Author Topic: Beginning of a spy thriller (Reworked, 418 words)  (Read 1217 times)

Offline Gabriel Lopes

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Beginning of a spy thriller (Reworked, 418 words)
« on: December 31, 2017, 03:04:08 PM »
A few days back I posted the prologue + 1st chapter of a spy thriller I was working on. I listened to the feedback and started from scratch with it in mind. Hopefully this version fixes some of the issues people had with the first version. Thank you all for reading and hope you enjoy  ;D

   01/01/1961 - 14:00
The windows were in shatters, the doors broken.   Someone had broken into his house. Without giving it a second thought he threw his cigar away, and ran to his home.
No, no, no. James thought to himself as he ran. This can’t be happening…
But it was, and he knew exactly why.
He passed through what was left of the front door, and made his way to the living room. On the corridor’s walls were photos of a better time, of the time before the war. Memories, that is all the photos were. Sadly, these memories were all that was left for him.
James looked at the living room and thought tears might roll down his face, but they did not. Maybe it was the shock, or maybe he was just a heartless bastard after all.
Broken glass laid all over the living room, the sofa was flipped over and thrown against the wall, and the once brown rug was now dark red. And there she laid, dead, blood still pouring out into the rug.
“Rose…” That was all James managed to say.
He walked to where her body laid, and kneeled besides her, letting his clothes become soaked by the blood. He wanted to cry, to prove he was not a monster. But the tears still didn’t come.
“You knew this would happen James, so why are you so surprised?” That hellish voice echoed within the living room. The son of a bitch was there. He did this, he must have. But James did not speak, he just allowed to the man to go on.
“You dealt with bad bad people James, and you did things to these people you just shouldn’t do. Personally, I would see it as a miracle they left you alive.”
“YOU DID THIS! Don’t try to fool me like that. This isn’t about business, this is about you and me!” James snapped. His teeth were already grinding against each other when he turned towards the man.
He stood there, within the shadows of the corridor, cloaked by the darkness.
The man laughed. “Oh no, don’t get me wrong James. While it is true nothing would have brought me more joy than murdering your wife, this time it really wasn’t me. I am just the messenger.”
“So what is the fucking message?”
The man smiled a devilish smile. “Your debt has been accounted for. You are a free man now James. But I suppose you already knew that.”

Offline Emery

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Re: Beginning of a spy thriller (Reworked, 418 words)
« Reply #1 on: January 11, 2018, 12:33:38 PM »
I didn't read the originals so can't speak on the changes, but I'll give this a go.

Genre wise, you've got a major scene and are setting the stage, I'm presuming, for the James's motivation throughout, for a revenge thriller. The inciting incident of the novel. And yet, you only spent 410 words on it. Why? It all comes at me so quickly that I barely have time to digest.

I hope you don't take this the wrong way, but I get the sense from this scene that you haven't taken the time to visualize it well. The first sentence is just generalities. The windows were in shatters and the doors broken? James walks up to his house and assesses in a millisecond this fact. Imagine yourself as James walking up on the home...did you park in the driveway? Walk from the subway? What kind of street is it? What kind of house? I'm not suggesting you tell the reader all of this, but in order for the action and descriptions to feel real, you've got to see this.

And then, for some inexplicable reason, he walks into the home and takes time to note the photos on the wall? And after seeing his dead wife/girlfriend he takes stock of his emotional state and hypothesizes that maybe he's a heartless bastard?

When you write a scene, you've got to live it. I don't think you've lived this scene. I think you needed it to start your novel and you're trying to dispense with it to get to the cool, spy stuff or whatever.
All good writing is swimming under water and holding your breath.
-F. Scott Fitzgerald

Offline Jscanlo4

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Re: Beginning of a spy thriller (Reworked, 418 words)
« Reply #2 on: January 11, 2018, 03:32:24 PM »
Thank you for posting this.  It is a brave thing to post your writing so thousands can see it. There is some real great stuff in here, and there is some that needs a lot of work.  I hope you don't take anything I say as a personal attack.  (Although as writers, we take everything said about our writing is personal.)

Firstly, the good stuff.  I really enjoyed the scene.  It's a great hook for an opening scene.  If this was the opening to a book, I would've kept reading.  You've opened a lot of possibilities and questions with this scene.  Additionally, I really enjoyed the dialog.  It felt real and authentic.  The important thing to focus on is this scene hooked the reader and made them start asking questions.  Who is this guy?  Why was his wife killed?  What was his debt?  And, who is this mysterious man in his home?  All this is really important in the opening lines, and you hit them really well.

Secondly, the not so good stuff.  Honestly, I almost stopped after the first line.  Thankfully, I didn't.  However, an Editor, Agent, or someone else in the industry would've stopped.  You didn't show, you told.  Never use 'to be' verbs, such as 'were' (unless it is absolutely necessary).  It is far better to use action to describe the scene.  For example, shards of glass littered the sidewalk and crunched under his running footsteps.  (Or, something like that.) A sentence like this will create a more lasting image, and it speaks more to a reader.  "The windows were in shatters" is more bland.  The same could be said for the descriptions of the photos and living room.  Additionally, your first line wasn't a hook.  The hook and where you should start was "No, no, no. James thought to himself as he ran. This can't be happening…"  This sentence made me want to read more.  It made me interested.  The first line simply didn't do that.

Over all, this was a really interesting first scene.  However, it needs some work.  Trim down on the passive 'to be' verbs and start with a hook.  This will create a better and more interesting read.

Offline WendyJ

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  • I'm Wendy. Nice to meet you.
Re: Beginning of a spy thriller (Reworked, 418 words)
« Reply #3 on: February 18, 2018, 01:50:41 AM »
I think the scene held enough tension so that, personally, I would like to read on and find out why this all happened and what's going to happen next. That's a good thing.

The thing is, there's just way, way, way too much going on in the scene and way too much information being given to the reader to digest in such a short amount of words.

It's the first scene of the book. from my understanding, it's within the first chapter you're showing the reader what the hero's current reality is like. Who he is as a person, what his past was about, etc, all is revealed later as the story unfolds.

In this scene, as a reader, we just need to see how James's life just changed.

The incident: James is just doing his thing--walking down the street, smoking a cigar. As he gets closer to his house, he sees it's been broken into.

The obstacle: Deep down, he's been expecting something like this to happen, but he can't believe it actually did. He knows why it happened. However, right now, there's nothing he can do but run into the house to witness the damage.

The revelation: His wife is dead. The nemesis is still in the house.

The choice: James doesn't seem to make a choice. But he should. He should be doing more than just kneeling, trying not to cry, and listening to his nemesis taunt him. Where's the action? He doesn't have to do anything grand. He could pick up her body. He could stand up and face the person speaking to him. He could walk back out of the house. He has to do something.

The consequence: And with his choice will come a consequence that will then lead into the next scene.

This isn't the scene to be explaining the character's emotions or limited ability to feel emotions and give hints as to why he's emotionally dysfunctional. This is the scene that explains how his life just changed forever and gives the reader a glimpse into what his new reality is going to be like.