Author Topic: Among the Vinca  (Read 271 times)

Offline jadynm1234567

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Among the Vinca
« on: December 30, 2019, 02:37:54 PM »
Chapter 1: Eric
As I stepped into the huge building, I never thought that my life was about to change. I mean, don’t get me wrong; I knew things would change, but I didn’t think it would be, you know... permanent.
Sorry, I’ve never been very good with words. I’m more that kid who’s quiet so they don’t say anything stupid. Of course, that didn’t help me in this circumstance. I was actually really lucky to be accepted to be part of this experiment. I mean, my family really needed the money, and they were offering a ton for observations of my daily life. Sounded good to me. If I had known, I never would have stepped into that facility. I would have just said no to my parents’ pleading eyes. Then again, if I hadn’t, I never would have met the others. Then again, again, they would have all been safer with someone smarter. Someone who was useful. But since I didn’t know any of this that day, I stepped in. And with that one step, I changed my life.

Chapter 2: Whynne

I will never forget how drab everything was. You know those embarrassing and painful memories that you want to forget, but you can’t? When you remember the tiniest details, like they’re permanently etched in your mind? Well, this building was one of those. It was so ugly it was painful. It was like, “Ew, I have to live here?” So gross.
Who wants a building made of concrete? I wrinkled my nose as I strutted in. I wanted to make a good impression, even if they were all as boring as that building. Not that that’s hard. I’m gorgeous, and everyone always says I’m polite and respectful.
Some young guy down the hallway started toward me. I smiled and flipped my long blonde hair back over my shoulder. Most of the time that makes people smile like idiots at me. Not this one.
   “Whynne Lundan?”
   “Yes,” I answered. He smiled.
What? Now he smiles?!
   “Come with me,” he replied, not quite demanding, but still feeling like an order. I tried to contain the surge of annoyance that filled me instantly.
   “Do I have to?” Inwardly, I cringed. Great. Instead of a good impression, I had managed to sound bitchy. I looked up at him. He wasn’t smiling anymore.
   “You lose the agreement if you don’t do what we need in order to complete our research,” he stated firmly.
Ok, I get the message. Do as I say, or no money for you. Ugh!
   “Fine,” I huffed, and he began to lead me through what was rapidly beginning to look like a maze. There were no windows, twists and turns were everywhere, and it was solid concrete, like the entrance and every other thing in that building.
Someone could easily get lost in here.
“You could easily get lost in here,” The guy explained, exactly as I had thought it. At my raised eyebrows, he rolled his eyes. “I’m only saying the obvious to clarify that if you try to go through here, you will get lost, and we probably won’t be able to find you.” I shuddered at the mental image of me trying to wander my way through here.
“Why is this necessary?”
“Security reasons,” was his curt reply.
Security reasons? Aren’t we safe here? Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea…. As I finished that thought, he stopped suddenly and steered me to a door that seemed to have popped out of nowhere. “Wait here,” he demanded, and without a word, went back into the maze.
What the heck is going on? With my heart pounding, I entered the room.

Chapter 3: Blake

I entered the facility. Or perhaps I should say concrete fortress. It seemed to resemble a prison, which wasn’t what I had expected. I assumed there would be more… finesse, I suppose. As I carefully stepped through the hallway, I noticed a lack of windows. I was sure there were some at the top, I had seen them, but why were there none there?
   “Blake Lee?” I turned to the source of my name. A shorter man with a balding scalp was staring at me.
   “Yes?” I answered, as stiff as my spine. He leered at me.
   “Good, good, very, very… very good.”
I was repulsed by his voice, the way his snake-like eyes took in everything. He took a step toward me.
   “HELLO!? HELLO? Anyone here?” The old man cursed under his breath and moved toward the source of the voice.
   “Come here,” The old man demanded. A boy popped into my view, one who was of average height and weight. I’d guess he was around my age.
Of course he is. They had specifically asked for teens in this social experiment, I simply hadn’t thought clearly. He went toward us and stuck out his hand to me.
   “Eric Goodman.”
   “Blake Lee.” After I shook his hand, he pulled his arm into a salute.
   “My pleasure, good lady,” He stated as he flourished his arm with a ridiculously low bow. The corners of my lips raised slightly. It seemed that I had a comedian in my midst.
   “Pleasant to meet you,” I replied. He smiled at me, and I immediately analyzed him. This was a habit of mine, and it had come in handy many times, even if I came off as antisocial as a result. His smile seemed genuine, reaching to those jade green eyes. I had to look up to him slightly, but considering my miniscule height, that wasn’t a surprise. He was a little uncomfortable under my glance, so he awkwardly raked a hand through his jet black hair, which was a bit too long. The bangs were falling into his eyes.
An interesting specimen. He seems honest and has a bit of wit to him. Actually fairly attractive, now that I see him up close and he moved his hair out of his eyes. He must not look people in the eye often, or vice versa. I wonder why…
   “If you two are done canoodling, we need to be going,” The old man snapped. Eric didn’t seem to understand the word, but my cheeks flamed scarlet. That was something that would forever agitate me. I could hold my expressions neutral even if I was dying on the inside, but yet, that infuriating blush never left. But I held my head high as we walked through… a labyrinth?
What is the point of this? I understand this is a private facility and an obviously wealthy one, given the large amount of money my family was offered for this experiment, but is this essential?
   “What is the purpose for this?” I asked.
   “Security reasons,” was his curt reply.
   “What kind of security reasons?” I asked, just as icily. He stopped in his tracks, and the boy-Eric-rammed right into him. The old man straightened up with loads of curses before he unceremoniously shoved him through the door. I straightened my shoulders and took a deep breath.
You can do this, Blake. Remember Xela. A stream of determination flared up inside me. I mustered up my courage and walked in.

Chapter 4: Ryan

I heard the door creak as it opened.
Finally. I’d been waiting forever for them to show up and get this show on the road. I’d been told there were three others, two chicks and another dude. The younger guard dude strutted in with one of the chicks. Dang. Make that a hot chick. She had creamy clear skin, the kind that people call peaches and cream. Her shining blonde hair flowed down her back like a waterfall of perfection. Sparkling eyes the color of emeralds peeked out from under lowered lashes, and designer clothing hugged a slender but curvy figure. She smiled at me flirtatiously, almost like she knew what I was thinking. That smile showed off rows of even white teeth.
   “Hi,” She said, tilting her head a bit to the side.
“Hey.” I think my voice may have dropped an octave. She giggled and flipped that amazing hair over her shoulders.
   “My name’s Whynne,” She said, fluttering her eyelashes at me.
   “Ryan,” I replied. Before I could come up with something witty to say, the old guide shuffled in with the other two. I checked out the chick first. Disappointing, especially after Whynne. She had mousy brown hair, squinty eyes under glasses, short, and really no body shape to speak of. The dude seemed ok, and was pretty average looking. I hoped he liked sports. Squinty looked at me.
   “Greetings.”
   “Hi?” I said hesitantly.
Who says “greetings”?
   “Hello,” Whynne answered in a song-like tone.
   “My name is Blake.”
Blake? On a girl? I guess that can work…
   “My name is Whynne,” She stated.
   “As in Winnie the Pooh?” the dude asked.
   “No!” she snapped, swishing her hair again. “Whynne as in… winner!” The dude chuckled a bit, and even I had to hold back a laugh.
   “I’m Eric,” he stated. 
Eric, huh? Well, he seems funny, but how he can do that to a chick as hot as Whynne is beyond me.
   “The name’s Ryan,” I added. Whynne smiled glamorously at me, and the others nodded in acknowledgement.”
   “Well,” The younger guide told us, “Now that we’re all properly introduced, why don’t you all take a seat while I get the leader of this particular research project.”
Why not? I strutted to the fancy table with lace on it and sat on one of the velvet padded thrones. I looked at a few of the people lined up around the walls, and stretched my legs out in front of me. Ok, back to being bored. At least we’re almost actually at the experiment part of this. In the meantime, I might as well talk to the others. Preferably Whynne. I turned to her, but before I could say anything, Blake decided to hammer us with questions I didn’t know. What was the experiment’s theory? Why did we have to live here and not at home? Why teenagers? I tried to keep up with what she was saying, but it was like fighting a tidal wave. So I just kinda stopped listening to her.
   “Well?” I heard Blake say.
   “Hmm?” I replied nonchalantly. Blake glared at me like a demon out of hell. For such a shrimpy girl, she was kind of terrifying.
   “Have you heard a word I said?”
This seems to be a no win situation. Thankfully, the old guide shuffled in, (I had no idea where the younger one had gone) mercifully saving me from answering her and hopefully stopping the stream of questions. And beyond him was the leader. Standard height, brown hair, brown eyes, plain face. Not attractive, not ugly. A bland shade of everything, and completely unremarkable. If I didn’t know he was the leader, I wouldn’t have been looking at him. He smiled at us all.
   “Welcome,” He said. His voice was deep and… commanding. Not like a tyrant, exactly, but something about it made me pay attention. “It is my pleasure to have you as my subjects. I look forward to… watching you.”
“What do you mean by watching us?” Blake asked suspiciously. The leader grinned, as if she had said something funny.
“Are we, like, going to live in one of the rooms upstairs? The bottom looks, you know, gross,” Whynne explained with a hair flip. He grinned wider. It was starting to creep me out a little.
   “What’s so funny?” Eric asked.
   “Oh, did I happen to not mention that you all are not living in the facility?” We all looked pretty stumped by that. Except Whynne, she just looked annoyed.
   “Well, then, where are we living?” She asked with obvious irritation. The advertisement for the experiment hadn’t been very specific; it had mentioned wanting to observe teenagers in their daily routines, but at their facility. He looked at us all, one by one. He was savoring his words like I would a chocolate bar.
   “You are going to be living on an uncharted island.” He said with relish. “You have one week to prepare a pack we provide for you, learn all you can, and then we will drop you off. You will stay… until further notice.”

Offline TK

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Re: Among the Vinca
« Reply #1 on: December 30, 2019, 07:47:27 PM »
Quote
As I stepped into the huge building, I never thought that my life was about to change. I mean, don’t get me wrong; I knew things would change, but I didn’t think it would be, you know... permanent.

This opening line is very corny. I wouldn't say it's terrible, but it sets the overall tone as campy and (maybe intentionally) melodramatic.

Quote
I’m more that kid who’s quiet so they don’t say anything stupid.

This makes me think the narrator is talking to someone, but who and why not just let the narrator invisibly tell the story instead? This line is also just very badly worded. The meaning is clear, but the flow is terrible.

~~

Overall I really think this story has potential as a middle grade chapter book with some rewrites paying attention to tone and scene structure. The chapters are incredibly short, which is something that should be taken into account, but isn't necessarily good or bad. A chapter should at least contain a scene, but Chapter One is more like a thought that goes on for a little too long. People tend to call that "navel gazing". It's easy to accidentally do it when introducing a character, but it's almost never a good idea to include in an opening chapter since it contains basically all telling and no showing. Showing is what hooks the reader. The other chapters are more like scenes but they're very bare.

Chapters usually contain more than one scene. And I understand you're introducing the main characters, so you want it to be quick in order for you to move on to the next character probably, but if you do it that way then we won't even remember the characters once they've passed by in a quarter of a page and they'll all end up blurring together.

I hope this was helpful. Thanks for sharing your work!
~T.C.

Offline PIJ1951

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Re: Among the Vinca
« Reply #2 on: December 31, 2019, 08:38:59 AM »
Chapter 1 Line 1 does you no favours.
You're writing a story where the reader will hopefully stick around for the long haul, but you seem in a tremendous hurry to get the spoilers out of the way even before they reach the end of the first paragraph. And 'stepping into a huge building' sounds odd. Why not have him simply enter the building?
I'm afraid this opening chapter would make me put the book back on the shelf and find something else to read. Having characters address the reader is annoying at the best of times (the same as it is in the movies). Rambling at such length the way Eric does here is even worse. My advice, start your story elsewhere.

But then we have Whynne (great name by the way since that's all she does) whose voice and attitude sounds exactly like Eric's. Not a great start.

I'm intrigued by the idea of teenagers forced to participate in some kind of experiment because their parents have signed a contract - although it ended up like a cross between Hunger Games and Love Island.

As it stands, your characters seemed interchangeable apart from their physical attributes which are irrelevant to the average reader. It also takes forever to get them in through the door. I don't think introducing each one with an almost identical plot opening works in your favour. It's tediously repetitive and the 'getting to know you' chit-chat that follows is nowhere near interesting enough to make me stick with it.

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Ok, back to being bored.

Quite. My advice - cut to the chase. Open with them all together in the same room being told they're about to be dropped onto a remote island and expected to survive on their own, blah, blah, blah. That might get your audience curious enough to continue reading.