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Help please. CASH PRIZE!!!

675 Views 37 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  Martinelv
Bare with me please. I know you?re all bored with my posts, but I need your help. All of your help. From every single one of you.

I?ve recently entered a literary competition, funded by our local arts council, and managed to squeeze my way into the last 200 with my silly Tangle Man story. Now I?ve got to submit a chapter of no more than 3000 words from a novel that I?ve written, and the best three get short-listed to win ?5000, and the winner to get ?20,000 and a foot in the door of the publishing world.

Problem is, I?ve got one completed novel (A Tranquil Breeze) and one unfinished (My House on the Fjord), and I don?t know from which I should submit a chapter, even though I?ve decided on the chapter from each! The first is my real baby, nurtured over many years, and the second is just something I?ve spewed out since I?ve been ill. The problem is that I don?t know which one (or chapter from one) to submit. My heart says ?A Tranquil Breeze?, but I think it might be a little too ?off the wall?, even though I regard it as my finest work. But the other, which was more spontaneous and less provocative, might go down better. My ?House on the Fjord? seems, well, just a little trite to me, but I can?t be sure, because I enjoyed writing it so much. ?A Tranquil Breeze? has been a real slog, They are looking for unpublished writers with ?potential?, and for years I?ve been told that I have this. But now it?s crunch time. I need you all to be honest. Brutally f*****g honest. Please, I need a consensus on which chapter to submit. I?m fed up of people around me telling me how talented I am, which I know is a lie, I?m an average writer at best with a little imagination, so I?m counting on you, my faceless friends, to nudge me in the right direction. You may also notice that the occasional phrase, or sentence, has been stolen from one novel into another?but I?ve been told all authors do this! Please read the whole chapter of both, even if you?ve read them already, as I?ve spent the last week editing them to hell. I'll post them on this thread, so as not to sludge up the rest of the forum. Forgive format, lack of indentations, etc. Bloody Forum. :wink:

Please? If I win, or ever get published, I promise I?ll either donate a portion (probably insignificant!) to DPSelfHelp.Com, or dedicate the book to you all. I mean that sincerely.

Deadline for submission is in exactly a seven days time. So if you could just read the chapters from each, below, and decide for me what I should do, I?ll be eternally grateful. I know it?s selfish of me to ask, what with all your own problems, but this really is make or break for me. If I fail, my only recourse will to become a priest, and you know what?ll happen then!!! If you don?t, check out Revelations in the bible! :twisted:

Sebastian, Terri, Janine, ShyTiger, of all people, tell me what to do!
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Martinlev said:
"I wish I had two hearts. One isn't enough for moment like this."
I cant't "decode" that, does it mean that:

1. his emotions about her are too strong? (in love)
2. he feels like he doesn't deserve this?
3. he found something that he never hoped he would?
4. his romance empowered by relief?
5. ...I am just "off topic"? :)

Martinlev said:
Something in me, older, wiser, tells me that I've become trapped in happiness. Is my house on the fjord a prison after all?
Whenever I am happy, I think of something like this. But with me, it's actually in a form of guilt. Like I am looser in the other things and don't deserve the moment.

Additionally, did the following element got "involved" in the persona of the character?:

What is happening now, will go away. Thus it's painful living it, since you know it's going to end. I am, now- [present], and then- [past] sad.

It isn't necessary that he has experienced it like that. Well, I am, and since I identify with the character I read, I just wanted to ask.


I guess i liked the Fjord. But I sense a sad end, and I hate sad ends in romance.

Now.. here goes my preferance-oriented opinion on the text:

It was impressive to have all those metaphors and a wealthy/rich vocabulary (I leave aside the fact that it made me copy-paste almost every word that wasn't "I, she, me, not" :)), but...

I was hungry for story-telling and the descriptions tired me. I would like less and simpler descriptions of feelings and that only indicates that I would like to have different analogy between descriptions and story-telling. I think that they are more "heavy" like this. Maybe I am expecting a climax of the "expresionism" at selected times over the story. Maybe I am expecting feelings to be "encoded" without the usage of rich vocabulary. Of cource, I know that it takes a talent to write like this.

I like the character's honesty level, but I would like him more modest, direct, and "low-profile". I guess honesty escorts self-confidence; and beeing modest, direct, and low-profile goes away when you claim things you find possible, and "winning" (or believe that you do) them. But those 3 things is what I evaluate as good elements (modest, direct, low-profile) and I should have myself, and I suppose my reaction is quite immature, since I want him to be like the prototype I have in my head. Expected though, because when I read stories (and especially romance ones), I want the character to look like me (or at least, my current "state").

I maintain illusions that I may, sometime, compose a romance story (this is not the only kind of story I am interested in, but it appears to be the most easy and interesting one.. for the author ;)) and the enthousiams that Fjord offered me, also gave me an important impulse to consider it seriously. If you find it interesting, then answer this question:

Is it better to give data for the characters (in a realistic way, and as it would happen in reality) during the whole story, and later base the ending of the story uppon these data? Or is it better to leave a mystery around the characters by giving scarse data or even false one (real will be revealed at the end)?
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Martin said:
Hey Brainsilence, thanks for your really quite absorbing critique. And for gods sake, stop apologising for your English. It's better than mine, and I am the greatest living English speaker.
...thanks for taking my critique well-intentioned; well-intentioned was my intention :)

It was a good impulsion about my English, especially if it comes from the greatest living English speaker :) but I didn't appologised about my English in this topic/thread.. or did I? Well, I guess I keep my signature because I am feeling a bit insecure.

Martin said:
First off, let me try and elucidate how I write. In the case of 'My House on the Fjord', I was (to use an unspeakable clich?) writing from the heart. My heart. There was no real 'intention' behind the story, except for an idea of my head of paradise - which, as you correctly state, in my case is the ideal of romantic tragedy.
I understand writing from the heart. It's pleasant. You feel like yourself... err.. well, speaking for myself actually, but I assume that it's the same for everyone (assumption: could be the greatest human mistake :)).

Martin said:
'A Tranquil Breeze' is a story, as best as I can relate it, with as little emotional waffle as possible, As Terri* said, it's raw, and it was difficult for me.
Unfortunatelly, when I read "skinned herself alive" I didn't want to keep reading. I guess I wasn't in the mood for a subject like that.

Martin said:
brainsilence02 said:
I like the character's honesty level, but I would like him more modest, direct, and "low-profile".
I'm a bit puzzled by this, as this was not my intention, but I think I understand what you are talking about. You must understand that this story is entirely about him, and the concentration on his self-absorption with his paradise is paramount to the tale.
You mean it wasn't your intention to make him honest? Well, I owe to explain better what do I mean by "honest". I mean that he sais what he is thinking (and want), at least to some crucial points where I couldn't or I would have hesitated (I tried to place myself inside the novel, at the place of the character).

Martin said:
I don't think he portrays immodesty, but perhaps unthinking acceptance of his paradise is immodesty. Nice thought.
No he doesn't portray immodesty, I have overdone it. I didn't ment to sound like "immodesty", and I fear that inside my stupidity, I was considered as neat.

I am not sure I fully understand "unthinking acceptance". But we may refer to the same thing: when I refered to modesty, it was because he appeared claiming her (and as I understood it, she is the impersonation of his happiness, with perhaps the enviroment contributing at it?) with certainity (or at least, without the amount of fear I expected, judging from myself). When I am in love with a girl, I feel so uncertain and so afraid. That's where the "modesty" comment went for. I may have wrong defintion about modesty in love/romance. I now see it as a mistake of mine since I lack for the relative experience.

Martin said:
[...] characterise the person - data, if you like. Most authors do this...right down to the colour of their eyes, that sort of thing. It's a matter of style I guess.
The usage of the word "data" was because I was in lack for a more correct one ;) With "data", I wanted to designate the unveilment of the characters' thoughts and opinions about life; and more specifically about love, since it's a romance. I suppose that your answer will not change now that I tried to make more clear my word "data", but I should do it, "just in case".

Martin said:
Cheers, thanks so much.
No, thank you. It was really good for that an author has accepted to discuss about his novel. Thanks :) it was a great chance for me.
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terri* said:
Sorry to interupt. I'll make it quick.

Brainsilence, do you have time to read the book Martin recommended for the bookclub...Enchanted Night by Steven Millhauser? Janine ordered if from Amazon. It is only 130 pages long...a novella as the scarey bookstore man told me. Anyway, I think you, Janine and Martin would have a great discussion. I read it and am looking forward to seeing people really discuss it. If you are able to, it'd really be great if you could. You have done such a great job discussing Martin's with him.

Okay, again, excuse me. Martin should be around in 4 or 5 hours and you guys can continue on.

Think about it.
Don't excuse terri* :) thanks for mentioning that. I have seen the topic/thread with the title "Enchanted Night" but, I don't why, I checked it fast.. didn't payed attention :| I though it would be a poem.

Er.. hm.. It's difficult reading in English, I don't quite collect/take-in the meaning till my "bone(s)" (hope this phrase makes some sense) and I need to look at the dictionary all the time. But it sounds good. I will read that topic/thead to get informed of what this novel is about. With Martin's text, when I read "We made love" it was very tempting.. I had it infornt of me... and the rich vocabulary literally transferted me into it! It really absorb me! The issue, romance, helped a bit :)

sebasian said:
My point is that it's silly to break down a work of art into it's bare essentials. You can't say...or rather, I can't say that this sentence did this for me or that paragraph did that for me. Your writing is beyond the level of being casually critiqued...although no doubt people will try. What i mean by that is that what i look for when i'm reading something is that it spurs my interest, keeps me intrigued by it's flow and style, and instills something deeper in me that i can't put into words, as hard as i might try.
Hmmm.. That went for me eh? Well, you are right. I assuredly can't write like Martin, and maybe I should keep my critique mouth shut in the future and not confuse Martin's gendle behavior upon my critique with an educational conversation. Maybe if I read the "Enchanted Night", I could make critique to it.

...During my whirl, I neglected the obvious: it is a great text (I only read the 'My house at the Fjord').

And Martin.. I am kind of blind, I dont know... Until this moment, I was making posts by quoting you and using the pen name "Martinlev" while it is "Martinelv" :shock:
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It's a relief that you mentioned that.... that I haven't done something improper.

terri* said:
I am offering myself up as the sacrificial lamb for people who have no idea how to critique a book. I look forward to learning, if only a bit.
I couldn't understand that.
terri* said:
Oh, that's me trying to say, in a joking way, that I do not have any understanding of doing critiques or reviews. Martin, Janine and hopefully a few other intelligent people, will be discussing the book at levels I know I did not even think of when I read the book. But, because I would like others to see that even someone a little less smart, like me, is willing to participate...I write that I am offering myself up as a sacrificial lamb to their intelligence, basically.
Yes, I understand now. But you know it's not like this.. I have read abouuuuut... 10 books so far and, the last one was when I was 13, so I can't possibly... :)

The fact is that the romance is something that overly "tortures" me, so I got myself into it and just compared the character with myself. I will check to see if I can find that book in my native language.
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