Author Topic: Sci-Fi/YA Chapter Draft - 5725 Words - Content: Mild Swearing  (Read 1143 times)

Offline BenSolo

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Sci-Fi/YA Chapter Draft - 5725 Words - Content: Mild Swearing
« on: November 10, 2018, 01:43:02 AM »
I have attached my writing in a word document because it exceeds the 2000 word limit. I know it is pretty long, but I would be very grateful for any feedback or criticisms. This is my manuscript for the first chapter of a novel. I was shooting for a young adult space opera, but I think I was influenced by some of the hard sci-fi I have been reading, and my writing style strayed away from the young adult style, and it's a little bit harder sci-fi than space opera. I think I'm ok with those things. However, here are my concerns (parts of these might not make sense until you've read the chapter):

1. I'm don't know where to go after this. I think I did a good job of introducing my characters, but there is no hint of a central conflict or a reason for my protagonists to leave their home planet. I still need to give them a ship and a group of friends. In my ideal world, Markos, Fabia, Alka, and maybe Wayna Jampi, plus some other friends that I haven't thought of yet, would be exploring the galaxy together on a ship, facing down evil to save their a friend or their home planet or the whole galaxy, with some saucy interpersonal drama mixed in. You know, classic young adult adventure stuff. But I don't know how to get there.

2. I don't know how Fabia and Markos should feel about breaking the rules by collaborating on the trial. I don't think I've characterized either of them well enough to go either way. In other words, it doesn't feel completely in character for them to say "screw the trial, I don't care that we cheated", but it also doesn't feel right for them to be eating themselves up about it, as Markos is doing at the end of the chapter.

3. I don't know if I made the right decision by introducing the Wayna Jampi character, and introducing the idea that Fabia might be gay or bi. I don't have anything against her being not strictly heterosexual in some way, but as a straight, male, beginner writer, I don't know if it's my place to delve into that topic, especially because eventually I want Fabia and Markos to end up together, and that might feel bad to people who were excited to see Fabia and Wayna end up together. On the other hand, the love triangle element did add a tasty Young Adult-ish flair, so it's hard to say.

Once again, I'm looking forward to, and grateful in advance for, any feedback or criticisms you have about my chapter, whether relating to my concerns listed above or otherwise.

Thank you!
Ben

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Re: Sci-Fi/YA Chapter Draft - 5725 Words - Content: Mild Swearing
« Reply #1 on: November 10, 2018, 02:22:44 AM »
I have attached my writing in a word document because it exceeds the 2000 word limit. I know it is pretty long, but I would be very grateful for any feedback or criticisms. This is my manuscript for the first chapter of a novel. I was shooting for a young adult space opera, but I think I was influenced by some of the hard sci-fi I have been reading, and my writing style strayed away from the young adult style, and it's a little bit harder sci-fi than space opera. I think I'm ok with those things. However, here are my concerns (parts of these might not make sense until you've read the chapter):

1. I'm don't know where to go after this. I think I did a good job of introducing my characters, but there is no hint of a central conflict or a reason for my protagonists to leave their home planet. I still need to give them a ship and a group of friends. In my ideal world, Markos, Fabia, Alka, and maybe Wayna Jampi, plus some other friends that I haven't thought of yet, would be exploring the galaxy together on a ship, facing down evil to save their a friend or their home planet or the whole galaxy, with some saucy interpersonal drama mixed in. You know, classic young adult adventure stuff. But I don't know how to get there.

2. I don't know how Fabia and Markos should feel about breaking the rules by collaborating on the trial. I don't think I've characterized either of them well enough to go either way. In other words, it doesn't feel completely in character for them to say "screw the trial, I don't care that we cheated", but it also doesn't feel right for them to be eating themselves up about it, as Markos is doing at the end of the chapter.

3. I don't know if I made the right decision by introducing the Wayna Jampi character, and introducing the idea that Fabia might be gay or bi. I don't have anything against her being not strictly heterosexual in some way, but as a straight, male, beginner writer, I don't know if it's my place to delve into that topic, especially because eventually I want Fabia and Markos to end up together, and that might feel bad to people who were excited to see Fabia and Wayna end up together. On the other hand, the love triangle element did add a tasty Young Adult-ish flair, so it's hard to say.

Once again, I'm looking forward to, and grateful in advance for, any feedback or criticisms you have about my chapter, whether relating to my concerns listed above or otherwise.

Thank you!
Ben

Ben  this is all I see.   I'm a heart writer  but I'm sure other members will be commenting. 

 When you say young adult ,what ages does that cover?         jt
Words are Weapons of Demons and Saints

Offline BenSolo

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Re: Sci-Fi/YA Chapter Draft - 5725 Words - Content: Mild Swearing
« Reply #2 on: November 10, 2018, 02:36:25 AM »
Hi Jan,
I can see an attachment called “BenSolo Manuscript.doc” just below the text that you copied. Are you able to see that?

What do you mean when you say you are a heart writer? Do you mean romance?

I’m not sure exactly what age range, I wasn’t exactly writing with a specific age range in mind, but I guess late teens. My characters are 15, but I don’t think their age has to match their readers’ ages.

Thanks!
Ben

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Re: Sci-Fi/YA Chapter Draft - 5725 Words - Content: Mild Swearing
« Reply #3 on: November 10, 2018, 02:48:57 AM »
Hi Jan,
I can see an attachment called “BenSolo Manuscript.doc” just below the text that you copied. Are you able to see that?

What do you mean when you say you are a heart writer? Do you mean romance?

I’m not sure exactly what age range, I wasn’t exactly writing with a specific age range in mind, but I guess late teens. My characters are 15, but I don’t think their age has to match their readers’ ages.

Thanks!
Ben

Sorry, Ben. I don't know how I missed it....... It's there.
Being a grandmother and great grandmother  of over 40 children (all together)- I'll read your story-and give you my take on it....   jt
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Offline BenSolo

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Re: Sci-Fi/YA Chapter Draft - 5725 Words - Content: Mild Swearing
« Reply #4 on: November 10, 2018, 02:52:29 AM »
Wow, that’s quite the impressive brood! I’m excited to hear what you think!

hillwalker3000

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Re: Sci-Fi/YA Chapter Draft - 5725 Words - Content: Mild Swearing
« Reply #5 on: November 10, 2018, 04:38:27 AM »
Most of us on here won't risk opening attachments from unknown members for obvious reasons. If you want us to read and comment on your work, you'll have to cut and paste the first 2000 words into the text box and post it on here the same as everyone else does.

H3K

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Re: Sci-Fi/YA Chapter Draft - 5725 Words - Content: Mild Swearing
« Reply #6 on: November 10, 2018, 08:02:13 AM »
Most of us on here won't risk opening attachments from unknown members for obvious reasons. If you want us to read and comment on your work, you'll have to cut and paste the first 2000 words into the text box and post it on here the same as everyone else does.

H3K

Some of us do. I downloaded the story. I think  it's a good story.... H3K is correct 2000 is word limit.
Ben,Post 2000 words of the  manuscript for the first chapter of the novel. 
It's sad but distrust is quickly becoming the norm...    jt
« Last Edit: November 10, 2018, 10:31:37 AM by JanTetstone »
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Offline BenSolo

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Re: Sci-Fi/YA Chapter Draft - 5725 Words - Content: Mild Swearing
« Reply #7 on: November 10, 2018, 01:16:55 PM »
Would it work for me to post the first 2000 words in a comment since I can’t edit yet?

hillwalker3000

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Re: Sci-Fi/YA Chapter Draft - 5725 Words - Content: Mild Swearing
« Reply #8 on: November 10, 2018, 01:21:32 PM »
That would work fine. . . and if the rest of the chapter is critical post that in a follow-up comment.

H3K

Offline BenSolo

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Re: Sci-Fi/YA Chapter Draft - 5725 Words - Content: Mild Swearing
« Reply #9 on: November 10, 2018, 01:28:11 PM »
Ok, coming right up! Sorry, I didn’t know all the etiquette yet. It might take 3 posts—I think all of the parts are pretty critical haha

Offline BenSolo

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Re: Sci-Fi/YA Chapter Draft - 5725 Words - Content: Mild Swearing
« Reply #10 on: November 10, 2018, 01:43:22 PM »
Part 1 of 3

Markos was pulled from the depths of his sleep by the sensation of a wet tongue on his face. He blinked the sleep out of his eyes and saw his dog, Alka, panting up at him, her front paws up on his cot. He rolled out of his cot, giving Alka a couple pats on the head, and retrieved her breakfast of meat scraps, along with his own breakfast of savory fruit and roasted meat. He savored his meal while Alka enthusiastically chowed down on hers, making no shortage of grunts of contentment. She was a medium sized dog, with soft, wavy, mottled grey fur, a lithe build, and a slender snout. Her most striking feature was her vivid orange irises, which were a result of her genetic modifications which made her very adaptable to a variety of atmospheres without the need for suit or respiration equipment. Markos polished off his breakfast and donned his skinsuit, feeling the cool, electric sensation as the suit integrated with his nervous system. He grabbed his mother’s ceremonial knife and swung the door to the shack open, Alka finishing her meat and trotting to his side as he exited. The composition of Tiloc’s atmosphere gave the sky a slightly green tinge, and microorganisms in the water gave the ocean a red tint. To some off-worlders, the sky looked sickly and the ocean hellish, but to Markos, they meant home.

Markos looked at his mother’s knife. The handle was made from the wood of a fine grained, black Tilocesque wood. The blade was made from light blue hardened Tilocesque coral. On Markos’s 15th birthday, he had set out with nothing but his skinsuit, the knife, and Alka. He was to trek 150 kilometers to the north, where the land met with the ocean near a reef of Tilocesque coral. Then, he was to use his mother’s knife to harvest coral to make his own knife. Finally, he was to return to his village within 30 days, with his new knife. This was an important rite of passage on Tiloc. The trek was not quite as grueling as is might sound due to Tiloc’s slightly low gravity and 26 hour days, but it was still quite a gauntlet. Although most Tilocesque youths returned from their expeditions unscathed (or at least not too severely scathed), some did not. Markos’s own father had returned from his expedition near death, sickly thin, his skinsuit hanging loosely from his frame, with a mere 3 hours to spare before the 30-day limit. But, as saying went, he had his knife and his life, and so he had passed his trial. He had been ashamed by his near failure, and indeed some of the more disdainful villagers had scorned him, saying he should have trained and planned more thoroughly, but most villagers quietly regarded him for his perseverance and tenacity which resulted in his success, despite him being scrawny and clumsy. Many had not expected him to return, and were pleasantly surprised to see him stumble into village and collapse onto the ground in an exhausted heap.

Now it was Markos’s turn. He glanced down at Alka. Some Tilocesque kids chose not to bring their dogs, thinking they would simply be a burden, another mouth to hunt for. But Alka was trained well for hunting, clever, quiet, and fast, and in fact she had been very helpful in the past fortnight. But mostly, Markos brought her along to have some companionship during his 30-day expedition.

Markos had already cut down a tree and whittled a handle for his knife. It was a lighter gray than that of his mother’s, the wood harder, heavier, and more difficult to work with, but more durable. Now all that remained was the coral. He zipped up the hoodmask of the skinsuit, which he had previously left around his shoulders, feeling the even more disconcerting sensation of the suit integrating with his eyes. When it was done, his whole body was covered in a skin-tight layer of a porous black material, like foam, and the only part of his body which wasn’t black were his eyes. Close up, one could see the thin, transparent film that protected his eyes. The effect was somewhat chilling, making Markos appear as one fluid, contiguous monolith of black, with only two white eyes peering out. As Markos approached the sea, he felt the breeze blow past him and the sand between his toes, like he wasn’t wearing a suit at all, thanks to the nervous system integration that the suit had with his skin. Of course, the suit could have allowed him to make this entire expedition in three days, but for the knife-making trial all augmentations had been removed, save the defense against the micro-organisms in the ocean and the underwater respirator. In fact, some elders thought even that was too much assistance, and that it distorted the trial from its original purpose, but without those assistances, too many young Tilocesque youths drowned during the minutes-long dives to retrieve their coral, or died from shock when the body-wide rashes set in after the dives into the toxic red ocean. Besides, sending your community’s bright young people into the woods nude with nothing but a knife and maybe a dog came off as… barbaric, even for Tiloc. These days, of the 15 year olds who failed their trials, the vast majority failed by missing the time limit, not dying. In fact, 35% of all Tilocesque 15 year olds missed the time limit. Failure was certainly humiliating, but it wasn’t rare, and those who had failed could always try again on their 16th birthdays. There was even the rare third attempt, but sooner or later, most everyone passed the trial.

Markos waded into the water, feeling the cool water against him like there was nothing separating him from the water. In reality, if he didn’t have the skinsuit, the water wouldn’t feel cool and fresh as it lapped over his feet as it did now. It would instead begin to burn as soon as his skin touched it, and would break into a full rash within 20 minutes. Alka hesitated when her front paws first met the water, and then she bounded along to catch up. Her genetic modifications made her immune to Tilocesque ocean, so she had no reason to worry. Markos waded a bit deeper, and then dove forward into the red water, shuddering at the chill. He pushed himself forward and then swam down, feeling the pressure on his body increase. When he reached the bottom, he followed the slope of the seafloor forward and slightly down, using the rocky floor to propel himself forward with his hands. Alka swam along beside him, much faster and at-home underwater than an unmodified dog would be. She wouldn’t need to surface for a breath for the whole duration of the dive, while Markos would have drowned without his hoodmask respirator. As Markos continued propelling himself deeper, his rock handholds became bigger and bigger, until finally, when they were about 20 meters below the surface, the coral reef began to rise from the seafloor in earnest. Markos began his search. He wanted to make his knife from a rare, bright red variety of Tilocesque coral. When shaped and treated, it was hard and light, and gave off the sheen of a metallic material, not an organic one. He began to scour the coral, looking for the tell-tale bright red glint of his chosen variety. Alka followed him, investigating the occasional fish and exploring the coral.

Tilocesque “coral” was not coral in the true sense of the word. Instead of being formed by individual coral polyps that formed a colony which formed a reef, on Tiloc, each structure was an individual organism, which secreted a very sticky, viscous substance. When the substance was exposed to water, it hardened to something close to the consistency of wood, facilitating the growth of the reef. Over time, the reefs would slowly inch from the sea floor. Sometimes, a storm would stir up some of the oceanic microorganisms that gave the ocean its red hue and push them towards the reef, turning the water from a subtle rosé to a deep bordeaux. On those days there would be a coral growth frenzy, as the coral excreted all of the viscous liquid substance that it could eke out so it could soak up all the newly abundant nutrients. The reefs could expand by 15 meters in one day. Then, over time, the reef would be whittled down to a manageable size once again by the smaller fish-like and snail-like organisms that used the coral and its syrupy predecessor for their own means. The coral could be harvested by humans and whittled like wood, and then cured with a mixture of tree sap and honey from the local insects, transforming it from a wood consistency to something much closer in properties to metal. Since the beginning of humans’ presence on Tiloc, this property had been used to make very durable, light tools. The viscous pre-coral slime was then used to bind the blades to their handles, making a very secure connection.
Markos finally glimpsed the bright red twinkle of his chosen coral variety, hiding in a nook amidst some more mundane varieties. He swam closer and began to use the serrated section of his mother’s knife to remove it near its base. Taking the whole organism, which had much more material than he needed for his about 30-centimeter-long knife, would allow him to preserve the sticky core for later use. He tucked the nearly meter-long chunk of coral under his arm, and was beginning to rotate himself back around to begin to swim up when he felt a sharp pain in his leg. He violently twisted, fumbling the coral, and saw, with horror, a samarune, a Tilocesque oceanic predator. It had a spherical central head with a gaping, circular mouth lined with razor sharp teeth, and seven solid blue eyes encircling the mouth. Seven tentacles, each about a meter long, emanated from its head with their bases near each eye. Each tentacle terminated in two opposable razor-sharp coral points, for a total of 14 lethal stabbing weapons. Two of its tentacles had Markos’s left leg pinched in their grasp, penetrating his suit and skin, allowing the toxic water to rush into the four wounds, which burned like fire. He used his mother’s knife, which he still had in his hand, to hack at one tentacle, and two of the razor sharp points withdrew themselves from his flesh, the sharp pain of the points being replaced by the burning pain of the water seeping into the spaces where the points had just been. Alka had the other tentacle in her jaws, and thrashed against it, managing to rip it away from Markos, but then she got speared in the side with a third tentacle and let out a burst of bubbles which was assumedly a yelp of pain. A fourth and fifth tentacle buried themselves in Markos’s shoulder and stomach. Markos’ vision was beginning to cloud with red, either from him losing consciousness from the pain, or from his and Alka’s blood leaking into the water, or both, when he saw a black blade spear through the back of the samarune’s head and through its mouth. Its limbs went limp and its body sank to the floor, revealing a small person in a black skinsuit, holding a massive 50-centimeter-long black knife. Actually, it was closer to a sword than a knife. From their physique Markos thought that they were female. The person’s face moved, making a smile, which was somewhat hard to make out with their black mask, and waved at him. Markos didn’t know what else to do, so he waved back. When Alka finished ensuring the samarune was well and truly dead, she swam over to investigate the person.

Continued in Parts 2 and 3

Offline BenSolo

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Re: Sci-Fi/YA Chapter Draft - 5725 Words - Content: Mild Swearing
« Reply #11 on: November 10, 2018, 01:51:04 PM »
Part 2 of 3

Markos sheathed his mother’s knife and swam down somewhat clumsily, using his hands and his good leg, and retrieved his coral, before swimming as fast as his injured body would let him back to the shore, Alka following him.

He hauled himself out of the water and dragged himself away from the ocean until the waves could no longer touch him. Alka whimpered, licked Markos’s face, and collapsed beside him, licking her own wound. Markos looked down towards the water to see the mystery person emerge from the water, hauling a tentacle of the massive samarune behind her. Markos was impressed that her small frame had hauled the huge tentacle all the way to the surface. She dragged the tentacle up to Markos and dropped it onto the ground next to him, and unzipped the hoodmask of her skinsuit to reveal her face. She smiled down at him expectantly. She had wavy brown hair (which was somewhat tangled from being in the skinsuit), big eyes and a pointed nose.

“Did you just kill a fucking samarune?” Markos asked incredulously.

“It seems I did. What do you say?” she asked, gazing down at him with her hands on her hips.

“What?” Markos asked, utterly confused.

“I just saved your life. What do you say?” she asked again.

“Oh. T-thank you.” Markos sputtered. He was feeling woozy from the blood loss.

“What’s your name?” she asked. “I’m Fabia.”

“I’m Markos.” He sat up gingerly and unzipped his hoodmask as well.

“Pleased to meet you, Markos. And the dog? What’s his name?” Fabia asked.

She’s Alka.” Markos said, still dazed. Alka rose carefully and investigated Fabia again, before giving her a cautious lick.

“Pleased to meet you as well, Alka,” she said, leaning down to pat Alka. She rose again.

“You guys got fucked up down there, huh!”

“No kidding. We would have been dead meat if it weren’t for you. You killed a fucking samarune single-handedly!” Markos reiterated, still dumbfounded.

She shrugged, “It was distracted. And I couldn’t let your dog die because of your incompetence,” she said, half facetious, half serious.

“Lucky for me, you’re completely insane. Thank you again for helping us out back there,” Markos said sheepishly. He turned his head to investigate his wounds. They weren’t too deep, but the toxic water had soaked into his flesh, and it hurt like hell. Additionally, water had seeped between his suit and his skin. Soon he’d have a rash on his entire left leg from the knee down soon, as well as most of his torso from where the other two tentacles had punctured his suit. Alka, on the other hand, was wounded, but she was immune to the water and her modified blood had already begun to matt her fur and stop the bleeding. She’d be good as new in a couple of days, but for now, it didn’t look pretty.

“Let’s get you two into the shack, whaddya say?” Fabia asked, extending a hand to help Markos up. He grabbed it, and she leaned backwards to pull him up. He stumbled, his vision clouding momentarily. He was surprised to find that when it had cleared, Fabia had ducked her head under his arm (an easy task, given her stature) and was supporting his weight with surprising strength. The two of them stumbled into the shack on three legs, Alka trailing behind.

“When did you get here, Fabia?” Markos asked.

“About 20 minutes ago,” she replied.

“And you went straight into the water as soon as you got here and found us down there?”

Fabia shrugged. “Yep!”

Fabia dumped Markos onto the small stool in the shack and then left again, returning carrying Markos’s coral and the samarune’s severed tentacle. Alka growled at the tentacle before she realized it was dead, and then began to contentedly gnaw on the severed end.

“Time to strip the skinsuit Markos!” Fabia said, “If we don’t stop that bleeding now you’ll be dead before midday.”

“You got it, boss.” Markos wasn’t looking to contradict this girl who has just saved his life. Besides, if seemed like she knew what she was doing far more than he did. He began to unzip his suit and Fabia quickly whirled around. “Don’t worry, I’ve got undershorts on,” Markos said as he gingerly removed his skinsuit, careful not to touch his wounds. “Do you know how to treat the contamination from the water?” he asked skeptically.

“I can bandage it with some leaves that will stop the bleeding and lessen the pain, but you won’t be able to truly heal until you get back to your settlement’s medical bay. By the way, what settlement are you from?” she asked as she walked to her makeshift bag, to look for supplies. She must have dropped it in the shack when she arrived before her dive.

“I’m from Kulon. What about you?”

“I’m from Turlakku. Are you on your knife-making trial also?” Fabia asked as she approached holding a bottle of water and the huge black knife. She began to slice the blanket from the cot into strips. Markos realized she was making bandages. Why was this strange girl helping him so much?

“I am,” Markos croaked as she wiped his leg with a wet strip of the blanket.

“How long ago was your birthday?” She asked, maybe to distract him from the searing pain as she cleaned his wound.

“Thirteen days ago,” Markos replied.

“Ha! I’m three days younger than you and I got here today!” Fabia gloated.

“Turlakku is closer to the reef than Kulon,” he protested, involuntarily trying to chuckle before wincing at the pain in his stomach.

“Not that much closer!” she responded, grinning. She pressed a damp leaf around Markos’s lower leg, one big enough to cover all four wounds on his leg. The dull ache of the wounds increased as she put pressure on his leg, but the sharper pain from the toxic water eating into them faded as the cool juices of the leaf soaked into them. Then she wrapped his leg firmly with the blanket bandages. She handed him a leaf and he bandaged his own wounds on his stomach and shoulder.

“These are from a fern that grows near the coastline,” she said, holding up a leaf when she had finished wrapping him up. “Since it grows by the ocean, so it has to absorb its moisture from the red water. But before it can use the water, it has to destroy the toxic microorganisms by excreting an antidote first. If you pick a leaf and dip it in water, it will begin to create the antidote, which you can use to keep the infection at bay until you return to Kulon. Once you get to Kulon, the medbed can kill the infection once and for all.”

Markos felt embarrassed that he didn’t know about fern. He hadn’t paid much attention during his lessons about the toxic ocean, because he had assumed his skinsuit would keep him safe. He certainly hadn’t expected a samarune attack.

“Why are you helping me?” he asked. “If anyone found out both of our trials could be invalidated. We’d have to try again next year, if they even let us try again.”

“Did you want me to let you die?” she asked, stepping away from Markos, who was now fully bandaged. She jumped onto the cot into a cross-legged position. Alka joined her and she absentmindedly stroked her head before putting her face in her hands, letting her cocky demeanor drop for the first time since Markos had met her.

“You’re right though,” she said into her hands. Then she turned her face up, wiping her face with her hands. She wasn’t teary, but she looked tired and anxious. “I really don’t want to have to do this again. I guess I helped you because I knew I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if I let you two die. And I wasn’t kidding when I said I attacked because the samarune was distracted. It probably really was my best chance for survival. After the samarune finished off you and Alka, it probably would have attacked me. And who would blame us for working together against a samarune?”

“I can think of a couple hardass elders in my village who would. Screw them though. This whole trial thing is insane anyway. Should we just keep it quiet?” Markos asked.

“Yeah, you know what, fuck this trial thing.” she said. “I get some of that coral for my knife, though. No way in hell I’m going back in that water,” she added, grinning.

Markos laughed. “Sounds like a fair trade to me. You save my life, I give you part of my coral.”

They spent the next few hours whittling the coral into their knife blades. Fabia tried to use her mother’s sword, but it ended up being too big and unwieldy to whittle with, so they both ended up using Markos’s mother’s knife, which was another violation of the rules of the trial. But they had already decided to forsake the rules, so they didn’t think about it too much. Alka passed the time licking her wound, which were already healing, soliciting pets from the two of them, and exploring the surrounding area. Her healing speed was astonishing. Markos’s wounds still hurt, but the leaves were well, and he thought he would be able to make it back to Kulon without too much trouble, especially with his skinsuit covering his bandages. He stayed in just his undershorts so he could spread leaf juice on the parts of his rash that weren’t covered by the bandages, and so his skinsuit could dry for the next day. Fabia stripped to her undershorts and her athletic bra as well, and hung her skinsuit up next to Markos’s to dry. Markos tried to act like he didn’t notice. He didn’t think he did a very good job. She hadn’t done too good of a job pretending not to notice his body either though, so he didn’t feel too bad about it.

At midday, they had both finished their blades and glued them into their handles. Fabia’s was skinnier and longer than Markos’s but not quite as long her mother’s. Fabia affixed the samarune’s claw to the bottom of her knife’s handle of her knife’s handle. It was really a nice touch. Markos’s knife was shorter than Fabia’s, but longer than his mother’s. They were preparing to hunt something to eat and collect some honey and sap when Alka trotted in carrying a dead kinu in her jaws, a small prey animal with big ears. They started a fire outside to roast the meat, and Markos tested out his leg by harvesting some honey from a nearby tree. The Tilocesque insects’ honey was a waste product, so they didn’t mind him taking some. They cured their knives with the honey, and by the time they had finished their midday meal, their knives were hard and metallic, fully cured. They found a smooth rock and used it as a whetstone, sharpening the blades. They spent the afternoon carving wooden sheaths. By nightfall, they had completely finished their knives and sheaths. They had a meal consisting on Markos’s savory fruit, some leftover kinu, and roasted samarune tentacle, which was surprisingly tasty. Alka happily ate the bits that were too slimy. That night, Fabia slept on the cot, and Markos on the floor.

Offline BenSolo

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Re: Sci-Fi/YA Chapter Draft - 5725 Words - Content: Mild Swearing
« Reply #12 on: November 10, 2018, 01:56:16 PM »
Part 3 of 3

In the morning, Markos woke before Fabia. He refreshed his leaf and bandage and put on his skinsuit and ate some savory fruit, saving half for Fabia. He would have to hunt for some more meat today, since he was out. He prepared his makeshift bag and affixed his mother’s knife holster, now joined by his own on the other hip. Meanwhile, Fabia woke and put on her skinsuit and ate her fruit. Before they departed, they said farewell in the traditional Tilocesque fashion. They clapped their respective right hands together, and then bumped chests with their right hands between them. The motion was punctuated with a pat on the back with the left hand. Some off worlders though the high-five/hug hybrid seemed too casual, and while it did have that more casual use, on Tiloc it was also used by government officials and businesspeople. It was universal and automatic.

“Thank you, Fabia.” Markos said, “I owe you big time.”

“No worries,” she said, smiling, “I only saved your life twice, from a samarune and from infection.”

Markos shook his head and laughed. “I hope we meet again, Fabia.”

“Until next time.” she replied. Alka gave Fabia one last round of licks, and then Alka and Markos went south into the forest towards Kulon, while Fabia went east towards Turlakku.

Markos replayed his day with Fabia over and over during the 13 days it took him to return to Kulon. Each day he replaced his leaves twice like she had shown him. His wounds didn’t hurt too badly, but they didn’t heal either. He spent the days hunting small game, gathering food, and walking. It was mind-numbing, aside from the occasional good view, and Alka was always good company. His feet ached (in addition the eight, unhealing, gaping holes in his flesh) and he was hungry and exhausted every day. By the time he stumbled through the gates of Kulon, he imagined he didn’t look much better than his father had, although Markos completed his trial with 17 hours to spare, instead of a mere 3. By the time he walked through the gates, Alka had already been in the village for 15 minutes, and word spread quickly. When he limped across the line, the assembled crowd erupted into cheers, and Markos’s hulking giant of an older brother, Digos, lifted Markos onto his shoulders, parading him through the clump of people. When things had settled down a bit, Digos set Markos down, and looked at him.

“I am so proud of you little brother, and so happy to see you alive.” Digos congratulated. “Can we see the main event?”

Markos unsheathed his blade. Everyone gathered around to get a closer look.  Markos saw his parents tear up at the sight of the blade.

“Thank you for the welcome everyone, but can Doc Jampi help me with this first please?” Markos asked gesturing towards his leg.

Jampi was the village doctor, and she ran the little hospital. When the crowd finally cleared to prepare for the feast, she led Markos to the hospital and had him get into the medbed. She looked at a monitor while Markos’s body was scanned.

“Besides the wound, you seem to be in fairly good condition. No malnutrition or infections aside from the water. Exhaustion and lack of high-quality sleep are to be expected, and you do have those wounds, but you cared for them pretty well. You said they were from a samarune?” she asked raising her eyebrows as she looked over her monitor at Markos.

“Yep, it harassed me when I was collecting my coral. I managed to escape.” Markos replied. It wasn’t technically a lie.

“Well, that’s quite the accomplishment. I see you treated it with leaves from coastal ferns. That’s traditionally a Turlakkan treatment.”

Markos tried to relax. If Jampi saw his heart rate or perspiration increase, she might be suspicious. He reminded himself that Jampi had always been a vocal critic of the trial, considering all of the near-death 15-year-olds that she treated, sometimes unsuccessfully. He didn't think she'd hold his collaboration with Fabia against him, but he'd still try to be careful.

“Yeah, I read it about on the net.” Markos said, after a slightly-too-long pause.

“Great resourcefulness, Markos. You know, I have a niece who lives in Turlakku, who finished her trial last year. She said her girlfriend had left on her trial three days after you. Quite the coincidence that you return from your trial using a Turlakkan treatment. If I remember correctly, Turlakku harvests their coral from the same reef as we do.”

Several different emotions came over Markos at once. Unwarranted, unwelcome, and irrational jealousy and disappointment that Fabia apparently had a girlfriend. Guilt for lying to Jampi and the rest of the village, and for accepting so much assistance from Fabia in the first place. Resentment for the institution of the knife-making trial in general. Anxiety that Jampi would rat him out.

“Don’t worry,” Jampi admonished, “Your secret is safe with me.” She said, winking, and patted Markos on his good shoulder in her comforting way. Markos wondered if she would feel the same if she knew that Fabia hadn’t only advised him, but killed the samarune and personally bandaged some of Markos’s wounds, while Markos had shared his coral with her, which was the main objective of the quest. Markos worried that, between the samarune claw on Fabia’s knife, Markos’s wound, and the fact that Markos and Fabia’s knives had very similar colors, that their collaboration would be discovered.

Jampi healed his wounds and sent Markos home. He felt amazing physically, even if he was morally conflicted. That night, he tried to enjoy the feast with his friends and family, and act grateful for the gifts and praise he was showered with. But despite his earlier, logical denunciation of the trial when he and Fabia has discussed it, he still felt emotionally ashamed for concealing the information from his whole village, who now thought he had been attacked by a samarune and still managed to escape, alone. That night, when he found he was too exhausted to fall asleep, he pulled up the TilocNet on his pocket screen. He hadn’t been on the TilocNet in a while, so he refamiliarized himself and with the interface. The TilocNet connected devices on the planet of Tiloc and it’s small low-orbit space station, and to a lesser extent devices on its moon, through a traditional system of radio signals. Devices on the moon could participate in messaging and forums, but not multiplayer video games or video or voice conferencing because of the untenable ping time inherent in radio communications with a moon 1.6 light seconds away. This differed from the HumaNet. It the connected devices of the entire human diaspora, (and some devices from outside of it) through a massive fleet of thumb-sized data transfer satellites called AlcuNotes, called that for the miniaturized AlcuDrives which allowed them to warp between systems faster than the speed of light, which was the same technology that interstellar ships used. Each day, an AlcuNote took a shipment of messages, forum posts, money transfers, and media requests and dumped them into the larger HumaNet, returning with a shipment of other messages, forum posts, and money transfers, along with a massive library of books, shows, news, movies, porn, articles, games, and 3D object files. When enough orders for physical products that couldn’t be 3D printed had accumulated to fill a cargo crate, such as livestock, exotic produce, or handmade goods, which usually took about a week, an unmanned cargo crate equipped with an AlcuDrive warped near the space station. The space station sorted the shipments and delivered them across the planet by drones that could navigate in the atmosphere and in low orbit, but not equipped with AlcuDrives. Most planets had separate planetary nets like the TilocNet for faster communication than could be accomplished by the HumaNet, except the 5 biggest human worlds, which had such massive fleets of AlcuNotes that data packets could be dynamically sorted into available warp trips instantly, eliminating the need for a separate planetary net. A group of people spread between Kota, Laqta, and Hatune could play a reaction-time based multiplayer game together, or voice chat together with no noticeable lag, across thousands of light years. Hundreds AlcuNotes zipped between the systems to accomplish this nearly unfathomable feat, blinking into existence at a destination to deliver and retrieve data packets and warping away again in less time than it took for the human eye to fully register an image, making them invisible when they were at work. Alas, Tiloc did not have this luxury, instead it had one sole daily AlcuNote delivery. Anyway, Markos was more used to ordering media from the HumaNet than using the instant TilocNet, since there wasn’t much to do on the TilocNet, so it took a little while to  reaccustom himself to the interface.

Once he was used to the interface again, he searched the name Fabia. Two results came up. The first was a Fabia Yachie, a graduate student doing research at an outpost in Tiloc’s uninhabitably hot equatorial strip. Nope. The second result was Fabia Achakalli, in Turlakku. Markos tapped her profile. Her profile picture was a picture of her looking tired and sweaty but happy, her skinsuit hoodmask around her shoulders, presenting her newly crafted knife to the camera. Another girl, this one with neck-length straight black hair as opposed to Fabia’s shoulder-length wavy brown hair, was in the picture, kissing Fabia on the cheek. Markos could see the Jampi family resemblance. The photo description linked to the profile of Wayna Jampi. It had been uploaded 32 hours ago. If only Markos had been a little bit faster on his return journey, maybe he could have at least warned Fabia of the Jampi connection, and filled her in on his story so she could tell a story that fit into his, although Markos didn’t really know what to do about the clear similarities between their two knives. If wasn’t exactly like they’d be able to hide their knives, everyone would want to see them. He wished they had at least discussed it more clearly before leaving the shack. Well, Fabia didn’t seem too worried. Markos didn’t think Doc Jampi would snitch, and it wasn’t an impossible story that the same samarune that had attacked Markos would have still been in the same area when Fabia found it and killed it, and Markos’s chosen variety of coral may have been rare, but it wasn’t impossible that the two of them had independently sought it out. Markos was probably being paranoid. The incriminating evidence was tenuous, so him and Fabia were probably safe. He looked at the picture again, and sighed deeply, at all of that, and at the sight of the Jampi girl kissing Fabia. He clicked off his pocket computer, rolled over, wrapped his arm around Alka, and slept deeply despite his internal conflict.

Offline Mark T

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Re: Sci-Fi/YA Chapter Draft - 5725 Words - Content: Mild Swearing
« Reply #13 on: November 10, 2018, 03:43:05 PM »




Hello BenSolo, and welcome to MWC. I understand your enthusiasm but please bear in mind this is a give-and-take community of writers, not a free critiquing service.
The rule of thumb is to provide at least three comments for every topic you post, and in a proportionate fashion.
Please take the time to read the guidelines for the boards where you intend to post. And if you have any queries, let me know, I'm here to help.
There is a thread on the Welcome board entitled 50 Posts, which is available for newcomers to make some quick junk posts to gain editing privileges but it is not obligatory. 
Mark   

hillwalker3000

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Re: Sci-Fi/YA Chapter Draft - 5725 Words - Content: Mild Swearing
« Reply #14 on: November 10, 2018, 03:54:35 PM »
The reason there's a 2000-word limit on here is that it's still quite a lot of reading for someone who is then expected to offer a critique. I'll comment as I read through and see how far I get, if that's ok with you.

First impression - the opening paragraph (a 235-word block of text) is a challenge. There's nothing to hook the reader. Nothing to make me sit up and wonder what's happening or what's coming next. We have a boy and his dog getting up and eating breakfast. It's hard to think of a less intriguing start to a novel.
It's also clear that part of the reason for this opening is to let the reader know that Alka can breathe in a variety of different atmospheres and that Markos wears some kind of skinsuit that connects to his nervous system. All very cool. But where's the story? Dumping information on the page in order to bring the reader up to speed with your fabricated world while there's nothing much going on is not really acceptable. You have to be much more subtle than this.
There are one or two touches that make this interesting - the green sky and the red ocean for instance. But there are better ways to convey this to the reader than reeling off facts. Why did you mention it when Markos and the dog leave their shack, for example? It doesn't really follow unless they were walking at the edge of the ocean. . .

Paragraph 2 - 280 words. Wow.
You might find it hard to believe, but the layout of text on the page is as important as the words you write. Short paragraphs with lots of space give the impression of action because the reader gets through the narrative more quickly. Solid blocks of text automatically make the reader slow down. So regardless of whether it's an action scene or otherwise, things drag. To be honest, this particular paragraph is torture to read. It's far too heavy on background information. We know very little about Markos so I'm not sure why we should care about his mother's knife or the coral quest. You're giving us a pocket history of the planet's rituals - and the aside about the gravity is clunky at best. Information should flow seemlessly through the fabric of the story rather than overwhelm it. So far there is no story and we're already near the bottom of the first page.
Most browsers scan the first page or two and if there's nothing there worth pursuing they'll put the book back on the shelf and find something else to spend their time/money on. Harsh maybe, but true. This is especially so for YA readers who are often more discerning than their adult counterparts.

Paragraph 3 - so now you decide to tell us it's Markos's turn. . . but again you divert attention from your hero to something else. His dog this time rather than his father.

Paragraph 4 - 375 words. By now you're hopefully getting the message. You're meant to be writing a novel not an encyclopaedia. Yet, excerpts like this
Quote
Of course, the suit could have allowed him to make this entire expedition in three days, but for the knife-making trial all augmentations had been removed, save the defense against the micro-organisms in the ocean and the underwater respirator. In fact, some elders thought even that was too much assistance, and that it distorted the trial from its original purpose, but without those assistances, too many young Tilocesque youths drowned during the minutes-long dives to retrieve their coral, or died from shock when the body-wide rashes set in after the dives into the toxic red ocean.
suggest otherwise.
It's clear you have spent time crafting this make-believe world and come up with a variety of unique factoids that make it stand out from other stories set on other worlds. But your job is to tell us a story not instruct us. Again, facts that are important should emerge as the story unravels. Any others are best left on the drawing board. They have helped you when you imagined this world, but they must not be allowed to replace what's important for the reader. The plot.

Paragraph 5 - 305 words describing Markos and Alka swimming in the ocean. Unfortunately it starts off like the report for a scientific experiment because you're too focused on piling on layers of information. I feel to make this readable, you're going to have to trim your opening to the bone.

Paragraph 6 reads like a 269-word Wikipedia entry on 'Coral'.

Paragraph 7 - 459 words. That's a page and a half of unbroken text in an average-sized paperback book. Few if any readers will make it beyond this point, which is a shame because finally something happens.

My advice, start your story somewhere else. Make sure your reader is encouraged to engage with your main character sooner rather than later. And resist the temptation to describe everything in such painstaking detail. The choreography in this latest paragraph is almost impossible to follow.

Sounds simple because it is.

I hate reworking other writers' pieces but to show you what I mean when I say this needs a drastic cut, this is where the story starts:

Forty metres below the ocean's surface, Markos finally found what he was looking for. A sparkle of blood red light piercing the gloom ahead. He sliced at the reef until he was able to cut off a single piece. He weighed the prize in his hand, a trophy fine enough to honour any boy's passage into manhood. Mission accomplished, he kicked against the jagged wall of coral and headed back to the surface. The faint green light of the Tilcoesque sky grew stronger. Thirty metres. Twenty. Ten then he felt a sharp pain in his left leg.

His leg had become pinched between the tentacles of a samurane. Its razor-sharp points had penetrated his skinsuit. The toxic water already burned like fire as it scorched his skin. He hacked at one tentacles with his knife, but already he could feel two more tentacles bury themselves in his shoulder. The green light faded. His breathing became laboured. his limbs grew heavy. Vision blurred - then out of nowhere a black blade cut through the water, stabbing into the back of the samarune’s head before emerging from its mouth.


Not great, but you get the idea.

I'd also caution against having such a pivotal scene fizzle out quite so quickly. No sooner has the samurane been killed that everything is hunky dory again. Panic over. No need to worry anymore. . . so why should we need to carry on reading?

On a separate note, dialogue is not simply an excuse to have your characters trading chit-chat, asking each other's name and so on. It's there to drive the plot forwards or reveal something about your characters. How they interact or how they behave towards each other. The dialogue in this piece could just as easily take place in a schoolyard at break time.

I could go on but I won't. You no doubt have an intriguing tale to tell, but so far it's buried way too deep. One suggestion might be to try writing this again in first-person (i.e. from Markos's viewpoint). It might not work, but it could help you get inside his head and draw the reader closer to the action. At the moment Markos is a rather passive participant in this world you have created. You need to breathe life into him and allow him to inhabit the story - to do his own thing rather than have you pull at his strings.

Just a thought - use or lose. And thanks for sharing.

H3K