Reviews for The Lucid Dreamer
Soulless havok chapter 10 . 3/26/2012
Usage errors are still present (here vs hear being the worst that I picked up), but the intended message got through to me. One example:

"The acid sailed over his head, hitting way."

'hitting way' sounds like a thought that you typed halfway and forgot to finish.

Now, I think that I will point something out. In the ending of chapter nine, Dustin was injured and seeking a place to heal himself in the house. But lo and behold, he gets there, kills another nightmare and then leaves the refuge to go hunting again. Something similar took place in the subway chapter with the pigs. His fingers were broken and the pigs were sniffing around in his chest cavity, then he goes and bashes a box with his katana that he shouldn't even have been able to hold. In the chapter following that, he holds onto the bar with superhuman might. Doesn't that sound a little...I don't know.

Anyway, you're improving. As I've said twice(?) before, analyze your favorite books and you'll keep learning.

I'm watching you...

Havok
Soulless havok chapter 9 . 3/24/2012
First things first: Flow and grammar.

At this point, analysis and a good beta would help improve this piece most. The beta-reader thing is fairly self-explanatory, but I'll elaborate on the analysis thing. For an example, take your favorite book, short story, novel, whatever. Look at the plot and each of the scenes individually. What does each scene contribute to the plot? How is each scene written so that it might contribute more to the mood and overall impact of the piece? I cannot give you a specific example because, as two different people, we would have differing views on any one piece. However, if the story is intended to be creepy, it should not be written with a lot humor; likewise, if it was written to inspire laughter, then it should not have very much disturbing, foreboding language written in. You have done very well to establish the mood, but it doesn't flow as well as it could. Analysis of your favorite -Published!- horror authors WILL improve your language, and analysis in general will improve your grammar (but I wouldn't go reading Twilight to learn how to write...anything really).

You've written in a brief conflict with Dustin's character and his fears (of being killed, mostly), which is what lets us connect to a character in horror literature, film, whatever. His reaction was more realistic towards this strangler than the last (like staring down a grizzly bear as opposed to running away from it). The largest problems with this piece now, are with your language and your grammar (hence the, uh, 'speech' above).

I believe that this is the. MOST. Descriptive chapter that you have written for this piece.

As always,

Havok
Soulless havok chapter 8 . 3/22/2012
Now then...gravedigger sounds more like a douche than a nightmare, the brainless gob of goop wants to eat the dreamer, and someone's looking out for Dustin.

I've found several spelling issues that would be killed by a spell check, a few 'you (s)' were left out, and erm...the laws of physics don't apply to this world, right? Shotguns don't fire bullets (unless you're using a slug, which is what rifles and pistols shoot). Rather they fire pellets: buckshot will have about ten good sized ball-bearings, while birdshot will have about fifty little ones (which is why it's called birdshot; you shoot it at birds while they are flying to give you the highest chance to hit and kill one).

The issues above not withstanding, the description was vivid and I could clearly picture everything that was happening. The language actually sort of reminds me of an old author I used to read years and years ago...too bad I can't remember her name now. I've run out of things to say and I believe I will leave it at that.

Havok
Soulless havok chapter 7 . 3/20/2012
I haven't got much else to say at this point. The beginning two paragraphs were a bit choppy, like you were struggling for a starting point (something I can relate to), but it wasn't much of an issue past that point.

Pigs are disgusting, more so now that I've read this. This reads like one of those bizzare nightmares I have occasionally where I'm either being chased or being killed repeatedly: it's disturbing, creepy, and slightly sickening. The roll the environment takes is believable, and I can clearly picture a mutilated pig-demon committing suicide in this fashion. The ending was unexpected and, as a whole, this chapter was exciting. The fight went down the road marked 'interesting' and was handled much more cleanly (I mean better...like, much better) than the last one with the eight foot badass from Fair Fighers Land.

All the best,

Havok
Raven Starhawk chapter 1 . 3/18/2012
You have a interesting writing style. The story has a way of telling itself and this is purely a great read.
Soulless havok chapter 6 . 3/17/2012
Honestly, I liked the fourth chapter better. The fight in that one was much more...it had more impact on the reader, let's say. First, the dreamer stands...what? 5'11" 6'? And he was still an even match for this 8' monster? Presumably with razor sharp claws, and strength to match its size? The creature's size alone should have given it a severe advantage over the dreamer, let alone its ability to strangle people from afar. If the dreamer was worried about dying, he should have been running (and gunning) for his life. Use your character's wits against his enemies, manipulate the environment. Assassin's Creed would hardly be interesting if you couldn't climb the buildings to launch surprise attacks on all the pissant guards and to get away when you were in over your head. Try to plan where you want your fight to go, how far you want each side to take it. Will you throw a beer bottle lying nearby at your attacker, hoping to at least distract him so that you can get away? Will a stalactite fall from the roof of a cave, impaling the troll pursuing your hero through a fantasy setting's cave? Will your hero get thrown into a vehicle painted with POLICE, which triggers the alarm and causes the officer to investigate what is happening to his squad car? Even a dream world would have an environment that would help or harm your character. The fights involving your environment are realistic and MUCH more interesting than reading a boxing match to the death. Dustin's emotions weren't nearly as pronounced as they were in #4 either.

Second, do you know exactly how hard it is to consistently hit a STATIONARY ten inch target with a pistol from 40 yards? I'll guess that the intestines were, oh, maybe six inches in diameter and I'll assume that they were flying through the air rather than creeping on the ground (as that would be very slow, and make this pistol thing believable). Yet Dustin just pulls these two handguns out of the air and shoots the intestines as they are flying at him. If you want to learn how hard it is to shoot a pistol, an instruction course would help immensely (though my experience with these courses are limited, as I was taught by my dear old dad as I grew up). It's not a skill that you absolutely HAVE to apply in the real world, either (You don't even have to learn from first-hand experience: you could search for police accounts on google and come up with a decent list to emulate and learn from). Just a small .17 HMR or .22 Rimfire will teach you perfectly (though be careful, as they WILL still kill people...and piss them off) -should you so choose to learn it for yourself.

Third...why did you make him bite it? That's just disgusting (Good job, that's actually what makes a fight realistic: use of every weapon available to you). The imagery was done very well (something I've come to expect from you), though it could use some beta work -mostly in the first half. I think that that was the strongest point in this chapter, as a matter of fact (the imagery).

"Giant, dirt looking buildings towered over the streets, gargoyles with faces into permanent expressions of laughter hanging off the massive building's walls."

It sounds to me like you're trying to say:

"Giant, dirty looking buildings towered over the streets, gargoyles with faces twisted into permanent expressions of laughter hanging from the massive building's walls."

I'd suggest that you slow down your submissions. Write them, take a few days to read and edit them and THEN submit them. Holding them back just TWO days can make a BIG difference. As I said in an earlier review: try reading what you write through the reader's eyes, rather than the writer's. That is why I wasn't happy with the first submission of MY story: I was looking at it how a writer would, fixing what actually wasn't a problem. So I took it down, rewrote it a few times, read it from a few thousand points of view (something I didn't do the first time around), and now, while I'm still not happy with how it turned out, it is the best that I can do (however flawed it is). That's how we learn. We push our bounds, look for errors we made, show it to someone else, and have THEM tell us what we did wrong and what we did right. Then we continue from there, studying and learning as much from ourselves as we do from others.

Oh, and uh, didn't Dustin have bigger problems to worry about than naming this new monster charging at him?

Anyway...See you around,

Havok
Soulless havok chapter 5 . 3/15/2012
One. One little...thing. That's it, and it doesn't even apply to the story, either. It's just something that my logic managed to pick up (because if someone was hanging on the ceiling from their feet in a nightgown, the sleepwear would be covering their head -maybe their arms, nowhere else).

Perversion aside, you've managed to plant an idea in my head (which I may or may not use). Congratulations! That is hard to do (even for me...and I run the place).

This was an uneventful chapter (with good imagery...which is excellent food for thought), so I have nothing else to say (and at this point, I am only 'speaking' to hear my own 'voice'). You've dug deep enough into The Dreamer's character to satisfy my incessant craving for depth, and done so in a manner that presents you with options in the future (I don't know what you'd use them for, but options are always good for creativity).

Life, death; God or not, we're here...we're still here, and we're still kickin'.

Havok
Soulless havok chapter 4 . 3/13/2012
In light of grammatical errors and redundancy issues this was a step in the proper direction...on to the criticism.

In writing this review, several examples leapt to mind regarding the two subjects above:

Grammar:

"There another loud gong noise"

"Dustin glared the skeleton"

Redundancy (these are a bit worse for the wear):

"and through the elevator doors. There was no elevator in the elevator shaft. Just an enormous elevator shaft"

"A brain slithered over the dreamer's right hand. Fangs emerged from it, and it sank them into the man's hand."

"the surface of the blood pool, coughing up blood out of his mouth and nose. Looking around, the man spotted a low hanging ledge sitting over the blood pool."

Okay, second two weren't all THAT bad, but the first was jarring to read.

Grammar is by far the easier problem to correct, so I won't touch on that any more than I already have. Redundancy is best resolved by looking at the sentence as the READER would see it, and reworking the mechanics in a way that would provide as little conflict with the rest of your work as possible without warranting a rewrite (that's how I do it). I've also used this method to eliminate drag on word choice, to make it flow more smoothly (a matter of personal preference; really something that will improve as you read actual, published work that people who know what they're doing make money off of). FictionPress and FanFiction are NOT places to go unless you find a VERY good author (who are few and far between, leaving mediocrities -like myself- to reign in their absence) to learn from.

Now then, on to actual content. While this is a marked improvement for character depth, your choice of language limits connectivity with the reader. It feels more like I'm being told what is happening, rather than actually seeing it. You touched on his resolution, but we are not told WHY he feels this way towards the dreams' current state. Fear was the most pronounced emotion featured in this chapter, and it was arguably one of the strongest points in this chapter. You might consider more descriptive language when you're speaking through his point of view (as well as interweaving it throughout the narrative, rather than just one scene), as well.

An example:

"Dustin swam forwards, to the wall at the end of the blood pool. He grabbed the wall, and began to weakly climb up it, towards the low hanging ledge. He succeeded in making it to the ledge, and he grabbed onto it with his right hand."

Rather than this, you might consider darker language:

"Wading through the thick, metallic liquid to a ledge across the dark pit, he grabbed onto a small foothold and began lifting himself higher. He hoisted himself farther up the wall, slick though it was with moisture; he reached for the ledge..."

Unless you're describing general location, you should avoid left-right directional description (something I also have a major problem with; the over-compensation for it is painfully visible in MY first chapter) -it's unnecessary and it slows the reader down. That is only an example of what I mean, mind you, taken in context of the fiction.

Pain is oft 'understood' to be negative. We fear that which causes us pain...and that which we fear, we hate. Remember that, as it will help you determine the motivation behind Dustin's actions.

Ever vigilant-ever stalwart,

Havok
Soulless havok chapter 3 . 3/13/2012
I have no further issues with grammar, redundancy, or imagery, here. You have sharpened it to a point.

Now, something I'm noticing, is that you depend on the action to keep the reader entertained. This is all well and good, but it has very little suspense: each of the confrontations are predictable, if not one-sided. For an example of what I mean: in 'House of Darkness' -the chapter where he is disarmed and wandering around on the balcony, where that human flesh-spider thing (forgot what you called them in the sequel...or if you even mentioned them at all) almost had him...that was, personally, my favorite chapter because it kept me guessing. The character had to stay on his toes, and you gave us insight into what he was thinking: his emotions, his fears, his resolution...we had a character that we could identify with. That isn't present here so much.

However you deal with that, I'm looking forward to the next installment in this piece.

Havok
Soulless havok chapter 2 . 3/11/2012
What a shallow existence Dustin leads.

Names flowed naturally with the narrative this time around (I thought). The setting in this chapter broke the atmosphere that the last one held, while adding desperation, desire, and depression to his actions and thoughts. Congratulations, you have seamlessly set the mood for your next chapter.

Now, my guess will say that the city will hold a more anxious atmosphere? Like what 'Insidious' had when he was walking through the house in the Further? I love a good psychological tension, clinging to the air like a chill on a cold winter's morning.

Eagerly awaiting your next installment,

Havok
Soulless havok chapter 1 . 3/11/2012
Good. The setting is excellent, grammar and usage was pretty decent, and your voice was active and present (for me, at least). Something that I really liked about 'House of Darkness' is that there was more than one kind of monster, and that they were all decent, flexible designs inside their limitations -each brought a unique aspect to the writing, and excited the reader in several different ways. It seems likely that this feature will be prominent later on in this piece.

In my last review, I pointed out that you used the character names more often than I thought was necessary (and I, being the jackass that I am, have just brought it up again). While not nearly as noticeable (not even close -45 as opposed to 65 spread more evenly in roughly the same word count) as it was in the first chapter of 'Unnatural History', you could stand to omit a number of 'Dustin'(s) from this. My recommendation would be to read it carefully, picking apart every word of every sentence, and find a way to fluidly change some of the issues you or anyone else (depending on whose opinions actually matter to you) might have. An example:

"Dustin moved toward a black door at the end of the hallway. Pushing it open, Dustin looked around and found himself in the morgue."

Could be changed to:

"He moved toward a black door at the end of the hallway. Pushing it open, the man looked around and found himself in the morgue."

Not much of a change, no, but a bunch of little edits like that would drastically cut down the redundancy in the piece. Keep in mind that this is merely a suggestion on how you can improve upon the issue. Try and find some way to do it without actually altering how you write. The example I gave isn't too intrusive on style, but its obsessive qualities (a reflection of myself, really) could still be turned down a bit -that's where artists apply their specific touch though. Like a guitarist learning a solo written by a known, popular (another underground term for 'shitty') artist, there will be a number of nuances that would not be found on the original track. Why? *Because everyone has a different style, a different voice. All we really need to do is FIND that voice, and it will hone itself as you gain experience (and criticism).

Anyway, back to the topic at hand...what you do is essentially what you are happy with. If my suggestions fail to help, then ignore them and tell me to back off a bit.

Running on four hours of sleep over the last three days is not good for your eyes...

Havok