As Kim continues to critique my book, you may be wondering: Why would Brad ask for her help? Does she even know how to write?
The answer is yes! Kim wrote a book and I’ve read it. And she’s working on, like, twenty others. But as I read her novel Caged I noticed that her style differs from mine. Her main character’s thoughts are often expressed in italics every once in while. This helps clue the reader in on the protagonist’s thought processes and motivations.
And while it fits my friend Kim, I do not like to do this. I want the reader to wonder about characters’ motivations and come to their own conclusions. I also want to try to create a moment of Fridge Brilliance. That is, something that appears as a mistake at first. But, upon further reading or during a ponderous trip to the can, turns out to be justified after all.
So let’s find out: will Kim be fooled by my tricks? Or will the mistakes be legitimate? (I’ll probably have examples of both.)
Chapter One Flames:
- Mean took a peek behind the bar, and, finding nothing, pulled off her backpack. It was marked with a zigzag pattern bisected by many straight lines, and she set it down on top of the table.
- Kim – These sentences read a little weird. Is there a way to condense them? Like just say “her zig-zagged patterned backpack” or something?
Kim, that is the flag of the nation of Jesice. To just say ‘zigzags’ would be like calling the U.S. flag ‘stars and stripes.’
- With a wary glance down the hall, she sat down and pulled her computer out of the satchel.
- Kim – Backpack? Or did she have a satchel too? It gets confusing when different words are used to describe the same thing.
Well, Kim, it also gets BORING calling something the same thing. But since a satchel is usually smaller than a backpack I suppose I’ll relent. It probably won’t happen again anyway.
- “Oh, it’s nothing,” Mean said. “Just had the volume too high. Where are you?”
- Kim – Did the loud ringing scare her? Why isn’t there a description of that back when the ringing started?
This occurs right after Mean walks through a creepy, empty house. She contacts Trisk on her laptop, and it rings out loud before it connects. When Trisk appears on the monitor she realizes that Mean is visibly shaken. This is one of those fridge moments I mentioned in the intro: Mean does not want to let Trisk believe she is frightened of an empty house, so she lies.
Of course the reader only finds out that Mean has respect for Trisk’s stoic nature later, so this would probably seem like a goof the first time around.
- “I’m at the ‘Stone Rory Refuge,’” Trisk said.
- Kim – Not sure you need those quotes for a name of a place.
This was an attempt to convey Trisk’s tone of voice. As if she were reading a name off a sign, or reading a name that was unfamiliar and ridiculous to her. If you don’t think it’s effective at conveying her tone then I’m open to suggestions. I even enabled the blog comments this time!
- “Is that the one with that strange mitt on her hand?” Trisk asked. Mean shook her head.
- “No, she’s older. Met her a few days ago online. But she’s not here.”
- Kim – Combine this with Mean shook her head.
Dang, this is something I didn’t know. If a character is speaking and then a different character performs some action before they speak you’re supposed to include it on the paragraph with the following dialog. Wish I would have known that before I wrote three of these books.
- The man frowned. “What did you do to it?” he asked as He reached the cylinder, placing his hands on the machine and running his gritty fingers over the surface.
- Kim – So is it a collection of parts, a device, a cylinder, a machine, or a sculpture? You’ve used 5 different words to describe one thing, and it’s not clear if it’s one thing or 5 different things. It’s like saying Mean got into her car, her auto, her orb vehicle, her traveling machine, etc. It’s good not to keep re-using the same words when possible, but it gets really confusing when introducing new objects or people. Sometimes just calling it a car is simplest and clearest.
Here Kim is getting upset with me for calling the apron dude’s cylinder too many different things. It’s a rookie mistake, Kim, I know! Have mercy! This is the first chapter I ever wrote! Ah! The flames! The fire! The conflagration!
- The apron-wearing man shuffled.
- Kim – So this guy never gets a name either?
Nope. Although I guess I can have Mean give him a nickname that she can use. “Greasemonkey” or something. She can even capitalize it so you can pretend it’s his name.
- He slid his fingers beneath the large apron, dragging out something that bulged near his stomach. It curved in his palm and was thin like a tube, with a bit of sharp chrome on the end––a needle.
- Kim – Can you just say he dragged out a torch welder? Otherwise, it sounds a little too descriptive and slightly perverted.
Oh, Kim! There goes your filthy, overactive mind again. This isn’t even REMOTELY suggestive. NO ONE would think that but you.
I’ll just call it a torch welder.
- She brought out a long pole tipped with a triangular point, taking it in both hands.
- Kim – Just say spear. Otherwise, it’s like saying Mean wore a bit of cloth with openings for her head, arms, and torso when you could just say shirt.
Ha,ha now THAT sounds perverted.
- He turned to face her; the helmet curved in a featureless mask around his head. “I’m Darklord,” he said, the words clear.
Kim, why is this crossed out? I need to specify that Dark’s words are not muffled by the helmet he’s wearing. It’s a magic helmet.
- She stomped past the floodlights and tossed the spear into the back seat of the car, opening the door and slamming it shut after she took her place behind the controls.
- Kim – Odd, every other time she jumps in and out.
Up until this point, Mean has hopped over her convertible’s door in order to enter or exit the orb vehicle. Ahem, car. But the quote here happens right after Darklord upsets Mean with his little rant. She is purposely using the door this one time JUST so she can slam it to show him how angry she is.
Kind of like how I will purposely call Kim’s minivan a ‘wheeled transport ride’ from this moment on. 😉