Author Topic: Chronicles of a Broken Earth - prologue {751 words}  (Read 1807 times)

Offline IMcD

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Chronicles of a Broken Earth - prologue {751 words}
« on: October 31, 2013, 06:04:10 PM »
I'm writing (or at least trying to) a sci-fi novel titled "Chronicles of a Broken Earth", and this is a small excerpt from the prologue. The story itself takes place hundreds of years after the events described here, but this depiction is necessary to understand the universe I'm trying to build. The story itself has little structure, I'm piecing it together as I go... I guess you say I'm patching and stitching, not weaving and sewing (that didn't sound very eloquent, but hopefully you get where I'm going).

Anyway, this is just a draft, and obviously, constructive feedback would be much appreciated. In addition to constructive feedback, I'd also appreciate feedback on the ideas/concepts themselves (if anyone is particularly interested, I have A LOT more I could use some outside opinions on!). The universe this excerpt is from is the only thing I'm working on, and probably will be for a long time. It's sort of a personal project.

Thanks in advance, guys.

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Again, every attempt at contact was unsuccessful, and AF93 was officially off the grid. It was at this point an emergency military council was assembled to assess the situation. During this meeting, two more patrol fleets succumbed to the foreign forces. A decision was made to bolster the forces surrounding Earth, and emergency ships of war were scrambled and put into action. After only eight hours after first contact, the only fleet left was DF1, which was the largest military force ever assembled in Earth’s history. However, all that could really be done was to helplessly wait for the enemy to show up. Engaging the enemy would result in certain death, and it was decided that it was a better plan to be on the defensive and attack with numbers. In the next couple days, all outposts, patrols and task forces outside of Sol had been destroyed, rendering Earth totally blind. All there was to go by were emergency broadcasts sent out by distressed ship captains, sometimes with broken attachments of visual feeds depicting ships never before seen by man. At this point, the president addressed the people of the world, informing them of the dire situation. As expected, society descended into panic and chaos, and people tried desperately to prepare themselves.

A large amount of war ships had secretly landed on Mars in an attempt to escape the apparently inevitable doom; a decision that perhaps turned out to be beneficial, for the foreigners did come. They appeared with dreadful skill and precision, clearly a demonstration of their superiority. Or was it? Perhaps this mastery of modern technology came naturally to them. Maybe they couldn’t be bothered to put on a show, because perhaps they knew that, fear stricken or not, we were doomed either way. Besides, theatrics would be redundant… they were gloriously terrifying. The dark but seemingly luminescent glare of their ships troubled the souls of all who gazed upon them. It was as if their eerie glow whispered words of malice to one’s essence: a promise of destruction; a vow of despair. The ships were geometrically unpleasing, yet somehow their asymmetrical nature only added to their projection of power. And even through miles of empty space, their cold, calculated hatred; their being, devoid of all empathy or remorse, gripped those who would soon be their prey. They were like the embodiment of pain.

Silence.

Space is silent by nature, but there is a noise in everything; an existential symphony that plays forever in the background. It’s the only thing separating one from insanity, for we never truly stare into the abyss. No, there is always the warmth of the cosmos around us. But these vessels were not only harbingers of death, but of despair. It was as if their presence muffled the music of the cosmos, erasing the only thing between us and true emptiness. The very universe recoiled in fear, leaving Sol for good. Everyone was alone and engulfed in this empty darkness, stuck in petrified awe of these enclosing nightmares.

Flash.

It tore a hole in the emptiness; a welcomed site for many. The macabre silence was broken by a series of flashes, again and again. It swept over the fleet like a paintbrush, leaving only debris, but the bright blue beam seemed so gentle, dancing and kissing the fleet, freeing us of our burden of the abyss. Back and forth, to and fro, it painted and painted. It all happened so quickly. It was almost beautiful, the flashes, the contrasts of light and dark, life and death. There was a certain morbid balance to it. No. The fleet had to snap out of it, too many seconds had been wasted and Earth was at risk. It replied in kind: a barrage of missiles, and the fleet set off a few lights of its own. Suddenly, the music returned. Suddenly, the promise of life had come back. Despite certain death, the crews of the remaining ships had never felt so akin to the universe, defying the nihilism of the enemy. The greatest battle in history had begun, and the stakes had never been higher: the survival of the human race.

Fire.

The flashes continued relentlessly; painting destruction and despair. A wall of fire emerged from their steel canvas, as parts of the fleet went up in flames. The flashes painted ship by ship with death, and the wall of fire grew for every passing moment. Something had to be done soon, lest mankind fall into darkness.

-------

Continue?

Offline 510bhan

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Re: Chronicles of a Broken Earth - prologue {751 words}
« Reply #1 on: October 31, 2013, 06:16:47 PM »
Hello . . . I'm not a sci-fi person but I think some of the things I'm about to suggest apply to all types of writing.

First off -- who has recorded this 'past'? You can either read retrieved data and make assumptions, or you can have somebody 'living' through this unsettled period. Either way there needs to be more 'action' -- seeing in real time what actually took place and that is often served well through dialogue [recorded transmission/ film footage/ real person -- depending on how you choose to relay this information]. Once you have players involved, these characters can convey emotion as well as facts and will help eliminate many of the 'was' phrases which end up sounding like a recount, almost bullet point fashion of: this happened and then that happened and that caused something else dire to occur. YAWN . . . I don't want to read a report, even if it is the prologue, it should still be engaging writing and involve the reader with a character and have us concerned about the outcome for them. ;) ;) ;)

Offline SunshineX

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Re: Chronicles of a Broken Earth - prologue {751 words}
« Reply #2 on: October 31, 2013, 06:25:46 PM »
Hi, IMcD.

Well, you can certainly write. This is a smooth read.

That said, I don't think this particular piece works. In general, prologues are advised against, because the reader would rather read the story itself, not an intro to the story. A lot of writers try to fit a lot of backstory into the prologue that they don't think they can fit in the story, and this seems to be no exception. I think you have a good idea here, and your writing skills are great, but this won't work as an introduction. There are no characters - no one directly affected - so I have a hard time caring.

I suggest you just start with chapter 1 ;)

Offline Dean

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Re: Chronicles of a Broken Earth - prologue {751 words}
« Reply #3 on: October 31, 2013, 06:26:51 PM »
Are you really, absolutely certain you need the prologue, and that any necessary information can't somehow be weaved into the main story? Prologues don't tend to go down well, and many readers skip them. They tend to just be uninteresting blocks of exposition, and I'm afraid this one is no exception.

First of all, if it's centuries before the main events of the story, I'm instantly wondering "Why should I care about any of this?"

There are no characters to sympathise with here. Just a rather generic, and therefore forgettable, sci-fi space war. The antagonist is equally generic and uninteresting.

Some odd turns of phrase. "A decision that perhaps turned out to be beneficial". Why "perhaps"? It either was or it wasn't.

The description of the ships is overloaded with modifiers and makes little sense; they were both dark and "seemingly luminescent"? It's contradictory, and something is either glowing or not, it can't "seemingly" be. Why is the shape important? We're not seeing this through anyone's eyes, so it seems bizzare. There's an odd mix of close POV to a phantom narrator, and distant observations, and I find the inconsistency rather jarring.

The next few ideas seem disconnected.

My advice would be to skip the prologue and get to the story, dropping exposition as and when it's needed. If you can't find a convenient place to slot it in, then it;s probably not as important as you think.

We need a character to care about, and we need a face to the antagonising force.

hillwalker3000

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Re: Chronicles of a Broken Earth - prologue {751 words}
« Reply #4 on: October 31, 2013, 08:00:18 PM »
I suggest you dump the prologue and begin with the story. Give us some characters to care about - some tension, some drama. So far it's a historical document so why should I want to read it since it has no bearing on anything?

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this depiction is necessary to understand the universe I'm trying to build.

Trust me. It isn't. If you can't bring this out in the story itself there's something fundamentally wrong with your plotting. I was bored 9 words in because I have no conception of what AF93 is supposed to be.

No story = no readers.

H3K

Offline 2par

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Re: Chronicles of a Broken Earth - prologue {751 words}
« Reply #5 on: October 31, 2013, 08:08:33 PM »
Believe me, once you get into the story, no one is going to care what happened many years before or what led to life as it presently is in whatever universe you've created.

Offline LRSuda

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Re: Chronicles of a Broken Earth - prologue {751 words}
« Reply #6 on: October 31, 2013, 09:48:07 PM »
This, though not badly written, seems to me an effort for yourself. (Give me a minute. That's not as bad as it sounds.  :))

You said you are still stitching and piecing things together. This very well may be a piece you are considering how to stitch. Stories seldom come to a writer in linear chunks. You have the backstory. While puzzling out the plot and scenes, see where it calls to be woven in.  ;)

Offline IMcD

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Re: Chronicles of a Broken Earth - prologue {751 words}
« Reply #7 on: November 01, 2013, 05:19:28 AM »
Wow, thanks a lot guys. I didn't expect this much feedback, so this is a pleasant surprise. I truly appreciate it.

I agree, the story is overfed with this "information"-element, and makes it lacking more... well, story. However, I must add, I mostly wanted feedback on the idea of the universe, not the story itself (my fault for not emphasizing), because this text is supposed to be narrated to one of the MCs by a captain long dead (I think, still not sure how I will convey this). The MC basically experiences this as an epiphany (induced perhaps by some alien technology? Again, I still don't know), which reveals a lot about what happened at Earth. The text will also be an introduction for the captain to tell his story - for this was no ordinary captain... he was one of two captains who alone took down the mothership in a daring suicide mission (I hope that didn't sound to cliche).

The ancient captains, Petrov and Reynolds, will play important role in one of the character's (named Pace) understanding of not only what went down at Earth so long ago, but also about himself and his role in the story unfolding around him.

I can't explain without submitting the next part... I'll do so if people think it's okay. I swear, there's more story this time! :P



510: As I just explained, one of the MCs will receive this detailed information through a vision, or joining of consciousness, through alien tech or something similar (probably... pieces and stitches, pieces and stitches... ;) ) I think perhaps your advice on leaving out a prologue, as others have suggested as well, is a good idea. This may end up being nothing more than lore; a story within the story.

ktg: Thanks a lot, at least that's a good start! Taking your advice on board :)

Dean: Yes, thank you, I think I may have gone a bit off the deep-end with the descriptions. Self-indulgent writing, my apologies. The image I was trying to convey ended up becoming contradictory (although a bit what I was going for, in my defense). When I said "perhaps turned out to be", I'm trying to underline the dilemma they face; abandoning their home and comrades to save their own skin, or face the enemy with honor and die. Poorly phrased though... suggestions are welcome (suggesting to eliminate it entirely is also a valid suggestion :P).

hillwalker: Yes, the drama and tension you describe is present in the next paragraphs (at least, I hope it is...). This text alone is obviously boring, I should have taken that into consideration. The more I read your comments, the more I realize how important an editor's job is. It's hard as a writer to put oneself in the reader's position, and I was inconsiderate linking only this tiny, incoherent fragment. I thought it would serve as a good introduction. It didn't, my bad.

2par: And that's part of the challenge, isn't it? "Getting in" to the story. I first have to build my universe before I even understand the premises of my own plot. I hope I'm able to get to the point where the history becomes irrelevant, because that, I believe, is a sign of quality.

LRSuda: Yes, exactly it! I have a lot of fragments, an idea of the story, characters and a complex universe still in development... will continue to piece together as well as I can.


Again, thanks a lot. It's a privilege to have skilled editors review your work, even if it is in part!

Will post second part, if anyone is willing to read it (comes up to 1943 words).

Offline SunshineX

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Re: Chronicles of a Broken Earth - prologue {751 words}
« Reply #8 on: November 01, 2013, 06:51:26 AM »
In my opinion, the premise itself is pretty standard sci-fi stuff. Intergalactic war, humans vs. aliens, humans win. Ender's Game comes to mind, as does the Mass Effect story (like you mention). Also, the Captain's self-sacrifice is not particularly interesting when summarized like this. I've read and watched  a LOT of self-sacrifices in books and movies.

Is the story new? No. Could this story still be written well? Yes.  These days, the premise itself is rarely what sets a story apart. Characters make a story. Without characters that the reader can sympathize with, even the best plotline will just be a snooze.
« Last Edit: November 01, 2013, 06:59:53 AM by ktg »

Offline Alice, a Country Gal

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Re: Chronicles of a Broken Earth - prologue {751 words}
« Reply #9 on: November 01, 2013, 07:00:37 AM »
IMcD, apparently you didn't see the guidelines for this board. Please take a look:

http://mywriterscircle.com/index.php?topic=24729.0

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Read and comment on at least three other posts. Not only are members likely to return the favor, but you will learn how to improve and present your work. Shy or uncertain about reviewing? Click and read Re: Sticky: Critiquing for the Shy.

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Offline IMcD

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Re: Chronicles of a Broken Earth - prologue {751 words}
« Reply #10 on: November 01, 2013, 07:44:10 AM »
Quote
Is the story new? No. Could this story still be written well? Yes.  These days, the premise itself is rarely what sets a story apart. Characters make a story. Without characters that the reader can sympathize with, even the best plotline will just be a snooze.

Indeed. I suppose there are certain premises that fascinate us more than others, and what interests us when studying them are the character's reactions and development within those premises :)

Alice: Yes I did. I read them thoroughly and am doing my utmost to follow them.
I have replied to one post, and done a pm review on another (upon request of the author). If there were many new works available, I would get to it, but this site has a lot of skilled reviewers, and it would seem contrived if I faked some kind of review that didn't add anything new to what previous reviewers already stated. I tried, really. I read through many of the newest posts, but when you have diligent reviewers like 510 and hillwalker covering something, it's hard to add something meaningful.

It's not like I don't want to. In reviewing someone's work, I think you become more aware of errors and tendencies that should be avoided when writing. Ergo, you become a better writer. Besides, it's both fun and interesting to see what other people on the site are up to :)

Offline Katie D

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Re: Chronicles of a Broken Earth - prologue {751 words}
« Reply #11 on: June 07, 2019, 08:50:43 PM »
I like your title :-)