, you do it well, and maybe it should stay like this, so I’m just pointing it out.

“said the Senora, reaching down and pinching the boy’s cheek.” You do this constantly, putting a gerund form after a speech tag. A lot of beginning writers do this, when a declarative sentence would work much better. Consider:

“said the Senora. She reached down and pinched the boy’s cheek.”

Think this reads better?

“But it seems he had made a mistake.” Tense shift. view book

written 1236 days ago

"The astronaut HAD just returned to Earth after"--- The action of returning began and ended in the distant past and therefore past perfect is required.

"During the week, Billy HAD polished---" Began and ended in the distant past. Past perfect is required.

"He HAD cleaned and waxed---"

IMO, this has paragraphing problems. As a general rule, it's a good idea to put each line of dialogue in its own separate paragraph, particularly for children's books. It makes it easier to understand.

But at the same time, the author clearly has what it takes to write for small children. The above-mentioned errors were all I could find. The author set up the milieu very well and ended the chapter with a hook to draw the reader in further. Everything's connected. The paragraphs flow into each other. I've seen so much "children's writing" that didn't hit the mark. This clearly hits the mark.

But the author needs to work a bit on the fine detail of writing. view book

written 1238 days ago

Thank you for your comments.

I'll look over starting too many with sentences with 'he' or 'Patrick.' view book

written 1242 days ago

Read the first para. You seem to have the instinct, but you haven't developed the skill.

The first para needs to be broken up. The sentences and the paragraph is not formatted properly. Grammar is not something whose purpose is to torture writers; it's there to make it easier to communicate.

Paras give a story rhythm. Used properly, they can add considerable punch.

"I was shoved into this bitter cold life in about as brutal a manner as you can imagine. One minute I was floating all peaceful and serene, and the next I was yanked out out of a nice warm soak and flung headlong into a big wide world of trouble and hurt.

How was I supposed to know she was married?"

Think this reads better? Note what I've done. I've isolated your punchline and TURNED it into a punchline. It's not buried in the para anymore.

This is a GOOD joke. You know exactly how to pull a reader into a story. Your instincts are dead on the money.

But you really need to develop your skill.

This is on my watchlist, and I'll check on it every once in a great while. view book

written 1242 days ago

Your pitch pulled me into your story. Great pitch.

'HIS plump white hands gripped the pulpit." It's not clear the other way I was confused as to whose hands they were.

You have a good joke and a great start----but alas, I missed it, because you made only ONE reference to his being the church organist. I had to re-read the beginning FOUR times before I saw Tolly was the organist.

Since this is such a crucial point, you need to make it absolutely, perfectly crystal-clear Tolly is the organist. Just that one change, and this whole passage will be MILES better.

It's also not clear what age this is. The beginning needs to set the age. "As we set forth upon this Great War against the dreadful Hun, this war to end all wars,---" Something like this, to make it absolutely clear.

I'm getting an overall impression what this really needs is sharpening, greater clarity. I would suggest examining each scene and putting what each scene is trying to tell the reader into a few sentences or less.

For example, the first scene: "Establish Tolly as MC. Establish milieu as Britain on the eve of the Great War. Introduce and establish relationships between main characters."Then examine the scene and see if gets the main points across. IMO, you succeed with the first and the third, but NOT the second.

"the sun sheeting like fired gold---" These are great images, but IMO, it's awkwardly put together. And it's not quite grammatically correct, it should be "spreading" for the verbs to agree. Break this up into sentences and it's a LOT better. "The sun sheeted down upon her hair, turning it into fired gold as she settled down like a doe. Her full Sunday-best skirt spread all around her. She fanned her face with her hat."

Doesn't this read better? view book

written 1244 days ago

"Against his better judgment---" POV shift, from inside Isabella's head to inside the young gentleman's head. view book

written 1247 days ago

I read three chapters. It's written well enough. You need to go back and correct the tense shifts. They jar pretty badly and kick you right out of the story.

IMO, there are some logic problems. I really can't see an experienced psychiatric nurse being fooled by the oldest trick in the book. I also can't see psychotic patients being allowed to be in a position where they can free other patients from their restraints.

This story is not a study in anarchy. There are no comments about the evil of large institutions or governments in general.

This story is a study in pure evil. "Johnny Aristotle" is a simon-pure Charles Manson clone, a psychotic with delusions of grandeur who goes looking for a group of weak people he can dominate and lead straight into Hell. Which is what he does the FIRST chance he gets.

One thing was particularly funny. This guy keeps spouting all these facts in order to dominate the others by demonstrating what a genius he is. Yet this first thing this e-e-e-vil genius does when he escapes is run STRAIGHT BACK TO HIS HOMETOWN!

The very FIRST move in the Idiot Criminal Handbook.

I gather Ugly Pete didn't appreciate life in the psycho ward. Well, hey, now he's got Johnny Aristotle for a boss instead of all those irritating doctors and nurses. And now spends his time wondering when he'll have a pistol barrel shoved into his mouth instead of a pill.

Who says there ain't no justice in the world? view book

written 1248 days ago

"The hillside gleamed a perfect utopia of natural beauty." This does not make sense. This is not what "gleam" means. Perhaps a comma is missing?

"The hillside gleamed, a perfect utopia of natural beauty." Now it makes sense.

You have a raging battle, but between who, and for what reason, is totally unclear. The reader is confused and drops the story.

Explain WHO it is fighting, and WHY they're fighting, and the reader will be interested and will remain engaged in the story. view book

written 1251 days ago

This easily deserves my backing. I have seen exactly this kind of stuff on sale. I don't think Authonomy has made an offer for anything that made the ED's desk yet, but this might break the pattern.

This is pretty black-and-white stuff. The good guys are GOOD GUYS. The bad guys are BAD GUYS. And the girls all have VERY LARGE BREASTS. There's a substantial audience for this kind of story-telling.

You write it well. There's a spot or two where it might be overblown, but I think it would be better to let an editor make that decision.

"This hotel HAD BEGUN life as a Cistercian abbey---" The act of beginning life began and ended in the distant past, and therefore past perfect is required.

"McLaughlin's in his element, explaining how he met---" Needs a comma pretty badly. It reads awkwardly without it. Again I suggest some grammar study.

"Joshua agrees, then belches." Comma needed here too. view book

written 1253 days ago

You start with two good paragraphs, then drop into info-dump. I would recommend starting with the confrontation scene. Maybe two paragraphs of introduction, then the confrontation. It's also not clear she's a lawyer. Lay out the reason for the conflict in the confrontation dialogue.

"Lady lawyer," somebody said behind her.

Hayley turned, startled. A bad guy was standing behind her.

"They told me some liberal lady lawyer from that Commie Sierra Club'd be out here snoopin' around, poking her nose into stuff that wasn't any of her business," the bad guy said. "They sent me out into this lousy swamp to deliver a message, lady lawyer. Leave this one alone, lady lawyer. You ask me, this stinkin' swamp should've been developed and paved over years ago."

I'd also have the confrontation occur in the swamp, not the road. The way she turned the tables was a nice touch. Her noting his city clothes was nice, too. Taking his picture was excellent. The dialogue was good.

You emphasize too much what a Good Person our heroine is. I think you're laying it on way too thick. You've turned her into a saint. Just show her protecting her home, and let the reader make his own conclusion. view book

written 1255 days ago

Fiona is worried about getting old, too, isn't she? *g* Of winding up like the teacher.

There's a lot here that's really good. I had a real sense of place and character, of a story unfolding before my eyes. You have a fine eye for detail.

But it also feels awkward, newbie-ish. The story doesn't flow smoothly. The individual sentences sometimes feel awkward. The POV is shaky in spots. We start out with a minor character, when it might be better to start with the protag listening to the minor character talking. There's a good chance some readers are going to think the first character they hear talking is the protag.

"---not the kind you see in rich people's homes----" This is a POV shift, from third person limited to omniscient. If you have Fiona thinking this, then it goes back to third person limited.

"not even to go to the bathroom" *blink* It must really smell bad in there. Sorry, but this doesn't work.

"She was leaning on one elbow---" The antecedent of she is unclear. The previous two sentences are about a male character. This is a vaguely imprecise thing that, done often enough, leads to a sense of reader confusion without his quite knowing why. "Carolann was leaning on one elbow---" makes it clear.

And the POV is shaky again. We seem to start out in omniscient but wander into Fiona's head on occasion.

You use a construction that, while grammatically correct, is weak. There is a better way.

"CarolAnn asked, setting a Sam Adams on the table."
"she answered, rasing a beer and tipping it to her lips."

You do that a lot. Consider:

"CarolAnn asked. She set a Sam Adams on the table."
"she answered. She raised a beer and tipped it to her lips."

Does this not feel sharper, crisper? The action stands out more. There are times when the weaker construction works better, but IMO, as a general rule, IMO, the separate-sentence construction is more effective. view book

written 1256 days ago

The short pitch pulled me right in.

There is real talent in this but it's undeveloped.

First: Fix the grammar errors and miss-spellings. You're not punctuating dialog properly.

"This is 12 Bluebell Drive, Alice and Lisa's birthday party?' the magician said.

"I recently had my fist solo kill." Yee-ouchies. A dynamite opening sentence TOTALLY destroyed by a typo.

Second: It feels jerky. We don't flow from one scene to the other, we just abruptly jerk there. This feels like lack of experience. You'll get better with practice.

On my WL. view book

written 1261 days ago

This is an original tale and concept, but there are errors. The POV is shaky and there are grammar errors, in particular the inappropriate placement of commas. There is also the occasional wordy sentence.

A few examples:

"In the year 1940 and around that time---" "And around that time" weakens the sentence. Suggest "In the year 1940---"

"Esmeralda lived, alone in her somewhat run-down cottage" What you're doing is trying to reproduce the rhythms of the spoken word into written fiction. Opinions may differ, but I rather suspect an editor won't like this. "Esmeralda lived alone in her somewhat run-down cottage" is grammatically correct and IMO, will affect the young reader to a greater extent. It is more forceful and direct.

"she thought to herself" POV shift, from omniscient to third person limited. We have just jumped inside Esmeralda's head. Writing in omniscient POV is harder than it looks. If you want to stay in omniscient, have her mutter her thoughts out loud, where the omniscient narrator can "hear" them.

"Tommy tried to hide his feelings" Another uncontrolled POV shift. We have just jumped into Tommy's head. In omniscient, you must come up with some visible action he does that shows he's trying to hide his feelings. view book

written 1262 days ago

"the air tensed" You use "tense" as a verb when you mean to use it as an adjective. The way you've got it makes the air a live character. "The protag tensed in fear."

"But this meeting was priority, it was't optional." Run-on sentence. "But this meeting was priority. It wasn't optional." You can get away with run-on sentences in dialog. Seldom in anything else. view book