Reviewing writing samples from my subscribers

Here I review some writing samples that some of my subscribers have submitted, looking at prose, sentence stricture, and story beginnings. How to write the start of a novel: Awesome shirts by Shadiversity:

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I was so giddy when I saw you chose to take a look at my submission! (Mine was the second one.) Your criticisms have already been insanely helpful. Pretty much as soon as I finished the video I went back to my manuscript and got to fixing. Your advice on tense in particular is EXTREMELY helpful! I've been having a really hard time with that, and I'm not sure if hearing it (as opposed to just reading about it) helped, or if it was how you said it, but something clicked. Again, thank you so much for reviewing my submission! I could keep going into specifics, but I don't want to write a whole other novel as a comment! xD Also, the vatnagedda is an actual creature from Icelandic myth. I got inspired to write the story after watching a video about it on YouTube. ;)
Hi guys, thanks heaps for all your support and interest in this series. To answer the most common question, I'm not currently taking any more writing submission as I have more than enough for several videos to come.I'm honored by your enthusiasm to send me your work and encourage you to keep at it, but by the end of the day I'm just one man and can only do so much. It's simply impossible to get to every submission and maintain my other videos so I hope my review of other people's writing samples will help your own work through the things I point out. All the best!
Everyone like the video so that the people that submitted stuff and didn't get it reviewed can get it reviewed. DISCLAIMER: I didn't submit anyting.
I'm almost tempted to prank send you a best-seller's writing and see the review :P
Prelude His penis flew through the air, blood speckling the mid day sky. Thinking about how he had failed in his rebellion, he looked to the sky. In that moment he saw it clearly, off in the distance. Then he bled out and died, taking the secret of the universe with him. The End
It's funny, but "show, don't tell" is one of the hardest things to get right as a new writer. The reason adverbs are looked down upon is because they are the embodiment of telling. Instead of actually showing how something is done, you're telling how it's done. Emotion-words should also be avoided, at least if the situation is supposed to be tense in some sense. Don't tell that someone is angry, show it. If it's the POV-character, show it through their actions, reactions, thoughts (but not "'I am so angry!' he thought"), what they're focusing on -- it's even possible to show the emotional state of a character through sentence structure and lenght! Of course, sometimes telling is more efficient and necessary for the pacing. A major part of being a good writer is to show, but also to know when to tell.
I think this was the... WRITE WAY OF REVIEWING THESE!
Personally, 'A traveler in Imperial lands' is a title I like. Because there is no 'legendary' or 'unique' thing. It's kind of common. I love the idea.
I'm glad you liked what you read.Most of the problems I've had are getting people to read even that much.:)
Hey shad, quick question how would one go about describing fight scenes? Like those of fast combat?
This is a really cool idea. Maybe we could set something up so those of us that are writing can get together and review each other. Shad, think you can do something like that?
This helped me so much. You really should make this into a long running series. I think it would be insanely popular. Unfortunately, I'm a very new subscriber, so I didn't get to submit anything, but despite this, a huge amount of the tips you gave here greatly improved my writing, and I'm sure we could all do with as much advice as possible. One note, however, I don't think double spacing formatting is the norm. I looked at a ton of the books on my shelf, and none of them were more than 1.5 spacing. Most of them were in single spacing.
Shad talking about how great that literary agent is sounds like Trump talking about anything. "Great. Real good. The best literary agent. Everyone, they come up to me, tell me he's a real great guy. The best guy."
I love these videos and can't wait to watch more in the future.If anyone (Even in the comments) wants to take a look at my current novel (I usually write short stories and poems) the links are provided below.
Sahd, wouldn't it be cool if you go look at castles that people buid with games/programms? and judge if they were good or not, what style it comes close to and if there is anything that could make it better
The older I get the more I hate present tense.
One big hint from me, You do not need an establishing shot like in cinema when writing. Hit the ground running with story and you can exposit later. When reading, the world can be coloured in afterwards, and the reader will remember the earlier scenes retrospectively in context. Also never describe things that can easily be imagined! And do not allow your reader to miss out on the imaginary contruction and reconstruction of the imaginary world. A person enters a castle. You now have a mental picture. A character climbs to the 7th floor of the tower. Now you have a very pointy castle. maybe for some plot reason you find out it is constructed of granite, or sandstone, and your picture changes again. Maybe later the drawbridge is up and they have to cross a moat. THIS IS OKAY. Please do not use lord of the rings as a guide book either, it is poorly written. Look at terry pratchett. The story is told through character interaction. If you want to portray particular things exactly, illustration is for you. I do not need to know how many candles are in the main hall, and what the servants had for breakfast. Provide only Chekhov's gun if you ever describe something in more detail than necessary. The detail must be necessary to understand a plot point later on. If a character hears something, then is the time to point out it's unusualness in the town, when someone notices it. I think that you can make the writhing in agony better by starting with the farmer saying something "Kill... me" the fisherman whimpered, thrashing violently as pain overtook his weakened frame once again. "I said sedate him before he goes into shock!" The pungent smell of bubbling flesh assailed the surgeons senses as he examinedwhat remained of the patient's blackened calf, pitying the man's allergy to opiates. "And strap him down. This might sting a little" Dr Carter hooked his coat up in his hotel suite and reflected on what he knew so far of these peculiar attacks. Soviet agents? or the Mafia perhaps?... book poison etc. IDK not good at medical dramas, but that is more exciting to me.
Shad, I'm trying to write a novel about pommel throwing, I don't suppose you have any tips to help write it rightly?
Hi Shad, I'm a young aspiring writer and my writing is terrible. I want to know, do you think I will get better by writing more drafts or more new works?
That moment Shad teaches you more about writing than your 12th grade Englishteacher
Anyone else notice how the Chronicles of Zandrian was super super similar to Lord of The Rings. Right down to featuring a dark lord who has come to reclaim lost relics?
Is anybody else wondering how the heck this person got a squirrel stuck on their head? I live in Ohio and I feel like I am missing out on some vital squirrel culture.
I want to read the squirell stuff, please publish it in the comment!
I've been working on a story since 2006 and I began it as a way to help improve my writing without the fear of getting an F in class. Over the years there have been some things that bugged me about it... to the point I would get so stumped I would set down my pen for up to a year before resuming and then getting stumped again. Through your videos and the Brandon Sanderson lectures you mentioned I am finally realizing why I was getting so stumped and I want to say thank you for posting these writing videos. I am also a big fan of all your videos as well.
Start the generator! Bring on the music! Have the cooks prepare a feast! It’s time to celebrate! How's this for a first sentence? (yes not a strictly fantasy setting, but the the same rules should apply correct?)
From a writer's perspective, I don't have any issues with your video - at all. From the viewpoint of a passionate reader with an academic background in literature and language, I'm somewhat grossed out. Publishing houses, agents and ESPECIALLY people are far too used to reading the easy stuff nowadays.
More like this please!I don't write but I love learning why certain books turn me off!
MS Word is always telling me I'm writing in the passive voice.Perhaps you can shed some light on that? Because the descriptions I've found have been... unhelpful.
I would love to see what else my peers are writing. The piece with the squirrel was particularly interesting, and I even found it humorous in a strange way.
Would repitition work in certain cases where its used for dramatic effect? Like, "They were ruthless, they were savages, they were insane, they were indeed *beasts*"
I wish german literature Agents in the last few centuries had been so picky like you... Theodor Fontanes "Effie Briest" starts with a half a page long involved period that does nothing more than describing the garden of the Briest family in the evening. But someone seemed to have fought it was a good first sentence or he just accepted it because Fontane was an author of some repute and so the book was accepted, released and is now considered big literature, in fact a set book in highschool. And it is so boring and annoying and depressing and you ask yourself how this piece of crap could ever have had its success... But well, it was another time and for some reason, when people thought a book was good during their time you are expected to acknowledge it as a good book nowadays as well, despite it being awfull to read.
Will you be doing this again some time?
The man stood in sand and looked bland and read AYN Rand saw it was very grand so he made a new land off the land. Bioshock the book.
Shad! Im interested in your oppinion. Im not a writer, nor do i aspire to be one. But i do need to ask: what would you say about my firt ic submission here (to anyone interested its a play by post forum rpg based around dnd, for the details you can read the forum info or just search for fritz40k on youtube) my profile is Enfernux
In an effort to make the characters in my science fiction story more believably alien I have them use an origional unit system. For examle their unit of time is the cren. As to not impede the flow of the story I decided to put an apendix of alien terms in the back of the book. Here is the current entry for 'cren' (Myroil unit of time defined as exactly 1*10^33[base 12] or ~ 1.2248*10^42[base 10] Planck time units. 1 cren ≈ 0.066031 seconds). Do you think this is the right way to go about this? also how would you indicte that characters are not actually speaking english and that it has simply been translated for the convienience of the reader?
Hi Shad. I love this video. I think you did a great job. I would love to do this. Is it too late? If not, where do I send my work?
Can I commit literary suicide, Shad?
I can't help thinking that what you reviewed as the third sample was the summary that usually comes at the back cover of a book. It's not meant to sell the story to the publisher, but to sell the book to the reader. And it's not neccessarily written by the author, but by the publisher. The story starts with the prologue. But still interesting to hear your review about that. Though it tells about the story, I personally wouldn't buy the book, but that's also depending on taste in books.
I would love for this to be a continued series or something of the sort. It's insanely helpful
I want to express my amazement how in this day and age of YouTube this comment section is so civil and very interesting to read. What a community!
I thought very was an intensifier not an adverb.
Remember guys, lots of publishing houses rejected Dune...freaking Dune... sometimes you have to have faith in your creation instead of agents and publishers.
I spend English class doing Shakespeare all day, but I feel like I've learned more about English from this, a 23min video. Did I miss the point of English?
Before I get too far into this movie, I want to thank you for the links and other sources that you helped me find from one of your previous vids.
*when you wanna send in your transcript and realize you haven't finished, and what you have is very early on. Need to finish writing.* Hey shad, I wonder if you'd look at sci-fi/horror, and how to get out of a creative rut.
A lot of these remind me of my first attempts at writing an opening. If you are struggling put a character conflict at the heart of the first sentence. I've used a chess game
I have a question for you shad. How technical should you get when you're talking about say, parts of armor, or buildings, or any other myriad of things? I get if you can get away with using a different word, like shoulder, instead of pauldron, you should. But is there ever a time when you should name their helmet as a Bassinet, or name some other specific part of the armor; tassets as an example?
As someone who didn't submit anything, this has helped me extremely just seeing others work critiqued. I loved this and I would love to see more of this!
Shad Please accept this sample of my work.For Shad Stormand Eye, Am I By Caer Recognising the physical signs, and making sure to stay well behind the dying child’s head, I retreated about a meter lest the coming stream of detestable death find me. My move was completed just in time. Tebetha’s unnaturally rigid body suddenly sat upright in one move: compelled by abdominal contractions so severe that they simultaneously forced an agonised, whimpering cry up from clutching throat and mouth muscles, and through her terrifyingly white-blue lips. Almost immediately, that mournful cry was drowned out as she vomited explosively, spraying the usual brown-black blood and blood-red worms all over, and well beyond, the rotting toeless stubs that had been healthy feet only three days prior, and the end of the putrid pile of straw that served as her bed atop the cold and slimy stone. With the immediate danger passed, I returned to Tebetha’s side and took her elven hand in mine. She started, her left arm moving wildly in an involuntary reflex, that ended with her tiny hand closed tightly around a couple of my smaller digits. I soon noted a single tear slowly rolling down her left cheek and knew that somewhere somehow she was aware of this humble kindness. It would not be long now. Perhaps, from somewhere within that fevered, delusional mind the same realisation had crept into Tebetha’s consciousness: her tortured crying ebbed and changed, became more a soft moan before stilling into silence. I like to think that this was because she had found some internal state of peace or acceptance. But I would never know, for even though her body stayed locked in the sitting position, her face twisted into what we Asclepeans had begun calling the FinalSilent Scream Phase, and soon her head, with surreal slowness, fell forward until the chin rested on the sternum, the stressed wheezing of her breathing quieted until it finally stopped altogether, and her soul, with or without her Psyche - or spirit, had left the now-pain-free husk that was her body. I quickly prayed to Hecate Psuchopompos top guide her Soul home.Many have speculated as to what happens next. Perchance there is nothing more for one’s Soul than to nihilistically disintegrate and dissipate. Perchance it will seek Divine Hecate’s Summerlands – and there recuperate from Earthly wounds real and/or imagined before returning in some physical form to Earth again. Perchance there is nought for it save to dream. Perchance the Soul will choose a body new and make its next incarnation immediate. Perchance it is bound for some heaven or some hell as judged by the two Gods of the three literalistic bastard sons of Abraham. Perchance the Soul will transcend physical and conscious existence altogether, borne aloft by some silvery crown-connected beam. Perchance it will dissolve into the infinite that is the Divine having returned with its precious individual epistemic cargo. Perchance it will cross Charon’s dark stream and for eternity lament and pine in Hades’ near-lightless realm. Perchance an eternity of Zalmoxis’ mysterious Eleusinean happiness will be its final right. Who knows? But such questions are the bread and ale of Academeans and Dionyseans; of philosophers and priests; of demagogues and the insane; and, I am neither wholly one nor any of the others. One would think that the Areseans, whose numbers flood amongst the citizenry in times of war, would have more to say given that death is presumably so close during battles. But they don’t. Strange. Nonetheless, amongst all the warriors of all the nations and nation-states of which I am aware, it is only the Mithraeans, whose numbers comprise the bulk of Roman legionnaires, that have a lot to say about what happens to the Soul after death and how salvation is attained by a ritual blood bath. I find such a ‘salvation’ to be insanely barbaric. An opinion unfortunately supported by numerous historians who recount time and time again that it has been the basis for innumerable massacres over the last millennia.   If I were to venture an opinion it would be succinctly abstract: That the Divine; the two Universes; all Life; all Knowledge and all Wisdom; all Magick; and, the Aether, which some call “Energy”, are inseparable. But I have digressed. Next, I hurriedly pulled on my Asclepeans’ Gloves made from specially treated skin of unborn pigs, and carefully but expeditiously collected the samples I needed for my ongoing research: the vomited blood and some worms; the remnant of Tebetha’s tear; some of her saliva, urine and faeces; and, some small incisional biopsies from her feet, abdomen and face. My well-practised hands sorted and stowed the tinkling glass jars, containers and syringes into their insulated pockets and compartments in my Asclepeans’ Satchel with confidence. Speed was of the essence because the body could bloat and explode thereby spreading the nefarious toxins, that had devoured poor Tebetha’s flesh with such sadistic rapaciousness, everywhere within a three-meter radius. And I, being huddled over the body, was well within the immediate ‘death sentence’ range. I find this unpredictable and extreme biomechanical disintegration absolutely fascinating. It can happen at any time from immediately after a victim’s death to five days later, there being as of yet no reports of explosions taking place after the five-day mark.  This preternatural event had initially caught several Asclepeans’ by surprise and by-so-doing had been their decidedly premature end. Worse, the explosions had proved themselves terrible accelerants for the spread of this dread plague. And the knowledge that this corpse could bloat, expand and explode in under 20 seconds given the right conditions, scared me, honestly, shitless. Then, with no small amount of sweat on my forehead and neck, I snatched the Solar, Moon and Mercury crystals, with their Permanent Light enchantments, from their hovering positions over the body and bed. I pocketed the last, dropped and clipped the second into the Frontal of my headpiece and screwed the Solar crystal into my golden Asclepeans’ Medallion, before I ‘popped’ the front lens covering and was rewarded with a beam of brilliant white light to steel my passage through both the dark of the catacombs and night beyond. Lastly, I prayed to Hecate Apolousis for the blessings of two spells: a simple Fire Stream spell to sterilize the room by incinerating the deadly contaminants and toxins therein, followed by a Spontaneous Combustion spell to render the fast putrefying and bloating body harmless. Hecate answered immediately and the first spell shot from my left palm chakra while the second pulsed outward from my right palm chakra. The spells stopped almost as soon as they had begun, their tasks fulfilled. Then, breathing a sigh of relief, I walked into the catacombs and turned, entreated Apollo Apella, whose dominion was protective boundaries and who the Romans call Terminus, for a Warding spell to stop anyone entering the room before the fires had completed their own form of ancient cleansing magick. It too was granted immediately and I rushed home to get my samples into the ice chest so I could study them on the morrow.
Ooo this helps a lot~~~ I am subconsciously aware about the hooking thing but never actually realized how important it is~~
Wow, I wish I discovered you at the beginning of the last school year. My English teacher was no help at all when it came to writing. I would ask for criticism and he would say "I'll do it later", but he never did. At the end of the school year, all he told me was "You need to work on your writing". Nothing specific I need to work on, just that I needed to work on all of my writing. You're videos on writing are the best I've seen on Youtube. It would be amazing to have you as an English teacher.
Ok how do I send you my project?
In the first paragraph of the Vatnagetta, avoid redundancies, like: "and began to work" and just say "and worked"... :)
All of these were interesting, but I want to read the Icelandic story and the Squirrel story.
You need to be more known on this platform! Seriously not only are you a good historian (Few to little mistakes) and you are a great critic! Really love your work mate! Keep it up, and I would like to see a bit more (Not too much but I would like to see one at once a year) this kind of contact more and more on the critic on the fan submitted books (Forgot to submit mine, lucky and sadly). Can I also like have your input on self-publishing? Like what is your professional (Or non-professional and just what you think about on a non-professional level or just casual point of view) opinion on self-publishing?
How did they send it in to you?
Here you go Shad! My prologue, I have a LOT of editing to do so got some work but anyway enjoy.
How did people submit their works for you to review? Are you doing any more reviews? Thanks for your vids!
Id use common or something other than popular for the squirrel one. Popular suggests its the one thats liked the most by people which evidently isnt the case given the next line.
I just found your channel, I love your personality!! I feel like we could be friends haha. Thanks for the great tips!
Do this again.
Well, now I kinda want to type mine out and send it to you for review, but I think I'll refrain from doing so, considering how many you must already have.
I really like the way you teach.
Well...this video does tell me if I ever get the courage to submit a writing sample, i'd send it to you first.
My baby brother is obsessed with history and is starting to write fantasy a little bit. But he doesn't know how to start and is going through that middle school low confidence thing. I'm sending him your way. He's going to love this channel
Adverbs like "really" and "very" are probably best kept for dialogue, because that's how normal people would talk, but is not so much necessary/expedient in a narration or exposition.
What are your thoughts on RPG novels?
Shad have you considered doing a video/series about your favourite fantasy authors/novels? I'd love to hear you discuss your favourite fantasy works
A thing id like to add, as pertaining to the story about squirrels, that may be usefull for others through this dialogue you can also set up "relationship", specifically in this case, the character and thier delusions in general, or in particular "why squirrels" having the character refer to the squirrels as a vermin, rodent or "rat" would show a dislike twards the delusion in general as well as establish that (if the squirrel delusion is a contintuing theme) that at such time, they have no fondness for this particular nuisance creature (setting a baseline from which to compare the characters development) or other relationship themes, to set up characters personality, method of thought, and provide insight into what the purpose behind the delusions will be such as if its a coping mechanism,
Could someone tell me how to submit my work if another video like this is done?
Replace brackets with hyphens? THEY ARE CALLED EM-DASHES. Hyphens are used to connect words to create new meanings. Em-dashes are what create the sort of pause you're referring to. They're often used to replace commas, colons, or semicolons; and to denote an interruption of some kind, usually in dialogue. Use a hyphen where an em-dash should be, and your manuscript gets tossed in the agent's dumpster pile.
I doubt the author will ever read this, but the last one (the flying squirrel one) seems to be more suited to a play script. Adapting it to a theatrical play could be an interesting writing challenge for them, but I don't know whether or not it's really suitable (by length). Already got a lot of direction (sighs and murmurs etc.). Lights fading in and out as the main character narrates the opening, watching from afar as the nurses try to stabilize 'the other him' in the hospital bed, "Just remember: you asked." -- end of first scene
What do you think about self publication? Whenever the topic about publication comes up between my friends or even in random situations I get to hear how easy it is to write nowadays since you can put your writing just online on a personal webpage or use something like amazon to get an ebook out. I have my doubts on these methods. Hosting a story somewhere like a webcomic doesn't seem to make much sense to me, since you are basically giving your work out for free and hoping that someone will see it and then want to pay for it seems unlikely. And publishing something without any help to promote it (even if it is just a listing in the catalogue of a publisher) also does not sound very useful. So what does this comment section think? (Also english is not my native language, so the stuff I am /writing/ doesn't sound as clumsy as my comment here.)
What about... LITERATURE!?
Reading the first one gave me an idea to a hook, though not related to what was shown. Drigma was a quiet city, one could stand its busiest street at its busiest hour and not hear a thing, for all sound was stolen from it five years ago when the sun went dark.
How can I send a sample of writing to you?
This video was great for writing tips, something that I myself am struggling with.
I discovered I was terrible with using the word 'actually' all over the place. 'Really' was another word I used a lot.
Oxford comma drama
So basically from what I get, push back the descriptions later and make as many questions as possible to keep people reading.
"flying squirrels are the most popular squirrels in Ohio" damn I wanna read this.
I get giddy when I see the word "Iceland". Most people don't know we exist.
Wait, My idea actually got through... I wish I could have sent in my book! Darn it
You have something in your glorious red goatee and I spent the entire video looking at it
Whats the differancebetween a book and a novel?
People actually give a shit what a nobody like you thinks about their writing? Hilarious . . .
I would like to give you a prologue but i am not native english and it would not be as fluent as in my native language ... :/
I am inspiring to reed, one day I might learn how.
When was this?, is there going to be and other one of these or not?
I would send you my writing but i'm way to lazy to translate it and try to fix wording, after i did... So no reviewing my writing, shad. If you happen to speak German some day let me know.
Fast question: when sending sample, is it better to send the beggining, or the most interesting bit?
I understand where this man's coming from, but really I don't think you understand attention span. Not to dis-grade your opinion but you make it sound like Harry Potter never existed. That book had a long introduction and yet it became a hit. Yes, publishers have denied it many times, but look at Star Wars. Fox didn't believe it would sell, so they gave Lucas the rights. The biggest issue I have with this thought is that you also undermine Lord of the Rings, which holds as the longest intro I've ever read. Tolkien gave us time to develop the world around it, and to his characters, as well. And before you say that was the standards of the time, may I remind you that there are still people out there reading Lord of the Rings. It's a slow book, but the fiction is awesome to learn about. So no, I don't think it is necessary to just grab the Viewer by the balls, just grab attention. If Readers did have short attention towards books, why the hell is the Bible a thousand pages long? Why are people still reading it? Why don't they set them as a series of books? I respect your thinking, but understand I don't see things your way. If Stephen King can write a book about six novels long, then I sure as hell can see anyone reading a book without an immediate drama right in front of them. Read Journey to the West. It was the inspiration to DragonBall and the hold series. I rest my case.
God I really hope shad keeps making more of these videos reviewing writing, they are not having a lot of views but they are really interesting videos
It seams to me these videos are strongly focused about the fact that you have to deliver the story and hook as soon as possible to be able to go trough the scrutinizing review process. Similar to how your CV needs to have a hook and not be to long because most of them are just being skimmed trough. Personally as a reader i do not mind a slow exposure for first 2-3 pages with a hook at the end of the 3rd one. Also i do not buy books by reading first couple of paragraphs i do it by reading the back cover. Back cover is the place i expect to find clues about the genre, type and the hook. Not the first paragraph. I understand the logic and why the things are the way there are but i find it unnatural and dictated by what the reviewers expect as oposed to what it should really be like. Basically in order to get passed the review you cram what should usualy be at the back cover of the book in the first paragraph for the sole purpose of getting trough the review. Why not just send the back cover then? Or take first 2-3 pages, strip them of non crucial stuff like atmosphere and descriptions and send that? I like books to ease me into the story i do not like when they start with an explosion. But maybe thats just me. Love your videos, keep up with the good work!
I would love more of these. Not only is it nice to see the mindset of a writer, but it is also very pleasant to experience the work of your viewers
X) i feel like this is cheating
Are you still accepting submissions??

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Reviewing writing samples from my subscribers