Oceans by Brandon Szabo


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Post September 22, 2012, 01:47:01 PM

Oceans by Brandon Szabo

An interesting tale. Sea monsters, young love and pent up frustration. It's easy to connect with the protagonist ( even if my political resume is a tad... small. ) in a sense that every person out there, at one point in there life, has felt that there is just something bigger to be explored than your everyday life.

I found myself more drawn to the action aspect of the story, though. I wanted to see more magic, monsters and a little bit of revenge.

All in all, not bad. I didn't scroll down to the bottom of the story to find out how much more I had left! :|
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Post September 22, 2012, 08:41:54 PM

Re: Oceans by Brandon Szabo

J.I.Charles wrote:An interesting tale. Sea monsters, young love and pent up frustration. It's easy to connect with the protagonist ( even if my political resume is a tad... small. ) in a sense that every person out there, at one point in there life, has felt that there is just something bigger to be explored than your everyday life.

I found myself more drawn to the action aspect of the story, though. I wanted to see more magic, monsters and a little bit of revenge.

All in all, not bad. I didn't scroll down to the bottom of the story to find out how much more I had left! :|


As noted, the author is working on a novel-length expansion of the story... Personally, I thought of it as an allegory or satire in which political correctness gone wild (in trying to offend nobody, they end up ignoring danger) leads to a demonstration of Darwinian law: only the rebellious fellow who actually knows how to fight (in a society where arguing is considered to be unthinkable) is of any use when the sea creatures attack.
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Post September 22, 2012, 11:55:42 PM

Re: Oceans by Brandon Szabo

Robert_Moriyama wrote: only the rebellious fellow who actually knows how to fight (in a society where arguing is considered to be unthinkable) is of any use when the sea creatures attack.


Correction, the fourteen year old princess was pretty handy with a blade... but the fools banished her. It's as if they WANT to be overrun!

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Post September 24, 2012, 05:00:38 PM

Re: Oceans by Brandon Szabo

I feel like the plausibility police today. But the key to making speculative fiction work is plausibility. Whether you are writing science fiction, fantasy, horror or some combination of the three, you start off at a disadvantage, because you are presenting something that is supposed to be impossible as fact. Your job, as the writer, is to make the impossible seem not just possible but absolutely real. The way you do that is by providing details so that the story seems grounded in reality and characters whose actions are plausible---i.e. they conform to what we think of as human nature.

The actions of the characters in this story do not conform to human nature. Island and coastal cultures inevitably feed themselves by fishing, because the sea has almost limitless resources. That means they are expert sailors, navigators. Since inhabitable land is in short supply, they island hop----just look at what they did in the pacific . Coastal people tend to suffer less from xenophobia, because they prosper when they make contact with other people who may have new technology and goods to trade.

The presence of a common enemy---in this case the sea people---makes humans more militaristic. How can a culture have firearms that only one citizen carries? For that matter, where did they get the materials to craft weapons on an island that is a lot like Venice---buildings separated by canals?

Finally, there is the biologic imperative to diversify the human gene pool. People are sexually attracted to those whose genome is different from their own. And most cultures quickly develop an incest prohibition as they note that inbreeding leads to deformities and early death and so they start looking for fresh blood. Even if the folks on the island did not want to be friends with the folks on the next island, they would almost certainly raid them from time to time to get women.

If the same story was told about a neolithic tribe living in a fertile valley that fears contact with the slightly more advanced tribe living in the next valley, it would make more sense.

I would suggest that anyone who wants to write speculative fiction about new cultures study anthropology and history. And maybe check out the writing of C. J. Cherryh, who is particularly good at culture development.

If the goal is to write satire along the lines of Candide adding more humor and making the action more over the top will clue the reader that nothing that is being written should be taken seriously except the social criticism.

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Post September 24, 2012, 06:20:52 PM

Re: Oceans by Brandon Szabo

McCamy_Taylor wrote: The presence of a common enemy---in this case the sea people---makes humans more militaristic. How can a culture have firearms that only one citizen carries? For that matter, where did they get the materials to craft weapons on an island that is a lot like Venice---buildings separated by canals?


My spin on it is that the setting and time of the story is more like the Star Wars universe. In Star Wars you got a futuristic setting with an old time feel from the knights, lightsaber swords and the lot.

The reason I say that this story could resemble that type of universe was this part of the story: "I was watching my colleagues from afar get mauled and tormented by the monsters, unable to defend themselves. They had ignored my warnings, and had never learned to fight, as I had, from old manuals left over from "less civilized" times."

There's no telling how advanced the less civilized times were, only that they were uncivilized, which isn't so hard to believe. Every year we get a new post apocalyptic tale where the world ends from some super war involving advanced technology, yet the world left to pick up the pieces must start over from scratch. Book of Eli comes to mind when I think of it.

Now, in a world where magic and sea creatures exist, I find it plausible that the island civilization are indeed, starting from scratch. They don't want war or conflict. If they don't teach each other to fight, there won't be any. Hell, they don't even argue much for the sake of not disturbing the balance of each persons happiness.

The revolver could have easily been crafted using old manuals left over from less civilized, mayhaps more technologically advanced, times.

But that's just my take on it, which of course could easily be the wrong take.

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Post September 24, 2012, 06:43:55 PM

Re: Oceans by Brandon Szabo

J.I.Charles wrote:...But that's just my take on it, which of course could easily be the wrong take.

Your take is never the wrong take, if it is what you believe. If a creative work affects you and or anyone a certain way, it is legitimate...and important!
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Post September 24, 2012, 06:50:56 PM

Re: Oceans by Brandon Szabo

J.I.Charles wrote:
Robert_Moriyama wrote: only the rebellious fellow who actually knows how to fight (in a society where arguing is considered to be unthinkable) is of any use when the sea creatures attack.


Correction, the fourteen year old princess was pretty handy with a blade... but the fools banished her. It's as if they WANT to be overrun!


Sure -- but she was enough of a rebel that she had spent time away from Ayva Island. The avoid-conflict-at-any-cost crowd found out that the cost could go as high as, oh, being eaten.
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Post September 24, 2012, 07:04:06 PM

Re: Oceans by Brandon Szabo

Mark Edgemon wrote:Your take is never the wrong take, it is legitimate.


Awww, shucks. Thanks M-Train.

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Post September 24, 2012, 07:09:01 PM

Re: Oceans by Brandon Szabo

Robert_Moriyama wrote:
J.I.Charles wrote:
Robert_Moriyama wrote: only the rebellious fellow who actually knows how to fight (in a society where arguing is considered to be unthinkable) is of any use when the sea creatures attack.


Correction, the fourteen year old princess was pretty handy with a blade... but the fools banished her. It's as if they WANT to be overrun!


Sure -- but she was enough of a rebel that she had spent time away from Ayva Island. The avoid-conflict-at-any-cost crowd found out that the cost could go as high as, oh, being eaten.

That is the problem with adamant fools (as fictional characters or in real life), they never count the cost of their philosophy or beliefs and then act like they have...until the cost comes due!

Take Mr. Romney for example, it sounded like a good idea to buy a nomination and step into the ring against the greatest orator in political history, but now that it's a couple of weeks away...well - it's time to start loading up on ice packs!
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Post September 24, 2012, 09:43:10 PM

Re: Oceans by Brandon Szabo

I didn't care much for this story. It's got an awful lot of plot holes in it. The combination of water-wheels and navigable canals is one; the firearms was another (how did they come into being? where does the ammunition come from? why is a SENATOR walking around armed in an otherwise rigidly-placid society?). Unexplained -- and unexplainable -- feats of navigation. How the messenger-bird found him. And the people themselves seemed to sometimes have personality traits that challenged belief.

This passage --
Miss Ariel was learned in fire magic, she put a spell on my revolvers endowing them with the power of flame.

-- was so silly as to be almost cringe-worthy -- ALL firearms run on fire. I know, picky, picky -- just reword the thing. A hint, BTW -- if you're going to write about weapons, study their function, even if they are subject to magical spells. Get the real part real, first. Which reminds me; that sword-fighting aboard the gondola -- think about what might happen when two people plus some monsters are in a rather small boat, with one of the people swinging a sword around. It's a miracle the Senator didn't get cut and that no one fell overboard.

That said, I do encourage the author to try to make a novel out of this, provided that he's receptive to learning and constructive criticism. The process will certainly make a better writer out of him, maybe even a good one, if he's a good learner. I'll be charitable and presume that he's on the steep part of the learning curve at this point.

Taken from his bio:
I try to focus on creating original concepts and ideas while remaining less concerned with the textbook mechanics of a story." (Words to make a copy-editor's blood run cold...)

Actually, those are words to make a copy-editor's hand release a manuscript over the round file.
Learn the mechanics, Mr. Szabo. Your basic stuff (punctuation, spelling, grammar) isn't too bad; the larger mechanics (of plot, mostly) need serious work.

Helpful resources are to be found in our Writers Workshop forum, or by Googling 'how to write science fiction,' but I'll give you a freebee:

http://www.caroclarke.com/writing.html

and this one, which is really superb:

http://www.writesf.com/

Keep at it, and good luck!
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Post September 24, 2012, 11:45:40 PM

Re: Oceans by Brandon Szabo

This is the author.

That said, I do encourage the author to try to make a novel out of this, provided that he's receptive to learning and constructive criticism.


Had I heard this about a year ago I probably would have agreed, but I'm as cold as ice right now. Although I always listen to praise and critique, it doesn't affect me very much. I do appreciate your feedback but the unfortunate truth is I'm really not responsive to constructive criticism, I think a lot of writers are that way but I'm actually going to step out an admit it. As I said in my bio, writing saved me during some hard times in life so I can hardly ask it to make me famous on top of that. I tried to learn the craft once, I sent out a ton of stories to literary magazines and publishers. I even have a novel I tried pitching to agents but obviously everything was turned down. This is why I blinked about 10 times when I saw the email from Mr. Moriyama saying he was going to post my story, I can't thank the kind editor enough for granting me that privilege when I really didn't deserve it. Today, I still shoot from the hip and submit to magazines now and again, but I'm very comfortable just writing for myself.

Actually, those are words to make a copy-editor's hand release a manuscript over the round file.


Let em' toss it into the trash, I've got no desire to become a published writer. Especially when society deems stuff like "Avatar" and "The Hunger Games" to be great stories (Wow, I share a lot of the bitterness my main character had). My theory has always been that if I don't like a movie or television show, I should stop complaining and write my own, so that’s what I do.

Learn the mechanics, Mr. Szabo.


At the risk of sounding like a whiny child...no.

Don't misunderstand though, I am sincerely grateful for everyone who took the time to read and or comment on my story, I appreciate it more than you know, I'm just letting you know where I stand.

And on a final note, I think people are way too hung up on logic and plausibility in a story. Its fiction, where's the entertainment if everything makes sense? Show me a story where the plot and characters are realistic / logical and I'll show you one boring piece of literature.
Write for yourself, there's no one else more worth writing for.
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Post September 25, 2012, 01:57:20 PM

Re: Oceans by Brandon Szabo

I want to respond to this, but I need to think about it. I'll be back.
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Post September 25, 2012, 09:39:35 PM

Re: Oceans by Brandon Szabo

Wesson, I tried to think of something that might be a convincing argument to your last post, but I sense you're just not in the mood for such, so I won't.

What I will say is, even if you only want to write for your own satisfaction, I think you'd get more satisfaction out of it if you knew you could make the writing better. You can.
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Post September 25, 2012, 11:57:36 PM

Re: Oceans by Brandon Szabo

I apologize for coming off as crass as I was before.

I understand the idea of gaining satisfaction through becoming a better writer, but I personally have always distrusted the word ‘better’. I think it has become more synonymous with ‘Acceptable’ or ‘Kosher’. Better is very subjective, I’ve never considered one story to be better than another just because it has more fans or because it gets good peer reviews. As I said before, I don’t hate feedback but I think the best measuring stick for literature quality is inside our hearts. I think most writers know when they’ve written a story that’s sub-par and they know when they’ve written one that’s pretty good. I’m just saying that I value my own input just as much, if not more than a third parties input.

I do, however, understand that this logic would spell disaster for any business person. You can’t expect to be a serious writer if no one wants to read your product, and I get that. But lucky for me I’m not a serious writer, so I get to avoid all that.
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Post September 26, 2012, 12:29:24 AM

Re: Oceans by Brandon Szabo

Wesson wrote:I apologize for coming off as crass as I was before.

I understand the idea of gaining satisfaction through becoming a better writer, but I personally have always distrusted the word ‘better’. I think it has become more synonymous with ‘Acceptable’ or ‘Kosher’. Better is very subjective, I’ve never considered one story to be better than another just because it has more fans or because it gets good peer reviews. As I said before, I don’t hate feedback but I think the best measuring stick for literature quality is inside our hearts. I think most writers know when they’ve written a story that’s sub-par and they know when they’ve written one that’s pretty good. I’m just saying that I value my own input just as much, if not more than a third parties input.

I do, however, understand that this logic would spell disaster for any business person. You can’t expect to be a serious writer if no one wants to read your product, and I get that. But lucky for me I’m not a serious writer, so I get to avoid all that.

I think I know where you are coming from because in part, I have shared your ideals.

My position some years back was that I didn't want my style or direction or the "heart" of what I wanted to say in my prose or poetry to get convoluted by never ending critiques (as in everyone has an opinion). I didn't want to lose my own voice in the audience of other voices.

But I have accepted that, the final word for all ideas, suggestions, critiques and so forth was my own heart. Since then, I determined to observe how others achieved their voice, and their message in all creative mediums; art, movies, literature and in everyday life.

So it is possible for you to listen to what everyone says, from a first grade child to a college graduate, from a complete idiot to a gifted reviewer or critiquer and write out what things you can use or explore and what you are going to dismiss.

Simon Cowell on Britain/America Got Talent will often make an off the cuff remark that someone will be a bad act based on their appearance and then be blown away along with the audience. And sometimes...he's right on the mark of what a talent needs to do to succeed and improve their performance.

So it is up to you, as the center of your writing universe to decide what works and what doesn't. But listen, observe and consider with more than a passing thought what you can use to fulfill YOUR dream and objective and most of all, stay true to your vision!

Mark
Last edited by Mark Edgemon on September 26, 2012, 04:51:42 PM, edited 1 time in total.

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Post September 26, 2012, 01:13:43 AM

Re: Oceans by Brandon Szabo

Here is the most constructive criticism I can offer---write what you want to write.

This is a lot harder than it sounds, because it means knowing yourself, and if that was easy, there would be no Zen Buddhist monasteries and psychologists would be out of work.

One clue is what do you like to read? Toni Morrison said she writes the novels she wishes someone else would write. Man,I'm glad she wanted to read "Song of Solomon."
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Post September 26, 2012, 02:09:58 AM

Re: Oceans by Brandon Szabo

Toni Morrison said she writes the novels she wishes someone else would write.
I have the same philosophy, worded only slightly differently: I write stories that I would like to read. That ain't easy, 'cause I'm a harsh critic. :wink:
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Post September 26, 2012, 02:15:38 AM

Re: Oceans by Brandon Szabo

McCamy_Taylor wrote:Here is the most constructive criticism I can offer---write what you want to write.

This is a lot harder than it sounds, because it means knowing yourself, and if that was easy, there would be no Zen Buddhist monasteries and psychologists would be out of work.

One clue is what do you like to read? Toni Morrison said she writes the novels she wishes someone else would write. Man,I'm glad she wanted to read "Song of Solomon."

Wow, write what I want to see/read/hear...there's where the passion lies!

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