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January 20th, 2007, 07:12 PM
Its my first ever attempt at writing anything really. I only just got into reading six months ago and before then I hated writing in english exams etc. but now I love reading and i'm inspired by some of the books i have read, so I wanted to try it.

This is kind of a prologue chapter, so a lot of the plot will be unclear, but it will be explained more in the forthcoming chapters. Of which I will write one a week (unless I cant write, then I wont bother :)).

So while I appreciate help with grammar, structure and other rules I might be missing, I would really be grateful for your overall thoughts on the chapter and whether you think I have any talent that can become better over time.

Since im a first time writer, who hated english in school when he was younger, I imagine there will be many errors and such, so try not to review it as an examiner, but rather as a reader. :)




the second chapter is now done, This chapter may be tagged onto the end of this previous chapter and put together as a prologue. then the following chapter will be in the future.

anyway i need help on this like i received great help for the first chapter.

took a while because of illness and university work.

really hope you like it :)


thanks so much.


January 20th, 2007, 07:37 PM
I'll post more when it isn't one in the morning but yes, you have what it takes.

It needs work, there is some unnecessary descriptive text and some areas could do with fleshing out but you have the beginnings of a decent story there.


January 21st, 2007, 07:34 AM
I'll post more when it isn't one in the morning but yes, you have what it takes.

It needs work, there is some unnecessary descriptive text and some areas could do with fleshing out but you have the beginnings of a decent story there.


yeah the story is something im proud of, i just want to learn how to tell it properly.

so yeah if you could post some help i would appreciate it so much, and when i continue writing hopefully with each chapter les mistakes will be made, im sure its a learning process, and ill be writing at least 500 words a day (because i enjoy it)

anyone else's opinions and help would be great.

thanks a lot

EDIT: oh and i just read the story on the site

it seems there was an error 1/3 Down page two, some of the text should have been there, but instead it somehow got dragged to the end of that section (just before diary entry 22)

I have corrected it now though

Monty Mike
January 21st, 2007, 09:30 AM
I am gripped by your writing. There is a great sense of suspense in these opening paragraphs. All I can say for now is to keep doing what you're doing. Have you got an idea where your story is going or are you thinking as you write? It seems well structured and readable, plus the characters are believable and the situation is interesting and unusual. The quick pace in these early parts works well to intrigue the reader and ensure they do not become bored. It is always said that the opening is the most important part as it determines (more often than not) whether your reader thinks your work is worth their time and effort - something equally true of publishers. In my mind, you have succeeded in this respect.

For someone who did not enjoy english at school, it just goes to show what an important factor experience and personal reading is when it comes to one's creativity and ability. Something that I appreciate more often than not is not having to wrestle with the author's work in order to make sense of it (reading should be above all else enjoyable). Your writing is pungent and well realised, you get accross to the reader what you want with only a few words. This does not always come naturally to peolpe and is not always easy to accomplish, but seems to be something that you have great potential in.

Well done, I will keep an eye on this thread so that I may read more of your work as and when it comes. :) ;)

January 21st, 2007, 10:47 AM

I agree with Jacquin on all accounts.


First, a techincality:

[Deleted] You noticed yourself. I was talking about the bolded bit you edited into your post above, while I was typing this up.


General Punctuation remark:

I noticed, you're getting dialogue punctuation wrong. Here's how it's usually done (though you encounter different usage on occasion):

If the quotation ends in a comma or fullstop, finish the quotation with a comma and continue to the dialogue attribution with lower case letters.

"This is an example." --> "This is an example," he said.

If you interrupt a quotatio with dialogue attribution, set it off with commas like this:

"This is an example." --> "This," he said, "is an example."

If the quotation ends neither in a full stop nor in a comma, use the original puntuation mark, but still put the dialogue attribution in lower case letters:

"Is this an example?" --> "Is this an example?" he asked.
"Hey, that's an example!" --> "Hey, that's an example!" he exclaimed.
"Uh, that can't be..." --> "Uh, that can't be..." he said.

If what follows the dialogue is not dialogue attribution, start a new sentence:

"Is this an example?" He scratched his head.

"Is this an example?" He frowned. "I think it is." He turned to look through the window.

If you're interrupting a quoted sentence with anything that isn't dialogue attribution, I'm not sure myself how to handle this.

Remember the example above? ("This," he said, "is an example.") It's a variant, but the same structure looks somehow wrong.

***Wrong****"This," he paused, "is an example."***Wrong***

This is what I do:

"This..." He paused. "...is an example."

This is what I've seen in print, though (and I'm thinking of adapting my usage, but I'm unsure.)

"This," - he paused - "is an example."


Okay, now to the story proper:

1. Characters:

I like them already. Their motivations are as clear as they can be at this point in the story. They're well drawn.

a) You may want to pay more attention to the way they talk/write, though, make their speeches more distinct. For example:

"No matter what you think of him, he still cares about us" Damien replied.

Would a boy no older than eleven really speak like that? "You're wrong! He still cares about us," Damien replied. (But don't just listen to me on this point; pay attention to how little boys talk and then tell me how I'm wrong. ;) )

b) Perhaps, you could also pay more attention to their bodylanguage. For example:

Going back to the above example, you could, instead of saying "he replied", describe how Damien looked when he replied. Then you could describe Gerard's reaction to Damien's bodylanguage+speech, right before he decides to look him into the eye.

"No matter what you think of him," Damien replied, "he still cares about us." The boy looked at his brother with beseeching eyes.
Gerard drew breath through his teeth. He took a step forward and looked down into his little brother's eyes. "You have to understand..."

Edited in, because I noticed I made mistakes in my example. :o

(I'm not really fond of the "beseeching eyes", but I think they do serve as an example, so you get the general idea. Note, that sometimes you may want to focus on information rather than emotion. Then, you're better off sticking with general dialogue attribution, and simple actions.)

2. Setting:

I get little sense of when and where this is taking place. There are doors and tables and fences, but very little that would indicate time. When I read about Gerard switching off the light I actually was mildly surprised. I hadn't realised that there was electricity in the story.

Try to establish setting early on, perhaps by mentioning time indicators. Cars would work, for example. Or they might jump over an electrical fence. Plastic rain coats, anything really, so we know where we are. (I've been writing for a long time now, and I still have trouble with this. I find setting to be hardest part of writing. It usually gets expanded on in the editing process. Feedback is helpful, here.)

3. Plot:

Nicely done. You deal out information in just the right places. I especially like how you disrupt Gerard's reading of their father's letter with Gerard's emotional reaction. That's a great way of distracting us, so we no longer wonder who the contact is (until the end of the section, where we're invited to join Damien in the question, where they'll go now).

You've got that down quite well.

4. Language flow:

There's a lot of opportunity for improvement, here.

a) Re-ordering ideas, for a more natural flow:

"He knows......I think, maybe he wanted it to happen" Gerard lowered his voice, sensing how upset Damien would be at hearing that.

It sounds like Gerard lowered his voice after speaking. By re-arranging the sentence, this can be avoided:

"He knows..." Gerard lowered his voice, sensing how upset Damien would be at his words. [the "that" no longer works, as "that" would now refer to something that hasn't been said yet.] "I think, maybe he wanted it to happen."

b) Avoiding confusion:

As he walked along the hallway he noticed that his Dad's door was wide open. Usually at this time in the morning he would still be asleep, but the curtains were drawn and there was no sign of him.

In sentence one, "he" refers to Damien, in sentence two to his "father". A reader may not realise this straight away, and think the "he" in the second sentence is still Damien. This works for the "would still be asleep": the reader would imagine that Damien rose early. But when the reader gets to "no sign of him", there's confusion. It's easy to figure out that it's really about his father, but the reading flow is already disrupted.

You could write:

As he walked along the hallway, he noticed that his dad's door was wide open. Usually at this time in the morning his dad would still be asleep, but the curtains were drawn and there was no sign of him. (You could also write "and the bed was empty." instead of "no sign". You're making it clear that it's the bedroom door, and also it's the same structure as "the curtains were drawn", letting the reader conjecture the obvious from two facts noticed by Damien.)

c) There's a bit more I wanted to say about the language, but I forgot what it was. Sorry. :o I'm sure, you'll find out stuff by yourself, though, as you continue writing (which you should).

5. consistency:

Try not contradict things you said (even if they're only implicit):

The swirling wind and piercing rain that crashed into him seemed to have no effect.

"Damien!" A shout rang out from a distance, the boy didn't react.
"Damien!" The shout was louder this time.

Imagine standing in swirling rain and crashing rain. That's quite noisy. I doubt you'd describe a "shout" as "ringing out". Actually, if you didn't expect it, you might not even be sure you heard the first one.


I hope this helps a bit. Please don't take advise you don't understand (although you can always ask), and never take advise you disagree with. Also, most of what I said you shouldn't think of as "mistakes" which are being pointed out. Instead, they're just my response, and some observations from experience.

Sometimes, there's a better way to do things. This doesn't mean that the "not-so-good" way is wrong. And, since tastes differ, sometimes the "not-so-good" way may be the one you want to choose, because less people object to that.

This may sound strange. What makes a variation "better", is that the effect it produces is stronger. But if someone dislikes the effect, it's not better, but worse. So, as a rule of thumb: sometimes a stronger version has more impact, but fewer people like it, while the weaker version has less of an impact but more people will like it.

My advice is to write what you would like to read best. Play the variation game. Re-write a sentence/paragraph/scene in as many ways as you can think of, and see which one you like best. (I still do that sometimes, although I'm too lazy to do it with anything bigger than a sentence. ;) )

And lastly, congratulations on your story. For a first attempt, it's very good. :)

January 21st, 2007, 11:39 AM
Thanks monty mike for the kind words. I never expected anyone to like it that much! it really has made me happy.

It was my aim to not be too verbose and simply tell the story I wanted to.

The story isn't exactly totally developed but I know know exactly what the world is like and whats happening in it. I also know the back story which will of course be linked to the main story.

Dawnstorm. you are a godsend. Thanks so much for taking the time to analyze my work and I will be taking as much of your advice as possible.

That post and others like it will be a great help to me considering how little i have written.

Should I simply continue writing the following chapters, or should I review over this chapter and try and change it for the better, then move on? if its the latter I will probably want some good people like yourself to have another check over it, just in case I have made it worse ;).

Anyway you guys have been a great help and I hope you continue to be so I can improve to good level.

I will definetly stick around and critique (as a reader) other peoples work for sure.

This community is brilliant and thanks for your comments.

Any other people's help would be brilliant too

Monty Mike
January 21st, 2007, 01:05 PM
Dawnstorm... I am lost for words.... :eek: :cool:

You should be sffworld's official ambassador! :D

January 21st, 2007, 01:12 PM
Should I simply continue writing the following chapters, or should I review over this chapter and try and change it for the better, then move on?

It depends on how your brain works. There's no simple do-this/do-that answer.

If you primarily enjoy spinning the story, write on and leave editing for later.

If you primarily enjoy tinkering with words, edit, then write (and then edite again...).

I suggest trial and error; you'll find out what works for you. There's nothing, nothing whatsoever, you have to do. If you find writing is no longer fun, you've probably taken a wrong turn. ;)

I'm currently writing what could be my first finished novel. (I prefer to write short stories, actually.) I'm a very slow writer. Most of the stuff I work out in my head while taking walks and then I sit down and imagine the scene, then tinker with the words (I'm lucky if I can write one sentence without interruptions, deletion, revisions, re-writing...). Still, inconsistencies pop up. I'm not going back to edit them, but I do write on as if they had been corrected. I hope editing won't be a nightmare because of this, but I'm not yet at this stage.

Sometimes, when I'm stuck, editing relevant scenes can break the blocade, though.

I've seen writers using constructions like this:

The <cat/tom> sat on the mat.

It wouldn't work for me; I'd obsess over the brackets. But it works beautifully for him.

You'll have to find your own way, I'm afraid. And I don't know you at all, so I can't really help (except, perhaps, by pointing out that I think you're leaning towards "writing on", as you kind of commented more on this option than on the other. ;) )

Dawnstorm... I am lost for words.... :eek: :cool:

You should be sffworld's official ambassador! :D

Hehe, thanks. (It's rare these days that I can put a post together, so I'm glad it doesn't come out all jumbled...)

January 21st, 2007, 03:08 PM
Yeah dawnstorm you are brilliant.

i think its a good idea to speed write the chapter, then go over it a few times, then continue on, and leave the hardcore editing till after the story is done.

my worry is that without your help after each and every chapter by the end the story will have hundreds of errors and inconsistencies :)

Any more people want to read it and give their thoughts, ill be very grateful.

January 23rd, 2007, 09:29 AM

Im having trouble moving onto the next chapter

I quickly edited the last chapter using dawnstorm's great advice but will not put it up until the second chapter is done also.

Im contemplating two choices, warping ten years in the future where I can really get the plot going.

Or I could continue from where the last chapter ended and tell that story which I think will be good too. (still unsure of exactly where either will go but have a decent idea.)