Author Topic: 865 Words Sci Fi for Young Adults. All Critiques Welcome. (slight swearing)  (Read 1059 times)

Nordy

  • Guest
Hi all, in my writing class next week I have to read out my first thousand words.
This is beefed up piece of something I've submitted before so it might be familiar to some of you.

How is the dialogue? How does my MC come across? I think I'm going to remove the date/time pieces, but have left them in for now.
And more importantly, if you have read my stuff before, do you see an improvement?
Sorry about the formatting, I couldn't get it to paste properly.
Anyway, I appreciate your time.


Chapter 1

A swarm of buzzing curfew bugs zoomed though the dark, deserted streets.
‘The time is 5.38am, Monday, January 5th 2060. Current temperature: minus fifteen. Curfew is at 4.40pm.’

A hundred security shutters creaked open at once shaking the old storage warehouse to its foundations.

In living space G, floor 6, Kerry Adams couldn’t believe it was already time to get up-she’d walked the streets for seven hours yesterday and every bit of her body ached. She wanted, needed more sleep. Sticking her hand into the icy room, she felt around the various shoes, books, and clothes until she found what she was searching for. Swinging the boot with a practiced aim, she threw in it the direction of the window.
‘Go away. Leave me alone,’ she yelled at the blinking bug hovering outside. ‘Just you wait, one of these days I’m going to find you and rip of your wings.’
 
The bug ignored her.
‘The time is 5.39am, Monday, January 5th 2060. Current temperature: minus fifteen. Curfew is at 4.40pm.’

With the second wake up call, the chip in Kerry’s left wrist shot a thousand pin pricks up her arm. ‘I hate you,’ Kerry screamed at the unresponsive bug.  She tried whacking her wrist against the bed frame. She had heard that if you hit your chip in just the right place you’d have five minutes of obscurity before it reset. Every day she tried. Every day she failed.

‘The time is 5.40am, Monday, January 5th 2060. Current temperature: minus fifteen. Curfew is at 4.40pm.’

With the third wakeup call the pain in her arm intensified.
‘Ok! I get it! The time is blah, blah, blah.’ She knew if she waited another minute the pain would be unbearable and it wouldn’t stop up until she reported in.
Kicking of the covers, Kerry fell to the floor and landed on an upturned shoe.
‘Great. Just great,’ she picked it up and threw it at Sarah’s empty bed.
‘Where the hell are you sis? I miss you, but if you’re not already dead, I’m gonna have to kill you myself.’

Stumbling around in the half light, she banged her arm against the cold window and waited for the searching red lights of the bug to register her presence.  She pressed her forehead against the glass and stared into its pulsating eyes. They’re almost pretty, she thought and allowed herself to fall under their hypnotic spell. After a few seconds the beams located her chip, but something wasn’t right, instead of the gentle buzz of recognition, her arm and hand contracted violently and a piercing pain raced from her fingers to her neck.
She banged her wrist on the window, ‘I’m here you little shit.’
The pain stopped immediately and the bug flew away. Kerry jumped away from the window, sucked in her breath and dug her nails into her wrist.  ‘What the hell is going on? That really hurt.’

She was about the sneak back into bed when she heard her grandmother screeching and running around the living area. Grabbing yesterday’s ripped jeans and crumpled red sweater from the floor, Kerry pulled them over her thermals and tried not to fall. She didn’t feel like adding another bruise to the collection.
Not wanting to startle her grandmother she opened the adjoining door quietly. Her heart sank. Her grandmother was erratic; charging around in her bra and pants with a wooden spoon in her hand.
‘Morning Gram, looking for something?’
‘The thingmy, you know the whatsitsname. I can’t find it. I’ve looked everywhere. Where is it?’
Kerry looked at the mess, ‘I’m not really sure. Let’s sit down for a minute, have a think, then we’ll both look.’
‘No, no Lauren, I need to find it now. I can’t be late; the Doctor will be so cross.’
Kerry grabbed the ratty patchwork quilt that covered the sofa and draped it around her grandmother’s shoulders ‘Gram, look at me. It’s Kerry. Remember?’
‘Wha…what…who,’ Kiera McCloskey’s faded blue eyes darted all around the room, before settling on her granddaughter. ‘Oh, sorry, dear, of course you are. Don’t know what I was thinking,’ she said, shaking her head.
Kerry held her grandmother close and wondered where the strong minded woman she loved so much had gone?

Normally, Kerry didn’t make a big deal about her grandmother’s memory lapses, but this was the third time in as many days that she’d been called by her mother’s name.

She sat her grandmother in the sagging blue arm chair and went over to the cooking area to prepare provisions for the day ahead. The fire escape window rattled in protest when Kerry pushed it open to haul in last night’s water bucket. Leaning over the window ledge she grabbed the frayed blue rope and pulled in the bucket. It was heavy with snow but when it melted they would have enough water for the rest of the day. As much as Kerry hated the problems snow brought, she was grateful,  it meant they always had fresh drinking water in winter.

Before Kerry shut the window she looked over at the sheets of ice floating down the East River. The bugs had disappeared, fresh snow fell and everything was muffled and still. It was beautiful. Kerry loved this time of day when the world was just waking up.
Grabbing the heaviest coat she owned Kerry slung a khaki bag over her shoulder and threw in enough snacks and bottled water to last until curfew. She was running low on credits and didn’t have enough to buy more food if she ran out.

‘Gram, I have to go, Ok?  Don’t open the door unless it’s Mike Hobbs, and don’t forget to eat. You never know, I might come back with her today.’
Her grandmother, who was busy reading a well thumbed Bible, looked up and asked, ‘Find who dear?’
 
Kerry blinked back her tears and closed the front door of their living space with a heavy heart.



« Last Edit: January 29, 2010, 08:15:05 PM by Nordy »

Offline A.J.B

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1802
  • Enjoying bouts of moderate insanity
Re: 865 Words Sci Fi for Young Adults. All Critiques Welcome.
« Reply #1 on: January 29, 2010, 06:47:48 PM »
Quote
A swarm of chiming curfew control bugs zoomed though the dark, deserted streets.

To me, that first sentence reads rather clunky because of strings of words that start with the same letters.

Quote
In living space G, floor 6, Kerry Adams couldn’t believe it was already sunrise

You said in the first sentence that it is dark and now you say it's sunrise. I know it's still fairly dim around that time but it just sounds too contrasting in nature.


Quote
She wanted, needed more sleep.

I would make the 'needed' stand out in italics for emphasis.

Quote
she threw in it the direction window.

Is it not meant to be the direction of the window? or is a direction window something in your sci fi universe?

Quote
‘Go away. Leave me alone,’ she yelled at the blinking bug hovering outside, just

I think that should be a full stop as the action is a sentence in its own right. If I am right then the J should be capitalised.

Quote
I HATE YOU.’

Again, I may be wrong on this, but I am not sure if you should use capitals to convey shouting. A simple speech tag saying 'she yelled' or 'she screamed' would suffice.

Quote
Kicking of the covers Kerry fell to the floor and landed on an upturned shoe.

I would place a comma after covers.

Quote
They’re almost pretty; she thought

It's not wrong, but it is common to use italics to distinguish thoughts rather than regular text. Also, it should be a comma not a colon.

Quote
Grabbing yesterday’s ripped jeans and crumpled red sweater from the floor Kerry pulled them over her thermals, and tried not to fall; she didn’t feel like adding another bruise to the collection.

I would make a few punctuation changes. For instance I would place a comma after floor and remove the one after thermals. I would also make the colon a full stop.

Quote
Not wanting to startle her grandmother she opened the adjoining door with ease.

That doesn't make sense as if something is opened with ease or difficulty, it isn't up to the person. The way you wrote it made like she made a choice to make it easy as opposed to hard. I would say quietly instead of with ease.

Quote
‘Wha…what…who,’ Kiera McCloskey’s faded blue eyes darted all around the room, before settling on her granddaughter, ‘Oh

Full stop after granddaughter.

Quote
she said shaking her head.

This could just be stylistic preference but I would place a comma after she said.

Quote
Kerry held her grandmother close and wondered where strong minded woman she loved so much had gone?


Where 'the' strong.

Quote
As much as Kerry hated the problems snow brought, she was grateful for it; it meant they always had fresh drinking water in winter.

I would add a comma after grateful and remove the colon and the second 'it'.

=============

I would keep the date and time pieces in. It adds to the story and makes the reader sympathise with why she is so annoyed at the machines. I don't read any young adult stuff so I have no clue if so much swearing is normal. Is it? Even if it is, I would put a warning in the thread title for those who may be offended.

The only problem I had with your speech was the punctuation in the speech tag area. Other than that it was fine. I thought the MC came across well. I get that she is family orientated and alone in the burden she carries that is looking after her grandmother. I also get that she isn't a morning person :D






My debut novel 'Life Eternal' is now available to buy on Amazon in both paperback and kindle.

Please search 'Aaron J Booth' on Amazon to find the product.

Nordy

  • Guest
Cheers for that.

My tired eyes missed the obvious. I'll make the changes and modify the original post.(done)

With the thoughts, I know they're normally in italics, but when I copy over the format goes funny and I can't seem to edit it properly on MWC.

You'd be surprised at the content of some YA books. The ones that are based in reality are pretty close to the bone.
« Last Edit: January 29, 2010, 07:16:44 PM by Nordy »

Offline darrellj

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 224
  • My dream is to write like pollock painted.
Hi man darrellj here,
I don't yet feel in anyway qualified to critisise any body's work being a"newbie".
But i enjoyed reading this peice as it the sort of not so distant,post appocolyptic style of writing that im trying to aspire to.
I worry about what society would be like in just twenty years because it very obvious to me that the whole of western society stands upon a knife edge these days ,
As the next generations that come are putting more and more control in the hands of computers.
Any way a good read cheers
pretend your talking to someone educated in the Penal system,
In fact don't pretend.

Offline LRSuda

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1378
I've placed my comments/suggestion in italics within parenthesis. Sorry, I've been having a tough time changing colors in the text because of the way the screen jumps around the lower I scroll down the page.

Chapter 1

A swarm of buzzing curfew bugs zoomed though the dark, deserted streets.
‘The time is 5.38am, Monday, January 5th 2060. Current temperature: minus fifteen. Curfew is at 4.40pm.’

A hundred security shutters creaked open at once (comma, shaking begins a gerund phrase) shaking the old storage warehouse to its foundations.

In living space G, floor 6, Kerry Adams couldn’t believe it was already time to get up-she’d walked the streets for seven hours yesterday and every bit of her body ached. She wanted, needed more sleep. Sticking her hand into the icy room, she felt around the various shoes, books, and clothes until she found what she was searching for. Swinging the boot with a practiced aim, she threw in it the direction of the window.
‘Go away. Leave me alone,’ she yelled at the blinking bug hovering outside. ‘Just you wait, one of these days I’m going to find you and rip of your wings.’ (I like the visuals in this paragraph.)
 
The bug ignored her.
‘The time is 5.39am, Monday, January 5th 2060. Current temperature: minus fifteen. Curfew is at 4.40pm.’

With the second wake up call, the chip in Kerry’s left wrist shot a thousand pin pricks up her arm. ‘I hate you,’ Kerry screamed at the unresponsive bug.  She tried whacking her wrist against the bed frame. She had heard that if you hit your chip in just the right place you’d have five minutes of obscurity before it reset. Every day she tried. Every day she failed.

‘The time is 5.40am, Monday, January 5th 2060. Current temperature: minus fifteen. Curfew is at 4.40pm.’

With the third wakeup call the pain in her arm intensified.
‘Ok! I get it! The time is blah, blah, blah.’ She knew if she waited another minute the pain would be unbearable and it wouldn’t stop up until she reported in.
Kicking of the covers, Kerry fell to the floor and landed on an upturned shoe.
‘Great. Just great,’ she picked it up and threw it at Sarah’s empty bed.
‘Where the hell are you sis? I miss you, but if you’re not already dead, I’m gonna have to kill you myself."

Stumbling around in the half light, she banged her arm against the cold window and waited for the searching red lights of the bug to register her presence.  She pressed her forehead against the glass and stared into its pulsating eyes. They’re almost pretty, she thought and allowed herself to fall under their hypnotic spell. After a few seconds the beams located her chip, but something wasn’t right, instead of the gentle buzz of recognition, her arm and hand contracted violently and a piercing pain raced from her fingers to her neck.
She banged her wrist on the window, ‘I’m here you little shit.’
The pain stopped immediately and the bug flew away. Kerry jumped away from the window, sucked in her breath and dug her nails into her wrist.  ‘What the hell is going on? That really hurt.’

She was about the sneak back into bed when she heard her grandmother screeching and running around the living area. Grabbing yesterday’s ripped jeans and crumpled red sweater from the floor, Kerry pulled them over her thermals and tried not to fall. She didn’t feel like adding another bruise to the collection.
Not wanting to startle her grandmother she opened the adjoining door quietly. Her heart sank. Her grandmother was erratic; charging around in her bra and pants with a wooden spoon in her hand. (The semicolon is incorrect here-- it's only used to separate related independent clauses, or lists containg multiple commas. But, I agree, a comma before charging is awkward. Maybe try describing grandma in her own sentence.)
‘Morning Gram, looking for something?’
‘The thingmy, you know the whatsitsname. I can’t find it. I’ve looked everywhere. Where is it?’
Kerry looked at the mess, ‘I’m not really sure. Let’s sit down for a minute, have a think, then we’ll both look.’
‘No, no Lauren, I need to find it now. I can’t be late; the Doctor will be so cross.’
Kerry grabbed the ratty patchwork quilt that covered the sofa and draped it around her grandmother’s shoulders ‘Gram, look at me. It’s Kerry. Remember?’
‘Wha…what…who,’ Kiera McCloskey’s faded blue eyes darted all around the room, before settling on her granddaughter. ‘Oh, sorry, dear, of course you are. Don’t know what I was thinking,’ she said, shaking her head.
Kerry held her grandmother close and wondered where the strong minded woman she loved so much had gone?

Normally, Kerry didn’t make a big deal about her grandmother’s memory lapses, but this was the third time in as many days that she’d been called by her mother’s name.

She sat her grandmother in the sagging blue arm chair and went over to the cooking area to prepare provisions for the day ahead. The fire escape window rattled in protest when Kerry pushed it open to haul in last night’s water bucket. Leaning over the window ledge (comma) she grabbed the frayed blue rope and pulled in the bucket. It was heavy with snow but when it melted they would have enough water for the rest of the day. As much as Kerry hated the problems snow brought, she was grateful, (here, you need a semicolon) it meant they always had fresh drinking water in winter.

Before Kerry shut the window she looked over at the sheets of ice floating down the East River. The bugs had disappeared, fresh snow fell and everything was muffled and still. It was beautiful. Kerry loved this time of day when the world was just waking up.
Grabbing the heaviest coat she owned (comma) Kerry slung a khaki bag over her shoulder and threw in enough snacks and bottled water to last until curfew. She was running low on credits and didn’t have enough to buy more food if she ran out.

‘Gram, I have to go, Ok?  Don’t open the door unless it’s Mike Hobbs, and don’t forget to eat. You never know, I might come back with her today.’
Her grandmother, who was busy reading a well thumbed Bible, looked up and asked, ‘Find who dear?’
 
Kerry blinked back her tears and closed the front door of their living space with a heavy heart.


     I like this, Nordy. But, I did wonder, since you are using a diary type introduction to the scenes, how might this work in first person instead of close third? It is Kerry's eyes through which we are seeing. It may be a fun challenge to try this in a first person POV. just a thought.

Good job

Lisa




Offline janmarie

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 157
 i really liked the MC i thought you did a good job bringing her personality through.  overall a great read and like Darrellj said i also am a newbie dont feel qualified to critique anything. Keep up the good work!
Take chances you never know where they will lead...........