Author Topic: Prologue + 1st chapter of a spy thriller - 1200 words (Rough critiques welcome)  (Read 340 times)

Offline Gabriel Lopes

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Prologue-   

The world was ashen grey to his eyes, and it had been that way for as long as he could remember. The colors had long faded from his sight, and now even sound was becoming dull to his ears.

   His hands were heavy, and he walked with the bitter determination of one who has learned too many things. They were soaked, for they held on, reluctantly, to his stomach. It was a futile attempt at stopping his blood from gushing out into the snow that laid around him.

   Not that it mattered much now. In reality the man did so out of instinct, for otherwise the pain would lend him unable to move. And he still needed his legs to pursue the last hope fate had left him.

   It was a vain hope, one that no sane man would ever hope to achieve, but he did so regardless. Promises had been made, and he would hold on to his word until the bitter end.

He felt the sun rays reaching to his eyes, causing him to turn his gaze downwards to the cloud white snow. And before he could continue, his legs failed him. Blood no longer flowed in them, and so the man fell to his knees.

   The sun hung low in the sky, and he was unable to tell if it rose from the horizon or fell back to the boundaries of the earth. He had spent so long locked away in that house of metal and stone that even the sky had become alien to him. But as he felt the sunlight gently caressing his face, he remembered how it felt to be beneath the light.

   The icy wind of winter fondled his weary eyes, asking him kindly to let it be. To end the suffering, and fall back to the earth. But he did not.

   His strength was long gone, but yet there he remained. Looking up to the ashen sky, a million familiar faces crossed his thoughts. Those he had loved, those he hated, and those he had left behind. His past was there to haunt him, and even then in his final moments it refused to leave his side.

   Maybe he should have left it all behind, maybe he was never a hero and maybe he should never have tried being one. But now it did not matter.   

    Faint sounds of metal birds echoed through the air, but he did not listen. And in the end the man fell to the snow. Little by little, his blood painted the cloud white snow, and little by little it turned rose red.

1962, December 1:
   
   “It has been one month, do you have an answer?” The words came dry out of his mouth and into the tired man’s ears.

   The words prompted an answer, but the person who spoke them demanded the tired man to make his choice.

   The two sat side by side, eyes not daring to meet. They looked at the street, and to the many that walked by them. Time passed, and the tired man just looked at the many faces that passed idly by: he saw young men in stern suits, old women carrying their fancy bags, and children wearing their gentle smiles. Maybe he was supposed to realise something then, but he never did. Nothing came to him while looking at those faces, so his decision remained the same.

   But the words did not come. They stuck to his throat, tearing at his flesh with every breath he took.

   “Is that a no?”

   “No” He answered immediately, letting the words slice through his throat and burn within his mouth. “I accept the offer.”

   Neither of them averted their gazes, and maybe one of them took a drink from one of the two cups of coffee that rested on the table, but if one did, the other would never know.

   “Listen carefully for I will not repeat myself.” The tired man heard. “As of now you are 05, when you present yourself for briefing that is all you will say.” There was a small pause, then the sound of paper being pressed against the table. “Inside you will find where and when you will have your briefing.”

   05 let his hands lay on the table, not so coincidentally finding a small paper packet, no bigger than a letter. He casually grabbed said packet and let it rest inside one of his shirt’s pockets.

   A gentle motion could be seen in the edges of his eyes, then, as the motion went on, he heard the sound of a chair being set aside. One of them stood up, while the other still sat. Dark smoke rose to the sky and that foul smell ever so characteristic of cigars made its way to 05’s nose.

   A single step was taken by the man who stood.

   “I know it is not my business, but may I ask you a question?”

There was silence.

 “Why?” The man who stood asked.

05 did not answer.

   The man who stood walked away, and left casually, just as he had arrived.

   The man who sat opened the small packet, and carefully read the two lines written on it.

   12/03/62
Airport, casual clothes, minimal luggage, 1:00 AM

   
   05 then proceeded to tear the paper into pieces and meticulously curl these torn pieces into a ball. Only to throw said ball into the trash.

   After doing so he got a few dollars from his pocket and placed them on the table, signaling he was done eating, but the waitress did not notice. So he stayed there, listening to the rumbling of cars and watching the city lights flicker and fade.

   The sun was setting and his coffee was getting cold, yet there he remained. The sky above turned from blue to gold and from gold to darkness, and the people went by and the cars did pass, yet there he remained.

   He was there as most are, simply there for the sake of being, but his movements were precise. Not a second too fast, nor a second too late. All that he did, he did so deliberately. There was not a breath he did not know, a stare he did not command. And it was in his movements that it laid, a silence deeper than the chasms of the sea.

   It was present in all that he was, haunting him with every move. Appropriate really, for he had brought this silence onto himself. It was the devil he deserved, for with it came all that he once was and all that he would be. But even if he had brought this demon unto himself, he did not regret doing so.

   He knew what the silence meant and what its purpose was, for he had faced it many times before, but now something was different. Before he had looked in its eyes and seen only evil and despair, but now, he saw nothing, almost as if he no longer recognized what it was. However, even as he came to this realization, his breath continued steady.

   He was not afraid of his past, nor was he afraid of the end.



Offline TheOtherAdrian

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I don't know whether English is your second language or if maybe you were just trying too hard to sound thriller-ish, but your text reads a bit like what happens when you feed a thesaurus into Android's predictive text feature. I'll comment as I go along:

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The world was ashen grey to his eyes, and it had been that way for as long as he could remember. Bit clichéd, but why not. The colors had long faded from his sight, and now even sound was becoming dull to his ears. UK or US spelling, pick one.

   His hands were heavy, and he walked with the bitter determination of one who has learned too many things. How on earth are those two things related? Simply stringing random events together with conjunctions to make longer sentences is never a good idea. If two things share the same sentence, there needs to be a reason for them to do so. They Who? The last subject you used was "he", and the last antecedent fitting the count is "too many things". were soaked, for they held on, reluctantly, to his stomach. It "It" is a red flag word for me while editing. Can the text be rewritten without it? That often makes it clearer, more immediate, more to the point. was a futile attempt at stopping his blood from gushing out into the snow that laid Do you mean "lay" (past tense of "to lie")? Otherwise, I have no idea what the snow could have been laying. around him.

   Not that it mattered much now. That is quite correct. So far, none of this matters to the reader. You have to give us a reason to care. So far, we know that some guy is dying outside. Assuming this isn't the very first thriller I ever read, that won't exactly rattle me. In reality the man did so out of instinct, for otherwise the pain would lend him unable to move. Will he give the inability to move back later? Or do you mean "render"? And he still needed his legs to pursue the last hope fate had left him. Why tell us he needs his legs? I think it's safe to assume that people, by default, need their legs.

   It was a vain hope, one that no sane man would ever hope to achieve "Hope to achieve a hope"? That doesn't make much sense., but he did so regardless He achieved the hope? It is often unclear to what your pronouns are referring.. Promises had been made, and he would hold on to his word until the bitter end. I've never heard that phrase. You can "keep" your word, but "hold on" to it? Besides, he can't hold on to anything, his hands are occupied keeping his guts from being on the wrong side of his peritoneum.

He felt the sun rays reaching to his eyes, causing him to turn his gaze downwards to the cloud white snow.  Well that won't help. And before he could continue, his legs failed him. Blood no longer flowed in them What? How did that happen?, and so the man fell to his knees.

   The sun hung low in the sky, and he was unable to tell if it rose from the horizon or fell back to the boundaries of the earth ???. He had spent so long locked away in that house of metal and stone that even the sky had become alien to him. But as he felt the sunlight gently caressing his face, he remembered how it felt to be beneath the light.

   The icy wind of winter fondled his weary eyes, asking him kindly to let it be This sounds incredibly forced.. To end the suffering, and fall back to the earth. But he did not. But then he does, like, five sentences from now. So what's the point of this sentence?

   His strength was long gone, but yet there can be only one there he remained. Looking up to the ashen sky, a million familiar faces crossed his thoughts. Those he had loved, those he hated, and those he had left behind Okay. But I, the reader, still don't care. I don't know any of those faces, so why tell me?. His past was there to haunt him what?, and even then in his final moments it refused to leave his side.

   Maybe he should have left it all behind, maybe he was never had never been? No idea what you're trying to say here a hero and maybe he should never have tried being to be? one. But now it did not matter. Indeed.

    Faint sounds of metal birds Wait, what? All this time we've been staring at this poor sap bleeding out in the snow when there were metal birds flying about? Forget this guy's feelings, I wanna read more about those! echoed through the air, but he did not listen. And in the end the man You went the entire text calling him "he", and now you suddenly switch to "the man". It's jarring. fell to the snow. Little by little, his blood painted the cloud white snow, and little by little it turned rose red.

The second part is similar, except that there are now two people and half the time I have no idea to which of them the current sentence is referring. I suggest spending a lot of time reading and getting a firm grip of how to use pronouns. And when it comes to writing, just put the thesaurus aside for a while and try writing in a natural language — your text will flow a lot better, and as a result, the reader will more readily accept it.

Best of luck to you!
- Adrian

Offline Gabriel Lopes

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Thank you so much for your feedback Adrian!

I really appreciate how detailed your comments were, and I will go right back to the drawing board with them in mind. Also, yes English is actually my third language kkk I'm a high school senior from Brazil and this is the first piece I posted on the internet  ;D

I know I'm still a bad writer and all that, but I'd love to give you any feedback I can. If there is a story or piece of yours I can comment on just send me a message!

hillwalker3000

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Prologue-   
The world was ashen grey to his eyes, and it had been that way for as long as he could remember. The colors had long faded from his sight, and now even sound was becoming dull to his ears.

I'm not a huge fan of Prologues. Indeed, most would advise you open with Chapter 1 since prologues often get a bad press from publishers. As for your opening paragraph, it sounds very deep and intense - but it also reads to me as if you're trying to show the readers you're a 'writer' instead of simply telling us a story. It's overdone and a little overdramatic. Your hero is disillusioned with the world - that's all we need to know. By showing us the way he behaves and interacts, we'll probably see this more clearly as the tale develops.

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   His hands were heavy, and he walked with the bitter determination of one who has learned too many things. I'm not sure how knowing too much affects the way you walk. They were soaked, for they held on, reluctantly, to his stomach. It was a futile attempt at stopping his blood from gushing out into the snow that laid around him.
So he's been gut shot and is trying to stem the blood. You take a very roundabout way to tell us this important fact.

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   Not that it mattered much now. In reality the man did so out of instinct, for otherwise the pain would lend him unable to move. And he still needed his legs to pursue the last hope fate had left him.
   It was a vain hope, one that no sane man would ever hope to achieve, but he did so regardless. Promises had been made, and he would hold on to his word until the bitter end.
These two paragraphs add nothing of value. The plot has been driven off the track into a roadside ditch.

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He felt the sun rays reaching to his eyes, WHAT? causing him to turn his gaze downwards to the cloud white snow. And before he could continue, his legs failed him. Blood no longer flowed in them, and so the man fell to his knees.
There's very little happening - and sadly, it's in slow-motion. How do expect anyone to remain interested enough to continue reading?

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   The sun hung low in the sky, and he was unable to tell if it rose from the horizon or fell back to the boundaries of the earth. Nonsenical. He had spent so long locked away in that house of metal and stone that even the sky had become alien to him. But as he felt the sunlight gently caressing his face, he remembered how it felt to be beneath the light.
   The icy wind of winter fondled Really? How odd! his weary eyes, asking him kindly to let it be. A rather dreadful sentence To end the suffering, and fall back to the earth. But he did not.

That's where I stopped reading, and I suspect the same will apply to most readers. What have we learned so far? He's been shot. The rest is pretentious window-dressing that's no fun to read, I'm afraid.

You write well enough, but you seem to be writing for effect, hoping to impress everyone with your skills as a writer. That's not the best way to go about it.

Just one opinion - use or lose.

H3K