Author Topic: Reviews and Critics are Welcomed! 1st Chapter: Sidney Rue & The Dreamers  (Read 3235 times)

Offline heidi52

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Re: Reviews and Critics are Welcomed! 1st Chapter: Sidney Rue & The Dreamers
« Reply #15 on: November 19, 2016, 11:21:17 AM »
This is an improvement, but don't get caught up in a cycle of write, get critiques and then rewrite straight away. The lessons won't have a chance to sink in.

Sometimes you need to let things sit for a while so you can approach with new eyes.

General impressions: You need to trust your reader more and not try to over-explain everything. For instance the last line, don't you think you can trust that your reader knows it's the same hair pin she found earlier?

And that's the kind of thing you need to keep in mind. In a story each word has to earn it's place. When you go back to this re-read it and ask at every sentence, every clause, every word; Does the story need this? If not, why is it there? And can I write this simpler? Don't use 10 words when 3 will do. Don't describe mundane things that your reader will intuit, it just clutters things up.

My suggestion would be to set this aside and write the next scene, keeping it a simple as you can. Then come back to this scene and re-read it.

Keep writing, I think you have talent so don't give up. It's hard to hear negative criticism all the time and all too often we don't point out the positive. This is better than your original and it will get better still, but only if you stick with it.

Offline mihada

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Re: Reviews and Critics are Welcomed! 1st Chapter: Sidney Rue & The Dreamers
« Reply #16 on: November 20, 2016, 10:21:09 PM »
Thank you, Heidi. I wrote the succeeding chapters and came back to this chapter with a newer perspective. I hope this version's much better than before.

---------------------------------------

Chapter 1 – Who’s There?

The sounds of quarreling men piqued my interest.  I walked forward to the main door of the building surrounded by dark and impenetrable trees while the sounds grew louder through the open window. I steadied my breathing and edged towards the entryway where cobwebs crammed in the shadowy corners.

“No. This is not the one!”

While the argument ensued, I stepped onto something hard. At first I thought it was a piece of rock or a stick, but when I looked closely, I saw a shiny object, resting in between the cobble stones. Its gems deflected the sun’s rays to my eyes, impaling my vision for a moment. I blinked it off, leaned over and plucked the object from the ground. I studied its ornate design and felt the coolness of the golden rod in between my fingers. It was a hair pin emblazoned with multi-colored leaves.

What is this doing here?

I looked around the premises to see if the owner of the hair pin’s nearby.

The owner must be inside this building.

I slipped the hair pin in my pocket and walked to the entryway with a renewed objective to return a lost property.

I saw through the open window the back of a tall individual in a black suit. He stood beneath the light of a sconce affixed on a wall, holding something long and dark over his brawny arms.

“I’m disappointed in you.” The man in a white lab coat croaked as he approached his colleague, slithering out of the opposite room. “I should not have given you this very important task. We’re running out of time, Charles.”

“I thought that she’s the one you are after, Doctor?” Charles said.

The man known as the “Doctor” flitted towards his colleague as if his weightless body was pushed effortlessly by the wind. But Charles remained calm, unmoved by the Doctor’s ability to hover from one place to another. He reached beneath the dark linen and yanked the cover away from Charles’ arms in one fluid motion.

It was then that my legs buckled and a lump formed in my throat. I pressed a hand against my mouth to not let a squeal out.

“You fool. Can’t you see?” the Doctor said through gritted teeth. “The girl we are looking for has a red mark on her forehead.”

Charles removed his sunglasses and ran his fingers on the little girl’s temple.

“Go back there, find her and bring her to me before the fourth night!” the Doctor said.

I tried to scream for help but no sound was coming out.

“We can still use her.” The Doctor said, ominously. “Hurry, bring her upstairs and plug her to my contraption before she wakes.”

“Yes, Doctor.” Charles said.

I had to save the child from the wicked men inside the building and I need to think of a plan to get her out of there soon.

What should I do?

As I thought of an idea to rescue her, the Doctor’s beady black eyes shifted to my direction. With brows furrowed, he raised his bony hand at me.

“I can see you, Sidney.” The Doctor said.

How did he know my name?

“Come to me.” he said, nonchalantly. “We have so much to talk about.”

The Doctor slithered to the window with a smile forming across his face, exposing his yellow teeth.

In a last attempt to get some help, I tried to scream when the ground began to shake. It opened up an entirely different world, sucking my body into this black hole. All I could do was flail my hand and feet, looking up and down.

A speck of light grew brighter underneath until the luminosity swallowed all that’s dark.

My ears picked up familiar voices. One of them reminded me of someone very dear to my heart.

“Baby, you’ll be alright.” The man whispered in a calm and soothing tone.

I opened my eyes slowly and thought that I was in heaven. I could see nothing but white as if my body floated in the clouds. I looked around and the blurriness formed to rows of medicine cabinets. A man dressed in a blue short sleeved shirt with a nameplate “John” on his left busied himself, scribbling words on a piece of paper. The white patch with a snake coiled around a staff lay below the words PARAMEDIC.

A hand stroked my head and when I looked to my right, Mom was staring at me with glazed eyes.

“You had another episode, Honey.” Mom held the words as best as she could and in a motherly effort to console her only daughter, she forced a smile across her face and uttered, “You’ll be okay. We’re right beside you, Sidney.”

Dad grabbed my other hand and drew it close to his lips. His face reddened as soon as our eyes met.

Mom and Dad’s loving presence gave me the comfort that I needed. The seizure scared me, but the characters in my dream disturbed me more. And the child? I wondered what happened to the poor little girl in my dream.

I’m glad that it’s over and I’m back with Mom and Dad.

As I tried to move my legs to a comfortable angle, something sharp in my pocket pricked my thigh. I reached inside and took out a small object. What I held in between my fingers sent shivers along my spine. It was a hair pin of multi-colored leaves, the same hair pin I found wedged in between the cobble stones in my dream.

hillwalker3000

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Re: Reviews and Critics are Welcomed! 1st Chapter: Sidney Rue & The Dreamers
« Reply #17 on: November 22, 2016, 10:04:15 AM »
Quote
I wrote the succeeding chapters and came back to this chapter with a newer perspective. I hope this version's much better than before.

It's not. You're still stuck on tinkering with this opening when you should be pressing on with the rest of the story instead. The chances are when you finish your novel you'll hopefully realise the opening chapter needs a major rewrite.

It's still a long way from being a satisfying read. The plotting is hard-going at best. In four short paragraphs we switch from a quarrel - to a building surrounded by trees - an entryway - some unattributed dialogue - and the hopelessly contrived discovery of a hair pin. None of it seems remotely connected or believable - especially when your heroine tells us she is worried that the pin might belong to someone inside the building. You need to work much harder on establishing the context for the scene so the reader is there with your MC experiencing what she experiences first hand.

The sounds of quarreling men piqued my interest. Why? I walked forward to the main door of the building surrounded by dark and impenetrable trees irrelevant while the sounds grew louder through the open window. I steadied my breathing and edged towards the entryway where cobwebs crammed in the shadowy corners. Nothing happens here. The story has already stalled.
“No. This is not the one!” Is this what she overhears?
While the argument ensued, I stepped onto something hard. At first I thought it was a piece of rock or a stick, but when I looked closely, I saw a shiny object, resting in between the cobble stones. Its gems deflected the sun’s rays to my eyes, impaling my vision for a moment. I blinked it off, leaned over and plucked the object from the ground. I studied its ornate design and felt the coolness of the golden rod in between my fingers. It was a hair pin emblazoned with multi-colored leaves. Excellent description - but what happened to the argument? You have 2 completely separate opening scenes here. Neither are particularly intriguing.

I looked past tense around the premises to see if the owner of the hair pin is present tense nearby. The owner must be present tense inside this building. I slipped past tense the hair pin in my pocket and walked to the entryway with a renewed objective What was the initial objective??? to return a lost property.


The entire opening to your story has stopped making sense and the switches in verb tense make it even more of a muddle.

I get the impression you're a very young writer. Elements like dark trees surrounding an old building are classic mystery material, but you do nothing with these. This story could be set anywhere. And the discovery of a treasure might well be exciting. But the situation come crashing back to boring reality when it's treated like an item of lost property.

As it stands you have an idea for a story but its construction is flimsy at best. The plot jumps from one point of focus to another without any logical continuity. And worst of all, your characters are paper thin - mainly because they come complete with labels. The tall individual in a black suit. The man in a white lab coat. You have to give me a reason to care about what they're doing, but unfortunately I'm not particularly intrigued.

“You fool. Can’t you see?” the Doctor said through gritted teeth. “The girl we are looking for has a red mark on her forehead.”
That's hardly original, given that 99% of your intended readership will have heard of Harry Potter. And I felt the lovey-dovey, domestic scenes between the girl and her parents were cringe-worthy. If you're writing for a YA audience I suggest you read a great deal in the same genre. YA readers are as discerning as their parents.

This comes across like fan fiction for the entertainment of the author rather than anyone else - not great reading material so far.

H3K

Offline mihada

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Re: Reviews and Critics are Welcomed! 1st Chapter: Sidney Rue & The Dreamers
« Reply #18 on: December 04, 2016, 08:11:23 PM »
Thanks a lot, H3K.

I considered your advice and edited the opening scene. I am working on the succeeding chapters and plan to revisit/refine/improve the opening - depending on how this version go. I really appreciate your time.

------------------------

Chapter 1 – Who’s There?

I stepped onto something hard. At first I thought it was a piece of rock or a stick, but when I looked closely, I saw a shiny object, resting in between the cobble stones. Its gems deflected the sun’s rays to my eyes, impaling my vision for a moment. I blinked it off, leaned over and plucked the object from the ground. I studied its ornate design and felt the coolness of the golden rod in between my fingers. It was a hair pin emblazoned with multi-colored leaves. The letters A.M. were inscribed in one end.

Just when I inserted the hair pin inside my pocket, the sky ignites into a barrage of bright lights. The booms of thunder followed the spectacle overhead and soon, rain came down as a fierce deluge, soaking everything and everyone in its path.

I looked around and found shelter under the porch of a decrepit brick building a few meters to my right. I ran as fast as I could toward the shade and as I came in, a voice of an enraged man broke the cadence of the pattering rain.

“NO. She is not the one!” He said, incredulously. “You fool! I could have taken her myself if I knew you were too weak to do it….”

More of the man’s terrifying words rushed through an opened window. It was frightening, hearing him speak to say the least.

So much anger. So much hatred.

Unable to hold my curiosity any longer, I peered through the gap and saw the side of a tall man in a black suit. The gray streaks of hair reflected the impish expression of his face. Showered by the radiating light from the sconce overhead exposed his outstretched arms like massive tree trunks shaped by time. He held something that was wrapped by a black linen, swaying along every movement, right or left.

“I’m very disappointed.” The man in a white lab coat croaked as he approached his colleague, slithering out of the opposite room. Lines touched his face and his gaze, unwavering and seething with hate.

“I should not have given you this very important task. We’re running out of time, Charles.”

“I thought that she’s the one you are after, Doctor?” Charles said.

The man known as the “Doctor” flitted towards his colleague as if his weightless body was pushed effortlessly by the wind. But Charles’ feet remained planted on the ground, unmoved by the Doctor’s ability to hover from one place to another. He reached beneath the dark linen and yanked the cover away from Charles’ arms in one fluid motion.

It was then that my legs buckled and a lump formed in my throat. I pressed a hand against my mouth to break the whimper of fear.

 “Can’t you see?” the Doctor said through gritted teeth. “The girl we are looking for has a red mark on her neck.”

Charles removed his sunglasses and ran his fingers on the little girl’s neck.

“Go back there, find her and bring her to me before the fourth night!” the Doctor said.

I tried to scream for help but no sound came out.

“We can still use her.” The Doctor said, ominously. “Hurry, bring her upstairs and plug her to my contraption before she wakes.”

“Yes, Doctor.” Charles said.

I had to save the child from the wicked men inside the building and I need to think of a plan to get her out of there soon.

What must I do?

As I thought of an idea to rescue her, the Doctor’s beady black eyes shifted to my direction. With brows furrowed, he raised his bony hand at me.

“I can see you, Sidney.” The Doctor said.

How did he know my name?

“Come to me.” he said, nonchalantly. “We have so much to talk about.”

The Doctor slithered to the window with a smile forming across his face, exposing his yellow teeth.

I’m going to die here right now.

In a last attempt to get some help, I tried to scream when the ground began to shake. It opened up an entirely different world, sucking my body into this black hole. All I could do was flail my hand and feet, looking up and down.

A speck of light grew brighter underneath until the luminosity swallowed all that’s dark.

My ears picked up familiar voices. One of them reminded me of someone very dear to my heart.

“Baby, you’ll be all right.” The man whispered in a calm and soothing tone.

I opened my eyes slowly and thought that I was in heaven. I could see nothing but white as if my body floated in the clouds. I looked around and the blurriness formed to rows of medicine cabinets. A man dressed in a blue short sleeved shirt with a nameplate “John” on his left busied himself, scribbling words on a piece of paper. The white patch with a snake coiled around a staff lay below the words PARAMEDIC.

A hand stroked my head and when I looked to my right, Mom was staring at me with glazed eyes.

“You had another episode, Honey.” Mom held the words as best as she could and in a motherly effort to console her only daughter, she forced a smile across her face and uttered, “You’ll be okay. We’re right beside you, Sidney.”

Dad grabbed my other hand and drew it close to his lips. His face reddened as soon as our eyes met.

Mom and Dad’s loving presence gave me the comfort that I needed. The seizure scared me, but the characters in my dream disturbed me more. And the child? I wondered what happened to the poor little girl in my dream.

I’m glad that it’s over and I’m back with Mom and Dad.

As I tried to move my legs to a comfortable angle, something sharp in my pocket pricked my thigh. I reached inside and took out a small object. What I held in between my fingers sent shivers along my spine. It was a hair pin of multi-colored leaves, the same hair pin I found wedged in between the cobble stones in my dream.



hillwalker3000

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Re: Reviews and Critics are Welcomed! 1st Chapter: Sidney Rue & The Dreamers
« Reply #19 on: December 05, 2016, 06:12:36 PM »
Immediate response - if this is meant to be the opening to your novel I would stop reading after that first sentence.

'I stepped onto something hard' - really? There's not enough here to make me want to continue reading any further. You make no attempt to provide any context - we don't know who is telling their story, we don't know where they are or why they're there. So why should we even care whether they found a rock or a stick or a valuable hair pin?

You have a fundamental problem with the way you approach story-telling. It's not about getting the information down on the page at all costs - it's about engaging the reader so they actually care about your character and their situation.

It's clear this story starts in the wrong place. You also have issues with verb tenses:

Just when I inserted past tense the hair pin inside my pocket, the sky ignites present tense into a barrage of bright lights. The booms of thunder followed the spectacle overhead and soon, rain came down as a fierce deluge, soaking everything and everyone I didn't realise there was anyone else there in its path

As far as the plotting is concerned it reads as if random situations arise in the sequence you came up with each idea.
You find a hair pin - there's a storm when you put it in your pocket - you come across an angry man when you run towards the shade. Again, there's no sense of suspense or build-up of tension because things just happen.

My advice remains the same - your attempt to write a novel is too ambitious unless you're doing so purely for your own entertainment. Your command of written English is OK, but on the evidence you provide here you don’t know how to construct a readable story. The only solution is to read books in the same genre and see how established writers create a believable plot and capture the reader's imagination. For every hour you spend writing you should spend 9 hours reading. I'm guessing you don't do anything like this amount of reading at the moment.

H3K

Offline TheOrlandoGray

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Re: Reviews and Critics are Welcomed! 1st Chapter: Sidney Rue & The Dreamers
« Reply #20 on: December 06, 2016, 03:26:48 PM »
Hello, :D I had some free time today and decided that I would critique your story. I hope what I say help you in improving your story. And if it does not, please let me know so I can improve my critiquing skills.

“The uncontrollable shuddering, stiff-bodied feeling, paranormal like episodes as though I’m possessed by some evil force was the scariest experience that no one would have wanted to happen to themselves, in like - forever!”

In my opinion, you should cut this sentence into two. It makes the first sentence sound better by stopping at ‘evil force’.

“At seven years of age, it was too young for me to remember the events that unfolded. Mom and Dad galed a scary episode they had when a fever blazed inside of me one night.”

You should consider rearranging these two paragraphs. The first sentence tells me nothing about what ‘it’. All I know is that she was seven. The second sentence would sound better as the first if tweaked just a bit. Perhaps something like this: ‘My Mom and Dad repeatedly gale a scary episode from when I was seven. One night, a fever blazed inside of me…’

Also, if she does not remember, perhaps she could repeat a condensed version of the story her parents tell instead of what she does remember.

“All people’s created by God in his own image. If this was true then why am I like this? I did not chose to have this illness. I’ve never thought about it this way until it became too difficult for me.”

I just wanted to make a comment regarding her question. It’s a good question, I just wanted to help you supply an answer if you decide to revisit this theme. Adam and Eve were created in the image of God. Everyone else is created in the image of their parents.

“At first I thought these were the only concerns I have in my young adult life besides school and my obnoxious classmates in East Valley High School (Eva High)”

You could remove East Valley High School here. It isn’t needed.

I decided not to do a detailed critique. Most of what I would have said most likely has been stated already. I’m glad to see a large community of writers looking to help a fellow writer. In closing, I only have a few things to say.

When you were describing the restaurant scene, it sounded like they’ve been there before. Could you make that fact clearer? Reading through it was a little confusing.
Also, keep in mind to keep your story concise. Remove every unnecessary word. If it isn’t relevant to what’s happening in the scene or foreshadowing what’s to take place later, then remove it.

Again, this is only my opinion. I hope that what I said can help you even a little. Thank you for posting your story and giving me something to read.   ;)
Orlando Gray
@TheOrlandoGray
http://www.theorlandogray.com

Every day is a good day because every day I have a chance to capitalize on yesterday.

Offline mihada

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Re: Reviews and Critics are Welcomed! 1st Chapter: Sidney Rue & The Dreamers
« Reply #21 on: December 18, 2016, 12:59:41 AM »
Thanks for your time, Orlando. What you read was an older version of the piece. Nevertheless, I appreciate your comments and suggestions.

Thanks as well, H3K.

Here's the latest version with some additions and omissions to the story.

-----------------------------------------------------

Sidney Rue and The Dreamers

I possessed a very peculiar gift that I discovered when I was twelve years old. I could not explain how and why but if I focused my mind to it, I could be anywhere I want, leaving my physical body behind and only come back at my bidding. No one knew about this extraordinary ability until kids in my small town went missing, one poor soul each day.

Sunday, 7 AM.

I was out for a walk when the sky ignited into a barrage of bright lights. The booms of thunder followed the spectacle overhead and soon, rain came down as a fierce deluge, soaking everything in its path.

I looked around and found shelter under the porch of a decrepit brick building a few meters to my right. I ran as fast as I could toward the shade and as I came in, a voice of an enraged man broke the cadence of the pattering rain.

“NO. This is not the one!” He said, incredulously. “You fool! I could have taken her myself if I knew you were too weak to do it….”

More of the man’s terrifying words rushed through an opened window. It was frightening, hearing him speak to say the least.

So much anger, so much hatred.

Unable to hold my curiosity any longer, I peered through the gap and saw the side of a tall man in a black suit. The gray streaks of hair reflected the impish expression of his face. Showered by the radiating light from the sconce overhead exposed his outstretched arms like massive tree trunks shaped by time. He held something that was wrapped by a black linen, swaying along every movement, right or left.

“I’m very disappointed.” The man in a white lab coat croaked as he approached his colleague, slithering out of the opposite room. Lines touched his face and his gaze, unwavering and seething with hate.

“I should not have given you this very important task. We’re running out of time, Charles.”

“I thought that she’s the one you are after, Doctor?” Charles said.

The man known as the “Doctor” flitted towards his colleague as if his weightless body was pushed effortlessly by the wind. But Charles’ feet remained planted on the ground, unmoved by the Doctor’s ability to hover from one place to another. He reached beneath the dark linen and yanked the cover away from Charles’ arms in one fluid motion.

It was then that my legs buckled and a lump formed in my throat. I pressed a hand against my mouth to break the whimper of fear.

 “Can’t you see?” the Doctor said through gritted teeth. “The girl we are looking for has a red mark on her neck.”

Charles removed his sunglasses and ran his fingers on the little girl’s neck.

 “Go back there, find her and bring her to me before the fourth night!” the Doctor said.

I tried to scream for help but no sound came out.

“We can still use her.” The Doctor said, ominously. “Hurry, bring her upstairs and plug her to my contraption before she wakes.”

“Yes, Doctor.” Charles said.

I had to save the child from the wicked men inside the building and I need to think of a plan to get her out of there soon.

What must I do?

As I thought of an idea to rescue her, the Doctor’s beady black eyes shifted to my direction. With brows furrowed, he raised his bony hand at me.

“I can see you, Sidney.” The Doctor said.

How did he know my name?

“Come to me.” he said, nonchalantly. “We have so much to talk about.”

The Doctor slithered to the window with a smile forming across his face, exposing his yellow teeth.

I’m going to die here right now.

hillwalker3000

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Re: Reviews and Critics are Welcomed! 1st Chapter: Sidney Rue & The Dreamers
« Reply #22 on: December 19, 2016, 06:49:24 AM »
Quote
Here's the latest version with some additions and omissions to the story.

This is no better than the original (and subsequent rewrites). It continues to display the same basic flaws. Your plot structure is particularly awkward. The first paragraph serves no purpose. I'm assuming it's a summary of what the story is going to be about, but since you never mention your 'peculiar gift' in what follows I'm baffled. It's also badly written because you switch from past tense ('I could be') to present tense ('I want') half way through.

Then you jump into the story with both feet.
I was out for a walk when the sky ignited into a barrage of bright lights.
Why was the narrator out taking a walk at 7am? Is the narrator still twelve years old or is he/she older/younger? Is he/she in a dream state or wide awake? By feeding us the teaser right at the start we're searching for a clue or two regarding context. But instead you take no account of the average reader's expectations. You know what's happening. The rest of the world can go whistle.
The phrase 'the sky ignited into a barrage ?? of bright lights' doesn't make much sense either.

An opening scene in a novel where the MC is out walking then there's a thunderstorm and they find shelter beside the building where there's a crime being committed - the crime on which the entire novel is based - has to be the laziest plot device I've ever come across.

Maybe time for a reality check: put the novel on hold. It starts off badly and shows little sign of improvement the more I read. Instead of rewriting this chapter over and over again pick up a novel by any established writer and read it. Take note of how characters and plot are introduced and how dialogue is seamlessly woven into the narrative. Then pick another book and do the same. Keep reading until you can see why this attempt falls short of the mark. As it stands your efforts at writing something readable are misguided at best.

H3K