Author Topic: Start to a Real Life / Fantasy Combo Novel  (Read 2324 times)

Offline Smurf

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Start to a Real Life / Fantasy Combo Novel
« on: October 07, 2009, 06:00:25 PM »
This is the opening to a novel, which has a substantial prologue before this part and which describes an unusual form of air combat...be glad to hear what you think of this.

Cheers,

Smurf

>-<


Sam Marbury took the call which would change his life on a fine Monday morning in June. He was stepping through the door of his Farnborough apartment when his mobile rang. Pausing in the road leading round to the car park, he pulled the phone from the pocket of the tweed jacket draped over his arm. The shade from the towering old beech trees surrounding the block of flats let him see the badly scratched screen clearly.

It was Toby Jones, his manager. He slid the phone open to accept the call, and Toby lost no time in cutting to the chase.

“You need to get over to Warton ASAP. We have a major incident, one of the Typhoon development aircraft went in just after take-off. At least pilot and observer dead, reports of many more.”

“Holy shit.”

“Yes. You’re to assist Operations. Lead Investigator is Keith Holland, but you’ll be working directly for Karen Jones.”

“That’s Lancashire, right?”

“Yes.”

Sam started walking for his car, fumbling in the jacket pocket for the key fob.

“Can I ask why we’ve got this one? Surely it’s a military case? An RAF investigation team should take the lead?”

“Yeah, doubtless they’ll be there too. But it’s a complicated situation; a civil airfield with a civil operator conducting test flights of a military prototype. Until we get the protocol sorted out, we’re getting a team on the ground. To be honest, it sounds like they’re going to need all hands on the pumps for this one.”

“Why? What do you mean?”

“I don’t want to plant any false ideas, I’m sure you’re going to run into them soon enough. Just get over there as fast as you can and help Karen out.”

“OK. And Toby; thanks for the job.”

“Everyone’s got to start a big case sometime. Just work to your usual standard and you’ll be fine.”

“Thanks. I’ll come in to the office and pick up a hire car.”

He slid the phone shut again, walked round the corner of the bin shed and beeped his Vectra.

***

By the time Sam arrived at lunchtime, the only sign of the crash visible offsite was a huge pyramid of still black smoke rising hundreds of feet into the air. While not a place of secret, black projects, the products developed there require a high enough level of security that either high hedges, tall, blank-faced sheds, bungalows and semi-detached houses with their gardens or just sheer distance – a three kilometre runway covers quite a lot ground – mean that little is visible from the public highways. Consequently, when something substantial happens, once the aerial events have ceased, there is nothing for the public to see. In this case, the situation was exacerbated by boundary tapes and armed police blocking the public footpaths well away from the crash in the marshes beyond the site.

Stories had scattered across grapevines, and clots of spotters and gawkers interspersed with reporters and political groups out for a quick sound bite coagulated at the most accessible tapes or lined roads clogged with emergency response vehicles and cars of the concerned. The police struggled to keep the main Fylde coast road open.

Sam came to a standstill in the village of Freckleton.

Welcome to the big time.

He pulled up onto the dual carriageway’s pavement. Unfolding himself from the hire car’s grey plastic interior, he locked it and walked up to a harassed police officer directing stationary traffic at a roundabout. He opened his wallet, showing his identity card.

“Sam Marbury, Air Accident Investigation Bureau. I need to get on site.”

The officer looked closely at the card, nodded decisively.

“Yes, sir. If you continue down here about half a mile, straight over the next roundabout and on the left maybe a few hundred metres further on you’ll see the main entrance.”

“Thanks. Here’s the keys if you need to move the car.”

Sam walked off – past cars with their engines running! – before the officer noticed his shaking hands.

You’ve wanted the big time for long enough; now you’ve got to step up. Can you do it?

His long legs ate up the distance easily. Fit though he was, the midday June air brought a mild sweat to his forehead, so he took off his tweed jacket, the arms turning partially inside out as he peeled it from his thick upper arms and wide shoulders.

Yes, I can. Managed to stitch together the Peak District crash, and figure out why the Brize Norton Harrier ended up twelve feet deep in the river.

He rolled his shirt sleeves up as he reached the second set of lights, passing the brushed steel triangular column bearing the company’s blue, red and white logo.

But what the hell is it? What did Toby mean? False ideas? Lost a Typhoon, but maybe deaths on the ground? Well, we’ll see soon enough.

He pushed his way through the crowds in the car park, then gave up on reception when he saw the mob besieging the staff there, and began shoving his way towards the eight foot steel main gates. Approaching a couple of tense security guards, he opened his mouth to speak just as an ambulance flew past leaving the site, siren blaring as it headed for the traffic lights, only to screech to a halt at the traffic sitting across the box junction. Drivers twisted in their seats to reverse and finally a gap of a couple of car widths appeared. Turning left, the ambulance wove down through traffic nudging out of its way to disappear towards Blackpool.

Checking his credentials, the guards waved him through into bedlam, directing him to the canteen where the investigation and rescue teams had set up. He took his ID out his wallet and a cord from his pocket to hang it round his neck and walked through the heavy barred gates.

Smoke dominated the scene. A lack of wind had allowed dense black billows to hang over what must be the crash site. A collection of smaller, closer plumes added to the murk, indicating smaller fires which had been put out behind the buildings he walked towards. He struggled to control his gagging, almost overpowered by the stink of burnt fuel, plastics, metal, flesh, acridity pervading the site. Walking round the Operations Building the disaster scene opened up in front of him.

The car park was edged at one side by five huge hangars, all their massive doors open, revealing a variety of production lines and test rigs. Smashed cars lay everywhere, victims of collisions either on the roads or in the neat rows of parked cars. Some appeared to have leapt on top of others, some had just trundled out of control until they’d been stopped by bollards or other vehicles. Site fire tenders squatted at two separate crashes like APCs trying unsuccessfully to convey a sense of order. They’d been joined by several public engines, their crews still smothering smoking remains or cutting vehicles open. Between the rows of cars and the airfield, the flight operations centre with its squat tower and small passenger terminal sat smouldering. On the apron beside it, two small jetliners and three smaller propliners sat waiting for passengers who would never come. Out across the runway distant single story buildings seemed undamaged, and the red and white panel of the radar antenna spun on regardless. In the distance, must be over two kilometres away, the giant, smoky arrowhead indicated the crash site in the marshes beyond the far boundary fence. A dozen ambulances were dealing with clusters of survivors all across the scene, paramedics giving individuals first aid.

All these he had expected to see. But the dead –

Scattered across the car park, crumpled in the buildings, shoved through windscreens and hanging out car doors, slumped at the hangar door controls and throughout the workstations, stretching out of view behind the blast screens surrounding the far aprons, they lay everywhere. Yet despite convulsed, unnatural muscle reactions twisting arms, legs and heads into extreme positions, faces filled with incomprehension at the impossible, or unbelieving terror and the foresight of death, despite all this, there seemed no explanation for most of the corpses. Some had obviously suffered accidents, falls, car crashes and the like, but most lay where they had fallen, far from anything which could have harmed, let alone killed them.

He turned away, face struggling to mask his incredulity. He’d seen death several times, but he had never learned to handle it. Mechanical death, where machines had torn themselves apart, he could deal with, bury himself in the what, the how, why. But this scene – in all his life, all his study and research, he’d never heard of anything like it. The start to a normal working Thursday, wrecked by sudden yells, people running and screaming and then just – falling over, violent convulsions gradually dying away. Near simultaneous deaths, no sign of violence on most of them. He felt his grip on the logic of reality shaking; but even so his mind was picking up bits and pieces, putting together ideas, scenarios.

A hatless constable approached, holding an unresisting, wild-eyed man in oil-spotted, worn blue overalls by an arm. Spotting the ID badge round Sam’s neck, he gently pulled the mechanic in Sam’s direction.

“Sir,” he said in a monotonous tone, “this man says he saw what happened.”

“Thanks, constable.” Sam nodded, turned to the man. “Yes, sir, what can you tell us?”

“It makes no sense – all of this – gone – but – just, just unbelievable. They all just stared at the sky – and then began yelling about – about –” his voice dried up, died away.

“About what, sir?” Sam asked gently. The man was chalk white, shivering, the struggle in his mind leaking out of eyes staring sightlessly at Sam. Sam nodded to the constable, who ran off towards the nearest ambulance.

“Dragon.” A whisper. The man’s eyes quivered into focus on Sam’s. “They said there was a – dragon.”

Sam didn’t react, although he felt a thud in his stomach. “Was there a dragon?”

The man's face gave him all the confirmation he needed.

>-<
"My ancestors would spit on me if I broke bread with a Crow."
"So would mine. But f**k 'em, they're dead."
-----------------------------------------------------------
If you've time, my science fiction can be found at:
http://abrucestewart.uk/anthology/

Offline allaidh

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Re: Start to a Real Life / Fantasy Combo Novel
« Reply #1 on: October 10, 2009, 12:15:06 AM »
Hi Smurf

i'll add in my thoughts as i go, so you get an idea of what jumps into my head, though remember that these are only one readers thoughts, plus i don't spell check myself so there might be a few typos, just guess. lol.


Sam Marbury took the call which would change his life on a fine Monday morning in June. If this is your very opening sentence then it needs some work, if i'm reading from a few pages in it might be ok, but it's a not new, it's not fresh, i'm bored already. He was stepping through the door of his Farnborough apartment when his mobile rang. i already know his phone rang, because he took the call in the last sentence.Pausing in the road leading round to the car park, he pulled the phone from the pocket either he wlaks real fast or his phone rings for a long time, didn't it start ringing as he stepped through the door? and he's in an appartment, so has he just locked his house and walked down to the ground floor and out to the car park, with his phone still ringing?of the tweed jacket draped over his arm. The shade from the towering old beech trees surrounding the block of flats let him see the badly scratched screen clearly.

It was Toby Jones, his manager. He slid the phone open to accept the call, and Toby lost no time in cutting to the chase.

“You need to get over to Warton ASAP. We have a major incident, one of the Typhoon development aircraft went in just after take-off. At least pilot and observer dead, reports of many more.”
Remember those old school batman movies, where everyone has to describe every detail and nothing is left upto the viewer 'i'll just use this shark repelent batman, it will kill the shark, it's in a can' ok tha'ts a little over the top but you get the picture. try to leave something upto me to figure out, like cut this down to a short sentence, 'code red' or something.

“Holy shit.”

“Yes. You’re to assist Operations. Lead Investigator is Keith Holland, but you’ll be working directly for Karen Jones.”
Too many names, without faces i'll jsut forget them, leave me with the main character and toby until you can give me some visuals of these new people
“That’s Lancashire, right?”

“Yes.”

Sam started walking for his car, fumbling in the jacket pocket for the key fob.

“Can I ask why we’ve got this one? Surely it’s a military case? An RAF investigation team should take the lead?”

“Yeah, doubtless they’ll be there too. But it’s a complicated situation; a civil airfield with a civil operator conducting test flights of a military prototype. Until we get the protocol sorted out, we’re getting a team on the ground. To be honest, it sounds like they’re going to need all hands on the pumps for this one.”

“Why? What do you mean?”

“I don’t want to plant any false ideas, I’m sure you’re going to run into them soon enough. Just get over there as fast as you can and help Karen out.”

“OK. And Toby; thanks for the job.”

“Everyone’s got to start a big case sometime. Just work to your usual standard and you’ll be fine.”

“Thanks. I’ll come in to the office and pick up a hire car.”

He slid the phone shut again, walked round the corner of the bin shed and beeped his Vectra.

***

By the time Sam arrived at lunchtime, hmm, read this bit out loud, it's not wuite right comming off the tonguethe only sign of the crash visible offsite was a huge pyramid pyramid? is that the right shape?of still black smoke rising hundreds of feet into the air. While not a place of secret, black projects, the products developed there require a high enough level of security that either high hedges, tall, blank-faced sheds, bungalows and semi-detached houses with their gardens or just sheer distance – a three kilometre runway covers quite a lot ground – mean that little is visible from the public highways. this sentence is a bit jagged, all the , and - . Consequently, when something substantial happens, once the aerial events have ceased, there is nothing for the public to see. In this case, the situation was exacerbated by boundary tapes and armed police blocking the public footpaths well away from the crash in the marshes beyond the site.

Stories had scattered across grapevines, and clots of spotters and gawkers interspersed with reporters and political groups out for a quick sound bite coagulated at the most accessible tapes or lined roads clogged with emergency response vehicles and cars of the concerned. The police struggled to keep the main Fylde coast road open. i'm a bit confused, i'd say move these sentences around a bit to make them more clear. is there a riot? you first gave me a description of a nice open runway and green hedges, then chucked in the police vehicles and the crowds. is there a lot of noise, lights, sirens? i can't hear them. is it just viewers or quesitons and jostling and a commontion?

Sam came to a standstill in the village of Freckleton.

Welcome to the big time.

He pulled up onto the dual carriageway’s pavement. Unfolding himself from the hire car’s grey plastic interior, he locked it and walked up to a harassed police officer directing stationary traffic at a roundabout. perhaps ditch the locking of the car, do i really need a play by play?He opened his wallet, showing his identity card. again with the play by play

“Sam Marbury, Air Accident Investigation Bureau. I need to get on site.”

The officer looked closely at the card, nodded decisively.

“Yes, sir. If you continue down here about half a mile, straight over the next roundabout and on the left maybe a few hundred metres further on you’ll see the main entrance.”

“Thanks. Here’s the keys if you need to move the car.”

Sam walked off – past cars with their engines running! – before the officer noticed his shaking hands. why are the cars with their engins running a big deal, is the area likely to explode if they stay running, is sam enviro concious and upset about the green house gasses? why is that important but not the noise, or the crowds? and the -! might be too much???

You’ve wanted the big time for long enough; now you’ve got to step up. Can you do it?

His long legs ate up the distance easily. Fit though he was, the midday June air brought a mild sweat to his forehead, so he took off his tweed jacket, the arms turning partially inside out as he peeled it from his thick upper arms and wide shoulders.

Yes, I can. Managed to stitch together the Peak District crash, and figure out why the Brize Norton Harrier ended up twelve feet deep in the river.

He rolled his shirt sleeves up as he reached the second set of lights, passing the brushed steel triangular column bearing the company’s blue, red and white logo.

But what the hell is it? What did Toby mean? False ideas? Lost a Typhoon, but maybe deaths on the ground? Well, we’ll see soon enough.

He pushed his way through the crowds in the car park, then gave up on reception when he saw the mob besieging the staff there, and began shoving his way towards the eight foot steel main gates. Approaching a couple of tense security guards, he opened his mouth to speak just as an ambulance flew past leaving the site, siren blaring as it headed for the traffic lights, only to screech to a halt at the traffic sitting across the box junction. Drivers twisted in their seats to reverse and finally a gap of a couple of car widths appeared. Turning left, the ambulance wove down through traffic nudging out of its way to disappear towards Blackpool.All these directions are getting on my nurves too, turning left, over a roundabout, where am i? why'd he have to ask to get this far but other people are already in there harrasing reception?

Checking his credentials, the guards waved him through into bedlam, directing him to the canteen where the investigation and rescue teams had set up. He took his ID out his wallet and a cord from his pocket to hang it round his neck and walked through the heavy barred gates.

Smoke dominated the scene. A lack of wind had allowed dense black billows to hang over what must be the crash site. A collection of smaller, closer plumes added to the murk, indicating smaller fires which had been put out behind the buildings he walked towards. He struggled to control his gagging, almost overpowered by the stink of burnt fuel, plastics, metal, flesh, acridity pervading the site. Walking round the Operations Building the disaster scene opened up in front of him.

The car park was edged at one side by five huge hangars, all their massive doors open, revealing a variety of production lines and test rigs. Smashed cars lay everywhere, victims of collisions either on the roads or in the neat rows of parked cars. Some appeared to have leapt on top of others, some had just trundled out of control until they’d been stopped by bollards or other vehicles. Site fire tenders squatted at two separate crashes like APCs trying unsuccessfully to convey a sense of order. They’d been joined by several public engines, their crews still smothering smoking remains or cutting vehicles open. Between the rows of cars and the airfield, the flight operations centre with its squat tower and small passenger terminal sat smouldering. On the apron beside it, two small jetliners and three smaller propliners sat waiting for passengers who would never come. Out across the runway distant single story buildings seemed undamaged, and the red and white panel of the radar antenna spun on regardless. In the distance, must be over two kilometres away, the giant, smoky arrowhead indicated the crash site in the marshes beyond the far boundary fence. A dozen ambulances were dealing with clusters of survivors all across the scene, paramedics giving individuals first aid.

All these he had expected to see. But the dead –

Scattered across the car park, crumpled in the buildings, shoved through windscreens and hanging out car doors, slumped at the hangar door controls and throughout the workstations, stretching out of view behind the blast screens surrounding the far aprons, they lay everywhere. Yet despite convulsed, unnatural muscle reactions twisting arms, legs and heads into extreme positions, faces filled with incomprehension at the impossible, or unbelieving terror and the foresight of death, despite all this, there seemed no explanation for most of the corpses. Some had obviously suffered accidents, falls, car crashes and the like, but most lay where they had fallen, far from anything which could have harmed, let alone killed them.
at this point i'll admit i'm a little confused, you described the place as being one where only high level clearence personnel got in? well why's there a massive carpark between hangers then? it sounds like a security breach to let cars into the main part of the facility to start with, even at littl country airports the car park is to one side, away from the guts of the airport.
He turned away, face struggling to mask his incredulity. this bit doesn't flow right either? how is his face struggling? He’d seen death several times, but he had never learned to handle it. Mechanical death, where machines had torn themselves apart, he could deal with, bury himself in the what, the how, why. But this scene – in all his life, all his study and research, he’d never heard of anything like it. The start to a normal working Thursday, wrecked by sudden yells, people running and screaming and then just – falling over, violent convulsions gradually dying away. is this happening now, before his eyes? as he wtaches, or is he imagining earlier that day? it's not clear to me.Near simultaneous deaths, no sign of violence on most of them. you are repeating yourself, you already said this, and how does he know no sign of violence? does he have a medical degree? is he looking? strong aftershocks could have been the cause? or chemicals?  He felt his grip on the logic of reality shaking; but even so his mind was picking up bits and pieces, putting together ideas, scenarios.

A hatless constable approached, holding an unresisting, wild-eyed man in oil-spotted, worn blue overalls by an arm. Spotting the ID badge round Sam’s neck, he gently pulled the mechanic in Sam’s direction.

“Sir,” he said in a monotonous tone, “this man says he saw what happened.”

“Thanks, constable.” Sam nodded, turned to the man. “Yes, sir, what can you tell us?”

“It makes no sense – all of this – gone – but – just, just unbelievable. They all just stared at the sky – and then began yelling about – about –” his voice dried up, died away.

“About what, sir?” Sam asked gently. The man was chalk white, shivering, the struggle in his mind leaking out of eyes staring sightlessly at Sam. missing something here too, the sentence doesn't make sense to me. Sam nodded to the constable, who ran off towards the nearest ambulance.how? he was just being helped to walk a nd now he can run? it's a miracle. no but really that bit doesn't make sense either. plus what about getting a name, or a number? he might need him as a whitness later

“Dragon.” A whisper. The man’s eyes quivered into focus on Sam’s. which man, the one who just ran away?“They said there was a – dragon.”

Sam didn’t react, although he felt a thud in his stomach. “Was there a dragon?”

The man's face gave him all the confirmation he needed.

>-<

like i said, just my comments and i think the idea could work great, i like your characters and direction, the plot thickens and all. Reading outloud is always a good way to proof your own work, or get one of those free downloads that reads it outloud for you, they're a bit slow and funny sounding but you'll hear where words are missing etc.

keep working on it.

Mad

Offline buddingwriter

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Re: Start to a Real Life / Fantasy Combo Novel
« Reply #2 on: October 10, 2009, 04:08:06 PM »
Hello, Smurf,
I have not read much non-fiction in quite a while. However, from what I glean from the sample
of your work, I look forward to the final product. Sam Marbury seems to be a thoughtful and
considerate investigator. As for the "dragon"--------------------I can hardly wait for its full in-
carnation.

Best of luck on your book!

buddingwriter

arbraun

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Re: Start to a Real Life / Fantasy Combo Novel
« Reply #3 on: October 10, 2009, 06:13:13 PM »
Hey, Smurf, thought I'd pay you back for your excellent, detailed critique. Here goes:

The "life would change" hook at the beginning of a story isn't effective. When I was a newbie writer, someone in a critique group suggested that and I came to find out later it's a cheesy hook. I'd just start with the call and the details thereof.

<"...An RAF investigation team should take the lead?”

I'd delete the question mark here.

<"...mean that little is visible from the public highways."

I think you meant "...meaning..."

<Consequently, when something substantial happens, once the aerial events have ceased, there is nothing for the public to see.

Looks like you switched to first person POV here. I'd stick with third throughout.

<The officer looked closely at the card, nodded decisively.

<“Yes, sir. If you continue down here about half a mile, straight over the next roundabout and on the left maybe a few hundred metres further on you’ll see the main entrance.”

I'd put these two paragraphs together.

< - past cars with their engines running! -

I'd delete the needless exclamation point. I've heard that agents/editors have a problem with overusing that.

<...Lost a Typhoon,...

I think you meant "...lost in a typhoon..." Also, I don't believe "typhoon" is capitalized.

<...stink of burnt fuel, plastics, metal, flesh, acridity pervading the site.

I think you mean "...and acridity..."  

<Walking round the Operations Building the disaster scene opened up in front of him.

I'd not capitalize "operations building."

<In the distance, must be over two kilometres away,...

I'd delete "must." Nice description of hte crashes, BTW.

<All these he had expected to see. But the dead –

Good suspense builder here.

<faces filled with incomprehension at the impossible, or unbelieving terror...

I'd delete the useless comma here.

<Mechanical death, where machines had torn themselves apart, he could deal with, bury himself in the what, the how, why.

I counted five commas in this sentence. I'd lose two. You could start a second sentence with "He could bury himself..."

<“Dragon.” A whisper.

I've got to admit, you're a genius. Making us think it's a typhoon, but it's a dragon. This is brilliance! The way you built it up and then revealed it near the end of the chapter is just fabulous.

<The man's face gave him all the confirmation he needed.

Excellent end to the chapter.

Couldn't have done better, my friend. With the suggestions I made, you should have a real winner. And this comes from a person who doesn't like fantasy! But I like yours. I would lose the prologue though. I haven't read it, but I would guess it spoils the surprise with what it reveals. I would start the novel with this chapter. I heard most agents/editors think prologues are cliche anyway.

Cheers,

A. R.  
« Last Edit: October 10, 2009, 06:15:59 PM by arbraun »

Offline Smurf

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Re: Start to a Real Life / Fantasy Combo Novel
« Reply #4 on: October 11, 2009, 01:50:27 PM »
Thank you all very much for the reviews, and the detailed crits. I always find it encouraging when people take the effort to put finger to keyboard, it suggests to me that what I've written has had a sufficiently big impact to make people want to comment.  :)

I'll go through the details with a fine tooth comb, and review the rest of what I've written with them in mind. I find it mildly curious (and very useful) that the biggest thing I've taken from your crits so far (apart from the encouragement  :) ) is not in what you've actually written...it's implied in some of your comments. From some of them, it seems that I have not expressed myself clearly enough at times, so some rephrasing for clarity is definately required!

Thanks for taking the time; I'll send you a copy of the book when I manage to find a publisher!

Cheers,

Smurf
"My ancestors would spit on me if I broke bread with a Crow."
"So would mine. But f**k 'em, they're dead."
-----------------------------------------------------------
If you've time, my science fiction can be found at:
http://abrucestewart.uk/anthology/

Offline eric

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Re: Start to a Real Life / Fantasy Combo Novel
« Reply #5 on: October 11, 2009, 01:53:41 PM »
Smurf, I guess I'm late but I think you are a really fine writer and critic, a credit to the boards, so as others have commented I was disappointed to see the first line of your piece have a very trite expression about taking the call that  would change his life, etc.  Maybe I am lazy, but I could not read past that line.  I am positive you can do better.  

arbraun

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Re: Start to a Real Life / Fantasy Combo Novel
« Reply #6 on: October 11, 2009, 02:59:38 PM »
Smurf, anytime, buddy. It was a pleasure to read.

Offline Smurf

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Re: Start to a Real Life / Fantasy Combo Novel
« Reply #7 on: October 13, 2009, 05:58:47 PM »
Thanks for the kind words.

I guess I slipped up on that opening sentence, huh? It must be one of those ones which is so cliched that no-one uses it, so that if you don't know it's a cliche because you haven't seen it, you think it's a clever opening... ::) Or something like that! I'll take it out. :)
"My ancestors would spit on me if I broke bread with a Crow."
"So would mine. But f**k 'em, they're dead."
-----------------------------------------------------------
If you've time, my science fiction can be found at:
http://abrucestewart.uk/anthology/

Offline Max Zvyagintsev

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Re: Start to a Real Life / Fantasy Combo Novel
« Reply #8 on: October 14, 2009, 03:29:30 AM »
Hey Smurf.

Thought I'd return the favor.  ;)

I like this story, good detail, interesting characters and the ending was most unusual, catching me by surprise. Well done.

Saying so, there are a few things I'd like to comment on: One of the main issues I thought you could fix, is the dialogue. I think you've stretched out in places where it would sound better if it was more snappy. You'll see what I mean.   8)

He was stepping through the door of his Farnborough apartment when his mobile rang. – I think you can shorten this down a little. Would sound better if you said: "As he stepped through the door of his Farnborough apartment, when his mobile rang."

The shade from the towering old beech trees surrounding the block of flats let him see the badly scratched screen clearly. – my question is, how? Was the sun shining before that it was reflecting of the screen so Sam couldn't see it? If so, it would be worth mentioning before you reveal this sentence.

It was Toby Jones, his manager. He slid the phone open to accept the call, and Toby lost no time in cutting to the chase. – at first I read this, and I thought…"Who is Toby? Did I miss something?" Then I realised it was the guy on the phone. Personally I think it's me lacking in context but to make it more clear and effective, I'd start with dialogue coming from Toby. Or simply, twist this sentence upside down. Here's what I mean: "Sam slid the phone open to accept the call. It was Toby Jones, his manager. A man who took little interest in having ongoing conversations but rather cut to the chase." I've also used "Sam" instead of the pronoun "he" as it gets repetitive from above paragraph.

At least pilot and observer dead, reports of many more.” – missing a few particles. "At least a pilot and an observer are dead, reports of many more are yet to come."

“Holy shit.” – sounds too cliché to me. The phrase has been used several times and doesn't add the effect I would have once enjoyed. I would have put: "Hell-" instead. Using one word sounds more powerful, and having him cut off by Toby perhaps? Done through the dash or the three full stops …

“That’s Lancashire, right?” – sounds more effective as just "Lancashire?" Maybe it's just me, but in this kind of dialogue you have here, I'd keep it short and snappy from Sam's POV.

“Can I ask why we’ve got this one? Surely it’s a military case? An RAF investigation team should take the lead?” – last 2 sentences don't need a question mark. They are statements, not questions.

But it’s a complicated situation; - best to say just: "It's complicated;"

“Thanks. I’ll come in to the office and pick up a hire car.” – not quite what I was expecting. How about: "Thanks. I'll come by the office and hire a car."

He slid the phone shut again, - was there a time when he already slid it shut? All I've heard so far is that Sam got out his phone, opened it, talked to Toby, and closed it again. When did he close it a second time? Even if Sam did close it twice, it sounds better with out the word "again."

He turned away, face struggling to mask his incredulity. He’d seen death several times, but he had never learned to handle it. – repetition of "he."
"The World doesn't owe you anything, it was here first"

"You fall before you learn to stand up"

Offline alienauthor

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Re: Start to a Real Life / Fantasy Combo Novel
« Reply #9 on: October 14, 2009, 03:59:03 PM »
Smurf,
The other have already given you a lot to chew on as far as critiques.  I just wanted to say nice job on a plot line!  Usually when a story is raw and has grammatical errors and such I find it hard to stumble through them.  With this story I didn't pay them much attention because I was into what was going on.  Good Job!  Btw, to live up to the build, this is going to need to be one hell of a dragon.  Look forward to seeing more of this. 8)
Love an Adventure! Live an adventure!  Then write the damned thing!

Offline Smurf

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Re: Start to a Real Life / Fantasy Combo Novel
« Reply #10 on: October 15, 2009, 10:04:22 AM »
Well, let's just say it's not the kind of dragon you're expecting... :)
"My ancestors would spit on me if I broke bread with a Crow."
"So would mine. But f**k 'em, they're dead."
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