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View Poll Results: Which is better.
A is better 11 68.75%
B is better 5 31.25%
Voters: 16. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 05-13-2015, 03:16 PM   #1
NaokoSmith
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Compare and contrast.

Which of these two starts to my novel (fantasy romance) would be better? and if you are willing to give a little more time, why?

A
The council chamber was a seething babble of noise. Clerks leant across the table, vehemently gesturing at each other, shouting out their points. They tossed the sleeves of their robes impatiently aside, clutching at their long locks of hair when the words of the others differed from their own.

Sunlight assailed the huge polished table littered with papers. The arched windows were wide open, yet no air moved the green velvet curtains draped along their sides. The dark wood paneling of the walls and the low ceiling, still smoky from candle-lit conferences held through the night, seemed to increase the weight of the humid atmosphere. The oppressive heat melted the faces of the delegates into frowns and scowls, their clashing voices becoming shriller and more anguished. The negotiations were stifling.

B
The council chamber was a seething babble of noise. Council clerks leant across the table, gesturing at each other, shouting out their points. They tossed the sleeves of their robes impatiently aside, they clutched at their long locks of hair.

It was a hot day. Light spilled onto the huge polished table littered with papers. No air moved in the green velvet curtains draped at the long windows though the windows were flung wide open. The dark wood panelling of the walls, the low ceiling smoky from candle-lit conferences going on into the night seemed to increase the weight of the humid atmosphere, to press the distressed faces of the clerks into frowns and scowls and force their clashing voices into shriller and more anguished tones.
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Old 05-13-2015, 03:26 PM   #2
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Both suck equally.
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Old 05-13-2015, 03:29 PM   #3
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Cool

I like the way "A" starts. There's a lot of description, but it isn't too fussy with the details. I get a mental image of Colonial America -- probably not your intent, I'm sure, but it's what came to mind as I was reading -- from the passage. I can smell burning candles and body odor, hear the chattering of frustrated voices. It's a good start, as long as something interesting is about to happen.
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Old 05-13-2015, 03:29 PM   #4
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Conditionally, I'd say that A is better--depending on how fast the content needs to convey that it's hot.

"Sunlight assailed the huge polished table littered with papers" is a stronger second paragraph opener than "It was a hot day" is. The oppressive heat is covered later in A.

If it's important to convey it's hot immediately, that could be covered even earlier in the reason the clerks brushed the sleeves of their robes aside (the robes were smothering them).
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Old 05-13-2015, 03:53 PM   #5
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I'll go with A.
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Old 05-13-2015, 05:09 PM   #6
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Just a thought, you understand. . .


Quote:
Originally Posted by NaokoSmith View Post
A
The council chamber was a seething babble of noise. Clerks leant across the table, vehemently gesturing at each other, shouting out their points. They tossed the sleeves of their robes impatiently aside, clutching at their long locks of hair when the words of the others differed from their own.

Sunlight assailed the huge polished table littered with papers. The arched windows were wide open, yet no air moved the green velvet curtains draped along their sides. The dark wood paneling of the walls and the low ceiling, still smoky from candle-lit conferences held through the night, seemed to increase the weight of the humid atmosphere. The oppressive heat melted the faces of the delegates into frowns and scowls, their clashing voices becoming shriller and more anguished. The negotiations were stifling.
speared

The negotiations were being stifled by the oppressive heat which melted the faces of the delegates into frowns and scowls, their clashing voices becoming shriller and more anguished.

Perhaps add something about the fans having failed- again!
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Old 05-13-2015, 07:29 PM   #7
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I'm voting B (fewer redundancies in either paragraph and I like that the sun isn't "assailing" anything), though to be totally honest I think there are more economical ways to do this than are shown in either option.
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Old 05-14-2015, 01:07 AM   #8
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Of the two, B. (I'm not big on light "assailing" the table either.) Honestly, I'm not terribly fond of either of them, just because I'm not really sure why a fantasy romance is opening on bureaucrats arguing about--well, I don't know what, but table negotiations don't exactly grab me from the start. ...but B.

Not to be antagonistic, but why do you ask? I mean, it's the opening graph. You're not going to do them all by committee, I assume? What about these couple of sentences made you feel you needed input?
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Old 05-14-2015, 02:01 AM   #9
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Thanks guys!


Explanation follows, don't feel you have to read this unless you too have an unwieldy novel you are struggling with.

I started writing this novel in my teens. In my thirties, I radically re-wrote it. At that time, there was no internet (oh yes, my dears, there really was such a time! and we played cards by candlelight and children were much better behaved - not, LOL) so the only way to publish was in paper, via a tortuous screening of agents and publishing houses. Friends who read the novel liked it a lot but I couldn't get it into print.

At that time, romance was very dull and would finish at the bedroom door. I had decided to write a romance in which the sex happened in the middle of the novel and fun still happened after people were married , oh, and I also wrote very strong women characters . I wanted other women who like a fun read to have something feminist, because I myself found it hard that you could either read a fun romance, or a heavy serious feminist book, you could not have a politically correct fun story.

Fifteen years later, I went back to read the novel for a larf and I enjoyed it so I thought I'd put it up online. I put it on Smashwords and someone bought it! A writing slut was born. All of the writing, erotica reviewing, posting stems from this novel as it was in an attempt to get ideas about how to write this novel better that I wandered first into a Facebook group of lovely lady writers and then onto this board. The novel would have a bit of interest in it but it never sold after the first purchase - now you've read the first couple of paragraphs you can probably see why!

Recently I started posting the novel on Novels and Novellas. There isn't enough sex in it for a classic Lit story, so I had never done this before. I just wanted to know, was the storyline redundant, now that there are so many sexy stories with strong women characters? Was there any feedback I could get that would allow me to improve the novel?

God, talk about a slow burn. One of my friends posted lovely comments occasionally and sent me encouraging messages. There were very few votes. Nobody apart from him gave me any feedback in spite of my pleading messages. One chapter still only has one vote on it! Even trolls don't bother to go on my story, it's so slow.

The story downloads enough for me to think people are enjoying it. The votes are usually a 3 (which does mean: Really liked it, keep writing) and a 5 and for various reasons I don't think that 5 is my friend (sometimes there were two 5s). I don't care about votes, I really want feedback but in lieu of feedback, I take the message of the votes: Really like it - it needs work.

To my great surprise, people who Favorited the chapters or me while I've been putting it up seem to be men, both young and old. Given the demographic of Lit readership that perhaps isn't surprising. I just never expected men to be at all interested in my feminist fantasy romance.

I feel encouraged that men are reading this romantic story. I feel encouraged that someone is still reading it at Chapter 11 and giving it a 3 - they must really like the story, even if they think the writing sucks.

Finally, partly by threatening to stop uploading the chapters, I managed to get feedback from two people, one of whom gave me really detailed and excellent pointers albeit Anonymously. Both people said they thought there was a good story in there and that the writing needs a lot of work. One rewrote the first couple of paragraphs for me. I of course was outraged and hated their version. Before I rejected it out of hand I decided to put the two up here and see which one people preferred.

Their version was A. There are enough votes here for me to realise that whether or not either version is good enough, mine needs serious work to it even after the thirty years of careful crafting I've put into it!

Back to the drawing board.


And the editorial board to look for someone to help out! (Although I will ask Bramblethorn first, this is such a heavy novel I didn't want to inflict it on anyone without finding out if it would be worth it.)

Even though I only got feedback from two people (apart from my friend!), this has been a very worthwhile exercise. I was lucky and got two really insightful pieces of feedback. I learned a lot more about the audience for the novel. Most of all, I felt encouraged that my story is not too old-fashioned, that there are still people who enjoy it so it would be worth working at it.
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Old 05-14-2015, 04:03 AM   #10
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Hello, Honey.

Personally, I have always had the belief that readers are interested in people, the characters: what are they like, what do they think, what do they do? ‘Over the years, Fred had proven himself to be an unreliable ratbag’ trumps ‘sunlight assailed the huge polished table’ every time. Of course, I may be wrong. (I sometimes am.)

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Old 05-14-2015, 12:04 PM   #11
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I like B it is less trite and better punctuated, except for the last sentence of the first paragraph, which is a comma splice. Could be fixed by merely saying, "clutching. . ."
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Old 05-14-2015, 02:03 PM   #12
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I like B. It didn't seem as cluttered with description, kept closer to the point.
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Old 05-14-2015, 02:39 PM   #13
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Sort of a headscratcher, Naoko. I don't see why the OP poll helps you a bit with what you lay out in your post #9.
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Old 05-14-2015, 02:49 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sr71plt View Post
Sort of a headscratcher, Naoko. I don't see why the OP poll helps you a bit with what you lay out in your post #9.
I don't care. It does help me, whether you understand why or not.
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Old 05-14-2015, 03:06 PM   #15
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Thanks robertreams and 49greg! I always knew you had excellent taste and judgement

Quote:
Originally Posted by SamScribble View Post
Hello, Honey.

Personally, I have always had the belief that readers are interested people, the characters: what they are like, what they think, what they do? ‘Over the years, Fred had proven himself to be an unreliable ratbag’ trumps ‘sunlight assailed the huge polished table’ every time. Of course, I may be wrong. (I sometimes am.)

'Lo Sugar

I figured this too. However I have had specific feedback on the novel that although the characters are great, there isn't enough background description of landscapes or of the world I set the novel in. I think this feedback is correct, I have been living with this set of novels for so long that I am immersed in the world and forget to allow for readers who are new to it.

I think the characters and interaction between them are what's keeping interested readers going, but my unedited writing puts quite a few off.

I don't really like 'assailed', because it's a soft sounding word even though its meaning is hard. TBH, I'm not that keen on this actual re-write and my kind commentator did it for me in a rush, just to show me how I could put the start differently. All I want to know is if my writing is OK to go, and it's just issues like the background which need to be filled in, or is my writing clunky and needs to be addressed in a much more detailed way. Looks like it's the latter! I will enjoy re-editing the story if I can find someone to help me with it, but it's a big ask as it's a massive novel.

BTW, the 3 votes have all been stripped off the chapters in the monthly sweeps! so now I have got some chapters with only one vote - which is a 5! I never heard of people trolling a story with a 3 before, but I guess even a 4 can pull you down. My novel looks great with its sparkling scores of perfect 5s! until you realise that's just from one or two votes, LOL.

I also had an Anonymous public comment! to say the story is intriguing and the commentator hopes I will keep posting, so I feel encouraged to carry on working on it.

Thank you everyone for pitching in to comment and show me that the writing does need attention. (Even you JBJ, I needed to know that B sucks as much as A. And you, pilot, thanks for making the effort even if you don't understand why I want this feeback.)

(I have had to fetch Piglet from school early as she's poorly, and I feel a bit ropey myself so I'm going to catch an early night now. I just wanted to pop in and see if there were any further comments and thank you for them.)

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Old 05-14-2015, 03:36 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NaokoSmith View Post
I don't care. It does help me, whether you understand why or not.
OK, so you were just trying to draw us in to advertise your story. I'm so sorry I bothered to try to help you out with the specific--irrelevant, apparently to your purpose--writing question. So, you don't care; I won't care either.
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Old 05-14-2015, 08:30 PM   #17
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I'm going to go with (A) on this one.

Opening (A) is much easier to read and seems a bit more direct than opening (B). Both tell me that the scene is unfolding in some old meeting house and is likely political in nature. The both tell me it was oppressively hot and humid. I didn't really get anything out of (B) that I didn't get out of (A).

I might have selected (B) as the better opening if it had somehow provided more "color" in its reading, but it really was largely the same to me. The other thing that might have made a less direct approach more applicable is if you were trying to set the pace of the reader to be slower than the rest of the reading, but as you stated it was an opening so I couldn't see much of a reason to slow the reader down with the less direct structure.

Did I pass? Did I properly execute the compare and contrast?

Gawd I hated these kind of assignments back in school. Ironically the compare and contrast assignments given most often were to do so on historical political opinions, and your story openings fell right into line with that.
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Old 05-14-2015, 08:38 PM   #18
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A's complex and compound sentences match the mood and flow of the words and they images they convey far better than does the sharper, shorter cadence of B. The first paragraph of B, in particular suffers, stifled into a stutter by short sentences with repeated subject pronoun.
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Old 05-15-2015, 12:04 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NaokoSmith View Post
BTW, the 3 votes have all been stripped off the chapters in the monthly sweeps! so now I have got some chapters with only one vote - which is a 5! I never heard of people trolling a story with a 3 before, but I guess even a 4 can pull you down. My novel looks great with its sparkling scores of perfect 5s! until you realise that's just from one or two votes, LOL.
I'm not understanding how this works....please illuminate me. Why would monthly sweeps eliminate the 3 votes? And I thought a story had to have a certain number of votes before the system would calculate a score? Maybe there is an FAQ about this somewhere and I just haven't run across it?
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Old 05-15-2015, 12:06 AM   #20
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Quote:
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I'm not understanding how this works....please illuminate me. Why would monthly sweeps eliminate the 3 votes? And I thought a story had to have a certain number of votes before the system would calculate a score? Maybe there is an FAQ about this somewhere and I just haven't run across it?
The score shows on the author's page (and the hub listing) from the first vote. As for the 3 votes taken away, the sweep can take away any number of votes it determines aren't valid.
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Old 05-15-2015, 03:34 AM   #21
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Duchess,
I think your use of language is better than mine.
A is more illustrative, so to speak; more gentle, awaiting the hammer or the axe.
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Old 05-15-2015, 06:40 AM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Katiecat View Post
I'm not understanding how this works....please illuminate me. Why would monthly sweeps eliminate the 3 votes? And I thought a story had to have a certain number of votes before the system would calculate a score? Maybe there is an FAQ about this somewhere and I just haven't run across it?
I think you have to have 10 votes before the score will display on the New Stories feed (not sure about the author page?) but the rating is always visible to the author, even with just one vote.
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Old 05-17-2015, 04:46 AM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bramblethorn View Post
I think you have to have 10 votes before the score will display on the New Stories feed (not sure about the author page?) but the rating is always visible to the author, even with just one vote.
I thought the score always showed but you can only get the red H for Hotness if you have 10 votes?

Thank you all for helping me with your comments and votes. I know now that the beginning needs a radical rewrite. In fact all of it needs work to such an extent that the latest chaper was rejected because the paragraphs were too long!

I have really learnt a lot by posting the novel on Literotica, and finally got the message that I need a second pair of eyes to look over the writing for me. I am going to lovingly redraft the novel (yet again!) and look for an editor.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sr71plt View Post
OK, so you were just trying to draw us in to advertise your story. I'm so sorry I bothered to try to help you out with the specific--irrelevant, apparently to your purpose--writing question. So, you don't care; I won't care either.
I am not advertising the novel in hopes any of you will read it; I haven't put links to the chapters in this thread. I uploaded it to Lit hoping specifically for feedback from fantasy romance fans, from whom I have now managed to get a small amount of very useful input. I put the compare and contrast poll up because, believe it or not, I did just need it to be confirmed to me that my writing is that bad and needs the radical re-write, LOL. It's hard to get critical distance from a piece you have lived with and been writing and re-writing for half your life.

Thank you all very much.
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Old 05-17-2015, 05:00 AM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NaokoSmith View Post
I thought the score always showed but you can only get the red H for Hotness if you have 10 votes?

Thank you all for helping me with your comments and votes. I know now that the beginning needs a radical rewrite. In fact all of it needs work to such an extent that the latest chaper was rejected because the paragraphs were too long!

I have really learnt a lot by posting the novel on Literotica, and finally got the message that I need a second pair of eyes to look over the writing for me. I am going to lovingly redraft the novel (yet again!) and look for an editor.



I am not advertising the novel in hopes any of you will read it; I haven't put links to the chapters in this thread. I uploaded it to Lit hoping specifically for feedback from fantasy romance fans, from whom I have now managed to get a small amount of very useful input. I put the compare and contrast poll up because, believe it or not, I did just need it to be confirmed to me that my writing is that bad and needs the radical re-write, LOL. It's hard to get critical distance from a piece you have lived with and been writing and re-writing for half your life.

Thank you all very much.
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Old 05-17-2015, 10:15 AM   #25
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A is a bit verbose, but on the second reading I like it better, it better carries the "flavor" of the moment.
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