Author Topic: Chapter One 1997 w/c  (Read 2629 times)

Offline 510bhan

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Re: Chapter One 1997 w/c
« Reply #15 on: October 21, 2013, 11:29:24 PM »
Um . . . if the sisters' complexions are 'transparent' [see through], presumably we would see the underlying tissue, or bone near the surface, light would pass through it, rather than bounce off it. Perhaps 'translucent'? :-[

Offline BlndBtNtDum

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Re: Chapter One 1997 w/c
« Reply #16 on: October 21, 2013, 11:45:20 PM »
Yeah... perhaps sub "against" for "into" in that line. Their complexion should be blue-ish from the veins under their paper-thin skin. They are usually depicted as old hags and I wanted to portray them more like teens but still a little traditional, you know? I picture someone who's lived through the demotion of Gods and rise of Heaven (at least that's how it is in my story) to have thin, transparent skin :)

Offline Neghe

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Re: Chapter One 1997 w/c
« Reply #17 on: October 22, 2013, 12:06:56 AM »

"School spirit had killed me."


Is a stop reading sentence.


School spirit kills me. Is a little better but not much.
“Poetry is what happens when nothing else can.”― Charles Bukowski

hillwalker3000

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Re: Chapter One 1997 w/c
« Reply #18 on: October 22, 2013, 01:25:12 PM »
As others will tell you on here, most readers skip the Prologue. It's either a way of introducing the main characters while the story remains hidden or it's used to dump back-story or tedious historical scene-setting. In many cases neither is necessary because the characters can be revealed as the story unfolds, and the same applies to the historical setting if it's relevant.

Unfortunately your Prologue would have been enough to put me off reading any further because of the way it's written.

The opening sentence does not bode well for what might follow:
In the darkened corner of their home, reachable only by the highest of powers, the Sisters sat watching as the scene to force their hand unfolded.
It's a muddle.

- 'the highest of powers' - why not write 'the highest powers'?
- What is it that's 'reachable'? The 'darkened corner' - or their 'home'? And is this detail relevant right now at the beginning of the story?
- 'the Sisters sat watching as the scene to force their hand unfolded. - if you look at this again you'll hopefully realise how dreadful it reads.

The Sisters sat in the darkened corner of their home watching the scene unfold - the scene that would force their hand. says the same thing - syntactically sound, though it's not especially neat.

The glow from the holographic image of the girl refracted off of the lacquered walls tinged with gold to cast blue-black shadows against the sisters’ transparent, ancient complexions.
Another sentence that would benefit from being rewritten.

- 'off of' is never used in written English unless it's in recorded dialogue (it's a grossly ungrammatical Americanisation that seems to have crept into writing judging by this piece)
- 'refracted off. . .' light does not refract off solids. Refraction is the change of direction or bending a ray of light undergoes when it travels from one medium (such as air) into another (such as water).
- I'm also unsure how light can cast shadows against objects, 'transparent ' or otherwise - light usually casts light not shade.

All three were identical, distinguished only by the streaks adorning their snow white hair, cut in layers to reach their waists: red, blue, and black, like death.
- if they're identical then we wouldn't expect anything to distinguish them.

It may seem that I'm nit-picking, but if you choose to write in such a pretentious style then every word has to earn its keep and make sense on closer inspection. By pretentious I mean writing that draws attention to itself - "Look. I'm writing something serious here."

If you're hoping to impress your reader might I suggest you temper the descriptive passages and keep things simple and crystal clear to the reader. You ask us to keep track of a number of nameless entities: we have 'the girl' (in the holograph), 'the boy', ''the Guardians'. But they mean nothing so far - and you don't exactly make it easier for us to work out what's going on once the dialogue begins.

 If they found where she already knew the boy to be, it wouldn’t allow for the necessary experience the girl must endure by her eighteenth birthday.

That's the point where I gave up, I'm afraid.

You may have dreamt up the most wonderful plot ever , where ancient mythology and the contemporary world collide. But unless you are able to write consistently in a way the reader can understand it's all going to come to nothing.

There were signs in a previous draft (Chapter 1) that you know how to construct a sentence grammatically but this Prologue needs more than a touch of them golden shears.

As for the plot - most on here seem to be enjoying it. But I'm lost.
- 'school spirit'  - Is that an American thing? I've never come across it before now.
- and what's with the 'statue' - ???

It's like I've accidentally gatecrashed a parallel universe where everyone else is stoned but I'm regrettably still sober.

H3K

Offline Norm from Michigan

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Re: Chapter One 1997 w/c
« Reply #19 on: October 22, 2013, 05:04:47 PM »
I like the revised version.  I see several improvements.

Since the bully is not on drugs, the following is unnecessary and somewhat confusing.
I'd seen people 'shrooming', forcing me to drive around the block at least ten times to see the pink house nobody else could see, and I'd watched stoners gorge on enough munchies to make themselves blimps on steroids.
Something less descriptive and more succinct perhaps?

Some of the descriptive sentences in the prolog are so long and intricate, that I get lost.

Keep going.
Norm

Offline BlndBtNtDum

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Re: Chapter One 1997 w/c
« Reply #20 on: October 22, 2013, 05:59:08 PM »
Hillwalker- thank you for the structure critique. It's been 10+ years since I've taken a grammar/writing course that I found myself registering with the local university for an online refresher and scouring the internet for creative writing tools. Nothing thus far beats what everyone here has imparted, though, so thank you.  "School Spirit" is a big thing in Canada (and I think the USA?). Basically, it's figurative that the student's "pep" for their school extracurriculars (which can become pretty psychotic) over the ingrained superstition about this statue (lucky) propells students who are high on drugs to take her. The irrationality of this action is obvious when you take into account the drugs.

Norm, the bully is on drugs--I reword that if it came across as anything other than that. It's meant to read: His crazy was enhanced by whatever drugs he'd taken. I sort of rushed on the rewrite and going over it, it shows. I actually woke this morning thinking about what Pale Writer had said and maybe this would sound better if we see the girl taken and beaten rather than being told after it's done and she's dying?

Offline BlndBtNtDum

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Re: Chapter One 1997 w/c
« Reply #21 on: October 22, 2013, 11:30:34 PM »
I cut the Sisters of Fate to incorporate in snippets throughout the novel and extended the scene with Alyssa.

CHAPTER ONE

Alyssa
School spirit had killed me. Some stupid superstition about rubbing a stupid statue’s head for luck and I was dead. I had never participated with school functions, never went to games—football, soccer, basketball…whatever—and I definitely wasn’t the ‘rah-rah’ cheerleader type of girl. I was just happy it was Friday, the end of the first ever grounding my parents had enforced. But for some unknown (and completely insane) reason, I was the girl Royal Academy’s rival school’s students had grabbed from the side door, just before the final bell of the day rung.


It was just enough time for five pairs of arms to drag me away completely unnoticed to the back of the building and into the depths of the woods dividing the schools.


“Whoo, she’s hot. I bet she knows where it is.”


“She’s fugly.”


“Shut up. You’re fugly.” A boy laughed, slurring his words. “Hey! Honey! Where’d your boyfriends hide our statue?”


I kept walking and they quickened their pace until their footsteps fell directly behind me. “Leave me alone.”


“Look, we need our statue, okay?” I girl said in a high, nasally voice. I didn’t look back. Do not engage and they’ll go away. “We have a tournament this weekend against your punk-ass basketball team and we need our statue back for luck.” As if skill wasn’t enough.


“I don’t know where it is, okay?” I bent my head back down to my book and tried to ignore them. But it didn’t matter. One minute I was walking and everything was fine and the next they had knocked my book out of my hands and were trying to grab me all at the same time.


“Let me go!” I flung out my shoulder bag full of the weekend’s homework, hitting two of them as it arced through the air.


“Shut up!” the other girl said. I pitched my arm out and my fist connected with her face. She screamed and hit me back in the stomach so hard the breath was knocked out of me and my body doubled over. They all laughed. Someone stuck their foot behind the heel of my foot while someone else pushed me so I landed on the ground.


And then they all pounced on me as one to secure their hold on me.


They dragged me by my arms and hair until it felt like someone had taken a cheese grater to my skin where my shirt had lifted to expose my back. I kicked. I screamed. I punched. All of my efforts provoked their drug-induced hatred, and the more I struck out, the more they struck back, until my eyes were swollen to slits and my arms felt like limp noodles hardened by exposure, tied behind my back around a tree.


“Where is it, bitch?” A boy—the biggest, most cumbersome boy I’d ever seen—squeezed my cheeks together until my lips were pursed, his grip like an oversized clamp digging into my already bruised skin. His eyes were glazed and crazy, bloodshot and erratic. I didn’t answer. I couldn’t. Even if I had an answer, I couldn’t speak. His hold loosened to a fraction of the pressure as he returned my glare and I spat reddened spittle in his face. He reared back, letting go of my face altogether in favour for another kick to my midsection. I refused to cry out even when another snap split the air and I knew as the air rushed out of me like a popped balloon that another rib had been cracked, probably broken.


I straightened my posture, raised my chin, and glared, defiant. My hand found and tightened its hold on a rock with scalpel-like edges despite the needles of incapacity crawling steadily up my arm.


“Josh!” A girl with dark unwashed hair stringing into her face tried to grab the trunk of his oversized arms and was tossed back to the ground like a leg weight, annoying but hardly a hindrance. The only other girl there who had been watching with amused yet remote interest (totally favouring the black eye I was proud to take credit for) ran to her friend’s side to help her up, staring not at the boy but me in accusation. As if this was my fault.


I ground the rock against the ropes harder, trying not to alert the group with the sawing motions of my arms.


“Josh,” the wisp of a girl panted, pulling herself up onto her elbows. “Please, she doesn’t know where it is.”


He was completely cracked, obviously insane even without the aid of drugs. I’d seen people ‘shrooming’, forcing me to drive around the block at least ten times to see the pink house nobody else could see, and I’d watched stoners gorge on their munchies until they were blimps on steroids. But never had I seen the kind of crazy as what flowed through this boy’s veins. Even his friends who had been gung-ho at the start of their so-called adventure had been sobered by his brutality.


“She’s right, man.” One of the two boys cautiously stepped up on his right while the other inched up on his left. They were responsible for the bruising of my body. It was impossible to discern their features, let alone learn their names. All I really knew was that neither was big enough to take down the one they called Josh. No, definitely not. Josh was demented, a giant of a boy who sounded like a man. He was responsible for the repetitive blows of which the injuries remained unseen. But maybe… maybe combined… they could beat his ass like he had beaten mine.


“She knows,” Josh ground through gritted teeth and squatted in front of me. “We know your school took it, so where’s it hidden? Come on… Just tell us and I’ll personally untie you.”


“I… don’t… know,” I rasped, feeling like no air was reaching my lungs. I could taste the iron of my blood as it rose up my throat, gagging me while somewhere within the blood flowed freely. Didn’t they realize I had no school spirit? Why had they chosen me? I knew nothing.


The rock, too slippery to keep hold of now, slipped from my fingers.


My head jerked as Josh clasped my chin in his hands again, lifting it to face him and I nearly lost consciousness. I tried pulling away and ground my cheek against the bark of the tree for the effort. Josh squeezed tighter, jerking my head back to him with a grip so tight that I feared any more pressure—a feat I had no doubt he was capable of—and my jawbone would break, and then crumble like a cube of sugar between thumb and finger. “Where. Is. The. Statue… Bitch?”


I opened my mouth to speak but no sound came out, only the blood that had gathered, and a slow trickle escaped the corner of my mouth to run down my chin and drizzle to the ground. I forced a grin, knowing my teeth would be stained with crimson evidence. The girls screamed, and the one on the ground cried that I was dying. I wanted to tell her to shut her mouth. I wanted to hit her until she had to shut it. Then, irrationally wanting to calm her, I wanted to say that I felt no pain anymore, and that after the first few blows, it hadn’t been so bad, almost bearable.


But she was right—I was dying.


It was funny, I thought as I lost my sight completely, how I’d thought they would kill me as they beat me and in the end, I’d killed myself. Not on purpose. No, I hadn’t even known until it was done, my blood soaking the ground undetected by my tormentors and dripping steadily from the ragged gashes at my wrists made by the rock I’d naively tried sawing through the tightly bound rope with.


And I didn’t care, not like I knew I should.


I was so beaten and bloodied, death was a welcome escape. I had but one thought as the end pronounced itself with darkness, my body having endured as much as it could handle: justice.


My death would teach them how wrong they’d been to choose me.

Lin

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Re: Chapter One 1997 w/c
« Reply #22 on: October 23, 2013, 02:16:29 AM »
In my opinion there is far too much telling here and not enough showing. If you want your readers to be immersed in the action you have to show it. At the moment there is far too much information coming from you the writer. I am writing in first person and I have tried very hard to ensure I use more dialogue and bring my readers close to the action through showing and not so much telling. It's so easy to tell when using the pronoun 'I'

hillwalker3000

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Re: Chapter One 1997 w/c
« Reply #23 on: October 23, 2013, 07:41:25 AM »
School spirit had killed me.

It's difficult to know from this opening sentence whether the narrator is literally dead or that she has been thwarted by school spirit. In the same way you can tell someone 'You're killing me' without meaning it. The same goes for your second sentence (repeating 'stupid' is presumably a device to establish the age of the narrator - but it's jarring). Is the narrator really dead? Reading further it's clear that she is, but again 'You're dead' can be as much a threat as a statement when spoken in the YA voice you've picked for your MC.

I think to avoid further confusion you need to make it clear from the start that she died - and that it happened because she chose not to subscribe to the school spirit ethos - which apparently involved touching a statue.

The rest of the paragraph establishes that she is also a bit of a loner - or possibly a rebel. But then you tack on something new on the end that again makes us stop and read again:

I was the girl Royal Academy’s rival school’s students had grabbed from the side door, just before the final bell of the day rung.
Wow.
Piling on information this way doesn't make for an enthralling read I'm afraid.

You're asking us to absorb so much extraneous detail in those first 100 words.
Can't you let us get to know your MC a little better first? Possibly begin by telling us why she was grounded. Introduce how she's a little unconventional when it comes to school activities. Then have her grabbed - but as yet maybe don't tell us by whom.

Then
It was just enough time for five pairs of arms to drag me away completely unnoticed to the back of the building and into the depths of the woods dividing the schools.
It's like we're experiencing everything on fast-forward. Can the narrator account for all five pairs of arms as the attack takes place? Somehow it seems she can. How does she know this abduction was 'completely unnoticed'? Does it even matter? It's happening to her yet it's written as if she's not even there. So we're not experiencing it as it happens to her - it's being reported by some other, uninvolved part of her that's floating above the scene.
So it's impossible to engage with your MC so far.

I kept walking and they quickened their pace until their footsteps fell directly behind me. “Leave me alone.”
I thought they had already grabbed her.

Then we eventually discover what the statue signifies - presumably it's a lucky mascot that belongs to the opposing team, Now I'm asking why they chose to confront this particular girl.
And I suppose that's where the Fates come in.

But the plot so far is so lacking in logic that I'd not be tempted to continue reading. The attackers also happen to be high on drugs and end up beating her to death over a mascot? You're asking us to swallow so much without a shred of foreshadowing or explanation.

The story may well have potential but at the moment it's missing something fundamental imo.

H3K

Offline Norm from Michigan

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Re: Chapter One 1997 w/c
« Reply #24 on: October 23, 2013, 11:40:10 AM »
Your response to me contained wording that would have clarified that he was on drugs.  Your lastest rewrite still includes the words "insane even without the aid of drugs", which make me think he is not on drugs.

I don't mean to belabor this point.

Norm

Offline BlndBtNtDum

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Re: Chapter One 1997 w/c
« Reply #25 on: October 23, 2013, 03:13:09 PM »
Norm-- I was trying to use the implication that he was crazy without drugs while drugs made it that much worse, which is what I'll rephrase it to in order to make more sense to others (made sense to me but that's prob b/c I knew what I wanted to say :) ).

I'm going to set this one aside for a week or so and come back with fresh eyes to try to apply Hillwalker's and Lin's advice, too. I think right now I'm too much in it. I did that with another story and it seemed to help me see more of what was being said about the writing than I could at the time it was written and then rewritten and rewritten and... well, you get the point.

Thank you everyone for all of the great advice!!!!!