February 2023's Writer Support Thread

I love seeing all these excerpts. Thanks for sharing, everyone. Here’s one I wrote for The Cruel Guardians. It’s material in a propaganda pamphlet.

Nobles think we are obedient to them because they are rulers
But they are only rulers because we are obedient to them
Some meek and humble helots in the manor today
All so love to happily bob their heads and say

“You only have farm implements that you fashioned yourself!”
“You can’t fight a civil war or you’ll get nothing but death!”
“If you foolishly try to challenge the might of the military, you will surely lose!”
“They have swords, cross-bows, armor, horses, fire-lances, and even muskets to use!”

But if we helots stand up for ourselves, then that’s not where the story ends
Let’s not forget: even those villainous soldiers have families and friends
Tyrants want to threaten our homes and families with swords and fire bombs?
You must always remember that tyrants too have lovers, dads, and moms!

These intimidating soldiers can’t live on top of their war horses or inside their armor
They can’t eat to sustain their blood-lust without wheat from us, the humble farmers
Even the military might of the manor would crumble under a righteous tsunami of pitchforks and shovels
And if we arm ourselves with spears, swords, and bows and arrows, then chances of victory will double!
Can a few dozen paid soldiers possibly fight hundreds of comrades? Not without a big magic net!
Can we find them and imprison them in their big fancy old castle on the hill? Yes, you bet!

Never forget, because it will always be true:
The nobility and its military are scared of you


I was sort of expecting that
Belive it or not I spent around 20-30 minutes last night to tweak the most egregious grammar mistakes.
I start thinking the problem is that my writing style just is not suit for English language: for what I’m used to read, English writers usually tend to write short and direct sentences. In Italian I can play with them and still menage to be fluid (none of my readers group has complained so far) but I can’t in English.
I’m just too attached to change it now (it just flaws naturally, and that excerpt is one my less complex)


The great and yet unpublished project of mine is akin to a chick of a small bird. But I’ll be patient, prudent and shall bottle feed it until it grows big and strong for WiP thread. Speaking of birds and non-native speakers of English language, may I ask for input on this piece? My own writing always feels hellishly clunky in English, I’ve mainly written stuff in Russian before.

Moscow fell into literal Hell, more on 11

The bag accepts the passport back into its maw again. Someone screams again, someone shouts loudly. The violin keeps on rising and the patience of your neighbour is getting thinner and thinner, given the way he starts rising from his wheelchair, still muttering, still hissing from pain. Perhaps he’s searching for a remote - the violin is accompanied now by a choir and several cellos.

You once again make your hand into a fist, yet pressure doesn’t disappear. Several times fingers curl, each attempt stronger than before, yet they feel weak. Nails, carefully trimmed, look foreign in this dimmed and unsteady light. Usually you wear gloves, for safety reasons.

Harsh noise of something metallic meeting flesh. Inhuman roar. Damn, did they bring in someone already? You hope it isn’t a mage.

They should invite in contract takers or, at the very least, some enforcers of theirs. Someone with a proper, well-made mark by a fleshcrafter, not a cheap and easy brand with some blood to ensure it holds. Licensed, educated, empowered by a well-made contract, with experience in working among force… maybe even someone from those families every devil keeps mentioning here and there.


Families. Two of them have only strengthened their grip on the city once the third one got promptly exiled.

They’ve claimed to protect freshly arrived humanity from the terrors of the scorching desert, they’ve kept repeating that claim. The moment someone raises their head up in the sky, they’ll see the unchanging visage of that red sun, red like a bleeding wound. People that venture outside claim that it could melt the very flesh off your bones. People that venture deeper usually aren’t keen to correct such claims.

For some it’s a matter of bravery. For some, simple matter of escaping, seeking and returning makes the venture worth it in itself. Some claim they quietly resist devil authority over their great, marvellous city.

It’s a chimera of motivations and desires you’ve seen your fair share of. In passionate stares of regulars and patrons asking for a cup on the road, in dejected expressions, in proud habit to brand the face, especially the left cheek. It’s a chimera you have often wondered about, never willing to risk it yourself - and, as is customary, you have an opinion about it.


I am blown away that so many have decided to join me in sharing an excerpt. Thank you.

@Leinco – Sumira seems to be a complicated character, just by the glimpse we see here. It looks like the MC will need to hang out with her more to get to know her better.

@Cat-Toes – Great use of smoke to evoke so many images and feelings right away! I look forward to your next update in your WiP.

@Wannabe_Human – Your words are welcome. I am delighted to see that you are drawn to my characters and are hooked into wanting to know more. I am also pleased that you hear their voices. That is important to me, that a reader can see, hear, or feel when they read my writing. :revolving_hearts:

Your wedding reception is intriguing, lots of mystery tied into the horror. I love how visuals and sounds are interwoven. Combining multiple senses is a hard thing to pull off for many writers.

@Schliemannsghost – I want more. Your passion for Shadowrun oozes through so much in your writing for this project. I can enjoy the Shadowrun world through your passion because of this. Thank you for sharing.

@quartz – Your world building in so few sentences is really expansive. Follow ups on the Great Regulation and the dragon are something to look forward to because of the groundwork you just laid down.

@Caronte – You are indeed courageous; it took me six months to do this and it took you less than a day to share your excerpt :slight_smile: … I found the choices you gave to be inviting, almost all of them too enticing for me to make a proper choice. If there was a save system, I’d use it to explore them all.

@Blunderbutts – It is an honor to be shown your writing. I do hope you share it with more people, because I think they will enjoy it. The excerpt reminds me of the mid-eighteenth century… Napoleonic wars?

@rosies – accepting what we write is a first draft and getting it complete is a critical lesson for us all. Sticking a knife into the black box … gotta try it at least once. lol. Love your choices.

@sequeltodogs – Your structure seems well-developed. The choice presented seems to be a heavy choice … the label “love” just foreshadows this. I won’t consider my story’s first draft complete until the entire story is written. Everyone seems to classify their writing stages differently.

@Rinnegato – You are not the first Romance-language speaker who has made this type of observation and commentary on English writing. The tools like Grammarly may help you with the sentence structure issues and length … but the only thing that consistently worked for them was to think and write in English as they worked.

@Samuel_H_Young – Thanks for sharing your learned insights gained over the last 11 years, and I appreciate your excerpt. It does read like a propaganda pamphlet … like a medieval Marxist tract of sorts. A lot of world-building seems to be done through this pamphlet too.

@vera – Welcome to the Writer’s Support Group. Your excerpt shows promise, and after you tighten the English grammar and structure issues out, I think your imagery and emotion will be full on display. Your attention to details will be a boon for you as you continue to write. Perhaps the magic in this world can be explained and shown in further details … the bag, the musical instruments, the possible mage arriving are all interesting glimpses into this.


Oh, what are such grammar issues and structure errors? I would like to see them clearly so I can edit and tighten the draft better.


One such issue is a tendency to begin sentences that follow another with the same words:

The first concern is to get the story written. Things like this can always be addressed in later passes of your writing, and also remember I am not an editor, so always take my grammar critique with a grain of salt.

Heaven knows my writing style breaks rules and expectations. Don’t let such criticism mute your writing… each of us are different in our writing and that ends up being a good thing, in general. :revolving_hearts:


Oh, that! Repeats seem to be my bane, I just add them unconsciously without much thought. They feel to me akin to… some sort of the tool that strengthens the impact and helps to add in more zest. In my Russian writings I’ve often used them to convey some sort of subtle change. Is that considered a structure issue in English? I write in English as I would normally do in Russian, it just feels… drier and less expressive.

An excerpt from a secret project!

Whom of your enemies do you wish to see in the surface of the water?

# "Weller Snow, the inquisitor."

I am a vulture, awake later in the night than I’d like, my belly empty and my eyes wild with desperation. I circle the border between Dornsleath and Chesaprie, where much blood has been spilled in the past.

Weller Snow arrives at the border by horseback. His steed is as black as his uniform, and they both blend into the darkness of the night. The checkpoint tower erupts with a warning flame. The message to Weller is clear: stop or we’ll chase you down.

His steed skids to a halt. Mud kicks up. A single checkpoint guard raises a torch to him, bleary-eyed from his shift. “Evening, inquisitor.”

The horse huffs, as though it too knows the checkpoint is only a formality. Weller dismounts. His hand rests at the sword at his hip. “A carriage was meant to arrive carrying a prisoner under the name of Garrie Berg. Did the carriage pass through this checkpoint?”

“Yeah,” says the guard. “Not long ago. Some trouble on the road, but those are the times we live in. My old man told me to take this job because he said it was money for nothing. If only he were alive for me to grab him by the shoulders and shake him. Times have changed. It’s tough out here.”

Weller rolls his eyes. “You haven’t lived through a war.”

“Neither have you, kid.”

“The memory of the Divine Right is long and crystal clear. There were times of war before us, and there will be times of war again. Garrie Berg is being taken to Fort Morne, am I correct?”

“Unless they’ve taken a detour.”

“Thank you. May the seven gods light your path.”

“I’ll stick with a torch,” says the guard, immediately regretting his dismissive words, but Weller doesn’t make mention of it.

With a grunt of appreciation, Weller hops back on his horse and takes off down the road.

The guard ambles back up to his mate. “You know him, don’t you? They call him Snow. Him and his wife, the Snows. She’s the demon hunter. You’ve heard the stories, haven’t you?”

“She’s too good for him.”

“You seen his boots? That’s a man who’s never had to work a night shift.”

“Must be so easy for him.”

I sail on my vulture wings back towards the base of the mountain ranges, where food is more plenty and I can find some rest.

# "Sylar Snow, the demon hunter."

Deep in the forests at the base of the mountains of Chesaprie, in the middle of the night, Sylar Snow finds a circle of sprouting white-and-red mushrooms, equally quaint and deadly. She strips off her inquisitor’s uniform and her undergarments until she stands, shivering, in the center of the fairy circle.

An owl watches from above, and Sylar thinks that the owl may be watching her until it swoops down, ever silent, and snatches me up in its claws, a vole with crusted fur and scars across its eyes from other owl attacks. The owl carries me up to a branch nearby and tears at my skin with its talons, but I am no vole, and the owl will go hungry tonight.

Instead of an owl, Sylar is visited by a shuffling raccoon. The raccoon’s hands are uncomfortably human, twitching and signing and gesturing. Sylar stares at those hands long enough that they cease to be attached to a raccoon and are attached instead to a woman, old and bent like a dying tree.

The witch is as naked as Sylar. The night is warm, but her voice is cold. “Sylar, my dearest.”

“I come seeking your guidance.”

“Your husband’s ambitions need not be your own,” she says.

“No, they need not be, and yet they are. But that’s not why I’ve come.”

The witch cranes her neck. Each of the mushrooms lean to the side along with her. “Oh?”

“I wish to hunt a demon.”

“You have hunted many.”

“This one is different. It doesn’t have a physical form.”

The witch cackles. The trees rustle. The owl with its talons in my fur keels over and lies still, its heart silent. I watch, frozen, my eyes and ears locked in place. The witch’s voice is loud and cruel. “All this time, you have simply been removing the demons’ physical forms? Foolish girl! A demon is more than its body. You could no more kill a demon by destroying its body than you could kill a man by destroying his clothes.”

Naked, shivering, and afraid, Sylar says, “Then what truly kills a demon?”

“Asks the demon hunter!” laughs the witch. The bodies of mice rise out of the dirt, rotting and squirming with ants. “You have made it your profession to kill demons and yet ask a poor old woman in the woods for advice! My favourite and dearest human girl, Sylar, you are no wiser now than you were when you first came to me all those years ago!”

“Just tell me what to do. Just tell me how to stop this thing before it hurts anyone else.”

“The demon spared an innocent from execution, and you assume that they wish only to hurt others?” The witch reaches out with a wicked owl’s talon and presses the tip of the claw against Sylar’s forehead. A single drop of blood runs down the bridge of her nose. “First learn what the demon wants, and then you will understand its weaknesses.”

“I will try.”

“Let not my teachings go to waste, dearest girl. If you’ll excuse me, I am freezing and would very much like to return to my fire.”

“It’s a warm night,” protests Sylar, trying to mask her own shivering. “Stay. I miss you.”

The witch pauses. Her expression of contempt softens. “I miss you too.” A raccoon with too-human hands shuffles away into the darkness, and the mushrooms shrink back into the ground.

Sylar collects her clothing. The dead owl on the branch beside me returns to life, never dead at all, just sleeping, and its talons sink deeper into my neck.

I dissolve into sap and leave the poor owl with nothing.

# "Magus Chiron, High Priest of the Divine Right."

“You did this to me,” says Chiron.

I slither around the bannister of his railing. Since the first time we met, Chiron has aged twenty-five years, and in that time, he has come into immense wealth, power, and influence due to his position in the Divine Right. He has gotten married, he has had five children, and all five of his children and his wife have died.

Now, he stands at the top of the stairs of the entrance hall of his manor, dark and lonely in the night-time, as he is swallowed up by the enormity of his station. Just a man, getting older, in his sleeping cap and pajamas, barking at a snake.

“You did this to me,” he says. “All those years ago, you told me I’d never felt the pain of loss. Well, now I have, a hundred times over! Are you satisfied? Have you finished with me?”


“No?! What do you mean, no? Haven’t you taken enough?”

No, I didn’t do this to you.

“Don’t lie to me! You took my family from me! It was you, all along, wasn’t it? Watching, and waiting, and haunting me!”

I didn’t kill your children. I didn’t take Esmee from you. I slither through each rung of the bannister until I’m right next to his ear, and I whisper, while he is frozen in fear, I didn’t put her last words in her mouth.

He lashes out at me, but I’m not real. I’m just a demon. His hand smacks hard against the railing and his wrist bends the wrong way. He breathes sharply and squeezes his hand as it throbs. “F–fuck. Fuck you. I should’ve killed you when you were in chains.”

Yes, you should’ve.

“Next time I see you, you’ll face those chains again.”

Your anger is misplaced. I did nothing to you. Welcome to the end of life, Magus Chiron, when the world moves on without you. You’ve suffered immense tragedy, and yet the only one who cares is me.

His face is scrunched and snarling like a rabid dog. “You don’t care. How could you?”

How many others dare to ask if you are okay?

His wrist throbs. His head pounds. His heart races.

“I am not feeling okay.”

I smile in the way that snakes smile, bearing venomous fangs, and then I’m an empty bottle of scotch bouncing down the steps. I crash at the bottom. Glass shards scatter into the folds of the carpet.

Chiron realizes he is drunk. He has been drinking all night, just like most nights, the dangerous way that lonely people in giant mansions drink. He stumbles to his bedroom to sleep without dreams, and by the time he wakes up, he will have forgotten that I was ever here.


@Eiwynn Thank you! :slight_smile: Oh, that’s a great compliment, because when I play these sorts of games, that’s something I love; when it’s difficult to make a choice, because they all seem interesting!


There’s good literary pedigree behind that. It’s an ancient Greek rhetorical technique called anaphora. Can be very effective. Churchill understood that: “We will fight them on the beaches, we will fight them on the landing grounds we will fight them…” etc.


I would assume the effectiveness depends on how much it looks like it’s been done on purpose and not on accident. (And how often it is used… I hate using the “X says” dialogue tags because they always make me feel I’m looking at a theatre manuscript.)


The problem with repeating “X says” isn’t quite the repetition, is that “says” is a neutral-as-hell verb, so if all you have in a convo is “X says”, that comes off as robots detached from the matters at hand (which is great if that’s what you want in that particular section, but it generally isn’t).

Shout-out to @Eric_Moser, who has just announced the brave step of trying to move to (nearly) full-time writing. Hope it works out for you!


There is this school of writing that says the “X says” is the ideal format because it’s neutral. Not a school I belong to, but it’s there and it’s popular.

I’d still call the repetition the biggest problem when you have fifty of them in a row though.


Things are finally kicking off! Figuring out the balance between work and life and actually looking after myself for a change. Hopefully I’ll have completed this section of the story by the end of the month.


We found the literary equivalent of Trump University. Are these people somehow convinced that tone conveys through text just great, or something?


Repeating words and lines is a fairly common tradition in Russian literature, as far as I remember. I suppose I was used to this style of writing because it is very familiar to me and, in my opinion, it kept strengthening the passage and implied some change.

Does writing in English vary a lot from writing in Russian? What are some norms that I hadn’t absorbed through cultural osmosis?


It has something to do about not disturbing the flow since it’s mostly ignored or something, if I’ve understood correctly. I’ve gotten yelled at about my dialogue tag verbs often enough that I’ve largely just started to disguise them as actions instead.

Every culture has their own writing norms, I’m pretty sure. Can’t comment on that specific case (since I don’t know enough Russian to have any idea) other than keep an eye on punctuation just in case, though. I mean, English quotations drive me crazy.


I suspect that it’s people who buy into George Orwell’s ideas about a “journalistic” style being best for novels. But Orwell was never mindlessly repetitive, so they probably got something wrong somewhere along the line.


Thank you so much, and that makes two of us! (three of us if you count my wife)


@will – Thank you for sharing your excerpt. The married inquisitor and demon hunter seem extremely diverse in their personalities. It makes me wonder about their marriage and their relationship with each other. Magus Chiron in knowing the demon also gives us questions to ponder in that little scene. I can’t wait to read your projects when they are ready to be showcased in a WiP.

@Schliemannsghost – I believe this is where at least one of my mentors would respond with: “This is why you must understand your genre(s) and readers to reach them successfully.”

@latejack – Welcome to this month’s Writer’s Support Thread. Each step you make should be celebrated, so it is a good thing that you are making all these strides forward.

@Eric_Moser – We are all rooting for you. I’m sure you have the skills and raw talent to succeed in this endeavor, it is just a matter of execution from this point forward. :revolving_hearts:

Re: dialogue tags – Here are my thoughts in no particular order:

  • One way writers tend to “break up” a long stream of he says, she says, they say down the page is by using synonyms. Doing this actually makes things worse, because readers in general skim past the he says, she says without interrupting the flow. The synonyms tend to disrupt a reader’s flow by forcing them to concentrate on what is written.

  • Another “trick” is to use adverbs: “I hate her!” he said angrily. I think using adverbs sparingly to break up the long stream of he says she says is okay, but too many of them lead to clunky writing, disrupting the flow, much like using synonyms do. In the example here, the tone of the words already convey the anger, it is not necessary to point it out to the reader explicitly.

  • Lastly, a way to address too many dialogue tags is to just eliminate them. One of my mentors recently told me: “If you have a conversation between two people, you can go back and forth a few times without your reader getting lost.” I think this is true even when there is an international, multilingual community or audience, such as we have here. I do think it is important to get focused feedback from ESL readers to make sure they can follow the dialogue that you write this way.