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MiteeThoR
January 15th, 2005, 10:44 AM
http://www.sffworld.com/community/story/188p0.html

Hi,
I've just joined the forums here, and they have insipired me to try writing a book of my own. I just submitted the first chapter of a book I've started. The title, character names, etc are still up in the air. The main character is Raiden, and it will follow his adventures and inner conflicts as he transforms from a seasoned mercenary to a mage of tremendous power. The story wil be fast paced and full of action. Be warned, it does get a bit gory in places, but I want to demonstrate the brutality of the world he lives in.

Please post whatever you thoughts. Some things I want to know:

1. Does the story interest you so far? Do you care what happens next?
2. Is the pacing right? Is it moving too fast or too slow?
3. Is it hard to follow? Obviously there are hints throught the chapter that will be explained later, as I intend this to be a full length novel.
4. Are there obvious grammar, syntax, or repetition issues that take you out of the story?
5. If this makes it to an editor, do you think it could turn into a published book?

Thank you for your input, I value it greatly

Ernie Stavros
MiteeThoR

Expendable
January 17th, 2005, 12:26 AM
1. Does the story interest you so far? Do you care what happens next?

Yes. Its got my interest.

2. Is the pacing right? Is it moving too fast or too slow?

It seems just right.

3. Is it hard to follow? Obviously there are hints throught the chapter that will be explained later, as I intend this to be a full length novel.

There's a great suggestion of other stuff, adding depth. I'm not sure if you can do more or not yet.

4. Are there obvious grammar, syntax, or repetition issues that take you out of the story?


Raiden watched the spectacle transfixed, oblivious to everything else going around him, fascinated and afraid of the strange ritual occurring in front of him.

This seems repetitive.

5. If this makes it to an editor, do you think it could turn into a published book?

Its got a good begining, maybe.

MiteeThoR
January 18th, 2005, 12:36 PM
Thanks, I will fix that section. The entire story is now available on the community page. I have edited my above post to reflect the new location.

Even if you don't feel like reading everything, please feel free to comment on whatever portion you read, or what held your interest.

ironchef texmex
January 19th, 2005, 02:26 PM
Hi, Thor. Interesting stuff. Sure, I'd read more. I think the pacing is your biggest problem right now, but maybe not the way you mean. You were probably talking about pacing as the rate at which events change in the story; your pace is breakneck and that's fine.

The pacing I'm talking about has more to do with word count. Think of it this way: imagine the reader's interest level as the RPM meter on a car. The more you draw them into the story, the higher their interest. The times when you disseminate information that HAS to be given, but lacks the compelling punch of the other stuff, causes the reader's RPM's to sink. The trick is to strike a balance between the interesting stuff (which can be all sorts of things, but in this case is the action) and the information that slows the action. Too much action without any mention of the main's characters emotions, a description of the surroundings, or a tiny bit of background to help the reader understand what is going on would be bad -- they'd redline. Too much the other way would be bad too -- they'd flatline.

Your problem is the second variety. "... and no time to contemplate his fate." Oh, I agree. So why was he doing it for a paragraph? The section where we find out his opinions on the sorcerers, the part where we learn about his feelings on religion, the afterlife, etc., all should probably be done at a later time (like after the shooting has stopped). Everytime the action gets hot and heavy a paragraph of infodump throws a wet blanket on the whole shooting match (with one exception that I'll get to in a minute).

My advice is don't worry about keying the reader in on every little thing that is going on. Stick to the important stuff, put the reader in Raiden's helmet and let them see through his eyes. And keep them there! They don't need to know what's going on while he's unconscious. They don't need to know anything that he couldn't know himself. That will force the reader into his shoes and highten the sense of tension. They also don't need to watch him mull over the existential world while bullets wiz past his head.

The best example of doing it right is the last scene at the wall. The reader stayed with Raiden up until the end (at which point they get only the briefest of instants to feel the loss of Chunks -- like they should). He can mourn later. That one was nicely done.

For the most part the grammar is good, although a little more variation wouldn't hurt. There is one sentence where you shift tenses "His muscles ached. That's strange, he shouldn't be feeling anything." and a couple of typos, but nothing glaring.

One other thing, many of your descriptions are too vague. "The immense wave of heat and energy hit him with devastating force." "...computer's careful consideration." So what happened when the wave hit him? What exactly constitutes devastating? Tell the reader what actually happened when the energy hit, let them decide whether or not they would call it "devastating". Tell them what the computer was doing. Considering how? Is this algorithmic-based, is it running simulated scenarios? "Considering" is just too imprecise.

Honestly, I doubt an editor would get very far with this one. But don't worry about that, most people write several books before they really settle into their writing style. But, who knows. I've mostly concentrated on the weaknesses, but there is plenty to like about the story so far. The action has it's moments, so does the prose. The technology was interesting. The opening paragraph serves as an excellent hook. Write the book whether it will ever be published or not. At the very least it will serve as a learning experience... and who knows.

MiteeThoR
January 19th, 2005, 08:02 PM
Ironchef,

Thank you for taking the time to read my story. Your comments are very helpful and exactly the sort of thing I was looking for. I see what you mean on the infodumps - I wasn't entirely happy with the way those sections sounded. Some of your others I hadn't even noticed. It helps tremendously to have another set of eyes for this.

I was a little hasty in asking "Can I send this to an editor." This first chapter is an experiment to see if I can write, edit, revise, etc until I have something that could reach the caliber of published work. I only have about 10 hours per week I could dedicate to writing, plus whatever I can sneak in during lunch breaks at work. I was looking to see if I had the "raw material" necessary to create a published book. With such a small amount of free time, I would hate to spend months or years on something that had no chance of turning into something.

I've spent the last couple of weeks reading up on the nuts and bolts of writing, such as the "snowflake method", worldbuilding, Elements of Style, etc. I was very surprised to see how mechanical the process of writing can be, and a little disheartened reading the expeiences of some published authors.

I've also read some of the other samples from members of this forum - some are very talented, while others could do with some remedial language skills. I'm hoping I have enough natual ability that some further study and revision could make the professional level, and at the same time I'm prepared to accept that it's never going to happen, and I should go back to playing Half Life 2 and enjoy what little time I have.

So before I give up all my leisure time on an impossible dream, is it worth it?

Thanks

MiteeThoR

ironchef texmex
January 20th, 2005, 02:38 PM
So before I give up all my leisure time on an impossible dream, is it worth it?


I'm sure you realize that this is a question only you can answer. However, here's a couple things to think about while you ponder the eternal novel vs. Half Life 2 question.

First, I don't really think it's an issue of talent. I firmly believe that most people couple crank out a publishable novel or two if they would just commit themselves to the learning process and give up all those nasty time consumers like "adequate sleep" and "gettin' some". If you want to know how close you are to climbing the hump then the best I can give you from reading your chapter 1 is to say that your stuff is probably a little better than the average first time submission.

Second, since the reality is that most authors have to write and write and write and then write some more before they ever start to produce marketable stuff (and even then a little luck doesn't hurt) the question of "worth it" can get sticky. One of the best things that writing a 'practice' novel can tell you is whether or not you enjoy the actual writing itself. In other words, would you do it even if you knew in advance that you'd never make a dime from it.

For a bunch of us here at the site, we couldn't stop if we wanted to. We've got a great big monkey-with-a-keyboard on our backs and every time we say that we've had enough we get another idea for the world's greatest novel and then BAM... the monkey starts throwing its own turds at us and -- before you know it -- it's back to the writing room.

Expendable
January 20th, 2005, 05:56 PM
It just strikes you and for a moment you know the story, the characters, everything. But then the hard part comes - putting it on paper.

And of course, as you're putting it together, Zing! here comes another one.