Author Topic: Where They Come From (First 722 words)  (Read 672 times)

Offline TK

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 17
    • Where They Come From
Where They Come From (First 722 words)
« on: October 26, 2019, 04:19:22 PM »
This is my newest book, Where They Come From. It’s the first three pages of the prologue. Let me know what y’all think!

     My new name was Bordie Amiók. My new skin had turned to leather from decades of manual labor. Although my senses were exhausted in my host’s old age, all the sights and sounds seemed to hit against me harder than I’d ever experienced.
     Two sounds fought for my attention the most: a blaring siren that sounded far off yet way too close and the voice of a woman who spoke with words that popped and glided in a way I’d never heard before. A new language for me to experience. The only thing I never liked about hosts who spoke a language I’d never been exposed to is how restricted It feels in that host’s personal dialect. Sure, it helps with believability, but it gets frustrating not having access to the full scope of knowledge.
     As the woman who spoke this strange language became more clear in my eyes, I realized I knew her. In fact, she was my daughter—or Bordie’s daughter, rather. Two dramatic curls fell to either side of her face and the rest of her hair was pulled to the top of her head in a loose bun. Bordie—or I, rather—must have loved her a lot because her presence brought me warmth and comfort. Her name was Sazhaï, and although she didn’t look a day over twenty, she was thirty-one. Her birthday had just passed and it was a rough one.
     I focused harder on her words as she spoke again.
     “Are you all right, Ma?” she asked in Maltesian.
     I racked my brain for words. I had to make my first words count. “Yes, dear,” I finally said. “Just got lost in thought there for a minute.”
     “You sure you’re all right? I don’t have to go.” Sazhaï sighed.
     I wasn’t sure where she meant to go, but I felt like I should convince her to stay inside.
     Behind Sazhaï, a strange fog raged against a window, running across the glass like rushing water over sand. I put my hand against the cold, damp glass. I remembered what Bordie and Sazhaï had been talking about before I arrived. Her dog, Zhu, had gotten out just as the fogstorm had begun.
     “You’re scared you’re never going to see Zhu again, yeah?” I turned and looked her in the eyes so she’d know I cared. If I were to seem aloof or withdrawn I’d be putting myself at risk of exposure.
     “Not scared, Ma. Worried. And… unsure.”
     “Well, good. You’ve no reason to be scared. And worry is only natural.” I remembered a story Bordie had been thinking of. Something I could use to ensure Sazhaï’s trust in me. Seemingly without real reason, my desire to stick with this host’s loved ones—well loved one anyway—was so strong I couldn’t bear to think of leaving Sazahaï to fend for herself in the fog.
     Even if I didn’t believe in the folktales that started to come to mind of terrifying monsters lurking in the fog, something inside me told me to stay by her side. Maybe it was a mother’s instinct that I was experiencing for the first time. Or maybe it was Brodie’s dormant spirit pleading from the shadows of her own mind. Either way, I decided to listen.
     “Do you remember our neighbor down the way?” I asked.
     Sazhaï raised an eyebrow. “Yes, why?”
     “When her and I were very young, she also lost her dog in the fog.”
     “You’re kidding,” she said and clutched her chest.
     “No, I’m not.” I grabbed Sazhaï’s shoulder. “Everyone begged her to stay inside and let her dog find his own way back. We all thought she’d die. But she went anyway. And she found her dog. The same dog she’s got in that house today even.”
     “No way!”
     “So, what I’m saying is this, dear…” I walked to the door and turned the knob. “I encourage you to go find Zhu. But I will absolutely not allow you to go out alone.”
     Sazhaï put her hand over mine and pulled the door open. The annoying siren grew so loud I didn’t think my aged ears would be able to hear Sazhaï if she spoke. Fog rolled into the house like water crashing onto shore, but it was our carpeted floor instead of sand. Sazhaï stood dead still, her eyes locked in the distance.

Offline PIJ1951

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 77
Re: Where They Come From (First 722 words)
« Reply #1 on: October 27, 2019, 06:29:39 AM »
Thanks for sharing.

I'm not a fan of prologues. Too often they are used to dump backstory on the page - or they open with a sense of intrigue which is then abandoned to allow 'the real story' to begin.

This would appear to be a mixture of both. The reader is introduced to a world where characters are routinely given new identities and fogstorms occur. But there's nothing else here to hook the reader. Instead the plot is quickly overtaken by a rather dull conversation about a missing dog and your MC's reflections on how to cope with a new identity.

Your extract could probably work just as well as an opening chapter. But if I picked this up off a bookstore shelf and browsed the first few pages I'd probably look for something else to read. It's rather too uneventful an opening to make me desperate to continue reading. The setting is interesting but the events that unfold much less so.

On the positive side, many writers rewrite or even dump their opening chapter once the novel is completed as it no longer serves its original purpose so my advice for now would be to continue writing.

Offline TK

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 17
    • Where They Come From
Re: Where They Come From (First 722 words)
« Reply #2 on: October 27, 2019, 03:13:53 PM »
Thanks for the critique.

I think you’re probably right that it’s a little too uneventful. I wasn’t trying to use the prologue as a way to show the reader exciting bits and then throw them into a boring plot on Chapter One. The point was to set a framework for how the story should be read and to introduce the reader to the narrator, who also has an intralogue and epilogue meant to reground the reader and then give the reader more perspective at the end. I may find this unnecessary later on, but it’s at least a fun experiment for now.

I might use your advice and change the prologue to be more exciting. I don’t want it to give the reader a flat-tire feeling, though, when they get to Chapter One and they have to get to know a new character. That’s kind of why I was trying to keep the prologue’s conflict to a minimum.

The next chapter is a birthday party/becklaball party that’s interrupted by the strange fog, in a place where fogstorms aren’t normal, and a dying uncle coming in from the fog. Maybe that just means I should up the excitement in Chapter One as well.

Offline Jaden_Michael

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 7
  • Writer looking to transition into fiction
    • So you wanna be a cop?
Re: Where They Come From (First 722 words)
« Reply #3 on: November 01, 2019, 11:17:15 PM »
Personally when I read a book with a prologue, I really like it when they use it as an opportunity to set an interesting hook. Some really interesting thing that happened earlier in the story or later in the story. It’s just enough to whet your appetite and encourage me to keep reading so I can figure out how it fits into the overall scheme of the story. I didn’t really get a hook. I would probably add an action scene or two first before transitioning into this part. Hope it helps!

Offline Polly Lynn

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 19
Re: Where They Come From (First 722 words)
« Reply #4 on: December 14, 2019, 12:40:51 PM »

I have to do this from memory.  (I am new here.) 

Instead of "manual labor," what was the job?  Was it lying on your stomach picking the burrs out of the black dirt of an Iowa farm?  or a city job.  You can let the noun (manual labor) tell the place and time of your story.  There is another example of that in first paragraph or two. 

In first couple of sentences I am thrown by verb tenses.  Is this a time traveler or space alien?

"Decades."  I am better at numbers than words so respect numbers.  For example, 23 years since emigrating.  His childhood.  Are we in the 1920s; then hint at that too.  You can do double duty.  He had picked burrs through the 1920s.  Give us time and place early in the story.  Thank you.

Signing off so I can go back to story. 


Offline Polly Lynn

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 19
Re: Where They Come From (First 722 words)
« Reply #5 on: December 14, 2019, 12:59:11 PM »
Hi, Chabner Kirk,

First timer here.

OK, I am getting into your story.  Good.

On verb tense.  How cam you use "new" followed by "was" and "Had been"?  New is.

You could delete all unnecessary adjectives.  For example, "strange"  You did a great job os describing a language that pops and glides.  Delete "a language I had never been exposed to."  That pops and glides say it all. It is not that the speaker is foreign, she makes you feel foreign, on the outside.  (personal dialect, believability, frustration access to knowledge).   

I am not sure what a "host" is.  You assume your reader will know.

If Bordie is your daughter an this is Bordie why call her Sazhai.  And if you thought she was your daughter and now she is not, how did you learn to call her Sazhai, if you could not understand her pops and glides.

She asked Mom if she was alright, asking in pops and glides.  If she is speaking in pops and glides oyu have not heard before how do you know it is Maltesian? 

young is younger than you are.  I don't know how old you are.  Just give me a number.

Over all, I would use no adjectives and just keep going with the details that entice me to read more. 

Can a woman clutch her chest?  Do you mean under the throat or on one side or the other? 

I hope that helps.