Author Topic: Science-Fiction - Only the first 800 words  (Read 127 times)

Offline OdiousImp

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Science-Fiction - Only the first 800 words
« on: January 02, 2021, 01:39:52 PM »
I'm currently on my 2nd re-write of my story, and this is the first chapter/prologue.
There are a few things I'm particularity worried about
1) Have I explained "Veering" ok? I was trying to with show not tell but now I'm worried no one gets it.
2) Have I over-used the shadow metaphor does it get confusing?
3) Style/Flow does it feel nice to read? I'm young, younger than you'd expect (I hope) does my novel sound like something written by a kid or not?
Anyway without further ado; This isn't the whole thing I had to cut it off weirdly sorry!

She stands awkwardly, staring at the people who come. Todd’s at the other side telling everyone they can’t get their car in here and they’d have to where Anna is. In truth, she’d rather be doing that. It would've been an excuse to shout loudly through glass windows. 33 people she’s counted, not what you’d expect at a funeral but no-one seemed too hurt. Her father stood at the tip of the beach, near the water, close enough that when he scattered his wife’s ashes, the waves licked it away in seconds. Todd’s family made a barrier of coats around him. Not purposefully, but she could tell it annoyed some people. The doctor, especially, craning his neck over to maintain his studious glare.
It’s there again, her shadow. The beach was long and even wide in some places, but it offered more shade than sun. The forest had grown to here. Tall trees stretching out and now and then curling around an extra metre to separate the beach into little sections. Their shadow was always there, whether it be day or night, but the sun was behind them now and the ample amount of bushes that grew between the section gave their own extended shadow. It was ‘it’ was using to hide, allowing its own shadow to dissolve into the darker one. But the bushes moved as did the trees, the sun and the clouds and even if was for second Anna saw the slight colour change and it twisted off away. Not that she could do much about it, she’d have to wait.
Todd came back, shuffling around behind the bodies of his sisters and deciding whether to barge through and eventually placing himself at the end. She did the same, angling herself backwards so could monitor her shadow. But the wind had died down and no-one had moved, they just stood there staring out to sea. Most of them were her father farm-workers, families and couples, but no-one came alone. Apart from her shadow, of course.
Again, it’s there. The receptionist had halted the doctor’s investigation, and Anna subtly swirled around on her bum to watch it run across. She lost it for a second, worried as it re-appeared on the next section of the trees. No longer worrying about hiding, it had positioned itself right at the edge so it could look past the semi-circle they’d unknowingly created. It moved, but not where she expected. A formation of low rock stretched down that bit to the sea. Not big enough to hide a person unless they crouched, and the shadow waddled forward until it was hidden. It would have to go back soon. The water had risen, forcing them back to the edge. The shadow of the trees hungover, an invisible barrier the water never rose past. A fact she’d proved when she’d followed the beach down at night with Todd. It was scarily similar in every place, a harmless, endless bath of blue with little specks of grey poking out. The crashed scout ships before them, that had never been picked and left for everyone to see. One had survived, the one that made the place ready for the others to come later on the larger landing ships. And her, the first child born on this planet. Of a new beginning.
People grunt their goodbyes and the armour of bodies relax. She checks to see her shadow is still here. It is, in the next huddle of trees and she can tell it’s looking right at her. The protected piece bends down to her height, with a solemn face. “How are you, my love?”
“Awesome,” Matthew frowns then gives a brief smile for his innocent daughter, watching as she is twirled away by Todd.
They stand a metre away, their voices hidden by the rising wind. “Awesome?”
“It was an accident,” she ignores his look. “Anyway, I saw...”
“Anna,” he quickly cuts off her excitement.
“Your mother’s died. You're meant to be sad.”
“OK, so basically, you see by those trees there’s shadow, and it’s been...”
Her rising enthusiasm is hushed by his low, desperate speech. “Anna. It’s your mother’s long-awaited funeral, after 10 years. Be fricking sad.”
“Different people deal with death in different ways,” she gallops away before he can stop, hiding behind a tree so her shadow wouldn’t see her.
“And your way is to go off and hunt a shadow,” Todd had given up his pleading and joins her, continuously checking no-one can see them, out of decency.
“Do you see it?” she points eagerly to the block of grey. “Look, Todd.”
“Yes, I see it,” he sighs, but he’s interested. “It could be a tree?”
She grabs his wrist and pushes them both onto the floor, so there is the same perspective as their shadow. “Arms...”
“Or branches.”
“Fine, erm... legs.”
“What kind of tree has two trunks?”
He shrugs. “Still could be a tree.”
“That long hat at the top.”
“That’s his head.”
“Ha, gotcha. Trees don’t have heads,” he smiles lightly and follows her to their next stop. Hidden in the cluster of trees, no can see them expect the sea. The shadow no longer looking at them, it stares out to the sea and they whisper loudly; “Shadow, Todd. At my mother’s funeral. I have been watching it for the last hour and I swear it’s a person.”
“So what?”
“We have to find out who it is, obviously,” he doesn’t have time to answer as he rushed away to their next vantage point and their last. Their beach is long and wide but neither is endless, the lengths are impassable after a distance and the widths are cut off by the sea and the forest. There are only two exits, one a pass-way from the car-park and the other the one onto Anna’s house.
“Have you planned how?”
“Yeah,” she stands up, her hands on her hips, looking seriously ahead.
“What are you looking at?” The sun might be up but it fails to shine on their surroundings. The only light comes, reflected off the waves, illuminating parts of the thorny bushes that lie ahead.
“My plan,” she puts her hand out.
“Erm...” he pats it lightly, frowning at her look.
“Give me your coat, Todd,” he takes it off, and she drapes it around herself like a gown. He’s a year older and big, zipping it for her cause her hands are engulfed by the cloth.
“Anna, what exactly is your plan?”
“Go stand up on that tree, please,” he does as she says, leaning over at the section where the trunks split. Their shadow is still there, a metre away from Anna. There’s always a shadow here, created by the trees and bushes, so, at most all, he can see is the head. The rest is masked by taller trees and the smaller bushes that Anna stands at. “Right, so our shadow’s there right,” he looks at where she’s pointing. The bushes stretch twenty meters, then appears another line of trees. Behind them, he sees the old barn. The vines that make the lock on the doors and the trees that knit the roof.
“Do you think he’s in the barn?”
“That thing?” she has no reason to be wrong. The barns have been there as long as they lived. They didn’t know why someone had built it, why it was abandoned or why it’s never been brought down. And still, now they look over its importance. “Basically, Todd imma wrap this around me and crawl through,” she does an impression of her action.
“Are you planning to die?”
“I’ll be fine, but you’ll have to guide me,” she puts on the hoodie, ducking into the body of the coat and stuffing the hoodie into a gap she’s made and zipping it up.
“I can’t exactly see, can I, dumbo?” the wind carries there're parents’ voice’s over, muffled but in shouting range, both ways. Just in case.
“Fine, but don’t die,” she does something that reflects a wave or shrug or a punch or a tap. “Anna, hurry and go.”
“Imma goes,” she stuffs some of the excesses of the coat into her mouth and lies down on the floor. The coat covers her entire body, but it rides up whenever wind attacks, revealing her bare ankles. “Todd, come and get my legs.”
“My legs, Todd,” he bends down, following her instructions. Wrapping his coat tightly around and stuffing the excess in her shoes. “Get back on the fricking tree,” he smiles, jumping back up. He would go higher since the branches are powerful enough, but it’s not just one tree, and the jumbled branches at the top make it impossible to climb up. “Ready?”
“Wait, Anna, why don’t you just Veer into me?”
“I need to concentrate,” her face makes an imprint in the coat as she pushes it forward.
He scoffs, “On what, crawling?”
“Fine, I’ll veer when I need to, but stop being lazy.”
“What... I,” he gives up, sighing with a smile and watching her steadily move forward. She wiggles a bit out of Todd tight wrap, using her legs to drive her forward. The bush is thick, but for now the branches thin. She’s made the coat tight enough it covers her, but loose enough she can use them to frantically wave ahead of her to get rid of any remaining sticks.
“Status update, Todd.”
“Anna, you know you’ve gone like two centimetres,” he can’t see her look and she picks up the pace. Ramming in hard, bending the sticks but not breaking them, meaning when she moved to the right or left and the tension softened, they snapped back and whacked her waist. The lack of grip on her hands and the uneven ground meant that when she lost her grasp only her elbows could catch her, digging into the ground or slipping off a rock then digging into the ground.
“Anna, there's rocks everywhere.”
“Yeah, I figured,” her entire body was in and a metre or so more and it was getting increasingly harder to drive through.
“Anna, I can’t see you anymore,” he cranes his neck over but the bushes are hiding her. “Imma Veer into you?” She doesn’t know if he has. “Make a slit in your hoodie, you need to see where you’re going.” She does as he said, opening a little hole her eyes can see through. Todd there too, Veering into her and seeing through her eyes to get a better look. He checks his own self, checking if he can see her. “I can see you, again.”
“Let me Veer into for a second,” he has to release his Veer. Both people can strengthen the connection thinking of each other but only could Veer at a time. “Todd!”
“Sorry, right. Try now,” she splits her consciousness. Fifty-fifty between herself and Todd so she can see where he is going. “Anna, can you see?”
“Yeah, just a sec,” it’s nothing to Todd. Anna has done it before, Veering into him for fun when she’s bored.

Offline Eddieism

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Re: Science-Fiction - Only the first 800 words
« Reply #1 on: January 08, 2021, 12:19:37 AM »
Hi there, this is my first time Beta reading so forgive me if I'm either harsh or just not helpful at all.

First off I'd like to say some good things I noticed, then the "bad". The conversations are good, quick, and easy to understand. Anna and Mathew were great, I could tell from the dialogue alone who they were and their relationship. good starting off characters. A minor thing that does affect flow is dialogue tags when you overuse them it can dilute the effect of good dialogue, for example when you wrote

“Anyway, I saw...”
“Anna,” he quickly cuts off her excitement.

Having "He quickly cuts off her excitement" can be felt in words alone, try and let the dialogue speak for itself and don't always rely on tags.

Veering is explained well, I'm pretty sure I understand what it is. forgive me if I am wrong but. it lets you peer(Veer) into a person's perspective(seeing what they see), maybe even letting them read their mind? not sure, it's exciting to think about. Again, however, When the characters first mention Veering it should be explained how it works there and then. I've done something similar in my novel, I've learnt that it is best to explain things quickly so that the reader isn't lost in how or why something works, For example.

"Wait, Anna, why don't you just veer into me? it would be easier to go through the brush if you could see from my perspective"

Whatever feeling you have about the shadow metaphor is probably right, you and you alone will be your harshest critic. If you're asking me I'd probably guess that the "shadow" is someone's soul, perhaps Anna's mother? it's also interesting to think about.

Ok, Something that'll help you immensely is to read everything you write out loud, you will catch every little grammar, punctuation error, or mistake there is that way, you'll also capture the "flow" you want for your book. if I'm being honest I had difficulty with reading this chapter because of this, I won't list every grammar or punctuation error because I find figuring it out for yourself via trial and error the best way to improve this.

And last but definitely not least, is your description of everything, it is very lengthy and not in a good way, at least for me. I got a little lost sometimes while reading your descriptions of the surroundings. I personally find it best to keep these short as possible as you want to keep the focus on what is important to further the plot. I always try and cut as much as I can allow when writing descriptions of any surroundings; this way I can let the reader's imagination do most of the work. I also like to do descriptions from the perspective of characters, that is a style choice though.

I feel like I've been too harsh, but I hope this can help increase your skill. if you decide to post here again with another draft I would happily read it through.

New member Eddieism or you can call me Ed

Offline OdiousImp

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Re: Science-Fiction - Only the first 800 words
« Reply #2 on: January 09, 2021, 05:44:57 AM »
Thank you so much. Now I feel so bad reading it out and realising all the grammar errors. You've taught something that I will always do now before!
The description analysis was useful, I do to enjoy when I'm reading books to create my own world and to be honest I usually only skim read over all the lengthy descriptions, so I'll try to cut that down.
The shadow idea was interesting thought mine thought wasn't as deep!  Perhaps I'll try to make it more obvious it was an actual person or let the reader think of it themselves. I'll think about that.
It always sounds a bit too vulgar to directly to state stuff for me but now I understand it from the readers pont of view so that could be something I change throughout the book. You found Veering exciting! And you got it exactly right! Yay!!!

Your thoughts were very useful, sir! Not only for this 800 words but my whole book as well. Thank you!

Offline Eddieism

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Re: Science-Fiction - Only the first 800 words
« Reply #3 on: January 09, 2021, 06:57:44 PM »
Don't feel bad, I'm on my third attempt at writing my own novel myself; oh boy were the other 2 bad lol. With the descriptions, it's due to taste so you may not need or want to cut it down which is fine btw. the shadow thing, it totally lapsed my mind that it could've just been a person, weird. about being too vulgar, I've been there in my own book, again I could be wrong but I think its better for the reader at least for stuff like this.

Your reply made me really happy, it's nice to know I was helpful.

Good luck!