Please help me review my story

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Please help me review my story

Postby sfxfantasy » Sun Jan 01, 2006 10:55 pm

I've posted the full chapter 1 on my story on my site.

Just wondering what you think of it. How can I improve on it.
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Chapter One

Postby hU$h3rN7242c » Sun Feb 05, 2006 1:56 pm

Well, since you asked, here goes.
1. Take everything with a grain of salt.
2. Nothing grips me in the first paragraph. Keep in mind, how do you choose a book? Don't you read the opening paragraph and see how the author grabs you? If they don't grab me, the book goes back on the shelf.

Here's what you wrote:
A young woman fled for her life. Her heart was racing, her lungs felt like they were about to burst. She dared not look back. The terrors she had seen were enough to drive anyone insane.

My suggestion:
Gasping from burning lungs, Sarah charged forward, ignoring the burning muscles in her legs from the twenty minutes of solid running. The images had been singed into her brain, scaring the living hell out of her and driving her to flee for her life. Her instincts told her they were there, behind her; somewhere in the beams of moonlight that peppered the broken tunnel. They would not stop until they caught her. Her only hope was to run, never even taking a second to look back. Grief and despair clawed at her sanity, blindly running for her life from what had become reality. Her foot lodged on something that nearly threw her sprawled out onto the old stone bricks that lined the floor and walls.

I'm not going to say my version is a ton better. My point is to try and create something that grips the reader. Make sure you can see it, smell it, and fell it as your write it. Don't describe something as a factual statement, bring it into an action or thought.

Now, I really like the opening with running. I think one of the most powerful film openings I have ever seen was Michael Mann's Last of the Mohicans. That opening grips you because three men are running, and chasing something. There is no speech, no dialogue. It is coordinated driving of a prey animal to be killed. The thing is, you don't know what they are doing. All you do is see them run. As a matter of fact, there is a bunch of running in that movie, and I have come to realize that running, described or shot correctly in a film, grabs people. So pun intended, run with it.
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Postby Guest » Mon Feb 06, 2006 8:24 am

Thanks. I rewrote the opening to make it more vivid.
Been asking around in forums for advice too. That version was tell. The advice was show don't tell. I'm very new to this. Would appreciate your feedback.

What do you think of the revised version.

Here are the first 3 chapters of the book. http://www.sfxfantasy.com/sfxbook1sample.pdf
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New Version

Postby hU$h3rN7242c » Tue Feb 07, 2006 6:15 pm

I've been really busy. I'll review and get back to you soon.

Just thought I'd let you know.
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Postby Guest » Wed Feb 08, 2006 8:08 am

Anonymous wrote:Thanks. I rewrote the opening to make it more vivid.
Been asking around in forums for advice too. That version was tell. The advice was show don't tell. I'm very new to this. Would appreciate your feedback.

What do you think of the revised version.

Here are the first 3 chapters of the book. http://www.sfxfantasy.com/sfxbook1sample.pdf


Okay, first thoughts, and they'll keep coming the further I get into this.
In Chapter One, Sarah makes a pretty quick transition, at least from a reader stand point, of going from fleeing/scared to killing. There is a usually a mental process, even if it is subconscious, that plays out here. Take your reader through that. Show them what is going on in her head. Maybe its quick images of years of being on the run, watching someone close to her get eaten by these things. Whatever it is, you don't have to give it all away, but at least have those images flash in her head that spawn the hatred and maybe that makes her grab the weapon and kill, without even thinking. These are things that endear the reader to the character. I'm making the assumption that Sarah is your protagonist here. Give us some reasons to like or hate her. Maybe he hates snakes, maybe she's been so mistreated by these things that she's desperate show us that.
Also, on the flying thing. I don't know what your mechanics of this are, but whatever you envision bringing this on should have the ground work layed out in this scene. I write dark fantasy (werewolves/vampires, angels, etc.) I try to have an explanation or mechanics worked out for everything and deliver pieces of it to the reader as you go along. I'm not saying you have to care about that, but some readers do. So you might want to.

The responses seem a little bland from the captors. I'm thinking if I'm one of these things, and she killed one of the other guards, or whatever they are, I'm going to be pissed. I may even beat the living bejezuz out of her for that, if I didn't kill her outright. Really what you are describing here is a Gitmo or Abu Graib style fantasy prision. Make it gritty, make me see it and want to vomit in disgust. Look at some of the things that happend in Abu Graib; things shoved in orifices, rape.etc. Those things will villify your antagonists quickly. You may not want to go there in a first chapter, but maybe suggest it and cut the scene.

You're moving in the right direction, but intensity is what drives people. And keep in mind, people read to read about people and how they deal with things. It may be escapism, but people are still interested in your characters emotions. Show their warts, their beauty and their ugly biases and problems.

So back to the snake things. Reptiles are pretty callous. Do they have human traits? Do they have emotions? If they do, show them to your reader.

Some things that have changed me as a writer are better understanding emotions and what drives them. Those should shine through in your work.


Nice content changes though. Don't take this too hard. I know its hard to put your energy into something and have someone else pick it apart. The more you write the better you should get. I would also recommend finding a published author that you like and read them. Analyze how they write. What type of grammar structures do they use? It may be Scifi verses fantasy, but find some one that mechanically writes like you would like to and read it. You'll be surprised how much that will impact you.
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Postby hU$h3rN7242c » Wed Feb 08, 2006 8:16 am

Anonymous wrote:
Anonymous wrote:Thanks. I rewrote the opening to make it more vivid.
Been asking around in forums for advice too. That version was tell. The advice was show don't tell. I'm very new to this. Would appreciate your feedback.

What do you think of the revised version.

Here are the first 3 chapters of the book. http://www.sfxfantasy.com/sfxbook1sample.pdf


Okay, first thoughts, and they'll keep coming the further I get into this.
In Chapter One, Sarah makes a pretty quick transition, at least from a reader stand point, of going from fleeing/scared to killing. There is a usually a mental process, even if it is subconscious, that plays out here. Take your reader through that. Show them what is going on in her head. Maybe its quick images of years of being on the run, watching someone close to her get eaten by these things. Whatever it is, you don't have to give it all away, but at least have those images flash in her head that spawn the hatred and maybe that makes her grab the weapon and kill, without even thinking. These are things that endear the reader to the character. I'm making the assumption that Sarah is your protagonist here. Give us some reasons to like or hate her. Maybe he hates snakes, maybe she's been so mistreated by these things that she's desperate show us that.
Also, on the flying thing. I don't know what your mechanics of this are, but whatever you envision bringing this on should have the ground work layed out in this scene. I write dark fantasy (werewolves/vampires, angels, etc.) I try to have an explanation or mechanics worked out for everything and deliver pieces of it to the reader as you go along. I'm not saying you have to care about that, but some readers do. So you might want to.

The responses seem a little bland from the captors. I'm thinking if I'm one of these things, and she killed one of the other guards, or whatever they are, I'm going to be pissed. I may even beat the living bejezuz out of her for that, if I didn't kill her outright. Really what you are describing here is a Gitmo or Abu Graib style fantasy prision. Make it gritty, make me see it and want to vomit in disgust. Look at some of the things that happend in Abu Graib; things shoved in orifices, rape.etc. Those things will villify your antagonists quickly. You may not want to go there in a first chapter, but maybe suggest it and cut the scene.

You're moving in the right direction, but intensity is what drives people. And keep in mind, people read to read about people and how they deal with things. It may be escapism, but people are still interested in your characters emotions. Show their warts, their beauty and their ugly biases and problems.

So back to the snake things. Reptiles are pretty callous. Do they have human traits? Do they have emotions? If they do, show them to your reader.

Some things that have changed me as a writer are better understanding emotions and what drives them. Those should shine through in your work.


Nice content changes though. Don't take this too hard. I know its hard to put your energy into something and have someone else pick it apart. The more you write the better you should get. I would also recommend finding a published author that you like and read them. Analyze how they write. What type of grammar structures do they use? It may be Scifi verses fantasy, but find some one that mechanically writes like you would like to and read it. You'll be surprised how much that will impact you.


Sorry, I posted under guest.
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Postby Guest » Wed Feb 08, 2006 9:51 pm

Thanks. I really want it to be picked apart. That is the only way I can improve.

Grew up on a diet of comic books from the DC and Marvel world, so never thought twice about explaining the mechanics of flight as a lot of the protagonists in those comic books fly. As the story goes on there would be plenty more fantasy type things to explain that I never thought of.

Did love Robin Cook's books which I read a decade ago. That and the LOTR books and Narnia series and the first Matrix movie.

Abu Graib. Need to google that up.

Ok, now that I've got clues on what to work on next, I'm back to my rewrite.

Again, thanks.
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Postby hU$h3rN7242c » Thu Feb 16, 2006 7:30 am

Anonymous wrote:Thanks. I really want it to be picked apart. That is the only way I can improve.

Grew up on a diet of comic books from the DC and Marvel world, so never thought twice about explaining the mechanics of flight as a lot of the protagonists in those comic books fly. As the story goes on there would be plenty more fantasy type things to explain that I never thought of.

Did love Robin Cook's books which I read a decade ago. That and the LOTR books and Narnia series and the first Matrix movie.

Abu Graib. Need to google that up.

Ok, now that I've got clues on what to work on next, I'm back to my rewrite.

Again, thanks.



Some more thoughts if you are interested.
As I read more of the writing, I kept asking myself, where am I being taken? Why do I care about this character? The obvious answer is she was a hostage and brutalized, which may be enough. However, I just could not shake the feeling that as all of those things were happening to her, I felt a bit like I was being shuffled from stunning event to stunning event for the the purpose of being stunned. Now, I'm not saying I was not stunned. the visual image of all kinds of bugs crawling all over someone's skin is pretty powerful. It stuck with me. So kudos there. I just felt like I wanted to know more about Sarah.
When I write something larger than a short story, I feel obligated to tell the reader what they're going to get within the first few chapters. You don't have to do that if you don't want to, but I feel that I need to. I feel that I need to lay down some semblance of why you should care and what you're going to get.
For instance, I'm reading Robert Jordan's 3rd book in the Wheel of Time series. He utilizes dream sequences and character interactions and internal dialogue to lay out what you can presume you'll get out of the book. Now, he can deviate and throw you for a loop, but you still pretty much drive down those roads.

In yours I feel like Sarah is developing into something. My questions would be, why does the MASTER want her? What does the handsome guy have to do with her? And why does she even care?

Some inner dialogue or flashback sequences may help answer those. Just a suggestion.

The other thing is sometimes the events seemed fast, or rushed. Now, you may intend that. I prefer deliberate and slower paced development. You don't have to. I think that some readers like quicker paced events. You need to develop your style.

I also wanted to recover my comment about the flying mechanics. You don't have to have a precise way that it works. It may simply be a "power" that evolves. The fact that she does not have it, and then does and does not again should have solid reasoning of how that happens.

Hope this helps.
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Postby sfxfantasy » Fri Mar 24, 2006 7:56 am

I just rewrote my book with inner dialogue and based on your feedback.
Thanks.

Here's the first 3 chapters of the book. http://www.sfxfantasy.com/sciencefictionchapter1.htm
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Postby sfxfantasy » Mon Apr 24, 2006 3:30 am

Hi, I've got the full book (trilogy - 3 books in 1 volume) out at http://www.lulu.com/content/273211

Thanks for your help. I followed your advice in rewiting the full trilogy. Just wanted to let you know my progress.

This site http://www.sfxfantasy.com explains the world it is set in.

Here are more chapters from the new book. Hope you like them.
chapters 1 to 3 of first book - Sarah's journey. http://www.sfxfantasy.com/part1sample1.htm
chapter on the serpent's nest http://www.sfxfantasy.com/part1sample2.htm

chapters from 2nd book - lost in another realm
http://www.sfxfantasy.com/part2sample.htm

chapters from 3rd book - the dark warriors
http://www.sfxfantasy.com/part3sample1.htm
and the conversation between the dark warriors (energy beings)
http://www.sfxfantasy.com/part3sample2.htm
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