Author Topic: Willed the Waste - Chapter 1 (1/2; 745 words)  (Read 1619 times)

Offline c.e.abrams

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Willed the Waste - Chapter 1 (1/2; 745 words)
« on: January 10, 2018, 12:46:37 PM »
      Penel’s heart nearly beat out of her chest as a crowd of thousands ovated her first performance. She stood at the edge of the stage and raised her fist high. “Do you guys want another one?” she asked.

       The audience cheered louder.

       “I have one more!” She moved her fist across her chest.

       The crowd’s cheers faded into a cloud of groans.

       A man with neon-red hair in the audience raised his fist. “For magicians!” he shouted. The audience rumbled with complaints.

       Penel’s stomach turned.

       As the music began, a stage officer rushed into the crowd. He tackled the red-haired man, disappearing in the crowd.

       Penel leaped off the stage, but her manager grabbed her arm from his seat before she ran into the crowd. “Get back up there,” he said.

       “I won’t let an ACO assault magicians at my show,” Penel said, pulling her arm back.

       “This is ridiculous.”

       The music stopped. “Don't hurt him!” she yelled into the crowd.

      The officer dragged the red-haired man kicking and screaming from the amphitheater by his shirt. One woman spit at Penel’s feet.

       Penel pushed past her manager.

       “You'll only make it worse,” he said.

       Penel scoffed and bolted for the front gate.

       Outside the amphitheater, Penel froze as her eyes adjusted to the darkness. The officer and red-haired man wrestled on the ground.

       “Dirty mage!” the officer shouted, punching him in the face repeatedly.

       “Hey!” Penel stomped her foot. The officer turned to her.

       “Get off him,” she said.

       The officer stood up. “Oh no,” he said. “Is the little story-teller gonna hit us with her pretty braids?”

       “I got this,” the red-haired man said, sitting up. The officer turned around and kicked him in the jaw, spraying blood everywhere.
       Penel glared at the officer and brought her fist across her chest.
       The red-haired man curled into a fetal position and whispered to himself.

       The officer smirked. “Get ready to rot in prison, mage-sympathizer.” He pulled a knife from his belt and charged.

       Penel braced herself, but when the officer got close to her he was launched back ten feet.

       “ACO under attack!” he shouted, stumbling to his feet. His voice echoed into the sky and through the trees.

       The red-haired man jumped in front of Penel, grabbing at a punch meant for her.

       “No hitting,” he said.

       The officer pulled his fist back. “Stop resisting!” he yelled. He swung at the red-haired man.

        “Good one.” The red-haired man shoved the officer. He pressed his palms together in front of his nose and looked down. “What’s up with your pants?” he asked, smirking.

       The officer looked down. His pants tore off his body, knocking him to the ground. The pants bound his legs together.

       “Requesting backup immediately!” he shouted.

       “Up,” the red-haired man said.

       The pants yanked the officer off the ground and dropped him on his head, knocking him out. The pants’ grip loosened and they fell to the ground.

       The red-haired man smiled at Penel. “I never met a waste before,” he said.

       “A what?” Penel crossed her arms and furrowed her brow.

       He shook his head and grabbed Penel's shoulders. “Name's Tavin,” he said.

       Penel reluctantly grabbed his shoulders back. “Penel,” she said.

       Tavin scratched his head. “I thought the show was great,” he said.

       Another more gangly officer ran from the amphitheater.

       “Race you to the forest,” Tavin said, darting for the trees a few hundred yards away. Penel made sure the officer on the ground still had a pulse then sprinted to catch up with Tavin.

       The sun had already begun to set, so the few rays that pierced through the red and yellow foliage just barely lit Tavin before he disappeared in shadow. Penel ran into the forest, but stopped when she couldn’t see anything in front of her.

       She was yanked over to a tree by Tavin. “You’re a magician too, aren’t you?” he asked.

       Penel nodded. “Just not by trade.”

       Tavin let her go and peeked back around the tree.

        Hundreds of people poured from the amphitheater in a roar of complaints, the officer Tavin knocked out was wrestling with his pants, and the gangly officer was nearing the forest.

        “I got daddy long legs,” Tavin said. “If you can't fight Officer Tighty-Whitey, just run.” Penel stared blankly.
       Tavin jumped out of the shadows and waved to the gangly officer. He picked up speed. Tavin pranced down a more lit path, leading the officer away from Penel.

Offline Emery

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Re: Willed the Waste - Chapter 1 (1/2; 745 words)
« Reply #1 on: January 11, 2018, 10:05:52 AM »
Haven't been around for a while, but trying to get back in the flow of writing and thought stopping by may help.

I like the concept and the theme it sets up. What if magicians were real, and what if they were a discriminated class. Honestly, I don't read fantasy so not sure if this is too trite, but it seems like that kind of story is very popular now. I don't think that's a negative necessarily, but you just need to make sure you add something fresh to it.

The prose could use some work. I don't hate modifiers as much as some, but I hate wishy-washy ones. It may seem I'm being overly critical, but the use of 'nearly' in the first sentence almost made me put it down. And then you followed that up with ovated, which I'm too lazy to look up, but I'm not sure that's an actual word. You can't just drop the 'tion' from all nouns and make them verbs. And even if it is, why? We're in deep third person, feeling what Penel is feeling, thousands cheering, and the word you decide to evoke that is ovate?

Finally, it's too dialogue heavy and obtuse and doesn't paint a picture. Why does she keep doing things with her fist?

Advice: Write to tell the story. Don't use clichés. Something I think would help you here in particular is use of scene/sequel or action/reaction or MRU--all very similar to me. Basically, you've got a lot of stuff happening but not a lot of internalized reaction, or if you do it's a line 'stomach turned'. If you're going to write in close third, you need to give more reactions to external events than just physical reactions. It'll slow the pace at times, which you need, and allow me as the reader to get to empathize with the protagonist. And some telling isn't a sin, either. I've got no sense of location, scene, time, place, mood.
All good writing is swimming under water and holding your breath.
-F. Scott Fitzgerald

Offline c.e.abrams

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Re: Willed the Waste - Chapter 1 (1/2; 745 words)
« Reply #2 on: January 11, 2018, 11:05:38 AM »
Thanks for the critique. I'll work on everything now! And don't worry, I don't think you were being overly critical at all. I understand the thing about modifiers, so I'll definitely have to go through and rewrite any weak sentences like that, and the invented word was mostly there to see if someone would say something about an invented word in a beginner's manuscript. I'll definitely take it out lol

But as you could probably guess, I've always had the biggest problems with writing internal reactions and settings. It's probably annoying of me to ask, but could you possibly give an example of where you might include a internal reaction or setting? If not that's fine. I'm probably going to study the topic for a few hours anyway.

And one last thing: did you have any opinion of the characters?

Thanks again for the critique. Very helpful :)

Offline Emery

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Re: Willed the Waste - Chapter 1 (1/2; 745 words)
« Reply #3 on: January 11, 2018, 11:26:11 AM »
No worries.

Scene and sequel would be bigger picture. A scene, as far as my understanding in this concept, is the action aspect. What you have written is the scene on the larger scale. The sequel would be Penel's response. A scene has a goal (what a character wants), a conflict (something interfering with goal), and a resolution or disaster (yes he gets the goal, but... or no, he doesn't, and...). The sequel would be the protagonists reaction to the scene (what does Penel's reaction when left at the scene after the strange home, she internalizes the event) and then a choice/dilemma (does she search for the magician and become involved at risk of her safety?) and the decision (yes). Which would organically lead into the next scene. A sequel, however, doesn't have to be another 'scene'. It can just be three sentences.

Smaller scale, MRUs are the answer (and I wish I could remember who on here turned me onto this to give some props). Motivation/reaction. The motivation is external. Let's looks at these few lines:

A man with neon-red hair in the audience raised his fist. “For magicians!” he shouted. The audience rumbled with complaints. (motivation)

Penel’s stomach turned. (reaction)

As the music began, a stage officer rushed into the crowd. He tackled the red-haired man, disappearing in the crowd. (motivation)

Clearly, the first line is external action. The dude with red hair shouts "For magicians!" (which, for the record, I'm still not sure what exactly was for magicians. The hand?).

The reaction is in parts: feelings or emotions, reflexive response, and rational response. The 'stomach turn' is an emotion. You've opted to show it rather than tell. The reflexive response would be an unconscious action. For example, Penel drops the microphone. And finally, the rational or conscious action. Penel jumps from the stage or says something, etc.

It seems painful when you look at it this way, but it mostly happens organically. I use the concept in revision and revision only! Don't sit down and formulaically think of it. When I revise and something doesn't feel right in pacing or make sense due to character motivation or whatever, I look to see if my motivations were clear and the reactions were also. When writing action scenes, it's real easy to dictate the action as if you're watching a movie and forget the protagonist.

As far as the characters, I've got no idea. I couldn't tell you enough about them because there isn't enough meat in the scene. I'm not suggesting you pad it with fluff, but if the opening scene of a larger piece is only 750 words, it's too fast. This is a key scene, a major part, in the novel. Now isn't the time to disperse with it in 3-4 pages. Major scenes should linger and take some time. I'd be aiming for 1500-2000 words.
All good writing is swimming under water and holding your breath.
-F. Scott Fitzgerald

Offline c.e.abrams

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Re: Willed the Waste - Chapter 1 (1/2; 745 words)
« Reply #4 on: January 11, 2018, 11:43:27 AM »
Thanks so much! You're awesome ;D And I'm actually really excited that you explained the right way to think about scenes. I knew about the scene/sequel and action/reaction thing--I've been using it in my outline--but for some reason I guess I never actually had a good understanding of the concepts until now.

This is very inspiring. Thank you again.


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Re: Willed the Waste - Chapter 1 (1/2; 745 words)
« Reply #5 on: January 11, 2018, 11:46:37 AM »
I'm not a fan of fantasy so probably not the best person to give feedback on the content - but as a reader I found this rather woolly in places.

You open with your MC performing in front of an audience. Unfortunately, we have no idea what she does. Is she a singer, dancer, juggler, wrestler, ventriloquist? It only becomes apparent later that she is a magician - but I'm picturing a stage magician like Tommy Cooper rather than a wizard like Gandalf or Merlin, because of the setting.

You also tell us her heart 'nearly' beat out of her chest. But it didn't, presumably, so the observation is irrelevant.

Soon after, we meet Tavin, who is presumably some kind of freedom fighter for magicians. The problem here is, in less than 500 words you use the term 'red-haired man' 10 times. It's extremely tiresome to read.

The action seemed rushed. Any conflict you hoped to create was dealt with too neatly. Similarly, there's an awkward injection of humour when Tavin drops the policeman's trousers, but it's slap-stick at best. The dialogue is also off. At times it reads more like a crime caper set in the streets of NYC than a made-up world of fantasy, and it doesn't really fit in with the general tone of the story. Again, any potential conflict is immediately dissipated.

Overall impression - the genre is imprecise because of the narrative style, and I didn't really get a feel for either character.