May 01 2008

Writing a Strong Introduction for a Novel

Published by at 11:00 pm under Writing Articles

This article will help you write an opening for your book that develops the characters, plot and world.

Characters

1) Introduce the characters before throwing the readers into any high-intensity action. As much as you might want to lead with a car-chase or other action sequence, like many movies do, it’s hard to excite readers with an action sequence if they don’t know why they should sympathize with the protagonist.

2) It’s usually best to start the story by showing the main character in his element. For example, The Hobbit begins with Bilbo Baggins enjoying himself at a birthday party. If the story started with him dungeon-crawling with the dwarves, we’d probably be confused about whether he’s an adventurer at heart and what he’s like.

3) Establishing a fresh character voice early is critical. Your readers have already seen 10 books about a young hero called upon to save the world, but they will stick around for an eleventh if the character sounds interesting.

Plotting

1) Ease readers into unusual aspects of your story. An excellent cinematic example of this is the effective introduction of the original Star Wars movie (“a long time ago…”). The introduction tells us that there’s a civil war between good rebels and an evil empire and that the rebels must protect the plans to a powerful spaceship. The introduction does not ramble about any concepts completely alien to us (Jedi, Darth Vader, The Force, Hutts, etc.)

2) Dramatic stories are usually driven by problems. Showing us a big problem early on will help us grasp where the story is going and feel like we get what’s going on.  Alternatively, a small problem can help drive the story until you reach larger problems.  For example, Harry Potter’s main goal is to survive his awful family at the beginning of the Harry Potter series.  It’s only 50 pages in that we learn anything about Voldemort or Hogwarts.  

3) Good writing makes readers ask questions. Who’s this character? What happens at Fahrenheit 451? The trick is striking a balance between clarity and suspense (giving readers enough information to understand the plot vs. leaving some open threads to propel readers along).

Not clear enough: “Even before I had joined the Guardians, two Lakriamians had successfully managed to reach Si’cxza status.” We don’t understand what any of these buzz-words mean.

Not suspenseful enough: “The Guardians are a guild of assassins that have never failed a mission.”

Better: “Leia had heard the legend of the drunken squeegeemaster in hundreds of taverns, but never from a talking plant.” This gets readers asking questions. Who’s Leia and what is she doing in hundreds of taverns? Who’s the drunken squeegeemaster? Why is a plant talking, and why is he telling stories in a tavern?

World-Building

1) Don’t spend too long setting the stage. Show us only details that are relevant to the plot or character development.

2) Invented words (like Jedi, The Force, The Matrix, etc.) may be part of your story’s world, but they aren’t familiar to us and tend to lose readers.  Don’t use them often in the introduction, and never in the first sentence.  For example, let’s say your opening sentence is “Leia had heard the legend of the drunken squeegeemaster in hundreds of taverns, but never from a talking plant.”  If you were to insert fictional words for the name of the squeegeemaster and the race of talking plants, that sentence would lose all of its charm.  “Leia had heard the legend of Pammalo in hundreds of taverns, but never before from a Flornilus.”  Ick.

Try to describe the roles (drunken squeegeemaster, talking plant) before you start throwing fictional names around.  In the vast majority of cases, the roles will engage prospective readers more than your invented names will.

325 responses so far

325 Responses to “Writing a Strong Introduction for a Novel”

  1. tc7on 08 May 2008 at 9:39 am

    Re., Character (1): I seem to remember most writing books I’ve read say to start with action, to grip the reader and pull them along. Describing the character’s morning routine or their house plans is usually just boring.

    The point is probably just ‘make the beginning interesting’, but dropping the reader into an action sequence is an easy way to do that (and also helps with Plotting 2 and 3).

    -tc7

  2. Jacobon 08 May 2008 at 10:54 am

    That’s definitely a good point: making the beginning interesting is crucial. Far too many books start with the character waking up, which will induce many readers (and editors) to close the book right there.

    However, I think that a beginning can be exciting without being intense. For example, a reasonably unintense action scene might start a book with a boy getting slapped in the face by a girl he’s never met before. The focus of the slapping scene would be the boy and how he reacts to being slapped by a stranger. In contrast, I suspect that the emphasis of the car scene would be the choreography of who’s driving where and dodging what. I don’t think that’s a problem, but it’s usually hard to develop a character and make us care about him during scenes that are highly choreographed. If you can do all that in a highly choreographed scene, go for it!

    For an example of highly choreographed action sometimes being problematic, I’d invite you to look at the chapter “Life, Death and the Manhattan Mangler.” I think that we overemphasized action in the beginning instead of interesting characters.

    Thanks for your feedback!

    –J.M., Superhero Nation contributor

  3. Beccaon 13 Oct 2008 at 10:53 pm

    “Leia had heard the legend of the drunken squeegeemaster in hundreds of taverns, but never from a talking plant.”

    That’s genius. Someone somewhere has to write a novel based on that phrase. I’d love to read a book like that.

  4. B. Macon 14 Oct 2008 at 12:31 am

    Anyone that wants to use the phrase is welcome to it. However, I think that it probably work better for a short story than a novel because the ambient strangeness might get tiresome.

  5. Ragged Boyon 29 Oct 2008 at 6:09 pm

    This section is right up my alley. Seeing as I’m really ready to get my novel started, I’m going to post this synopsis. It’s the introduction to the character, the world and the story.

    The story starts with a person (Aadrello) pushing through a crowd of people. In the crowd there are scenes of fighting, dancing, and overall chaos of the night (which I would describe in detail). The book will point out the many pieces of graffiti on the walls of the buildings as well as the tattered sketchbook (leaving mystery) this person is holding. Around the bottom of the first page or top of the second Aadrello would be introduced by name. The focus is now on him as he rushes through the neon streets and filthy crowds talking frantically to himself.

    He enters a hidden location, meeting three Raggz (I’d briefly introduce the illustrious graffiti gang) members who are auditioning him. He wonders why they walk with the same odd stuper (precursor to a later scene) but forgets about it. There is dialogue as the sweaty, nervous Aadrello is harshly judged and pleads his case. The Raggz members relentlessly mock his art and style. Aadrello is then prompted to do a work on the wall. His work is good, but he is still rejected. The Raggz members leave and Aadrello wanders the abandoned building thinking back on his past of failures. He goes to the rooftop and looks at the cityscape where he gets an idea to tag the spot where a Raggz member mention their next target would be. He goes undercover as the stylish and hyper A.Arty (giving more insight into his personality). He goes to the Halos tower and tags over the Raggz tag. It just so happens that the Raggz come back and a chase ensues.

    I’m being rushed to get off the computer so I’ll just post this for now. What do you think of this so far?

  6. Ragged Boyon 29 Oct 2008 at 6:55 pm

    Oh, and he will become Sketch in the first issue (when I do the comic), so don’t worry about that.

  7. B. Macon 29 Oct 2008 at 8:25 pm

    That should be pretty easy to work with. I didn’t notice any glaring flaws or pitfalls.

    As you build the scene, it may be helpful to show in-scene why he wants to be a Raggz. That choice might not seem intuitive to your readers. If, say, I were an aspiring artist, I’d think about art school or an art studio rather than a graffiti gang.

    There may also be musing concerns as he looks back on his life of failures. Generally, a character that is looking backwards isn’t moving the story forwards. I’d try to have him focus on what’s in his future rather than dwelling too long on the past.

    One way you could mention his life of failures without turning it into musing is to bring up his dropping out of college in his audition. That might explain why the Raggz don’t take well to him. It seems kind of plausible that the members of a graffiti gang would take poorly to an applicant who’s probably better off and better-educated, even if he didn’t get a degree. He may lack “street cred.” If you’d like to make Aadrello more complex, you could try justifying the Raggz a bit by making Aadrello a bit pretentious. I wouldn’t blame him if he saw himself as better than the Raggz.

  8. Ragged Boyon 30 Oct 2008 at 1:22 pm

    How about I kill two birds with one stone and make him dropout from an art school. Seeing as he has no money he couldn’t afford a studio, and becuase he had previous experience he decides graffiti is the next best thing. At least people would see his art. And the pretentious addition is good it would show he has confidence in his work as well as give the Raggz reason for denial. All of this is good he isn’t renowned enough or educated enough to be a member. Now he has a definite reason for rejection and revenge. Thanks

  9. B. Macon 30 Oct 2008 at 1:57 pm

    I like that! It’s a smooth way to distinguish his background from the Raggz’.

    You might want to explain that that was some reason for his dropping out from art-school, like the money or whatever. Otherwise readers might get the impression that he dropped out because he couldn’t cut it. On the other hand, it might be more interesting if he dropped out because he couldn’t cut it. The story would start with him trying to get into the Raggz to vindicate how much his artistic talent has grown.

  10. Bretton 23 Nov 2008 at 7:29 pm

    Ok. I have a slight problem. My original intro just doesn’t seem to work. The basics of it was that Alex and his brothers have been feuding with their cousins. So they have regular fights. In this particular fight, both sides built military-grade weapons. STOP. The oldest kid at this point (Karen) is 15. The idea that these kids could build military-grade weapons simply by reading a few pages out of The Encyclopedic and Unabridged Dictionary of the History of War is suddenly feeling very goofy. Probably because this part was written when I was much younger. It’s also one of the last sci-fi vestiges that must be removed. Also, this beginning scene isn’t terribly dramatic. It doesn’t get interesting until Alex and Karen discover their powers by pure accident, and then their parents come home and catch them in the act. And I’m going to majorly revise the training bit afterward. My question is, what would be a more effective intro for Alex and company? I want to establish him, his rivalry with Karen, and the fact that they and their siblings have superpowers. I also would like their parents to reveal their membership in the Knights.

    Here’s an idea. Suppose Alex and Karen are caught in the middle of a struggle with some supercriminal. They discover their powers because of the stress of the moment and barely manage until the Knights show up, with their parents among them. What do you think?

    Also, should I keep the concept of the Barrier? If the Human world and the Elderworld are not quite as separated, the idea of villains becomes easier because the fantasy realm could “spill over” into the human realm. (e.g. a monster rampage at the most cliche.)

    Also, what of this opening line:
    “Some are born great, others learn greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them. However, there are rare individuals who accomplish three.”

    Your thoughts?

  11. B. Macon 23 Nov 2008 at 8:48 pm

    Hmm. What do you think about something like this?

    1. The kids have known all along that they’re a little bit special (although they probably only have a glimpse of their eventual powers). Their parents have never made a very big deal out of their powers/specialness, but they’ve made it very clear that the kids can’t show anyone else how special they are or Bad Things will happen. (For example, perhaps being a Knight is a capital crime, or the public is fiercely jealous of the Knights, or perhaps the villain will try to assassinate them, or whatever. Drawing a superhero analogy, most superheroes try to avoid advertising their presence, particularly when their kids are involved).

    2. The kids are fighting pretty innocently in a very, very public place like a market. Either Karen or Alex ends up accidentally using some supernatural ability and the town guard/cops/whatever get called. The parents successfully escape with the kids, but everyone in the family is now pretty much a fugitive because the parents do something that reveals them to be Knights. (Some signature move, or spell, or tactic, or equipment, or something).

    3. The parents decide that it’s no longer safe for the kids to live with them, given that the police will be looking for them. Furthermore, since the kids are getting older and their powers are manifesting anyway, they decide that it’s time to send the kids to an academy where they can safely learn their powers. This will also put the kids on the path to eventually becoming Knights themselves.

    4. The sibling rivalry might get heated because Karen thinks that they only got outed to the locals because Alex was stupidly showing off (or vice versa). Maybe she blames him for being sent to the academy. That seems like a pretty dramatic conflict there.

    I’m not sure about the Barrier. It adds a layer of complexity but I’m not sure yet if it has a corresponding benefit.

    I’m not very fond of that opening passage. It feels too general, like it could apply to most action stories. In the opening paragraph, I’d like to learn something about your action story. For example, if you were OK with the idea of having the Knights be hunted men, you could lead with something cryptic like “Alex and Karen knew that they had to be careful around their neighbors.” That gets the readers wondering “what are Alex and Karen hiding?” and “what would their neighbors do if they found out?”

  12. Bretton 23 Nov 2008 at 8:59 pm

    I like your idea. Suppose I spin the opening a wee bit.

    Alexander Tafari had to be very cautious around his neighbors. For someone like him, the world was very dangerous. At first glance, no one who saw him would have suspected greatness, or even weirdness for that matter. He seemed normal enough: ordinary height, brown skin, black hair, but anyone who looked closer could tell otherwise. The signs were plain. Alex’s ears were pointed, and his curly black hair had a slight red sheen. If his ears raised suspicion, having an odd hair color was the kiss of death. The reactions ranged from fear and revulsion to mockery and outright hatred. Hatred of what he was: a half-elf.

    Your thoughts?

  13. Bretton 23 Nov 2008 at 9:02 pm

    Also, suppose I take my original opening line and use it as my ending line?

    “Some are born great, others learn greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them. Thus begins the tale of Alexander Leonhart Tafari, a rare individual who can accomplish all three.”

    Your thoughts on this?

  14. B. Macon 23 Nov 2008 at 9:05 pm

    Alexander Tafari had to be very cautious around his neighbors.
    –Is his last name necessary here?
    –What do you think about “careful” instead of cautious? (The words are very similar, so I’m just suggesting careful as another option here).

    For someone like him, the world was very dangerous.
    –This seems kind of removed from Alex’s perspective. I’d recommend getting a bit closer to his eyes here. Rather than the narrator telling us that his world is dangerous, I’d like to know what sort of cues make the world look dangerous to him. What have his parents told him? What has he noticed? Does he get suspicious stares from vendors?
    –In the first 2-4 sentences, I’d recommend suggesting approximately how old Alex is. (You don’t need to get specific, and I think it’s more artful to be general).
    –You may be able to recast this narration as a conversation between Alex and someone else, probably a parent.

    At first glance, no one who saw him would have suspected greatness, or even weirdness for that matter.
    –This does not seem to flow very smoothly from the world being dangerous or his cautiousness.
    –I’d recommend replacing this with the next sentence, something like “His height was ordinary and his brown skin was easy to forget, but the signs were plain.

    Alternately, you could show us what humans think about half-elves here with a conversation where Alex goes to pick up groceries and notices a storekeeper (etc.) visually tracing the outline of his ears with his eyes. Over the course of the conversation, the storekeeper would pay more attention to his unusual features (ears, hair sheen, etc.) Then I’d recommend having the storekeeper say something that sounds kind of ominous, like “Maybe you shouldn’t be here.” (I’d recommend against overt persecution, like “Get the hell out, half-elf!”, though because that would probably be too off-putting at this point. If you’d like to use overt persecution, I’d recommend ratcheting up to that level gradually).

    What do you think?

  15. B. Macon 23 Nov 2008 at 9:15 pm

    Please bear in mind that my ending lines are not very good. However, I have a few problems with that as the ending line. First, “thus begins the tale of Alexander…” is probably not appropriate because the tale began (from a reader’s perspective) hundreds of pages before. Second, “a rare individual who can” is probably not in the right tense.

    Again, I’m quite bad at final lines. You’re working on a sequel, right? If so, I’d recommend alluding to it in the final line. Perhaps he’s staring off in the direction of the next villain.

  16. Bretton 24 Nov 2008 at 4:18 am

    How about this: The only country the Knights are not allowed is Seltolmia. Alex lives in Princepia. However, while the Knights are allowed, they are still somewhat feared because of their power. Superpowered children are seen as an outright threat, and are outlawed by the government. (A reason for humans to hate hybrids! Note: please italicize “humans” here.) So when Alex and Karen displayed their abilities, they caught the attention of the authorities and their parents.

    What do you think? Also, should the kids start training here, or should they have ALREADY started, which is how they can exhibit these powers? Of course, their younger siblings would not have started yet.

    Also, should I change the training part? If they’re running from the authorities, their training would be more rushed.

    Your thoughts?

  17. B. Macon 24 Nov 2008 at 4:44 am

    OK. I would recommend having the kids start training only after they manifest their powers. I think otherwise you’d get lost in backstory. That would also explain why their younger siblings have not started yet, because their powers have not yet really manifested.

    I’d recommend changing the training part. For example, the kids might engage in a secret journey (probably around a chapter or two) to the academy. Along the way, their parents may give them a brief set of instructions to keep them alive, but hopefully nothing too in-depth. I would recommend separating the parents from the kids as soon as possible, preferably well before the kids reach the academy. If they are in the scene, they will crowd out the kids and kill the drama by virtue of being more powerful and better-trained.

    What do you think?

  18. Bretton 24 Nov 2008 at 8:46 am

    But wouldn’t it seem harsh for the parents to just abandon their children? I don’t have plans to kill the parents off, and my original plan was for them not to leave until they reach the academy. The kids don’t know the way there. Would it be possible for them to be separated but not abandoned? (The kids run off, the parent have to go get supplies, etc.) But I also don’t want them to seem negligent. Unlike most stories of this vein, I want them to be GOOD parents, not abusive archetypes or drop-dead props to be killed off in order to give the hero some excuse for a purpose.

    Your thoughts on execution?

  19. Bretton 24 Nov 2008 at 9:45 am

    I’m working on an overhaul of the first 4 chapters by the way, so my comments may become MORE frequent than usual.

  20. B. Macon 24 Nov 2008 at 12:38 pm

    You’d probably have to come up with some reason that the abandonment is mostly benign– for example, if it’s the only way that the kids can get away, it would be an act of good parenting to send the kids off. And I agree that it would be too cliche for the parents to die.

    For example, perhaps the parents fear that the bad guys have the ability to track them down more easily than just the kids. Or maybe one of the parents is wounded and is unable to proceed, but the other parent feels that he/she cannot abandon his/her spouse. The wounded spouse demands that the kids keep moving because he/she refuses to be the reason that they got caught.

  21. Bretton 24 Nov 2008 at 1:21 pm

    Ok. So if the kids are separated from their parents, who should take the lead, Alex or his rival Karen? If Alex takes the lead we might see some of his arrogance, what he thinks of himself, and whether or not he actually has leadership skills. Also, since Karen is the older of the two, she will be very annoyed at having to follow him. But would it be too contrived/chosen one-ish for the younger of the two to be designated leader by the parents? Would that be cliche?

    If Karen becomes leader, then we’ll see more of her better-than-thou smuggery, and see Alex’s temper flare and ego deflated. If Karen is actually a competent leader, that those factors increase exponentially. One possibility however is if Karen screws up, Alex would have an “I-told-you-so” moment. Problem is, “I-told-you-so” moments are a hallmark of mary sues and chosen ones. Also, wouldn’t it make sense for the oldest to be designated leader? Would Alex’s resistance result in either two separate factions or an uneasy co-leadership?

    Also, should the parents and kids be reunited later right before the Academy? If the parents disappear forever, readers will assume they’re dead, which I don’t want. Also, I throw away line about how they’re off somewhere else might be too forgettable and unclear.

    Your thoughts?

  22. Bretton 24 Nov 2008 at 1:46 pm

    Also, here’s the revamped intro paragraphs:

    Alexander Tafari had to be very careful around his neighbors. His parents had always warned him that he would suffer daily persecution, and they were right. He was of ordinary height, his brown skin and black hair were forgettable, but other, obvious signs marked him for harassment. Alex’s ears were pointed, and his curly black hair had a slight red sheen. If his ears raised suspicion, having an odd hair color was the kiss of death. The reactions ranged from fear and revulsion to mockery and outright hatred. Hatred of what he was: a half-elf.

    He had been sent to the market to pick up some things for his mother. When he went to purchase some cabbage, the merchant glared at him from the corner of his eyes, though never daring direct eye contact. The man watched him closely, as if he expected to be robbed. He was scared.

    “M-maybe it’s for the best if you just purchase the cabbage and leave, eh?” His voice trembled.

    Alex moved on to another vender. This one was so frightened that he refused to accept payment.

    “Go on ahead. It’s free! T-take it and leave me alone.”

    Alex took incidents like this with mixed feelings. He was glad of the free food, but at the same time, he was both angered and hurt at the fear and hatred he saw in the eyes of humans.
    Why do they fear and hate me? At times Alex almost believed that the entire human race was cruel and suspicious. Then he remembered that not all people were the same. There were some, like his father for example, who were different.

    Alex’s father, Xavier, was a noble, dark brown-skinned man of proud ancestry, with blue eyes that could pierce the soul of a hardened criminal, short, curly black hair with a few silver strands near the temples, and a presence that could silence a rabid dog. His senses were uncanny, and his mouth had never spoken an idle threat.

    His elven wife Rishtaria, Alex mother, had kind eyes that were a shade of glowing amber. Her radiant brown hair flowed down to her back, and everything about her was softness and beauty, concealing an inner strength and dignity that could put monarchs to shame. When Rishtaria was out in public, she often wore her hair in such a way as to conceal her pointed ears. It prevented harassment. Humans were perfectly accepting of an elf, and such an elf could even go out in public with a human, unless they were married. There was an unspoken rule among the races that any cross-cultural couple was to be looked down upon, and their offspring were to be despised. Not just half-elves, but half-dwarves and half-giants as well.

    Alex lived in the city of Mora. It was a charming town, not a small hamlet, but by no means a city as large as the capital city. It sat on the banks of the Nuba river, where the landscape was already tinged with the beginning of the harvest season. The green trees were beginning to turn shades of gold, red, and orange in the month of August. A fiery harbinger of the fruits of nature to come.

    Alex was on his way home from the market. She would not let him drive the cart, so he had to carry everything himself. It was beginning to get frustrating, and Alex did not have a reputation for patience.
    While he was walking down the street, kicking at a rock in his path, Alex saw a girl out of the corner of his eye. He instantly recognized her, and walked faster. Karen. The girl saw him and walked in his direction. Alex’s attempt to avoid his cousin had failed. I really don’t want to deal with her right now, Alex thought. Karen was his cousin, but she was also very skilled at triggering his temper. Alex simply could not understand her.

    Karen’s parents were Raphael and Kayla Munashe. Uncle Raphael was slightly shorter than Xavier, and shared Xavier’s dark complexion as well as his curly black hair. That was where the similarities ended. Unlike Xavier, Raphael was often quiet and reserved, endlessly observing with his intelligent brown eyes. He was not threatening, but rather warm and accommodating. He commanded the same respect that Xavier did, but by entirely other means.

    His elven wife Kayla, Rishtaria’s sister, was her husband’s foil. Where Raphael was warm, Kayla was often cold and calculating, but not unfriendly. She was a loving mother and wife, but when the time came, she could put that persona aside. Kayla had straight shoulder length black hair, a light, milky skin tone, and sharp, clear grey eyes that sense both fear and untruth.

    Karen herself was a far cry from either of her parents. It seemed to Alex that everyone liked her, even despite the fact that she too was half-elven. Maybe it was something about her long, straight silvery-white hair. Maybe it was her golden brown skin tone. Maybe it was her musical voice. He was always hearing other people talk about how wonderful she was. But Alex knew the truth. To him, Karen was nothing but deviousness and trickery. They two had been rivals as long as Alex could remember. They were playing a perpetual game of cat-and-mouse. Despite whatever ambitions Karen might have had, Alex knew he was superior. Eventually the struggle had to end, and only he would claim supremacy. But the battle for supremacy would have to wait. Right now, all Alex wanted was to get the groceries home intact. If Karen mad him angry again, that would be nearly impossible.

    “Hey, Alex!” Karen shouted.

    Alex pretended that he could not hear her over the commotion in the street and walked faster. He pictured the blue sandstone house where he lived, his destination. He would not let anything distract him, not even Karen.

    Karen would not be denied. “Alex! Yes, I’m talking to you, horntoad!”

    The name stung, but Alex suppressed his anger. He would have to deal with Karen later. He made a sharp turn and ran towards the town square, hoping to lose her in the crowd. Who could pick out one fourteen-year-old boy among the hundreds of people among the hundreds who gathered in the square? Certainly not a fifteen-year-old girl. Alex plunged into the crowd, taking several twists and turns he was sure would disorient his adversary. After this, emerged and continued on his path, only to find Karen blocking the way.

    “Nice try Alex. Next time you want to hide in a crowd, be sure to find a large group of people who have pointed ears and red-black hair.” Karen said with a smug look on her face.

    Then it occurred to Alex, Karen could use her long hair to hide her ears. Most people believed she was human. Alex struggled to keep his temper now that he had been forced to engage his adversary. “How did you catch up to me?”

    I won’t post the original because it’s longer than this (due to the fact that it served as a small biography for Alex, Karen, and each of their siblings, and that it involved ridiculously goofy/campy stunts, cliche dialogue, and was genuinely boring). I think this introduces characters and setting very well, and it’s very non-intrusive.

    Your thoughts?

  23. Bretton 24 Nov 2008 at 1:47 pm

    If you want the original first 17 paragraphs for purposes of comparison I will gladly provide them, but they are not for the faint of heart. I must admit, the writing was worse than Eragon in spots.

  24. B. Macon 24 Nov 2008 at 3:07 pm

    Who should take the lead? Well, these are kids that are roughly as old as each other, so I’m not sure that it would be realistic (or interesting) for them to have a very organized, hierarchical relationship. They haven’t planned or trained for this sort of situation, so I’d expect a lot of squabbling and incohesion especially if they were rivals before.

    It would make sense if the parents anointed a leader, probably the older one, but when the going gets rough or that leader lords it over the other or makes a tactical blunder, I’d expect a lot of insubordination. I would recommend having the one that is the leader be the one that got them into trouble in the first place (after all, she’s the oldest, so it would make sense if her powers manifested first), but that’s just a suggestion.

    I do have some concern that Alex will wilt under the spotlight if Karen is the one leading, but that shouldn’t be a problem if he is insubordinate. I’d have him second-guessing her a lot. She may be (in theory) the leader and the older one, but most of the other comments you’ve left lead me to believe that he is a substantially more important character, so I’d recommend focusing on his perspective even if he’s not (theoretically) the leader here.

    I don’t think that this situation would likely lead to a Mary Sue. There’s a LOT that can go wrong. In fact, it’s fully possible that they each make a leadership decision (should we go left or right?) and BOTH are wrong. Given that these are untrained teens on their own for pretty much the first time, and that they probably aren’t excited about working with each other, I’d expect that what we see is not a smoothly-run operation. That’s fine. In fact, it’s probably more interesting that way. It wouldn’t be very fun to read a story about two Army Rangers getting from Alex’s house to the academy because there’s no drama between the two.

    I think it would make sense to have the kids know that the parents aren’t dead. You could demonstrate that with a reunion, or a letter, or a messenger/family member, etc. Personally, I’d recommend saving the reunion for later in the book so that it’s more meaningful (absence makes the heart grow fonder, right?), but that’s just a suggestion of course.

  25. B. Macon 24 Nov 2008 at 3:08 pm

    I will look at your 17 paragraphs and get back to you later, probably tonight or tomorrow.

  26. Bretton 24 Nov 2008 at 3:26 pm

    Thanks for your suggestions, and the delay is fine, quite understandable really. Realistically, it would have been impossible to expect an instant reply. (An instant reply would also not have your usual depth and keen insight.) I’ll just leave a little note to remind you every now and then.

  27. Holliequon 24 Nov 2008 at 4:13 pm

    Just a recommendation, Brett, but I don’t think you really need to go into such detail describing Alex and Karen’s parents. It seems to disrupt the flow of the story a little (since it’s otherwise good). We don’t know who these characters are, so it makes no sense to describe them in detail to us now and expect us to remember for when we finally DO meet them.

    I’d suggest removing the descriptions and slotting them in at a more appropriate point, or cutting them to simple things like ‘Alex greatly admired his father: he had never known the man to make an empty threat in his life’. You could also say that, I dunno, he’s proud of his mother and father for putting up with all the discrimination they suffer?

    It’s just my opinion, but it seems like this opening part should be about Alex and Karen. We don’t need to be distracted by knowing about their parents.

  28. Ragged Boyon 24 Nov 2008 at 7:36 pm

    I agree with Holliequ, don’t get me wrong I love your story (and can’t wait to read it someday) but it seemed kind of unnecessary. I think just the personalities are good enough, if they ever actually come into play, then maybe a physical description. But other than that I like the beginning, it’s better than these Critters submissions that are insufferably boring. INSUFFERABLY BORING !!!

  29. Bretton 24 Nov 2008 at 8:16 pm

    Haha! This used to be insufferably boring, but I’ve since overhauled it.

  30. Bretton 24 Nov 2008 at 8:59 pm

    By the way, here’s something new. Alex’s first sword is given to him by his dad. On their journey to the Academy it will be either lost or broken. I was wondering about a name for the sword. Would I get in trouble for Spitfire? If so, I’ll use Wildfire as a reference to his original (scrapped) codename. Also, the second sword that he will make for himself will no longer be call Zolfir Vaichar (sword/blade of fire in Elvish). That name was too easy to stumble over. I’ll simplify it to one word. What do you guys think about Vaicariad (“of fire”)?

    Your thoughts?

    Reminder to B. Mac, don’t forget my paragraphs please.

  31. B. Macon 25 Nov 2008 at 4:34 am

    Hmm. Personally, I’m not very fond of weapons that have a name or are inherited from family members. Both suggest that the character may be a Mary Sue, and the aspect of inheriting the weapon may also make the character a chosen one.

    However, if you’re dead-set on naming the weapon, I like Vaicariad the most out of the four possibilities you listed. (You could consider changing it to Valcariad to lose the awkward “Vai” sound at the beginning, but generally I find the name effective aside from the problem that named weapons tend to be problematic). If you were really dead-set on a weapon passed down from his father, I’d recommend introducing that later (after he has done something to earn it). That should help resolve the chosen one problems.

  32. Bretton 25 Nov 2008 at 5:57 am

    Actually, his father gives him his first sword, Wildfire/Spitfire as a gift. He loses/breaks it while running from the royal guard. Vaicariad is his SECOND sword that he makes for himself. It replaces the Zolfir Vaichar (a previous scrapped concept sword).

    So to be clear:

    Wildfire/Spitfire- Inherited from father, broken/lost while fleeing soldiers

    Vaicariad- Alex makes for himself.

    Also, note that Vaicariad is derived from the Elvish word Vaichar, meaning sword. If you think Valcariad would be smoother, I may also need to change the word Vaichar to Valcar/Valchar. Would this change be neccessary?

    What do you think?

  33. B. Macon 25 Nov 2008 at 6:24 am

    What’s the point of his father giving him a sword if he loses it shortly afterwards? Also, if he doesn’t trust his son to lead the group, why would he give him the sword? Hmm. It might save you time just to have him make his own sword from step one.

    Also, my main rule of thumb with regards to foreign words is that it’s best to use English words unless foreign ones are decidedly more informative. For example, if Tom Clancy were writing a novel, he might use “jihadist” instead of “terrorist” or “apartheid” instead of “discrimination” because the foreign words convey more information to the audience than their English counterparts.

    In your case, I don’t think readers will pick up any added meaning from the use of something like the Elven translation for “sword.” Even if the sword’s name *did* translate to something more unexpected, I don’t think that readers would know enough of your elven language to pick that up, even if you included a glossary.

  34. B. Macon 25 Nov 2008 at 6:27 am

    PARTIALLY COMPLETED.
    Alexander Tafari had to be very careful around his neighbors. His parents had always warned him that he would suffer daily persecution, and they were right. He was of ordinary height, his brown skin and black hair were forgettable, but other, obvious signs marked him for harassment. Alex’s ears were pointed, and his curly black hair had a slight red sheen. If his ears raised suspicion, having an odd hair color was the kiss of death. The reactions ranged from fear and revulsion to mockery and outright hatred. Hatred of what he was: a half-elf.

    –The second sentence seems out of place, particularly the phrase “daily persecution.” First, it sounds like something we’d see in a political science paper or a State Department report. When I tried a rewrite, I tried rephrasing it as something like “half-elves were not welcome.”
    –Do the humans here really hate half-elves? It seems more like fear. It could be problematic if he feels like he’s hated but readers don’t. I wouldn’t recommend taking this to the other side of the spectrum (“you half-elf scum don’t deserve to live!”) but I’d recommend making the humans here a bit more forceful.
    –Why do the merchants fear half-elves? It seems that they fear the half-elves are thieves. That would be plausible, I think, if this were a story about real-world racism, but I’d recommend coming up with a different reason here. For example, maybe they’re afraid of the half-elf accidentally blowing up the town with magical powers he can’t control. (That’s an exaggeration, of course, but as long as readers know that it should be OK).
    –This opening paragraph doesn’t really give us a place.

    He had been sent to the market to pick up some things for his mother. When he went to purchase some cabbage, the merchant glared at him from the corner of his eyes, though never daring direct eye contact. The man watched him closely, as if he expected to be robbed. He was scared.
    –The first sentence gives us a setting, but it seems like a kind of passive way to do so. (Relying on backstory in the second paragraph may be problematic).
    –I like the detail about the merchant’s glares.
    –I think the structures here could use a bit more variety. Most of the sentences here go something like ‘He [verb].’ He had been sent, when he went, the merchant glared, the man watched, he was scared. An interjection from the narrator about the scene, the mood or Alex might help here.
    –If fear is the main way that humans feel towards half-elves, I’d recommend bringing the prospect of guards very quickly. We don’t have to have guards on the scene immediately, but it might help if Alex knows that the guards could be summoned very quickly.
    –I’d recommend drawing out the conclusion that Alex is a half-elf for dramatic effect.

    “M-maybe it’s for the best if you just purchase the cabbage and leave, eh?” His voice trembled.
    –I think a more forceful attitude would help here. Something like “Maybe you should be going,” or “You’re not one of us” or “Leave me alone” or something. “I can’t sell to you” would make the vendor sound snivelly (like he would sell to Alex if he weren’t a total wuss; alternately, it might just be a pretense for his own attitudes).

    Alex moved on to another vender [vendor?]. This one was so frightened that he refused to accept payment.

    “Go on ahead. It’s free! T-take it and leave me alone.”
    –This does not sound like a bad deal for Alex. I know it IS bad– no one wants to be scary– but the only tangible effect here is a good one for Alex. He gets free food.

    Alex took incidents like this with mixed feelings. He was glad of the free food, but at the same time, he was both angered and hurt at the fear and hatred he saw in the eyes of humans.
    –“He was both angered and hurt at the fear and hatred” is very passive. I think this should be more visceral. I think it would help to draw out the sequence with a single vendor here. I’d start it out pretty nicely (Alex looks like a human at first glance) and then gradually build up to a sinister conclusion (Maybe you should buy somewhere else). I think that drawing out will help us understand what Alex is going through.

    Why do they fear and hate me? At times Alex almost believed that the entire human race was cruel and suspicious. Then he remembered that not all people were the same. There were some, like his father for example, who were different.
    –“Why do they fear and hate me?” This strikes me as a very removed way to muse about what he has just experienced. I’d take this out of internal monologue. He’s here to get cabbage, right? I think you have a dramatic opportunity to show him convincing the vendor to sell the cabbage. You could play it seriously or comically. For example, if the vendor is afraid of a young half-elf because he thinks the kid is going to explode with magical energy, he might say something like “You’ve got to stay away from me. I don’t want to blow up like the last guy.” Then Alex, in a fit of surly pique and defiance, might deliberately stand at ten feet staring at any customers that came close the vendor. Obviously, human customers would race past the booth because the half-elf is so close. After a minute of this to test Alex’s patience, the vendor might reluctantly agree to sell him the cabbage to get him to go away. Alternately, the vendor could call the guard, but I think that it would be uplifting at this moment to see Alex win his cabbage with his wits and determination.
    –“There were some, like his father for example, who were different.” “like” and “for example” seem redundant and “there were some” is probably unnecessary. You could probably shorten this to “For example, his father was very different.” I’d also recommend adding a detail here about how warm-hearted and species-blind his father is.

    Alex’s father, Xavier, was a noble, dark brown-skinned man of proud ancestry, with blue eyes that could pierce the soul of a hardened criminal, short, curly black hair with a few silver strands near the temples, and a presence that could silence a rabid dog. His senses were uncanny, and his mouth had never spoken an idle threat.
    –I think the detail about the piercing eyes is cliche. But “a presence that could silence a rabid dog” is exquisite.
    –It seems kind of superfluous to mention the skin-color of Alex’s father, based on what we know of Alex’s skin.

    His elven wife Rishtaria, Alex mother, had kind eyes that were a shade of glowing amber. Her radiant brown hair flowed down to her back, and everything about her was softness and beauty, concealing an inner strength and dignity that could put monarchs to shame. When Rishtaria was out in public, she often wore her hair in such a way as to conceal her pointed ears. It prevented harassment. Humans were perfectly accepting of an elf, and such an elf could even go out in public with a human, unless they were married. There was an unspoken rule among the races that any cross-cultural couple was to be looked down upon, and their offspring were to be despised. Not just half-elves, but half-dwarves and half-giants as well.
    –This paragraph, like the previous one, seem kind of removed from Alex (the subject of the first few paragraphs). It’d probably be smoother to learn about the parents as they talked with Alex.
    –It might be more dramatic, maybe, if Rishtaria didn’t have to hide her elven-ness. For example, if humans were afraid of half-elves because of their dangerous lack of control over their abilities, maybe elves are more accepted because they generally have better control. I think one way you might be able to make the parent-child relationship more interesting is if the kids are much more of outcasts than the parents are. (It also suggests that being a half-elf is a liability in terms of power, which will help flesh out Alex). Then the issue for Rishtaria would not be whether she were harassed, but whether people think it is moral for elves to run around creating half-elf time bombs waiting to go off. (That’s extremely unfair, of course, but it presents the humans in a slightly more complex way).

    Alex lived in the city of Mora. It was a charming town, not a small hamlet, but by no means a city as large as the capital city. It sat on the banks of the Nuba river, where the landscape was already tinged with the beginning of the harvest season. The green trees were beginning to turn shades of gold, red, and orange in the month of August. A fiery harbinger of the fruits of nature to come.
    –This strikes me as very passive.
    –Is the name of the Nuba river relevant? If not, I’d recommend cutting it. Is the river itself relevant? If not, I’d recommend cutting that, too.
    –I like the fall imagery. One way you could draw that into the scene earlier is to have Alex crunching leaves as he walks. That will help of us think of him as a pretty typical young person. (Also, if he wants to annoy the vendors, he could do so by standing nearby and crunching leaves until the vendor agrees to sell him cabbage).

    Alex was on his way home from the market. She would not let him drive the cart, so he had to carry everything himself. It was beginning to get frustrating, and Alex did not have a reputation for patience.
    –Maybe you can show he is impatient without telling us that.
    –Who is “she” here?

    While he was walking down the street, kicking at a rock in his path, Alex saw a girl out of the corner of his eye. He instantly recognized her, and walked faster. Karen. The girl saw him and walked in his direction. Alex’s attempt to avoid his cousin had failed. I really don’t want to deal with her right now, Alex thought. Karen was his cousin, but she was also very skilled at triggering his temper. Alex simply could not understand her.
    –I love the pacing here! The phrase “He instantly recognized her, and walked faster. Karen.” makes great use of punctuation and fragments.
    –“Simply could not understand her” is probably out-of-character. I’d recommend changing the word understand to “stand,” or if you’d like a touch of irony, “tolerate.”
    –I’d recommend changing “Alex’s attempt to avoid his cousin had failed” to “Alex had failed to avoid his cousin.”

    Karen’s parents were Raphael and Kayla Munashe. Uncle Raphael was slightly shorter than Xavier, and shared Xavier’s dark complexion as well as his curly black hair. That was where the similarities ended. Unlike Xavier, Raphael was often quiet and reserved, endlessly observing with his intelligent brown eyes. He was not threatening, but rather warm and accommodating. He commanded the same respect that Xavier did, but by entirely other means.
    –This lineage is very removed from the rest of the story. I want to know about Karen, not her parents.

    His elven wife Kayla, Rishtaria’s sister, was her husband’s foil. Where Raphael was warm, Kayla was often cold and calculating, but not unfriendly. She was a loving mother and wife, but when the time came, she could put that persona aside. Kayla had straight shoulder length black hair, a light, milky skin tone, and sharp, clear grey eyes that sense both fear and untruth.
    –Same thing here. Why do we know more about her parents than her? They are not in this scene.

    Karen herself was a far cry from either of her parents. It seemed to Alex that everyone liked her, even despite the fact that she too was half-elven. Maybe it was something about her long, straight silvery-white hair. Maybe it was her golden brown skin tone. Maybe it was her musical voice. He was always hearing other people talk about how wonderful she was. But Alex knew the truth. To him, Karen was nothing but deviousness and trickery. They two had been rivals as long as Alex could remember. They were playing a perpetual game of cat-and-mouse. Despite whatever ambitions Karen might have had, Alex knew he was superior. Eventually the struggle had to end, and only he would claim supremacy. But the battle for supremacy would have to wait. Right now, all Alex wanted was to get the groceries home intact. If Karen mad him angry again, that would be nearly impossible.
    –This is a long paragraph.
    –I’d like to get away from passive description like “everyone liked her, even despite the fact that she too…” and more towards the interaction between him and her.
    –I’m not sure what I think about the sentence “maybe it was her golden brown skin tone.” It already feels kind of heavy-handed that Alex is black and he’s being discriminated against by people who have not been identified as black. This might be problematic if readers are not sure whether he’s really being discriminated against because he’s black or because he’s a half-elf.
    –I have class in 20 minutes, so I’ll pick up the pace now.

    “Hey, Alex!” Karen shouted.

    Alex pretended that he could not hear her over the commotion in the street and walked faster. He pictured the blue sandstone house where he lived, his destination. He would not let anything distract him, not even Karen.

    Karen would not be denied. “Alex! Yes, I’m talking to you, horntoad!”

    The name stung, but Alex suppressed his anger. He would have to deal with Karen later. He made a sharp turn and ran towards the town square, hoping to lose her in the crowd. Who could pick out one fourteen-year-old boy among the hundreds of people among the hundreds who gathered in the square? Certainly not a fifteen-year-old girl. Alex plunged into the crowd, taking several twists and turns he was sure would disorient his adversary. After this, emerged and continued on his path, only to find Karen blocking the way.
    –“The name stung, but Alex suppressed his anger” is passive.
    –“certainly not a fifteen year old girl” is nicely contemptuous. I feel like it’s appropriate for the age group.

    “Nice try Alex. Next time you want to hide in a crowd, be sure to find a large group of people who have pointed ears and red-black hair.” Karen said with a smug look on her face.

    Then it occurred to Alex, Karen could use her long hair to hide her ears. Most people believed she was human. Alex struggled to keep his temper now that he had been forced to engage his adversary. “How did you catch up to me?”

  35. Bretton 25 Nov 2008 at 6:45 am

    Oh, ok. I screwed up. Heh heh. Zolfir is the word for sword. Vaichar actually means fire. Therefore Vaicariad means “of Fire”. Heh. My bad.

  36. Bretton 25 Nov 2008 at 6:49 am

    Yeah, later their parents tell them they are feared and hated for the same reason as the Knights: they are too powerful. So your second reason for humans fearing them was right on the money. I think I’ll slide it more towards fear than hatred in my revision.

  37. Bretton 25 Nov 2008 at 10:37 am

    Also, the river is important later. We find out that Alex is royalty, remember? That royalty comes through his mother’s side. As you can imagine, an elf-king would be nervous about allowing his daughters into the corrupt, dangerous human world. He allowed them to marry Xavier and Raphael with the condition that they could not go any farther than the Nuba River. When the families are fleeing the guards, Alex suggests that they cross the Nuba into Makeris, his father’s homeland. They cannot, but Alex isn’t told why until later, when the royalty thing comes up.

  38. Bretton 25 Nov 2008 at 11:26 am

    I’ve made some revisions. I would request your thoughts on the changes as well as the above information. I should get going on the other re-writes, not to mention new chapters, but a good opening is crucial. Oh, and mind the gaps, as in there are none. I guess I can’t indent. The paragraph structure is similar though, so it shouldn’t be too much trouble where they begin/end.

    Alexander Tafari had to be very careful around his neighbors. His parents had always warned him that “his kind” was not well liked by humans, and they were right. He was of ordinary height, his brown skin and black hair were forgettable, but other, obvious signs marked him for harassment. Alex’s ears were pointed, and his curly black hair had a slight red sheen. If his ears raised suspicion, having an odd hair color was the kiss of death. The reactions ranged from fear and revulsion to mockery and outright hatred. Hatred of “his kind”.

    The market seemed somewhat vacant today, or maybe the good villagers wholeheartedly believed that anyone within a five foot radius of him would die and painfully. The cabbage merchant glared at him from the corner of his eyes, though never daring direct eye contact. Watching him closely, as if he expected robbery, or worse, murder. His face bore the scowl of hatred, but his body reeked of fear.
    “I d-don’t sell to the like of you.” His voice trembled.

    “Is that so?” Alex said, slowly approaching. “Well, if you’re smart, you will sell to me, or you won’t sell to anyone else.” Alex gave the man his signature left-sided smirk.
    “Look, I don’t want any trouble, just leave me alone or–“

    “Or what?”

    The man gulped. “I’ll call the guards. They’ll know how to deal with your kind.” There was the “your kind” again.

    “Really, is that so?” Alex locked eyes with the man, deliberately terrorizing him. “Remember what happened to the last merchant who wouldn’t sell to ‘my kind’? I seem to recall he disintegrated into a thousand. Tiny. Pieces. So, how about that cabbage? Because something tells me your other prospective customers are getting really nervous. They just might, I don’t know, leave. And who could blame them. No one wants to die.”

    Sweat poured down the merchant’s face as his eyes darted back and forth in frustration. “Alright, take the cabbage and leave me alone. This shop is closed.”

    Typical human, Alex thought. The next vendor was so frightened that he refused to accept payment.
    “Go on ahead. It’s free! I don’t want your dirty money. You halflings are dangerous.”

    Alex took incidents like this with mixed feelings. He was glad of the free food, but at the same time, his eyes burned with anger. His blood boiled, his heart throbbed. The familiar word, the ever-present scourge: halfling. As much as he hated the word, that was what Alex was, fathered by a human, born of a she-elf. A child of two worlds, but a citizen of none.

    At times Alex almost believed that the entire human race was cruel and suspicious. But they had a reason to be. The half-elven, in fact, half-anythings, were notorious for exhibiting powers beyond their control. Everyone in town just knew that Alex’s “kind” were all ticking time bombs just waiting to destroy everything in sight. Then he remembered that not all people were the same. His father was different. It was because of him that Alex still held faith in the human race.

    Interestingly enough, Alex’s parents were not persecuted nearly as much as he and his brothers were. If anyone about his father, Xavier, it was behind closed doors with hushed tones. Xavier was a noble man of proud ancestry, with blue eyes that could pierce the soul of a hardened criminal, short, curly black hair with a few silver strands near the temples, and a presence that could silence a rabid dog. His senses were uncanny, and his mouth had never spoken an idle threat. He was quite reputable, despite having married an elf. He also had a reputation for being short on patience and long on retribution. Like father, like son.

    Humans would be perfectly accepting of an elf, and such an elf could even go out in public with a human. These rules, of course, did not quite apply if they were married. There was an unspoken rule among the races that any cross-cultural couple was to be looked down upon, and their offspring were to be despised. Not just half-elves, but half-dwarves and half-giants as well. It seemed to Alex that pureblooded parents were given more leniency than their halfling children because if they did have powers, they could control them. The stereotype dictated that halflings could not.

    Alex lived in the city of Mora. It was a charming town, not a small hamlet, but by no means a city as large as the capital. It sat on the banks of the Nuba River, where the landscape was already tinged with the beginning of the harvest season. The green trees were beginning to turn shades of gold, red, and orange in the month of August, dropping their leaves on the rolling hills. A fiery harbinger of the fruits of nature to come.

    Alex started on his way home. His mother would not let him drive the cart, so he had to carry everything himself. It was beginning to get frustrating, and, Alex was very close to throwing the groceries onto the street just to be done with it.

    While he was walking down the street, crunching the fall leaves and kicking at a rock in his path, Alex saw a girl out of the corner of his eye. He instantly recognized her, and walked faster. Karen. The girl saw him and walked in his direction. Alex had failed to avoid his cousin. I really don’t want to deal with her right now, Alex thought. Karen was his cousin, but she was also very skilled at triggering his temper. Alex simply could not tolerate her.

    It seemed to Alex that everyone liked Karen, even despite the fact that she too was half-elven. Maybe it was something about her long, straight silvery-white hair. Maybe it was her musical voice. He was always hearing other people talk about how wonderful she was. But Alex knew the truth. To him, Karen was nothing but deviousness and trickery.

    The two had been rivals as long as Alex could remember. They were playing a perpetual game of cat-and-mouse. Despite whatever ambitions Karen might have had, Alex knew he was superior. Eventually the struggle had to end, and only he would claim supremacy. But the battle for supremacy would have to wait. Right now, all Alex wanted was to get the groceries home intact. If Karen made him angry again, that would be nearly impossible.

    “Hey, Alex!” Karen shouted.

    Alex pretended that he could not hear her over the commotion in the street and walked faster. He pictured the blue sandstone house where he lived, his destination. He would not let anything distract him, not even Karen.

    Karen would not be denied. “Alex! Yes, I’m talking to you, horntoad!”

    Alex suppressed his anger. He would have to deal with Karen later. He made a sharp turn and ran towards the town square, hoping to lose her in the crowd. Who could pick out one fourteen-year-old boy among the hundreds of people who gathered in the square? Certainly not a fifteen-year-old girl. Alex plunged into the crowd, taking several twists and turns he was sure would disorient his adversary. After this, emerged and continued on his path, only to find Karen blocking the way.

    “Nice try Alex. Next time you want to hide in a crowd, be sure to find a large group of people who have pointed ears and red-black hair.” Karen said with a smug look on her face.

    Then it occurred to Alex, Karen could use her long hair to hide her ears. Most people believed she was human. Alex struggled to keep his temper now that he had been forced to engage his adversary. “How did you catch up to me?”

    “You’re not the only one with elven blood. I’m just as fast as you are, even faster. There’s no way in the stars that you could have left me.”

    Alex swallowed a hostile statement and fought to keep his composure. “Well, now that you’ve caught me, what do you want? As you can see, I have groceries to deliver.”

    Your thoughts?

  39. Bretton 25 Nov 2008 at 11:31 am

    Oh, and I was thinking of portraying Alex’s Uncle Raphael as having a British accent. This may be a daring thing for an American writer, especially considering that Britain does not really exist in this world, but I want a definite way to separate his voice from Xavier. The other parents are pretty unique. Xavier’s forceful/commanding, Rishtaria’s soft/gentle, and Kayla is cold/logical. I want Raphael to be the quiet observer, but also slightly professional and millitary-esque. But I want him to be more like the British military than the American.

    As I said, this is risky for an American to attempt, but I can do a fairly good accent, and I have a British cousin to help me out. I was thinking of having him use the British spellings for words when other characters don’t (color = colour, etc.), and also having him say “bloody” when he’s aggravated.

    Your thoughts?

  40. B. Macon 25 Nov 2008 at 11:32 am

    –My guess is that it would be stronger to portray Raphael’s voice by differentiating his personality rather than his idioms. In my experience, expressions only tend to differentiate a character’s voice when you really play them to the point of absurdity. I suspect that his accent wouldn’t be strong enough to differentiate him. For example, if his accent were limited to the use of words like “bloke,” “git,” and “bloody,” I don’t think it would come up enough.

    We had to really push the envelope to differentiate Agent Orange from his ex-IRS partner. “Greetings, mammals!”

    It might be a little bit distracting for the character to have a discernibly British way of speaking. Like you said, your story doesn’t actually have a Britain. If you’re up to it, I’d recommend trying a distinct style of speech. For example, Rorschach in Watchmen had a pretty compelling style of speech (chopped sentences, wild fragmentation, etc.) even though his vocabulary was pretty mundane.

    –I think it would be intrusive for him to use British spellings in an otherwise American piece. Generally, I recommend against writing that draws attention to itself. Also, typically publishers have company-wide policies on British vs. American spelling for stylistic consistency.

    –Admittedly, I’m probably a relatively parochial fellow with regards to accents (in case the larger than life American flag didn’t give that away), but in my reading experiences accents typically don’t work out well for the author. Generally they tend to sound like Hagrid and Jar-Jar Binks — look at how goofy them for’ners talk! Eww. You might find this short article and “The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay” useful.

  41. Ragged Boyon 25 Nov 2008 at 1:59 pm

    Oh My God!!! I auditioned for three parts in the school play, and I know I frickin ROCKED those auditions, compared to those no talent hacks. And I got NO ROLE, what the heck. I thought the theatre was about talent and commitment not, equal opportunity. What is this Affirmative ACT-ion?!. Now, you have to have a balance of good actors and bad actors in a play, whatever. The worst part is they cast the worst auditioners for the roles. Don’t come crawling to me when the character conviction is severely flawed due to a lack of comprehension and erratic stumbling. I’ll say “Okay, I’d love to do the role. Psych! That’s called real acting. Maybe you should have picked some up when you had the chance.”

    But it’s all good, because the casting was made by a teacher who doesn’t understand the stage criteria, but when the drama teacher takes over again he said it’s going to be “earn for the part”, not “Aww, you never acted before, I’ll wet you be lead wole”. Drama teacher also said I’d be rigged for the lead role, which I don’t want, I’m an actor, I work for my position. I don’t take handouts. “Crack the door, and I’ll let myself in, don’t open it for me”. I’m pretty sure I sound conceited and obnoxious in my acting ability, but if you have the gift, you have to exalt it. Acting is the only thing that came naturally to me, not even my drawing was a natural talent. So to see my passion slandered really grinds my gears.

    Sorry, I had to rant, had to get that out. I don’t want to sound arrogant in my acting, but if there’s anything I can be a jerk about, it’s acting. Aside from that, what do you think of this as a monologue (not for my story, just in general). I know you guys don’t specialize in playwriting, but I’m sure you can discern a good monologues.

  42. Ragged Boyon 25 Nov 2008 at 2:06 pm

    Confessions of a Teenage Drama King. Don’t get me wrong, quite of few people were talented and were able to innovate their roles. I was able to understand the obvious psycho personality for a character that was horribly underacted by competitiors. So, I’m not dissing everybody, but casting the most monotone person for a role that’s supposed to be high-energy is a little ridiculous. Feel free to delete these comments, I just need somewhere to vent.

  43. B. Macon 25 Nov 2008 at 3:28 pm

    R.B., I have no idea what goes into a good audition or what makes for a good actor. Perhaps there is a personal component beyond the audition itself. Maybe you didn’t “click” with them for whatever reason.

    If you’d still like a role in the play, I’d recommend speaking with the person who made the casting decision at the soonest opportunity and asking in a very sober and mature way about why you didn’t get a role. I’d recommend phrasing it like this…

    Hi. I was wondering what it was you liked most about the actors you ended up casting, so that I can audition better next time.

    But don’t get defensive. No one wants to be confronted about decisions like these. So don’t try anything like this.

    Why didn’t you cast me!?! I’m way better than the talentless hacks you picked.

    If you approach the person in a mature and professional way, I’m pretty sure he/she will give you a useful and honest answer. I suspect it will be something like “I was looking for a less emotional take on the character” or perhaps “You over-acted.” You sound very confident in your acting talents, so it wouldn’t surprise me if your performance was very gutsy… maybe too gutsy!

    As soon as you know what the person is concerned about, then the most important thing is that you do not try to defend your approach to acting. If the person has some concern about your acting approach or ability, you will be more successful if you promise to work on the issues they brought up than if you attempt to change their mind about what they saw. It’s much easier to argue that you can fit into their system of acting than to try to change their system of acting to fit you. After you’ve said that you can adapt to them, they’ll probably be OK with giving you a minor part or an understudy position.

    I was once cast into a minor part because my memory is not so good. The person that did the casting feared that I would not be able to remember the lines of a larger part. That was disappointing, but in hindsight I think that the caster had to make that professional decision both to ensure the quality of his play and also to shield me from the embarrassment of forgetting many lines on stage. Anyway, I’ve since gone into other mental endeavors (our Quiz Bowl team won the state title and I might be going on Jeopardy next year).

    What do you think? Why do you think the first person that selected the positions was not open to your style?

  44. Cadet Davison 25 Nov 2008 at 4:12 pm

    I know even less about acting than B. Mac does, but your acting style might be over-energetic. If you were the only one to act one of the parts with an “obvious psycho personality” and you didn’t get cast, the casting director probably didn’t want that role to be played with a psycho personality.

    As for the dramatic potential of the monologue, I’m not quite feeling it. I think a strong one-man performance has to strike chords that resonate with the audience. For example, Dave Chapelle had a hilarious bit based on Sesame Street [warning: heavily profane content], which relied on a set of experiences that all of his listeners can relate to. (Who hasn’t seen Sesame Street?)

    In contrast, I’m not sure that your monologue would be as effective. I don’t think that all (or even most) of your listeners would conclude (like you did) that the person who made the original decision not to cast you was incompetent. More viscerally, I don’t think your monologue would resonate with people outside of drama club. OK, so you didn’t get the part you wanted. So what? Where’s the drama?

  45. Ragged Boyon 25 Nov 2008 at 4:12 pm

    Honestly, I have no idea as to why she wouldn’t like my style. I could have possibly overacted, but I’m pretty conscience when I act and I think I would notice that. I really think she cast the parts on fairness, I’m not just saying that because I’m pissed, she’s an emotionalist and probably thought that casting me, a superior actor, over a lesser actor would make that person dissent from the drama club. She voided my emotions saying “there are three other people going out for your part, but you’re so versatile we might put you somewhere else” (what’s worst is that she didn’t put me anywhere). That is so not how it works. I think she thought her safety cushion was that I would be a shoe-in for the next lead role, which is cool. But, and I think of acting as a profession, if you’re out in a real casting, your personal emotions aren’t a factor. You will be dropped if you don’t have the skill. I’ll definitely ask her though.

    The factors that go into a good audition are relatively simple.

    Character conviction -are you the character or yourself?

    Emotional establishment-Are the emotions of the character properly displayed?

    Part memorization-Do you know your lines and how well?

    Vocal technique-If your character speaks a certain condition or has a specific emotion, is this portrayed in your voice?

    Physical action-Do your body movements flow with the text and the character? or are you a block?

    In the character description it said the character, Phylly, is an insane pyromaniac. It goes on to say shaking and delusional speaking are recommended for conviction. It was perfectly insane without over acting. But that wasn’t the worst. I audition for the part of Sunny, he’s in juvie for being with a friend, when his friend robbed a store, beat up the clerk, and fled the scene. What the other auditioners didn’t realize was that the character was to be having a nervous breakdown while having a recollection. So I, appropriately, portrayed it breathing frantic and sounding panic while everyone else just said the lines monotonously. I KNOW that is how it was to be acted out. But, I guess skill doesn’t matter in drama club.

  46. Ragged Boyon 25 Nov 2008 at 4:15 pm

    As for the monologue question. That was just a cover so you wouldn’t delete it right off the bat. I’ve written much better monoloques.

  47. B. Macon 25 Nov 2008 at 4:32 pm

    What? When I have ever deleted something that was professionally relevant?

    However, I might end up moving it to a new page on playwriting because I’m not sure how relevant playwriting is to the professional aspirations of our readers (who are mainly aspiring novelists and comic-book writers, I think).

  48. Ragged Boyon 25 Nov 2008 at 4:35 pm

    I didn’t think it was professionally relevant to y’all’s agenda. Sorry for the deception.

  49. B. Macon 25 Nov 2008 at 4:36 pm

    When we delete comments, it’s almost always because they’re about something other than writing or superheroes. For example, a question about how to write a political ad would be fine, but a political ad (“vote for Smith!”) would get deleted. I’d field a question about how clinical depression might affect a writing career or how to write characters with psychological disorders, but if the question drifted away from writing then it would probably be better-suited for a psychiatric professional.

    Your comment above asked a few questions about playwriting and auditioning for a play. I’m not familiar with either field, but I can offer some advice by applying what I know about writing, comedy and how to succeed in a competitive job market. So I’m definitely not going to delete it, although I may move it so that it’s clustered with other comments related to playwriting and plays. Surprisingly, we’ve gotten a few of those.

  50. Holliequon 25 Nov 2008 at 6:38 pm

    Brett, on the British accent: in writing, a British accent isn’t noticeably different from an American one. The only way I notice is if the author specifically states somebody actually does have a British accent (well, since I am British, that’s my default accent for everyone anyway – but you get the idea). I personally wouldn’t bother. Or create your own accent based on somewhere else in the world. I think the Caribbean and Africa have interesting accents, personally.

  51. B. Macon 25 Nov 2008 at 7:31 pm

    Alexander Tafari had to be very careful around his neighbors. His parents had always warned him that “his kind” was not well liked by humans, and they were right. He was of ordinary height, his brown skin and black hair were forgettable, but other, obvious signs marked him for harassment. Alex’s ears were pointed, and his curly black hair had a slight red sheen. If his ears raised suspicion, having an odd hair color was the kiss of death. The reactions ranged from fear and revulsion to mockery and outright hatred. Hatred of “his kind”.
    –I think the first two sentences here have improved dramatically.
    — “obvious signs marked him for harassment” is redundant with the next sentence.
    –I’d recommend avoiding the phrase “kiss of death” unless he could be killed for being a half-elf.
    –I like the sinister phrase “his kind,” but it’s slightly awkward for the narrator to use it here. It might feel smoother if a human uses it later, particularly in a way that’s not meant as a sleight. (For example, there’s a Justice League episode where a few characters go to the 1950s and a white cop tells John Stewart, a black Marine and all-around hero, something like “you’re a pride to your people.”
    –“The reactions ranged…” feels too much like a sociological paper. Too removed.

    The market seemed somewhat vacant today, or maybe the good villagers wholeheartedly believed that anyone within a five foot radius of him would die and painfully. The cabbage merchant glared at him from the corner of his eyes, though never daring direct eye contact. Watching him closely, as if he expected robbery, or worse, murder. His face bore the scowl of hatred, but his body reeked of fear.
    –“anyone within a five foot radius of him would die and painfully.” This is an excellent phrase, but it doesn’t explain why the market would be vacant today. Isn’t the fear of him an ongoing concern? Moreover, I’d recommend the phrase “somewhat vacant.” I’d recommend something more precise like “quiet.”
    –“the cabbage merchant.” He’s a cabbage merchant? Erm, I hope you’re playing that for comedic effect. 🙂
    –“His face bore the scowl of hatred” seems overwrought, but I liked “His body reeked of fear.”
    “I d-don’t sell to the like of you.” His voice trembled.
    –This is OK, although I think “like” should be “likes.”

    “Is that so?” Alex said, slowly approaching. “Well, if you’re smart, you will sell to me, or you won’t sell to anyone else.” Alex gave the man his signature left-sided smirk.
    –Telling us that the smirk is his signature move seems a bit corny.
    –“Is that so?” sounds too confident, assertive and mature, I think. Too collected. If he’s 14, I think it would be plausible for him to respond in a way that’s maybe a bit more peeved and maybe slightly scared if the police could get called. I think something like “that’s not fair!” would strike the right tone of moral indignation with the slightest touch of juvenile whininess for flavor.
    –Alex comes off slightly threatening here. He deliberately approaches a man that’s afraid of him, challenging him with “or what?” and it sounds like he’s kind of getting in his face. The worst-case scenario is that some readers will think that half-elves are genuinely frightening. (“If this is how a 14 year old half-elf treats a human in broad daylight, imagine what adult half-elves do at night…”)

    “Look, I don’t want any trouble, just leave me alone or–“

    “Or what?”
    –Here, Alex cuts off the man with a direct challenge. I don’t think he comes off as likable.

    The man gulped. “I’ll call the guards. They’ll know how to deal with your kind.” There was the “your kind” again.
    –This interjection by the narrator feels very intrusive because it seems removed from what Alex is thinking.

    “Really, is that so?” Alex locked eyes with the man, deliberately terrorizing him. “Remember what happened to the last merchant who wouldn’t sell to ‘my kind’? I seem to recall he disintegrated into a thousand. Tiny. Pieces. So, how about that cabbage? Because something tells me your other prospective customers are getting really nervous. They just might, I don’t know, leave. And who could blame them. No one wants to die.”
    –Erm, erm. If the reader thought Alex was kind of unlikable and threatening before, I think that this would really seal that impression. First, it’s not immediately clear that Alex is bluffing. Second, the phrase “deliberately terrorizing him” sounds like a cue to readers that we’re not meant to approve of Alex’s tactics here.
    –I’d recommend downplaying Alex’s aggressiveness here. If elves really are in hiding, it doesn’t make sense that he’d get in the guy’s face in such a public manner.
    –This situation will make Alex seem more heroic if he resolves it with creativity/wit/diplomacy rather than threats and aggression. Morally speaking, if he obtains his cabbages with threats or coercion, readers will think that humans are right to fear half-elves. So how could he obtain the cabbage peacefully? Well, he knows that human customers are not fond of half-elves, right? I think it’d be neater for him to kind of make a scene and scare away other customers in a non-violent, non-threatening way. For example, maybe he starts singing an elven song or casting minor, harmless spells (like Apples to Oranges or something random). After a few minutes of that, he could convince the vendor that selling him the cabbage is the best way to make “the problem” go away.

    Sweat poured down the merchant’s face as his eyes darted back and forth in frustration. “Alright, take the cabbage and leave me alone. This shop is closed.”

    Typical human, Alex thought. The next vendor was so frightened that he refused to accept payment.
    “Go on ahead. It’s free! I don’t want your dirty money. You halflings are dangerous.”
    –I’d be careful with the phrase “typical human.” Readers at this point don’t know the character well, so they may take it as a cue that he is as racist as the humans are.
    –You could probably shorten “I don’t want your dirty money” to “Keep your dirty money.”

    Alex took incidents like this with mixed feelings. He was glad of the free food, but at the same time, his eyes burned with anger. His blood boiled, his heart throbbed. The familiar word, the ever-present scourge: halfling. As much as he hated the word, that was what Alex was, fathered by a human, born of a she-elf. A child of two worlds, but a citizen of none.
    –This still feels problematic.
    –“Alex took incidents like this with mixed feelings” is too passive. I’m less interested in how he generally feels about these incidents than in how he specifically felt about this incident. And what I noticed led me to believe that he didn’t take it too seriously as it was happening. Notice how calmly and collectedly he browbeat the vendor into selling him his merchandise. He even joked about killing another human and uses phrases like “typical human.”
    –Boiling blood and heart throbbing are images that are over-used, I think.
    –“As much as he hated the word” could probably be replaced with “but.”
    –A child of two worlds, but a citizen of none is a bit overwrought.
    –“she-elf” could be “an elven mother”?

    At times Alex almost believed that the entire human race was cruel and suspicious. But they had a reason to be. The half-elven, in fact, half-anythings, were notorious for exhibiting powers beyond their control. Everyone in town just knew that Alex’s “kind” were all ticking time bombs just waiting to destroy everything in sight. Then he remembered that not all people were the same. His father was different. It was because of him that Alex still held faith in the human race.
    –Moral question: are humans morally justified to be terrified and apprehensive of half-elves? I think your story wants us to say “no!” despite the fact that half-elves sometimes exhibit powers beyond their control. Towards that end, I think it’s really important to tone down Alex’s aggressiveness. Right now, it seems like Alex is at best an anti-hero and I think we could plausibly make the case that Alex is really the villain here lording his powers and scariness over helpless humans waiting for a hero to save them.
    –I think I might have used the phrase “ticking time bombs” to illustrate a point before, but I don’t suggest using that particular phrase in the manuscript. It doesn’t seem appropriate with the level of technology of the story.

    Interestingly enough, Alex’s parents were not persecuted nearly as much as he and his brothers were. If anyone about his father, Xavier, it was behind closed doors with hushed tones. Xavier was a noble man of proud ancestry, with blue eyes that could pierce the soul of a hardened criminal, short, curly black hair with a few silver strands near the temples, and a presence that could silence a rabid dog. His senses were uncanny, and his mouth had never spoken an idle threat. He was quite reputable, despite having married an elf. He also had a reputation for being short on patience and long on retribution. Like father, like son.
    –I’d cut the phrase “interestingly enough.” First, it’s a kind of meaningless interjection by the narrator. Second, the detail frankly isn’t as interesting as the prior exchange between Alex and the vendor.
    –Grammatically, I think the phrase “If anyone about his father, Xavier, it was behind…” is missing a verb somewhere in the opening clause.
    –What’s the main point we’re supposed to take away about Xavier here? He’s not persecuted very much. He’s noble and proud. His eyes are piercing. His hair is curly and black. He’s got real presence. He has a reputation. He’s impatient and retributive. This seems more like a laundry list of details (about a character we haven’t actually met yet, by the way) than deep characterization.

    Humans would be perfectly accepting of an elf, and such an elf could even go out in public with a human. These rules, of course, did not quite apply if they were married. There was an unspoken rule among the races that any cross-cultural couple was to be looked down upon, and their offspring were to be despised. Not just half-elves, but half-dwarves and half-giants as well. It seemed to Alex that pureblooded parents were given more leniency than their halfling children because if they did have powers, they could control them. The stereotype dictated that halflings could not.
    –The story seems unsure about whether half-elves actually can control their powers or not. “The stereotype dictated that halflings could not” suggests that it’s just a stereotype that they can’t. The word stereotype connotes inaccuracy, I think. Earlier in the story, you used the sentence “The half-elven, in fact, half-anythings, were notorious for exhibiting powers beyond their control.” That makes it sound like there is good reason to think half-elves are authentically out of control. Notoriety strikes me as a term that has a strong connotation of accuracy.
    –Powers seems like an vague word here. I know what you’re trying to suggest, I think, but I’m not sure that readers will.
    –I think this paragraph does a pretty good job of explaining an interesting nuance: humans tend to like elves but not half-breeds.

    Alex lived in the city of Mora. It was a charming town, not a small hamlet, but by no means a city as large as the capital. It sat on the banks of the Nuba River, where the landscape was already tinged with the beginning of the harvest season. The green trees were beginning to turn shades of gold, red, and orange in the month of August, dropping their leaves on the rolling hills. A fiery harbinger of the fruits of nature to come.
    –This paragraph could probably be interwoven with the prior two. I’d like to see more of the city and more interaction. If the fear is the main thing you want us to take away, maybe guards follow him around, or people cross the street to avoid him, or people rest their hands on their hilts, or whatever. For a real-life analogy, I’ve noticed that a typical black is likely to make bank-guards (even black guards!) get stiff and antsy. In southern Illinois of the 1970s, one of my father’s black co-workers asked him to deposit his checks because he feared (reasonably, I suspect) that he would be treated unprofessionally himself.

    Alex started on his way home. His mother would not let him drive the cart, so he had to carry everything himself. It was beginning to get frustrating, and, Alex was very close to throwing the groceries onto the street just to be done with it.
    –I don’t like this paragraph very much. I’m not sure why not. The sentence structure is a bit monotonous. (Alex started, his mother would not let, it was beginning, was very close…)

    While he was walking down the street, crunching the fall leaves and kicking at a rock in his path, Alex saw a girl out of the corner of his eye. He instantly recognized her, and walked faster. Karen. The girl saw him and walked in his direction. Alex had failed to avoid his cousin. I really don’t want to deal with her right now, Alex thought. Karen was his cousin, but she was also very skilled at triggering his temper. Alex simply could not tolerate her.
    –“triggering his temper” seems a bit too removed. I’d recommend a more colloquial expression.
    –Otherwise, this seems pretty good.
    –The sentence structure could probably use some variety here.
    –Not a problem for our purposes here, but in a manuscript I’d recommend italicizing what the character is thinking to separate it from the rest of the narration.

    It seemed to Alex that everyone liked Karen, even despite the fact that she too was half-elven. Maybe it was something about her long, straight silvery-white hair. Maybe it was her musical voice. He was always hearing other people talk about how wonderful she was. But Alex knew the truth. To him, Karen was nothing but deviousness and trickery.
    –“Nothing but deviousness and trickery.” I love that!
    –This is probably (perhaps easily) my favorite paragraph so far.

    The two had been rivals as long as Alex could remember. They were playing a perpetual game of cat-and-mouse. Despite whatever ambitions Karen might have had, Alex knew he was superior. Eventually the struggle had to end, and only he would claim supremacy. But the battle for supremacy would have to wait. Right now, all Alex wanted was to get the groceries home intact. If Karen made him angry again, that would be nearly impossible.
    –“despite whatever” is probably redundant. You could probably axe despite.

    “Hey, Alex!” Karen shouted.

    Alex pretended that he could not hear her over the commotion in the street and walked faster. He pictured the blue sandstone house where he lived, his destination. He would not let anything distract him, not even Karen.

    Karen would not be denied. “Alex! Yes, I’m talking to you, horntoad!”

    Alex suppressed his anger. He would have to deal with Karen later. He made a sharp turn and ran towards the town square, hoping to lose her in the crowd. Who could pick out one fourteen-year-old boy among the hundreds of people who gathered in the square? Certainly not a fifteen-year-old girl. Alex plunged into the crowd, taking several twists and turns he was sure would disorient his adversary. After this, emerged and continued on his path, only to find Karen blocking the way.
    –This seems smoother than before.

    “Nice try Alex. Next time you want to hide in a crowd, be sure to find a large group of people who have pointed ears and red-black hair.” Karen said with a smug look on her face.

    Then it occurred to Alex, Karen could use her long hair to hide her ears. Most people believed she was human. Alex struggled to keep his temper now that he had been forced to engage his adversary. “How did you catch up to me?”
    –Alex’s observation about the hair-color seems out of the blue here. If you’d like to be ironic and more fully flesh out the observation, I’d recommend having it come up in a conversation with a third human. For example, a guard sees the two talking and the guard asks Karen if “that half-elf” [Alex] is giving her any trouble. That would help describe why she’s better-liked than he is. It would also let her respond to the guard in a way that shows how little she thinks of Alex, like “If he tried anything, I’d kick him to the river and back.”

    “You’re not the only one with elven blood. I’m just as fast as you are, even faster. There’s no way in the stars that you could have left me.”
    –“no way in the stars that you could left me.” First, the word “left” doesn’t sound right here. Second, “no way in the stars” sounds notably annoying. I know that you want her to come off annoying, but even so…

    What do you think?

  52. Ragged Boyon 26 Nov 2008 at 5:13 am

    I disagree with Holliequ, although I don’t have a British accent, I’ve been able to put on one that has fooled many people. I think writing an accent would be different, if you wanted to go stereotypical you could have him speak very properly and use British formalities like “I beg your pardon!”.

    Or you could some British slang like mum, barmy, tin, wizard, but then you’d have to find some way to explain them. I found a nice little British slang site here.

    Or you could go Hagrid, and selectively cut letters out of words and spell them differently, but that could get old fast.

  53. B. Macon 26 Nov 2008 at 7:37 am

    I think that the main differences between UK-English and US-English is the intonation. But you can’t really make us think “oh, he sounds British” by describing his intonation. In contrast, you could possibly use code-words like “lilt” or “brogue” to sneakily suggest that a character has an Irish accent, but I can’t think of any British equivalents.

    As for the vocabulary, I don’t think that the two are different enough to make a character really sound different.

  54. Ragged Boyon 26 Nov 2008 at 9:56 am

    I’m on page six of my story. Although that isn’t a major accomplishment to most, it is to me. I’m proud of myself for keeping one story look enought to start writing it. Hooray!!!! Huzzae!!!Another loud thing you yell to suggest something good!!!. I think I’ll have you look at it when I get to 1,500 words, I’m at 1,431 words so far. I’ll be at 1,500 the next time I post.

    Should I post it here or email it to you? I don’t want to cause confusion between me and Brett’s work (even though they are noticeably different).

  55. Holliequon 26 Nov 2008 at 10:33 am

    Ragged Boy: have any of the people you’ve fooled known British people? Just asking, ’cause it’s awfully easy to fake an accent people don’t know. XP

    The thing with sites like that one (and “typical” phrases like ‘I beg your pardon?’) is that sometimes they aren’t that accurate. For example, nobody that I know uses ‘brassed off’ or ‘aggro’ . . . or very few of those terms on there, actually. Besides, modern British slang would look very out of place in a book with a fantasy semi-medieval setting.

  56. Ragged Boyon 26 Nov 2008 at 10:43 am

    I’m just going to post it here anyway, you can get to it when you’re ready.

    I slung my backpack over my shoulder and got ready to leave for the station. It was a long, cold walk and I had to leave early. Just as I forced the broken door open, I heard the screech of my mother’s morning voice.

    “Adrian Gaines! Do you have your monorail pass” She asked taking a puff of her cigarette.

    “Yes, maam” I replied drably, she asks me this every morning, “Love ya, bye”. I shut the door and hustled up the stairs from our basement apartment. It was mid fall and the air was freezing cold, I pulled my scarf tighter around my neck and hurried on. New Harbor City wakes up early, the dark streets were filled with activity, some more legal than others. I passed the usual drug spot, watching the dealer hand a shaking man a small bag of who knows what.

    Drugs weren’t uncommon in my region of the city; neither were killing, fighting, kidnappings and bunch of other crazy things. I had made it on time to the station, I walked up the in my rushed pace as usual. The monorail wouldn’t be there for another five minutes, so I took the time to read over the script for my school play. It was a play about living in a juvenile detention center, so I thought it would good in reaching the teens in this community. After a few minutes of reading, the monorail came squealing into the station, bringing on that unbearable cold gust that froze you before you got on.

    I pushed my way into the crowded rectangle, ignoring the awful stench of the hobo near me. I could hear a couple arguing and some blows falling down the car. “Domestic violence on the monorail, finally something new I guess” I laughed at the dark joke aloud. Despite being crowded, smelly and cold, the monorail wasn’t the worst part of my commute to school; it was more like the buffer for the upcoming stretch. I was lucky enough to be the first off the monorail and not get caught in the cluster of pushy people. As I walked down the steps I heard a voice.

    “That’s a gay ass scarf you got on, boy “some thug called out. At first I thought they were talking to someone else, until they began to walk behind me and next to me.
    “Don’t say anything” I thought to myself “be quiet, talking will only anger them”
    “Hey boy, I know you hear me faggot” one said giving he an abrupt push. I stumbled but didn’t fall. My frustration was building; I felt the unshakable urge to break into a sprint as I started walking faster. Maybe they’d leave me alone if I just ignore them. I was wrong. One of them kicked me in the back. I fell, scraping my hand on the curb, and quickly recovered into a sprint.

    “Get him!” one yelled. I heard their footsteps as they picked up speed. What did they want with me? My scarf?! I ran into the alleys, hopping fence after fence, I looked back to see if they were still following. They were. I looked forward again, smashing my head into a wooden post. I yelped in the impacting pain, stumbling back and paused a second to regain myself, I heard the thugs laughing at my pain. I almost chuckled at my own stupidity, but remembered they were chasing me. I scrambled over the fence and continued down the alley. I sprang behind a dumpster hoping to God they had gone the wrong way. I peeked around the dumpster as the last of the thugs turned the wrong corner and ran away. I was safe, if you can call living in this neighborhood safe.

    “Another perfect morning” I thought sarcastically with an outward laugh. At least the chase got me further in my walk. I got up from behind the dumpster and walked out of the alley onto the dim street. There must have been a murder or something earlier. A yellow taped police parameter outlined the crime scene. Blood splatters and broken debris filled the dirty rectangle. Police were on the everywhere, sniffing out clues and hauling away people. A large group of people crowded the street, crying, cussing and being interrogated .I wasn’t nervous though, police never really peg me as a troublemaker, so I navigated my way through the clutter and went on. This is what goes on in my city, you have to be positive and keep moving. If you let yourself be bogged down with sadness, you’d never get anywhere in life.

    I was out of the ugly part of the neighborhood. The tall, worn out apartments and cracked streets had been replaced with middle class houses and a visible sidewalk. It was weird; there was an overpass that practically divided this part of the city from the other side. It seemed like crime never happened on this side, while less than 100 feet across the overpass, there was a huge police parameter. Like there were two worlds or something and the overpass was the gate between them.

    The pain in my head still throbbed faintly, I inspected with my hand. Just as I thought, the feeling of blood was very familiar to me. “Crap, stupid gangsters” I said mockingly. “I’ll just have to stop by Loretta’s house”. Loretta was a close friend of mine; she didn’t live far from the overpass, so I decided to stop by. I knocked on her burglar bar door hoping she’d hurry to the door, New Harbor winters could kill you if you stood still for too long. She opened the door, toothbrush still in mouth “Hey Adrian what’s–, what happened to your forehead!!”

    “Some stupid guys chased me over my scarf”

    “Your scarf?” she asked confused at the idea.

    “I know! I was confused too, so I’m running and hopping fences and I was looking back—“

    “Looking back while you were running, that seems like something you would do” she interrupted with a giggle.

    “Hee hee haa” I mock “so then I look forward and POP, I hit a wooden post, now I’m bleeding”

    “Well come in and get wash up” she said. I walked into the warm spacious living room and preceded the restroom, knowing where it was already. I rolled up my sleeve and began to wash my face in the sink.

    “So how’s Harbor High?” Loretta asked. She went to another school across town; her parents would never let her go to Hell’s Harbor as the school was called.

    “How do you think it is? Fights, arrests, drama, and stupid people, the usual” I said
    “Well then how’s drama club?” she continued

    My eyes lit up at the name “It’s awesome, we’ve got a steady twenty members, three productions lined up, and get this I got a lead role, the best part is that we may be able to perform at the Glitz Theatre uptown”

    “You sure are excited about that club, huh?”

    “Why wouldn’t I be, it’s the only thing that’s productive and hasn’t been cut due to the school budget” I said drying my face with a towel Loretta handed me.

    “ Well, I’m glad you’ve got something do at school, but I have to get ready so I’ll see you later” she said

    “Alright seeya” I said walking over to the door. I paused for a second to let my body soak up as much heat as possible before I stepped out. I closed her gate and continued down the side walk. After about ten minutes of walking, the school was in sight. “I’ll give this morning a B-“ I thought “Sure I got chased, but it could have been worse”. Thinking back on my previous morning, I couldn’t help but smile, this hellacious neighborhood, if anything, certainly was memorable.

    The school drew closer until its three stories of beige blocks, cast a shadow over me. “Harbor High, Harbor High, we meet again” I said aloud, jumping back as I gripped an imaginary sword. “Now I will cast this beast to the pits of hell with thine holy blade” I acted as though I was slashing gallantly at the school. But quickly stopped being conscience of how stupid I looked.

    I walked into the back door of the school and up to the second floor, the chaos had already ensued. I pushed my way through the thick smelly hallways. There were two girls arguing over some boy that broke out into a fight. Knowing that it would take about 15 minutes for security to decide to come and break up the barricade of people, I went the long way to my locker. If there’s anything a fight does that’s positive, it sure can clear a hallway. I put my backpack and coat in my locker, grabbed my books, and headed towards the auditorium. I like to get to school early, we usually had a short drama meeting every morning, so there was something to look forward to when I get to here.

    The fight must have been over, the halls quickly resumed to their naturally stuffiness, smelliness, and crowdedness. “Adrian what’s up?” I turned around to see who called me, it was Miguel pushing his way towards me.

    “Oh, nothing really, got chased to school, so nothing new” I said

    “Boy, did you see that fight? That girl got her ass beat” he said excitedly. “I got the whole thing on camera”he waved his ever present camera in my face.

    “Congratulations,” I stated sarcastically “What are you going to do with it?”

    “I’m putting together a video of Harbor High’s best fights, I’m gonna make a shitload of money.”

    “Another get rich quick scheme, are material things all you care about” I asked.

    “Hell naw, I like girls and they ain’t material” He answered. We both broke out in laughter. While I was laughing, I glimpsed out of the window. My laughing instantly stopped when I saw the weirdest thing. Like some blue flash zoomed across the sidewalk outside, I thought it was just some kind of mind trip, but I wasn’t sure. I stored the thought in the back of my head and proceeded on.

    I think the very beginning might need a little expanding, but other than that I like it.
    My main questions are is it interesting? (I know it plunges into danger early on) does the setting need more explanation? does the character? Or are both (or one or the other) acceptable? Are there any literary flaws? what can I cut and what needs expansion?

    Suggestions and opinions are welcome from all, but be nice, I’m a first time writer.

  57. Ragged Boyon 26 Nov 2008 at 10:45 am

    My comment is awaiting moderation and sorry for the lack of line breaks (it looks way better in Microsoft Word)

  58. B. Macon 26 Nov 2008 at 10:47 am

    I’d kind of prefer if it were posted here; we don’t check our e-mail nearly as often as we check the website. However, if you’d like to keep other people from seeing a work in progress, I’d understand if you’d like to handle it in e-mail instead.

  59. B. Macon 26 Nov 2008 at 10:48 am

    Ah, OK. I see it in our waiting-for-moderation cue. I just put it through.

  60. Ragged Boyon 26 Nov 2008 at 10:51 am

    Holliequ, even though the people I’ve fooled, probably haven’t MET alot of people with british accents, they are all over TV so I’m sure they’ve probably heard one. When I do mine I sound exactly like this british guy I saw on TV, so I’m guessing it was pretty accurate.

    As for your comment on slang, I can understand that. I mean I don’t live in Britain (Although I’d love to go there) so how am I to know. Your advice would probably be more practical then mine on that subject. But ask me anything about the theatre and I’m your man haha.

  61. Bretton 26 Nov 2008 at 6:30 pm

    Ok, I’ve been gone a while. Here’s the deal.

    1. I’m going to revise that section and repost it, if you don’t mind of course. Oh, and some of the things you observed (like–> likes, missing verb, etc.) were actually typos. lol.

    2. As for the British thing Holliequ, do you think having a British cousin might advantage me here? Or would writing an accent be impossible? As I said, whether true or not, Brits stereotypically use “bloody!” as an exclamation. What think you of that? Oh, fun fact. A couple people at my job actually thought my accent was Nigerian! lol. But you’re right. It is easy to fool Americans with accents. Also, I’m not sure TV is reliable. Example: What’s your opinion of Batman’s butler Alfred?

  62. Ragged Boyon 26 Nov 2008 at 9:38 pm

    I guess you’re right, but people never mistake my accent. Tv was pretty reliable for me. Then again, I’m an actor so I pick up on things like accents quickly. People are easy to fool in general (I’m pretty cynical). Did you guys read my intro?

  63. Ragged Boyon 27 Nov 2008 at 5:38 am

    Wow, a whole night and no one posted. Wake up sleepyheads and start the day with a nice, warm cup of blood.

  64. B. Macon 27 Nov 2008 at 6:31 am

    It was the day before Thanksgiving. So I (and a not insignificant proportion of the US population above the age of 18) was in transit pretty much all night.

  65. B. Macon 27 Nov 2008 at 7:02 am

    I slung my backpack over my shoulder and got ready to leave for the station. It was a long, cold walk and I had to leave early. Just as I forced the broken door open, I heard the screech of my mother’s morning voice.
    –I’m not feeling this opening paragraph. I’d recommend starting with an interesting detail about the character, ideally something that develops an important trait about the character and makes readers consider reading 300 more pages about this character.
    –This paragraph is, like many first person narrations, kind of heavy on the here-and-now of the what the character does. “I slung my backpack… got ready to leave… it was a long cold walk… I had to leave early… I forced the broken door open… I heard the screech…” Readers may feel that the story has gotten bogged down. Where’s the drama? What conflict are we looking at?
    –It’s not clear to me where the character is when he breaks open the broken door. On my first reading, I assumed it was a door at the train station, but I guess not if his mother is there.

    “Adrian Gaines! Do you have your monorail pass” She asked taking a puff of her cigarette.
    –This is a tricky grammatical point. Questions are typically punctuated with question marks even when they are ended with a tag. For example, “What is this, Battletoads?” the IRS agent asked Agent Orange. So I’d recommend adding a question-mark after monorail pass.
    –“taking a puff of her cigarette.” This is kind of a dry observation, that she is smoking. You might be able to make it more interactive by having the character react to the cigarette. For example, his eyes might water or he might choke on the smell or something.

    “Yes, maam” I replied drably, she asks me this every morning, “Love ya, bye”. I shut the door and hustled up the stairs from our basement apartment. It was mid fall and the air was freezing cold, I pulled my scarf tighter around my neck and hurried on. New Harbor City wakes up early, the dark streets were filled with activity, some more legal than others. I passed the usual drug spot, watching the dealer hand a shaking man a small bag of who knows what.
    –Another tricky grammatical point! When a character’s sentence is cut off by a tag, it’s best to end with a comma. For example… “No, it’s not Battletoads. It’s more like The Matrix, dummy,” said Agent Orange.

    Drugs weren’t uncommon in my region of the city; neither were killing, fighting, kidnappings and bunch of other crazy things. I had made it on time to the station, I walked up the in my rushed pace as usual. The monorail wouldn’t be there for another five minutes, so I took the time to read over the script for my school play. It was a play about living in a juvenile detention center, so I thought it would good in reaching the teens in this community. After a few minutes of reading, the monorail came squealing into the station, bringing on that unbearable cold gust that froze you before you got on.
    –This seems like a kind of passive way to introduce us to the city. Rather than having him tell us that there are killings, fighting, kidnappings, etc, I’d recommend having us observe evidence that the city is helluva bad. For example, graffiti everywhere. Maybe a junkie laid out on the street. Maybe gunfire in the background (one character could remark to another something like “A gunfight at 7 AM? They’re early”). Broken windows. Gang graffiti. Homes and cars that are falling apart. Etc.
    –The character comes off as too old, I think, when he says “it would be good in reaching the teens in this community.” It might be more realistic for him to think of it as something enjoyable to do that doesn’t involve drugs or gang-fights and baseball bats. Alternately, the character might have some (kind of crazy) dreams about becoming a movie star someday.

    I pushed my way into the crowded rectangle, ignoring the awful stench of the hobo near me. I could hear a couple arguing and some blows falling down the car. “Domestic violence on the monorail, finally something new I guess” I laughed at the dark joke aloud. Despite being crowded, smelly and cold, the monorail wasn’t the worst part of my commute to school; it was more like the buffer for the upcoming stretch. I was lucky enough to be the first off the monorail and not get caught in the cluster of pushy people. As I walked down the steps I heard a voice.
    –“crowded rectangle” is a slightly strange construction. Isn’t a rectangle a two-dimensional shape? If we’re talking about the subway car here, I’d recommend saying something here.
    –I like your use of the hobo and domestic quarrel, but “awful stench” and “domestic violence” might sound out of place for the character, unless he’s just supposed to sound like he has a vocabulary that makes him very different than other people of his age or income class.

    “That’s a gay ass scarf you got on, boy “some thug called out. At first I thought they were talking to someone else, until they began to walk behind me and next to me.
    –I think the “at first I thought…” was a red-herring. I mean, who else could they be talking to?
    “Don’t say anything” I thought to myself “be quiet, talking will only anger them”
    “Hey boy, I know you hear me faggot” one said giving he an abrupt push. I stumbled but didn’t fall. My frustration was building; I felt the unshakable urge to break into a sprint as I started walking faster. Maybe they’d leave me alone if I just ignore them. I was wrong. One of them kicked me in the back. I fell, scraping my hand on the curb, and quickly recovered into a sprint.

    “Get him!” one yelled. I heard their footsteps as they picked up speed. What did they want with me? My scarf?! I ran into the alleys, hopping fence after fence, I looked back to see if they were still following. They were. I looked forward again, smashing my head into a wooden post. I yelped in the impacting pain, stumbling back and paused a second to regain myself, I heard the thugs laughing at my pain. I almost chuckled at my own stupidity, but remembered they were chasing me. I scrambled over the fence and continued down the alley. I sprang behind a dumpster hoping to God they had gone the wrong way. I peeked around the dumpster as the last of the thugs turned the wrong corner and ran away. I was safe, if you can call living in this neighborhood safe.

    –I’m not very good with action paragraphs, but I don’t think that this one makes great use of rhythm and sentence length. Also, the story seems to treat the scarf as very important, but I don’t get it. So he’s wearing a scarf… maybe an effeminate-looking scarf? OK… so what? What is the scarf supposed to show about him?
    –Where is he when this sequence happens? I thought he was on a subway car, but I guess not.
    –“hoping to God’ could probably be shortened to praying. “I was safe, if you can call living in this neighborhood safe” could maybe be tighter as “I was safe, at least as safe as anyone in his neighborhood could be.”

    “Another perfect morning” I thought sarcastically with an outward laugh. At least the chase got me further in my walk. I got up from behind the dumpster and walked out of the alley onto the dim street. There must have been a murder or something earlier. A yellow taped police parameter outlined the crime scene. Blood splatters and broken debris filled the dirty rectangle. Police were on the everywhere, sniffing out clues and hauling away people. A large group of people crowded the street, crying, cussing and being interrogated .I wasn’t nervous though, police never really peg me as a troublemaker, so I navigated my way through the clutter and went on. This is what goes on in my city, you have to be positive and keep moving. If you let yourself be bogged down with sadness, you’d never get anywhere in life.
    –When he thinks “another perfect morning,” you don’t have to tell us that he’s being sarcastic.
    –“got me further in my walk.” Where’s he going? If school, I’d recommend saying “got me further towards school.”
    –I’d recommend switching cussing to cursing.

    I was out of the ugly part of the neighborhood. The tall, worn out apartments and cracked streets had been replaced with middle class houses and a visible sidewalk. It was weird; there was an overpass that practically divided this part of the city from the other side. It seemed like crime never happened on this side, while less than 100 feet across the overpass, there was a huge police parameter. Like there were two worlds or something and the overpass was the gate between them.
    –That was a rather sudden shift from an area where someone has been killed on a sidewalk to a a middle-class neighborhood. Why is it important that he’s now in a middle-class neighborhood?
    –“Like there were two worlds or something and the overpass was the gate between two worlds” could probably be stronger as “It was like the overpass was a gate between two worlds.”

    The pain in my head still throbbed faintly, I inspected with my hand. Just as I thought, the feeling of blood was very familiar to me. “Crap, stupid gangsters” I said mockingly. “I’ll just have to stop by Loretta’s house”. Loretta was a close friend of mine; she didn’t live far from the overpass, so I decided to stop by. I knocked on her burglar bar door hoping she’d hurry to the door, New Harbor winters could kill you if you stood still for too long. She opened the door, toothbrush still in mouth “Hey Adrian what’s–, what happened to your forehead!!”
    –He’s explaining himself too often, I think. “I said mockingly” isn’t necessary. “Crap, stupid gangsters” doesn’t really add very much.
    –It feels contrived that he just happens to be in Loretta’s neighborhood. It may help if he realizes he’s bleeding and heads over to Loretta’s house.

    “Some stupid guys chased me over my scarf”

    “Your scarf?” she asked confused at the idea.
    –I don’t get what she’s trying to suggest here. My first interpretation was that she was really asking “What scarf?” because he had lost it somewhere. What idea is she confused at? (That someone would beat someone else up over a scarf?)

    “I know! I was confused too, so I’m running and hopping fences and I was looking back—“
    –Why would he be confused?

    “Looking back while you were running, that seems like something you would do” she interrupted with a giggle.
    –I’d recommend adding a comma after the word “do.”

    “Hee hee haa” I mock “so then I look forward and POP, I hit a wooden post, now I’m bleeding”
    –Punctuation stuff. Bleeding should have a period after it, like this: “…now I’m bleeding.”
    –I’d recommend changing ‘Hee hee haa I mock’ to “Haha, very funny. So then I look forward…” I like that better because it takes out the unnecessary “I mock” and smooths out the sentence a bit.

    “Well come in and get wash up” she said. I walked into the warm spacious living room and preceded the restroom, knowing where it was already. I rolled up my sleeve and began to wash my face in the sink.
    –In context, “Well come in and get wash[ed?] up” feels like a nicety.
    –I don’t understand what time of the day this is happening at. Don’t they have school or something?

    “So how’s Harbor High?” Loretta asked. She went to another school across town; her parents would never let her go to Hell’s Harbor as the school was called.
    –“go to Hell’s Harbor as the school was called” could probably be just “go near Hell’s Harbor.” I think it will be obvious that Hell’s Harbor is the school’s nickname.

    “How do you think it is? Fights, arrests, drama, and stupid people, the usual” I said.
    “Well then how’s drama club?” she continued

    –“she continued” should end with a period. “Well, then” is an empty interjection that can probably be removed.
    –Because drama has two different meanings (random badness vs. the theatre and “drama club”), I’d recommend taking drama out of the list of things he said was going on. It’s sort of a red herring. (It might make it sound like he thinks that drama club is somehow similar to fights, getting arrested and stupid people).

    My eyes lit up at the name “It’s awesome, we’ve got a steady twenty members, three productions lined up, and get this I got a lead role, the best part is that we may be able to perform at the Glitz Theatre uptown.”
    –“My eyes lit up” is a detail probably better-suited to third-person narration than first-person narration.
    –“get this” should probably end the first sentence. I’d recommend making this into its own sentence there. “I got a lead role, and we might be able to perform uptown at the Glitz.”

    “You sure are excited about that club, huh?”

    “Why wouldn’t I be, it’s the only thing that’s productive and hasn’t been cut due to the school budget” I said drying my face with a towel Loretta handed me.
    –Productive makes him sound kind of like a yuppie. I’d recommend rephrasing this sentence to something like “It’s the only thing that hasn’t been cut to save money,” I said. The detail about the towel is kind of unnecessary.

    “ Well, I’m glad you’ve got something do at school, but I have to get ready so I’ll see you later” she said
    –This seems like an awkward way to cut off the conversation. It could probably be much shorter.

    “Alright seeya” I said walking over to the door. I paused for a second to let my body soak up as much heat as possible before I stepped out. I closed her gate and continued down the side walk. After about ten minutes of walking, the school was in sight. “I’ll give this morning a B-“ I thought “Sure I got chased, but it could have been worse”. Thinking back on my previous morning, I couldn’t help but smile, this hellacious neighborhood, if anything, certainly was memorable.
    –This internal monologuing didn’t help me much. We know the chase could have went worse, so he doesn’t really have to remind us of that.
    –“this hellacious neighborhood, if anything, was certainly memorable.” I think memorable isn’t quite the right word there. Also, I don’t feel that observation adds very much to our understanding of the town.
    –“I closed her gate and continued down the sidewalk.” These details could probably be removed.
    –Her middle class community is within a ten minute’s walk from Hell’s Harbor? Admittedly, I’m not very familiar with urban geography, but that seems kind of unusual to me. (IE Why doesn’t she go to HH?)

    The school drew closer until its three stories of beige blocks, cast a shadow over me. “Harbor High, Harbor High, we meet again” I said aloud, jumping back as I gripped an imaginary sword. “Now I will cast this beast to the pits of hell with thine holy blade” I acted as though I was slashing gallantly at the school. But quickly stopped being conscience of how stupid I looked.
    –I think “Harbor High, we meet again” is a pretty funny line. But the rest of his monologue (“I will cast this beast…” and the sword-slashing) makes him sound kind of silly and, worse, that he’s really melodramatic. Given that the story tries to show he’s a good actor, that could be problematic.
    –“thine” is a fancy way to say “your.” So when he says “I will cast this beast to the pits of hell with thine holy blade,” he’s making a very unusual statement.

    I walked into the back door of the school and up to the second floor, the chaos had already ensued. I pushed my way through the thick smelly hallways. There were two girls arguing over some boy that broke out into a fight. Knowing that it would take about 15 minutes for security to decide to come and break up the barricade of people, I went the long way to my locker. If there’s anything a fight does that’s positive, it sure can clear a hallway. I put my backpack and coat in my locker, grabbed my books, and headed towards the auditorium. I like to get to school early, we usually had a short drama meeting every morning, so there was something to look forward to when I get to here.
    –The first sentence here feels kind of confusing because of the phrase “the chaos had already ensued.” Already ensued because of what? “Already” suggests that something that happened earlier in the story is now causing chaos.
    –“I put my backpack and coat in my locker, grabbed my books and headed towards the auditorium.” This seems like a laundry list of details that could probably be condensed. Maybe “I got my books and headed towards the drama club meeting in the auditorium.”

    The fight must have been over, the halls quickly resumed to their naturally stuffiness, smelliness, and crowdedness. “Adrian what’s up?” I turned around to see who called me, it was Miguel pushing his way towards me.
    –“must have been over” could probably be “must have ended.” I think that’s cleaner tensing.
    –“quickly resumed to their naturally stuffiness, smelliness, and crowdedness.” Because “naturally” is modifying nouns (stuffiness/smelliness/crowdedness) it should be an adjective (natural). Adverbs are typically used to modify adjectives (like stuffy, smelly and crowded). In any case, it would probably be possible to show us how stuffy/smelly/crowded the hallways are rather than just tell us.

    “Oh, nothing really, got chased to school, so nothing new” I said
    –Grammar stuff. Comma after new, period after said.

    “Boy, did you see that fight? That girl got her ass beat” he said excitedly. “I got the whole thing on camera”he waved his ever present camera in my face.
    –Comma after beat, comma after camera.
    –I’d recommend changing “got the whole thing on camera” to “I got it all on tape,” as he waved his camera in my face.
    –“That girl got her ass beat” is an excellent way to make this character sound repulsive and craven. I like it!

    “Congratulations,” I stated sarcastically “What are you going to do with it?”
    –Again, it’s pretty clear that he’s being sarcastic. I’d recommend changing this to “You must be proud of yourself. What are you going to do with it?”
    –“stated” is not a great verb here. Generally stated only makes sense when someone is speaking as an expert. For example, a coroner might state that someone got killed, but I don’t think it’s the right word here.

    “I’m putting together a video of Harbor High’s best fights, I’m gonna make a shitload of money.”
    –The comma after fights should probably be a period.

    “Another get rich quick scheme, are material things all you care about” I asked.
    –I’d recommend changing this to “There’s more to life than money.” That would smoothly transition to “Girls, too!”

    “Hell naw, I like girls and they ain’t material” He answered. We both broke out in laughter. While I was laughing, I glimpsed out of the window. My laughing instantly stopped when I saw the weirdest thing. Like some blue flash zoomed across the sidewalk outside, I thought it was just some kind of mind trip, but I wasn’t sure. I stored the thought in the back of my head and proceeded on.
    –“I stored the thought in the back of my head and proceeded on” could probably be shortened to “I moved on.”

  66. Ragged Boyon 27 Nov 2008 at 9:13 am

    Eek!, wow. This writing thing is tough.

  67. Holliequon 27 Nov 2008 at 9:32 am

    Brett, on accents: Having a British cousin would probably be a help, but it’d probably be pretty difficult to create a distinctive accent that doesn’t simultaneously annoy your readers. Throwing in the odd ‘bloody’ and a few other stereotypical British phrases might tip people off, but in the end it’s probably more effort than it’s worth.

    I don’t really recall Alfred from Batman very well (I haven’t seen The Dark Knight yet) but I *think* he talks *without* an accent – very different to the sort of things you’d hear in London or Manchester.

    If you want a distinctive British accent, try a Scottish one rather than English. Sean Connery (except in the Bond films) is a good example, or look up Frankie Boyle on YouTube. He’s a British comedian and his accent is a bit stronger than Connery’s, I think.

  68. Ragged Boyon 27 Nov 2008 at 10:17 am

    OK, I have ALOT of rewriting to do. I think I’ll just start over. This is obviously a bad beginning.

    I’m a little discouraged now, but I won’t give up. I’m off to Word.

  69. B. Macon 27 Nov 2008 at 10:29 am

    It is typically MUCH easier for an author to write his second book than his first. So the good news is that it will get easier. For example, I notice that your punctuation has already improved dramatically over the past month. I noticed a few grammatical issues when quotation marks were involved, but generally this was very mechanically sound.

    The beginning was a bit slow. I’d recommend starting at the school, and moving the fight over the scarf to when he heads back. It would probably go something like this…

    1. Adrian at school. We see a bit of him, how much he cares about drama club, and how bad the area is.

    2. I’d recommend showing him struggling a bit in class, or maybe getting raked over the coals by a hard-edged guidance counselor or teacher or whatever. (“Adrian, you have no chance of getting a job as an actor. That’s not a plan, that’s a fantasy. Your only hope of getting out of here is in the classroom. College.” What I like about his interest in acting is that it is a fantasy compared to a strong interest in math or science (Peter Parker, Virgil Hawkins, etc.)

    3. I’d recommend him running into the gangsters for the first time at school.

    4. I’d recommend having the gangsters run into him again– this time with higher stakes… maybe the knives are out– on the way home.

    5. Aliens!

  70. B. Macon 27 Nov 2008 at 10:34 am

    I don’t think this piece needed all that much rewriting.

    I think there are roughly 5 tiers of manuscript quality.

    #1 is so bad that no professional publisher anywhere would spend more than 30 seconds reading it. Reading a #1 manuscript, you could not be sure that the author’s first language was English. #2 is not as bad, but is still filled with so many mistakes that a publisher will probably give up within a few minutes. #3 has a few general problems– maybe the plot is cliche or not very focused– but is generally functional. #4 is like #3 but better-packaged. The introduction is smooth and enjoyable. The plot is tighter and sounds like it’s going somewhere. A #3 is marginally publishable, but a #4 will probably get published somewhere. A #5 takes the quality of #4 and adds consistency. It can certainly get published somewhere.

    I’d put this at a #3 now and I think that sound rewriting could tune it into a #4.

  71. Bretton 27 Nov 2008 at 12:39 pm

    At this stage, what level am I on in your opinion?

  72. Bretton 27 Nov 2008 at 4:35 pm

    Oh, and in the new films, Alfred is Michael Caine.

  73. Bretton 27 Nov 2008 at 6:45 pm

    Quote: “What’s the main point we’re supposed to take away about Xavier here?”

    This is only partly about Xavier, but it says something about Alex. The key here is the line “like father like son”.

  74. B. Macon 27 Nov 2008 at 6:49 pm

    Hmm… maybe on the lower end of a #3? It has appeal, but I think it has a few issues that might be a little bit trickier to resolve than Ragged Boy’s at this moment.

    ==The narrator’s relationship with the story strikes me as unhelpful. Ideally, I think, a narrator feels like a part of the story. I felt like this narrator sometimes made the story jerk around a bit. (For example, he gave us the backstory about Alex’s parents at a time when I really wanted to know more about Alex and Karen). Giving the narrator more of a distinct voice and personality might help, too.

    ==I think the story needs to move a bit more quickly at the beginning. I’d recommend introducing Karen more quickly and focusing less on backstory of characters that are not in the here-and-now of the story, like Alex’s parents.

    ==Making the story more goal-orientated might help. Goal #1 is probably “convince the storekeeper to sell his cabbage.” That’s really dramatic, but there wasn’t very much buildup. He overcomes the obstacle too easily, I think. (I feel like his method, threatening violence, should not work as easily as it did). Goal 2 would be “get home without Karen _____.” I’m not sure how to fill in the blank. She seems like a nuisance but isn’t really much of a dramatic obstacle to his goal.

    ==Most manuscripts lack a “hook,” a twist on their subgenre. Your story already has a hook, which is excellent (epic fantasy with a persecuted hero). The bad news is that it may give the story a slightly sinister and gritty ambiance. I think that the persecution element made the story feel most unhappy when Alex kind of casually used the threat of violence to convince the vendor to sell him cabbage. He was joking, but even so I think that it made the atmosphere feel unintentionally noir-ish.

    ==Alex’s characterization seems to shift around a lot. For example, Alex feels free to pretty much tell a storekeeper that he plans to kill him if he doesn’t sell the cabbage. He’s bluffing, obviously, but he’d have to be an unusually confident teen to make such brazen threats (particularly if half-elves get hassled by the police). But he doesn’t seem nearly as confident or assertive when Karen starts to bother him. He felt a lot more realistic and dramatic when he was on-stage with Karen. It seemed like he was much more aware of his limitations… limits tend to make a character’s struggles more interesting.

    ==Alex had a lot of chemistry with Karen, but I didn’t feel the same degree of chemistry between him and the storekeeper.

  75. B. Macon 27 Nov 2008 at 6:55 pm

    Hmm. That’s an interesting observation (about his father being a reflection of him), but one of my concerns is that it seems like the son is not very similar to the father. For example, Xavier “had never spoken an idle threat,” but Alex is pretty quick to threaten the shopkeeper. (I don’t mean to belabor that point, but I feel that his attempts to resolve that situation with coercion affected my impression of him very strongly). Xavier is reputable, but humans find half-elves disreputable.

  76. Bretton 27 Nov 2008 at 7:35 pm

    I was thinking that he would be more aggressive with the cabbage merchant because he had gone through this before and knew what to expect. With Karen, it’s a bit different. I will clear that up in the rewrite. Also, what did you mean by this: “He’s a cabbage merchant? Erm, I hope you’re playing that for comedic effect. :)”? If you were thinking that my cabbage merchant is a subtle reference to Avatar’s cabbage merchant, then you’re right. Who knows, maybe he’ll show up again. And again. And again… lol. Ok, here’s the rewrite. I also added some new stuff:

    ——————————————————————-
    Alexander Tafari had to be very careful around his neighbors. His parents had always warned him that “his kind” was not well liked by humans, and they were right. He was of ordinary height, his brown skin and black hair were forgettable, but he was nevertheless marked. Alex’s ears were pointed, and his curly black hair had a slight red sheen. If his ears raised suspicion, having an odd hair color was the kiss of death. Some reacted with fear and revulsion, others with mockery and outright hatred. Hatred of, as they put it, “his kind”.

    The market seemed quiet, or maybe the good villagers wholeheartedly believed that anyone within a five foot radius of him would die, and painfully. The cabbage merchant glared at him from the corner of his eyes, though never daring direct eye contact. Watching him closely, as if he expected robbery, or worse, murder. His face bore the scowl of hatred, but his body reeked of fear.

    “I d-don’t sell to the likes of you.” His voice trembled.

    “Are you serious?” Alex said, slowly approaching. “Well, if you’re smart, you will sell to me, or you won’t sell to anyone else.” Alex gave the man a left-sided smirk.

    “Look, I don’t want any trouble, just leave me alone or–“

    “Or what?”

    The man gulped. “I’ll call the guards. They’ll know how to deal with… your kind.”
    This was no idle threat. Alex had already noticed some of the guards shadowing him from a distance, or stiffening when he came near.

    “Really, is that so?” Alex bent down and scooped a handful of dust from the street. He then locked eyes with the man, letting the sand slip through his fingers. “Remember what happened to the last merchant who wouldn’t sell to ‘my kind’? I seem to recall he disintegrated into a thousand. Tiny. Pieces. So, how about that cabbage? Because something tells me your other prospective customers are getting really nervous. They just might, I don’t know, leave. And who could blame them. No one wants to die.” This bluff had worked before, and it seemed to be working again.

    Sweat poured down the merchant’s face as his eyes darted back and forth in frustration. “Alright, take the cabbage and leave me alone. This shop is closed.”

    Human coward, Alex thought. The next vendor was so frightened that he refused to accept payment.

    “Go on ahead. It’s free! Keep your dirty money. You halflings are dangerous.”

    Alex collected what he wanted and left, convulsing. That word made him so angry he didn’t even care about the free food. His eyes burned with fury. The familiar, ever-present scourge: halfling. But that was what Alex was, fathered by a human, born of an elven mother. Child of two worlds, citizen of none.

    At times Alex almost believed that the entire human race was cruel and suspicious. But they had a reason to be. The half-elven, in fact, half-anythings, were notorious for exhibiting powers believed to be beyond their control. Everyone in town just knew that Alex’s “kind” were all as volatile as blasting oil, just waiting to destroy everything in sight. Then he remembered that not all people were the same. His father was different. It was because of him that Alex still held faith in the human race.

    Alex’s parents were not persecuted nearly as much as he and his brothers were. If anyone talked about his father, Xavier, it was behind closed doors with hushed tones. Xavier was a noble man of proud ancestry, with blue eyes that could pierce the soul of a hardened criminal, short, curly black hair with a few silver strands near the temples, and a presence that could silence a rabid dog. His senses were uncanny, and his mouth had never spoken an idle threat. He was quite reputable, despite having married an elf. He also had a reputation for being short on patience and long on retribution. Alex had learned much from him. Like father, like son.

    Humans would be perfectly accepting of an elf, and such an elf could even go out in public with a human. These rules, of course, did not quite apply if they were married. There was an unspoken rule among the races that any cross-cultural couple was to be looked down upon, and their offspring were to be despised. Not just half-elves, but half-dwarves and half-giants as well. It seemed to Alex that pureblooded parents were given more leniency than their halfling children because if they did have powers, they could control them. Popular belief dictated that halflings could not.

    Alex lived in the city of Mora. It was a charming town, not a small hamlet, but by no means a city as large as the capital. It sat on the banks of the Nuba River, where the landscape was already tinged with the beginning of the harvest season. The green trees were beginning to turn shades of gold, red, and orange in the month of August, dropping their leaves on the rolling hills. A fiery harbinger of the fruits of nature to come.

    Alex started on his way home. His mother would not let him drive the cart, so he had to carry everything himself. It was beginning to get frustrating, and, Alex was very close to throwing the groceries onto the street just to be done with it.

    While he was walking down the street, crunching the fall leaves and kicking at a rock in his path, Alex saw a girl out of the corner of his eye. He instantly recognized her, and walked faster. Karen. The girl saw him and walked in his direction. Alex had failed to avoid her. I really don’t want to deal with her right now, Alex thought. Karen was his cousin, but she was also very skilled at irritating him. Alex simply could not tolerate her.

    It seemed to Alex that everyone liked Karen, even despite the fact that she too was half-elven. Maybe it was something about her long, straight silvery-white hair. Maybe it was her musical voice. He was always hearing other people talk about how wonderful she was. But Alex knew the truth. To him, Karen was nothing but deviousness and trickery.

    The two had been rivals as long as Alex could remember. They were playing a perpetual game of cat-and-mouse. Whatever ambitions Karen might have had, Alex knew he was superior. Eventually the struggle had to end, and only he would claim supremacy. But the battle for supremacy would have to wait. Right now, all Alex wanted was to get the groceries home intact. If Karen made him angry again, that would be nearly impossible.

    “Hey, Alex!” Karen shouted.

    Alex pretended that he could not hear her over the commotion in the street and walked faster. He pictured the blue sandstone house where he lived, his destination. He would not let anything distract him, not even Karen.

    Karen would not be denied. “Alex! Yes, I’m talking to you, horntoad!”

    Alex suppressed his anger. He would have to deal with Karen later. He made a sharp turn and ran towards the town square, hoping to lose her in the crowd. Who could pick out one fourteen-year-old boy among the hundreds of people who gathered in the square? Certainly not a fifteen-year-old girl. Alex plunged into the crowd, taking several twists and turns he was sure would disorient his adversary. After this, emerged and continued on his path, only to find Karen blocking the way.

    “Nice try Alex. Next time you want to hide in a crowd, be sure to find a large group of people who have pointed ears and red-black hair.” Karen said with a smug look on her face.

    Alex struggled to keep his temper now that he had been forced to engage his adversary. “How did you catch up to me?”

    “You’re not the only one with elven blood. I’m just as fast as you are, even faster. There’s no way in the heavens that you could have escaped me.”

    Alex swallowed a hostile statement and fought to keep his composure. “Well, now that you’ve caught me, what do you want? As you can see, I have groceries to deliver.”

    Just then, a burly man with a scraggly beard swaggered over. He brandished a sword, pointing at Alex. “Miss, is this ‘ere ‘alflin’ botherin’ you?”

    Then it occurred to Alex, Karen could use her long hair to hide her ears. Most people believed she was human.

    “No. He couldn’t threaten me on his best day. If he tries, even the Powers Above might not recognize his corpse.”

    The man walked away, and Alex was fuming. “Karen, I’m going to–”

    “To what? In case you’ve forgotten, bodily attacking a human is a hanging crime, halfling.”

    “In case you’ve forgotten, you’re not one of them.” Alex dropped the groceries and lunged toward Karen, knocking her to the ground. “I have had it up to here with you, ‘cousin’! When I finish, all of Aunt Kayla’s elven medicine won’t be able to heal your wounds.” Alex had Karen pinned. He looked into her eyes as she realized what he had known from the beginning. There was only one way she could win, and he was forcing her to take it.

    “Lumis,” she whispered. Immediately a bolt of light issued from her body, driving Alex to the ground several feet away.

    Alex was sore, but he smiled. He had gotten exactly the reaction he had wanted. Now she is exposed for what she truly is. Unfortunately, that blast was only half of her full power, he thought. As he stood to challenge Karen, he whispered, “Vaichar”. Balls of fire engulfed his hands as he assumed a fighting stance. He called to Karen, “Ladies first.”

  77. Bretton 28 Nov 2008 at 12:27 pm

    Reminder!

  78. Cadet Davison 28 Nov 2008 at 5:01 pm

    I offered more suggestions here. It had bright moments but mostly I felt it was missing something.

  79. Ragged Boyon 28 Nov 2008 at 7:41 pm

    Exactly how conversational should a first person narrator be with a reader.

    Say the FP narrator say “In my opinion, blah blah” is that acceptable? Or should it be less conversational? Or does it really not matter unless it breaks the fourth wall?

  80. Ragged Boyon 28 Nov 2008 at 7:50 pm

    Oh, how often should a FPN use “I”, I use “I” alot in my story and I think “I” kind of glares, I need your help so I can come up with more variety. I think using less “I” will help me sound like I’m a better writer. I don’t think I used “I” as much as I did here, but I did use “I” quite a bit. Don’t worry I don’t really speak like this, I’m just having fun putting I wherever I possibly can

    Can you help I?

    (I hope you guys have as much fun reading this as I had typing it, haha)

  81. Ragged Boyon 28 Nov 2008 at 9:32 pm

    I sat in my school’s auditorium, patting my feet and tapping my fingers on the armrest. When’s it gonna to be my turn, I thought. In my head, I began to go over the monologue I had rehearsed for an hour the night before, but stopped self assured that it would be perfect. My turn was coming, but not soon enough. I leaned back listening to the rock on my mp3 player, rock made everything better. I’m often picked on for listening to rock, being black and all, but it doesn’t bother me. The monologue was short, 500 words and I would perform it flawlessly.

    I began to drift off, thinking of life as a famous actor, when I heard something monstrous. I quickly sat up in horror as the next performer read aloud their monologue. No! Not their monologue, my monologue! Impossible, that part was meant for me. I was awestruck at the level of skill, he flowed through the piece. No stumbling, no monotone, no overacting. His words rang in my head each striking all the right emotions, My heart dropped at the thought. A perfect reading. I was disorientated, but quickly shook it off, it was my turn. Competition always made getting the part even more difficult than it already was. He was finally done, “Great job! Adrian you’re up next” the director called out.

    I walked up to the stage and past the last performer, Eric. We stopped at the same time turning towards each other. I glared at him with a smirk, he did the same.

    “Break a leg” he said sarcastically

    “I intend to buddy. Oh, and by the way you skipped line nine.” I watched as he second guessed himself, laughing inside at the lie I had told. I wasn’t usually competitive; in fact I had never played a sport or been on a team. Theatre was different though, it was my passion and I felt obligated to fight for it. The lead role had to be mine, it’s my destiny.

    “So now the drugs are gone and the police are on my ass” I began to recite my piece giving Eric a quick glance, he knew it was game on. I continued to breeze through the monologue, moving smoothly over every word, but when I was just getting to the most climatic part POW! POW! Everyone got down on the floor in panic. Another shooting close to the school, fourth one this week. Gunshots, perfect, now my monologue is ruined, I thought. The cars swerved away from the scene outside, I hoped that no one was hurt this time. “Okay, we’ll finish this later” the director said standing back up.

    I jumped up. “Wait! Why? Gunshots aren’t new. People shoot all the time in this neighborhood, why do we have to stop?” I asked.

    “Well it’s not just because of the shots, look at the time” the director pointed to the clock. Crap, two minutes to seven, class was about to start. I let out a sigh of disappointment as I hopped off the stage and grabbed my things, but was stopped by the director.

    “I’m not cutting you short, you’ll get your chance” he said.

    “Fine, it’s okay.” I lied.

    The bell for class to start rung and I was first out of the auditorium. A wave a heat hit me as I entered the school’s crowded hallway. The usual morning chaos had ensued. Kids were cursing and fighting, selling drugs and going on about sex. It’s a funny school, like everyone was in a rush to grow up. I was luckily able to make it to Algebra II class on time, sitting in my broken seat by the window. It squeaked loudly as I sat down, I was used to it though, and so was everyone else.

    The morning announcement chimed “good morning New Harbor High School, and what a beautiful morning it is.” The recorded introduction couldn’t have been more wrong. I pulled out my algebra book in fear, the numbers and formulas sprained my brain. Looking over the material only made it worse. There were some things I knew, and some that completely baffled me. “Ay, you know number five?” Miguel asked. Miguel never paid attention; I was amazed he even made it to number five.

    “No, do you know number nine?”

    “Damn, we ain’t even made it that far” he said.

    I looked around the classroom; everyone was staring at me like I knew the purpose of life or something. “I’m not even that smart, why are y’all looking at me!” I said laughing. I knew number five, but I didn’t want to help someone who doesn’t care about school, what was the point, at least I tried to learn this stuff. What little focus I had waned away, daydreaming, one of my biggest hobbies took over. If I get the lead role in the play, I’ll get to perform at the Glitz Theatre launching off my acting career, I’d become a star. I went into another of my being rich and famous fantasies.

    “Adrian! enjoying your little dream!” Ms. Benson interrupted my fantasy.

    “Well actually I was, it’s better than racking my brain over this work” I said jokingly

    A classmate of mine let a loud OOOH!, as if I had intentionally snapped back at her. She was furious, ripping out a referral form and quickly writing me up “Maybe the guidance counselor will find your jokes funnier” She said

    “No, I wasn’t trying to be rude, I was just playing” I pleaded

    “Mmhmm, I’ve heard that before, get out of my class”. She handed me the referral and called the administration office to make sure I got there. It was pointless she had won. I walked slowly down the hall, dragging my feet and listening to the unusual echo of the empty hall. The silence of the halls was by a fight around the corner, the heavy blows falling and the cheering of watchers was deafening, echoing loudly throughout the school. All of a sudden, I lost my balance falling to the window beside me. The echoing of the fight was so loud I became dizzy. I glanced out of the window and saw a figure; it was tall and purple and scared the crap out of me. I scrambled to the other side of the hall away from the window and closed my eyes as the dizziness faded.

    I stood up rebalancing myself as I walked back toward the window. I was nervous about looking out, what if that was some kind of monster. I moved the thoughts out of my head and looked out of the window. There was nothing there, just the cracked road and a broke down car.

    What do you think of this one, I’m sure it needs some reworking because it feels okay to me. I think I needs more imagery, but I’m having a hard time introducing Adrian effectively.

    Suggestion? Opinions?

  82. Ragged Boyon 28 Nov 2008 at 9:44 pm

    After reading over it again, I like it! I like that Adrian comes off as a tiny bit of a jerk when it comes to acting and school, it shows his love for drama club as well as his future aspirations, the dizziness part is a small precursor to the invasion, he will fell that same feeling later. I know you did an entire article about goals some I guess his first goal was to rock the audition, which was interrupted and his next goal will be to get the guidance counselor to denounce the referral, he would accomplish so by acting like he’s horribly sad about his life and that the referral would somehow destroy his life, bring on the fake tears.

  83. Ragged Boyon 29 Nov 2008 at 3:16 pm

    I sat in my school’s auditorium, patting my feet and tapping my fingers on the armrest. When’s it gonna to be my turn, I thought. In my head, I began to go over the monologue I had rehearsed for an hour the night before, but stopped self assured that it would be perfect. My turn was coming, but not soon enough. I leaned back listening to the rock on my mp3 player, rock made everything better. I’m often picked on for listening to rock, being black and all, but it doesn’t bother me. The monologue was short, 500 words and I would perform it flawlessly.

    I began to drift off, thinking of life as a famous actor, when I heard something monstrous. I quickly sat up in horror as the next performer read aloud their monologue. No! Not their monologue, my monologue! Impossible, that part was meant for me. I was awestruck at the level of skill, he flowed through the piece. No stumbling, no monotone, no overacting. His words rang in my head each striking all the right emotions, My heart dropped at the thought. A perfect reading. I was disorientated, but quickly shook it off, it was my turn. Competition always made getting the part even more difficult than it already was. He was finally done, “Great job! Adrian you’re up next” the director called out.

    I walked up to the stage and past the last performer, Eric. We stopped at the same time turning towards each other. I glared at him with a smirk, he did the same.

    “Break a leg” he said sarcastically

    “I intend to buddy. Oh, and by the way you skipped line nine.” I watched as he second guessed himself, laughing inside at the lie I had told. I wasn’t usually competitive; in fact I had never played a sport or been on a team. Theatre was different though, it was my passion and I felt obligated to fight for it. The lead role had to be mine, it’s my destiny.

    “So now the drugs are gone and the police are on my ass” I began to recite my piece giving Eric a quick glance, he knew it was game on. I continued to breeze through the monologue, moving smoothly over every word, but when I was just getting to the most climatic part POW! POW! Everyone got down on the floor in panic. Another shooting close to the school, fourth one this week. Gunshots, perfect, now my monologue is ruined, I thought. The cars swerved away from the scene outside, I hoped that no one was hurt this time. “Okay, we’ll finish this later” the director said standing back up.

    I jumped up. “Wait! Why? Gunshots aren’t new. People shoot all the time in this neighborhood, why do we have to stop?” I asked.

    “Well it’s not just because of the shots, look at the time” the director pointed to the clock. Crap, two minutes to seven, class was about to start. I let out a sigh of disappointment as I hopped off the stage and grabbed my things, but was stopped by the director.

    “I’m not cutting you short, you’ll get your chance” he said.

    “Fine, it’s okay.” I lied.

    The bell for class to start rung and I was first out of the auditorium. A wave a heat hit me as I entered the school’s crowded hallway. The usual morning chaos had ensued. Kids were cursing and fighting, selling drugs and going on about sex. It’s a funny school, like everyone was in a rush to grow up. I was luckily able to make it to Algebra II class on time, sitting in my broken seat by the window. It squeaked loudly as I sat down, I was used to it though, and so was everyone else.

    The morning announcement chimed “good morning New Harbor High School, and what a beautiful morning it is.” The recorded introduction couldn’t have been more wrong. I pulled out my algebra book in fear, the numbers and formulas sprained my brain. Looking over the material only made it worse. There were some things I knew, and some that completely baffled me. “Ay, you know number five?” Miguel asked. Miguel never paid attention; I was amazed he even made it to number five.

    “No, do you know number nine?”

    “Damn, we ain’t even made it that far” he said.

    I looked around the classroom; everyone was staring at me like I knew the purpose of life or something. “I’m not even that smart, why are y’all looking at me!” I said laughing. I knew number five, but I didn’t want to help someone who doesn’t care about school, what was the point, at least I tried to learn this stuff. What little focus I had waned away, daydreaming, one of my biggest hobbies took over. If I get the lead role in the play, I’ll get to perform at the Glitz Theatre launching off my acting career, I’d become a star. I went into another of my being rich and famous fantasies.

    “Adrian! enjoying your little dream!” Ms. Benson interrupted my fantasy.

    “Well actually I was, it’s better than racking my brain over this work” I said jokingly

    A classmate of mine let a loud OOOH!, as if I had intentionally snapped back at her. She was furious, ripping out a referral form and quickly writing me up “Maybe the guidance counselor will find your jokes funnier” She said

    “No, I wasn’t trying to be rude, I was just playing” I pleaded

    “Mmhmm, I’ve heard that before, get out of my class”. She handed me the referral and called the administration office to make sure I got there. It was pointless she had won. I walked slowly down the hall, dragging my feet and listening to the unusual echo of the empty hall. The silence of the halls was by a fight around the corner, the heavy blows falling and the cheering of watchers was deafening, echoing loudly throughout the school. All of a sudden, I lost my balance falling to the window beside me. The echoing of the fight was so loud I became dizzy. I glanced out of the window and saw a figure; it was tall and purple and scared the crap out of me. I scrambled to the other side of the hall away from the window and closed my eyes as the dizziness faded.

    I stood up rebalancing myself as I walked back toward the window. I was nervous about looking out, what if that was some kind of monster. I moved the thoughts out of my head and looked out of the window. There was nothing there, just the cracked road and a broke down car.

    What do you think of this one, I’m sure it needs some reworking because it feels okay to me. I think I needs more imagery, but I’m having a hard time introducing Adrian effectively.

    Suggestion? Opinions?

    Read the comment above this too, and the two above this original post please.

  84. B. Macon 29 Nov 2008 at 6:30 pm

    Hey, R.B. I’m working on giving you a forum, too, so that I can keep track of what I’ve said about your work more readily. You can see that here. By Saturday night or Sunday I should have my comments in place for you.

  85. Ragged Boyon 29 Nov 2008 at 8:49 pm

    Totally Awesome!!!!

    Newsflash:
    I’m an official amatuer model now, when I book three jobs then I’m a professional. YAY!

  86. Silason 02 Dec 2008 at 1:01 am

    I’m wondering if it would be bad/too cliche to start out a story with the MC overhearing a conversation between her mother on the phone. Since it’s on the phone, the MC and readers only get one side of the conversation, so it’s not too revealing, but you learn enough about the story to make you want to read on. (I hope)

  87. B. Macon 02 Dec 2008 at 7:43 am

    Depending on your audience, it might be problematic that the opening introduces the main character as more of a gossip/eavesdropper than an actor. I suspect males, particularly young ones, would not take very well to the protagonist off the bat. Please take this with a grain of salt, given that I am not female– I think that female readers might go for it, particularly if the conversation is about the protagonist or somehow extremely important to her.

    In a television show, when a character hears only one side of a conversation, typically (s)he horribly misconstrues the conversation, usually for comedic effect. I wouldn’t recommend going down that path– I’d recommend having the MC understand a lot of the conversation (at the very least, what the mother is saying). In the introduction, if the MC learns that the conversation was actually about something entirely different than (s)he had thought, we’d have to reorient what we thought about the speakers and possibly the MC. It could get messy.

  88. Silason 02 Dec 2008 at 11:45 pm

    I actually wrote out the scene, and decided that it was too confusing have a telephone conversation, so I actually wrote it with the character she was talking to being in the room with her. If it’s okay, I’ll try to post it tomorrow. (It’s written on my home pc and I’m at work) I really do appreciate the fact that you take the time to leave me comments/ critiques. I’m a fledgling writer and trying to learn and this site helps a lot.

  89. B. Macon 03 Dec 2008 at 9:25 am

    OK, that sounds good.

  90. Silason 03 Dec 2008 at 4:41 pm

    Clara sat at the top of the stairs listening to her mother’s hushed conversation. Though attempting keep her voice low, it carried from the downstairs living room. Clara stroked the fur of a large, black dog sitting silently beside her.

    “You think I don’t know that she’s dying?” Lena said.

    Another voice, one Clara didn’t recognize, replied, “Lena, I know this is hard on you. Losing a child isn’t something that any of us have had to go through, or want you to go through, but the bloodline! It must not end with her! You must think of the greater good here.”

    Curiosity winning over sense, she decided to use her unique gift. Blinking several times, as though some piece of debris had invaded her eyes, they changed from their normal crystal blue to the jade of her Lena’s.

    Blind to what her own eyes were seeing, she instead saw what Lena saw. The man sitting before her looked to be in his early twenties. His skin was tanned all too dark for the dead of winter, Clara thought. She also had never seen him before. Her head began to ache, signaling to her that it was time to return to her own vision. Batting her eyes several more times, green turned to blue.

    Bloodlines? Why does it matter if she has a living kid?

    At the sound of approaching footsteps, Clara froze in fear for a split second. Not wanting to be caught eavesdropping, she jumped up to sneak back to her room. Her dog got up to follow her, but she threw her hands out for him to stay. He sat down and tilted his head to the side, a fluffy tail thumping against the wood.

    “Shh, Cerberus,” she plead with him.

    The footsteps grew louder, and Clara turned to dash as quietly as possible. Cerberus bolted up to chase her. He lost his footing in trying to stop too abrupt though, and slid right into her, sending her into the bedroom door.

    “Clara?” she heard Lena call.

    “Sorry buddy, but you’re going to have to take the fall for this one,” she whispered through the dark as she shut the door before he could follow after her. Her heart sank as she heard him pawing at the door, whining. Hurried footsteps coming up the stairs, however, reminded her that she was supposed to be asleep.

    She jumped into her bed just as Lena had cracked the door open to let Cerberus in. He walked in and jumped on the bed, plopping down on Clara’s feet. Lena shut the door and Clara let out a sigh of relief.

    “Thanks for almost getting me caught,” she said and then rolled over to sleep.

  91. B. Macon 03 Dec 2008 at 6:04 pm

    I liked this a lot. I think that the goal– figuring out what Lena and the stranger were talking about, and then trying to avoid getting caught– was strong. This was very well-paced and I never wondered what was going on. I have a few suggestions for alternate phrasings and word-choices, but I generally found it easy to read.

    I feel that it worked out really well to have the stranger in the house. That made this meeting seem more intimate and strange than it would have been to call the stranger. Also, her superpower spying ability fit into this story pretty smoothly, I thought. (It probably wouldn’t have added much if he had been on the phone with Lena).

    Clara sat at the top of the stairs listening to her mother’s hushed conversation. Though attempting keep her voice low, it carried from the downstairs living room. Clara stroked the fur of a large, black dog sitting silently beside her.

    –The second sentence here strikes me as a dangling modifier that’s a bit awkward. I’d recommend changing it to something like “Lena tried to keep her voice low, but it carried from the downstairs living room anyway.”
    –I think it would be helpful to come up with a more distinct name for Lena.
    –“a large, black dog sitting” seems a bit odd. This dog is in her home, so I assume it’s her pet. Does she have a name for this dog? That would probably be smoother.

    “You think I don’t know that she’s dying?” Lena said.

    –One possible rephrasing of this is “Of course I know she’s dying. She’s my daughter.” That takes out the awkward “you think I don’t know” phrase and also removes any potential confusion about who she’s talking about. I assume, of course, that Clara is the one that’s dying.

    Another voice, one Clara didn’t recognize, replied, “Lena, I know this is hard on you. Losing a child isn’t something that any of us have had to go through, or want you to go through, but the bloodline! It must not end with her! You must think of the greater good here.”

    –I love the phrase “but the bloodline! It must not end with her!” I feel that it successfully conveyed a sense of urgency.
    –This phrase strikes me as slightly awkward: “Losing a child isn’t something that any of us have had to go through, or want you to go through.” I’d suggest something like “We haven’t lost a child, but you must think of the greater good here.”
    –I don’t think I know what the phrase “you must think of the greater good here” means. I feel like I’m missing some important piece of a puzzle. How would her daughter’s illness make her think of something other than the greater good?

    Curiosity winning over sense, she decided to use her unique gift. Blinking several times, as though some piece of debris had invaded her eyes, they changed from their normal crystal blue to the jade of her Lena’s.

    –I am not very fond of the phrase “curiosity winning over sense.” It strikes me as too passive.
    –“the jade of her Lena’s”… the word “her” there seems awkward.
    –The detail of what color her eyes are seems kind of removed from her perspective and I didn’t find it very interesting.

    Blind to what her own eyes were seeing, she instead saw what Lena saw. The man sitting before her looked to be in his early twenties. His skin was tanned all too dark for the dead of winter, Clara thought. She also had never seen him before. Her head began to ache, signaling to her that it was time to return to her own vision. Batting her eyes several more times, green turned to blue.

    –This opening sentence could probably be rephrased for smoothness. “Now she saw only what Lena saw,” perhaps.
    –I like the detail that he’s too tan for winter. That’s an interesting observation.
    –The phrase “she had also never seen him before” could probably be removed. What would you think of referring to the man as “the stranger” instead? That would imply that she didn’t know who he was.

    Bloodlines? Why does it matter if she has a living kid?

    –In a novel manuscript, I’d recommend italicizing this so that we know it’s coming directly from Clara and not the narrator. (I don’t think it’s possible for you to italicize your comments on this website, so it’s obviously something you couldn’t have avoided here).
    –It may be smoother to rephrase this in the third person. “She wondered what he meant by bloodlines. Why did it matter if Lena had a living kid?”

    At the sound of approaching footsteps, Clara froze in fear for a split second. Not wanting to be caught eavesdropping, she jumped up to sneak back to her room. Her dog got up to follow her, but she threw her hands out for him to stay. He sat down and tilted his head to the side, a fluffy tail thumping against the wood.

    –I think most readers will know why she’s afraid of getting caught. So you might be able to remove the phrase “not wanting to be caught eavesdropping.”
    –I found this paragraph very smooth.

    “Shh, Cerberus,” she plead with him.

    –I think “plead” should be “pleaded.”
    –I’d recommend moving Cerberus’ name up to the first time he’s mentioned.

    The footsteps grew louder, and Clara turned to dash as quietly as possible. Cerberus bolted up to chase her. He lost his footing in trying to stop too abrupt though, and slid right into her, sending her into the bedroom door.

    –“turned to dash as quietly as possible” seems a bit awkward. What would you think about “she scuttled away” or “she scurried away” or “she crept away?” I think those imply speed and stealth.
    –“He lost his footing in trying to stop too abrupt though” is not quite as smooth as the previous paragraph. I’d recommend something like “he lost his footing trying to stop too abruptly. He slid into her, sending both crashing into the bedroom door.

    “Clara?” she heard Lena call.
    –What would you think about this? “Clara?” Lena called.

    “Sorry buddy, but you’re going to have to take the fall for this one,” she whispered through the dark as she shut the door before he could follow after her. Her heart sank as she heard him pawing at the door, whining. Hurried footsteps coming up the stairs, however, reminded her that she was supposed to be asleep.

    –I’d recommend adding a comma after sorry.
    –I like the detail of her leaving Cerberus out in the cold so that he can take the fall. I would just recommend tweaking the order of the phrases. “She shut the door before he could follow after her. “Sorry, buddy, but you’re going to have to take the fall,” she whispered. Her heart sank as she hear him pawing at the door, whining.”
    –I’m not very fond of the last sentence.

    She jumped into her bed just as Lena had cracked the door open to let Cerberus in. He walked in and jumped on the bed, plopping down on Clara’s feet. Lena shut the door and Clara let out a sigh of relief.

    “Thanks for almost getting me caught,” she said and then rolled over to sleep.
    –What would you think about a comma after said? I’m kind of torn there.

  92. Silason 03 Dec 2008 at 11:42 pm

    Clara sat at the top of the stairs listening to her mother’s hushed conversation coming from the living room. Lena attempted to keep her voice low, but it carried upstairs anyway. Clara stroked the fur of her colossal black dog, Cerberus.

    “She’s my daughter. Of course I know that she’s dying,” Lena said.

    Another voice, one Clara didn’t recognize, replied, “Lena, we know this is hard on you. We’ve never lost a child, but the bloodline! It must not end with her! Try and think of the greater good here.”

    Clara decided to use her unique gift. Blinking several times, as though some piece of debris had invaded her sight, she became blind to what her own eyes were seeing. Instead, she saw only what Lena could see. The stranger looked to be in his early twenties. His skin was tanned all too dark for the dead of winter, Clara thought. Her head began to ache, signaling to her that it was time to return to her own vision. Batting her eyes several more times, her own vision returned.

    She wondered what was so important about bloodlines, and why it mattered if Lena had a living child, until the sound of approaching footsteps interrupted her thoughts. Clara froze in fear for a split second, and then jumped up to sneak back to her room. Her dog got up to follow her, but she threw her hands out for him to stay. He sat down and tilted his head to the side, a fluffy tail thumping against the wood.

    “Shh, Cerberus,” she pleaded with him.

    The footsteps grew louder, and Clara crept away as quietly as possible. Cerberus bolted up to chase her. He lost his footing in trying to stop too abruptly. He slid right into her, sending them both crashing into the bedroom door.

    “Clara?” Lena called.

    She shut the door before he could follow inside and whispered, “sorry, buddy, you’re going to have to take the fall for this one.” Her heart sank as she heard him pawing at the door, whining.

    She jumped into her bed just as Lena had cracked the door open to let Cerberus in. He walked in and jumped on the bed, plopping down on Clara’s feet. Lena shut the door and Clara let out a sigh of relief.

    “Thanks for almost getting me caught,” she said, and then rolled over to sleep.

    I’ve been working on getting a new name for Lena, but I haven’t replaced it in my actual text yet. I was thinking Katherine, maybe. At first, I didn’t really like all the ideas you gave, but when I read what I had written out loud, compared to what you suggested, it made the story flow a lot better. I need to start reading out loud, I think. It really does help. Thanks.

  93. B. Macon 04 Dec 2008 at 8:14 am

    I like Katherine, but the front sound may be similar to the first syllable of Clara. Aside from that, I feel that the tweaks I’d do to this scene are pretty minor (for example, I’d recommend replacing one of the instances of the word “jumped” with “climbed” in the third-to-last paragraph). I think you’re ready to proceed from here.

  94. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 05 Dec 2008 at 4:26 am

    I’m not very satisfied with my first chapter. I have to do some revisions to make it just right, but I’ll get around to it later. I’ve hit a bit of a writer’s block, but I’ll kick its ar*e tomorrow. What do you think of this paragraph? Does it need more description, or do parts need smoothing out? I think that the word “I” is very overused in my book.

    “After leaving the Crabclaw (the restaurant where he works) , I began to work on the bane of all students. If I am someday to become Prime Minister (Not likely, as I don’t believe Australia would take too kindly to being looked after by a different species), I would abolish homework. We do enough at school, anyway, and it just stresses us out more than a pair of work pants. I mean, who wants to just work when we’re supposed to play? From observation of television programs, I’m told that teenagers are meant to be partying and going on dates all the time. Who’s meant to find adequate space to do that if they’re studying every day?

    This work wasn’t too bad, but that isn’t the point. That I had homework AT ALL was a major killjoy. It’s safe to say that this particular project screwed up my life, but at the same time helped me to avoid other people’s lives from being destroyed. (It screwed up his life because it meant he was in the city at the time, so he saw a girl fall off a building. Then he saved her and felt pressured to continue)”

    What do you think?

  95. B. Macon 05 Dec 2008 at 10:49 am

    Erm, I don’t think I’m feeling it. But the observation about television is pretty amusing and I think it would organize this passage more smoothly to start with that.

    What would you think about something like this?

    On television, teens party and date all the time. That’s a lie. If any television show spent as much time on homework as teens did, it would die in the first week.

    [At this point, I would recommend cutting to a scene focusing on his troubles with homework, and what he’s doing that’s so bad. One of the things I didn’t like about your first paragraph was that it was an extended monologue removed from a scene]

    Here are some sentence-by-sentence observations about your passage.

    After leaving the Crabclaw (the restaurant where he works) , I began to work on the bane of all students.
    –I feel that this is overwrought.

    If I am someday to become Prime Minister (Not likely, as I don’t believe Australia would take too kindly to being looked after by a different species), I would abolish homework.
    –This long sentence is complicated by the parenthetical insertion of a second sentence.
    –The detail about Australia not taking too kindly to being ruled by another species is very humorous, but I think it’s more effective if this is the start of the book and we don’t know that this character is a non-human yet.

    We do enough at school, anyway, and it just stresses us out more than a pair of work pants. I mean, who wants to just work when we’re supposed to play?

    –“I mean” is an empty phrase.
    –I’m not fond of this monologue. Moving to a scene (with a setting, actions, maybe other characters, etc.) might help.
    –The character comes off as kind of juvenile here. Replacing “play” with “relax” might help make him sound older. (I can’t remember how old he is, though).

    From observation of television programs, I’m told that teenagers are meant to be partying and going on dates all the time. Who’s meant to find adequate space to do that if they’re studying every day?
    –“from observation of television programs” strikes me as awkward. I’d recommend something like “On television, teens party and go on dates all the time.”
    –I’d recommend changing the second sentence here from a rhetorical question into a wry observation, like “They forgot to mention the part about studying all day.”

    This work wasn’t too bad, but that isn’t the point. That I had homework AT ALL was a major killjoy. It’s safe to say that this particular project screwed up my life, but at the same time helped me to avoid other people’s lives from being destroyed. (It screwed up his life because it meant he was in the city at the time, so he saw a girl fall off a building. Then he saved her and felt pressured to continue)”
    –“helped me to avoid other people’s lives from being destroyed.” This sounds like a very passive construction. What’s he trying to say?
    –“This work wasn’t too bad” undercuts what he’s been complaining about for the last few sentences. If the difficulty isn’t the problem, I’d recommend focusing only on the time constraints. (They want me to do grunt-work for two hours!)
    –I like the use of the word “major” here. It sounds very appropriate for the character.

  96. Ragged Boyon 08 Dec 2008 at 2:09 pm

    Major problem. I need help starting my comic. Is the introduction I have suitable? Or should I rewrite it? Is it ok to introduce the aliens briefly first, then Adrian at school?(seeing as a comic can’t have 1st person narration, that wouldn’t be a problem).

  97. B. Macon 08 Dec 2008 at 2:12 pm

    I found your current introduction very likable. I’d recommend starting with Adrian rather than the aliens. You might end up using the aliens on your cover, so readers will definitely know what they’re getting into if you didn’t introduce the aliens on page 1. Alternately, you could try giving us a page with the aliens for foreshadowing, but I wouldn’t recommend dwelling on them (because Adrian is the main character and the point of interest). Your call.

  98. Ragged Boyon 08 Dec 2008 at 2:24 pm

    I think I’ll introduce Adrian and then the aliens.

    Obrigado!!

  99. Holliequon 08 Dec 2008 at 3:40 pm

    My fantasy novel contains people (the MCs) from our world accidentally travelling to a different one (it sounds bad already, I know >_>;). Would you recommend starting off with them first, or in the fantasy world and *then* introducing the main characters?

  100. Ragged Boyon 08 Dec 2008 at 3:53 pm

    I think it would be better to go with introducing the MC’s first, unless something in the fantasy world ties directly to the MC’s arrival. In that case, you should briefly introduce the fantasy world first.

    That opening sounds much like The Chronicles of Narnia.

  101. Holliequon 08 Dec 2008 at 6:00 pm

    Well, I decided to take R.B.’s advice. Either way, I can rework this to fit in.

    Victor Coburn swore loudly as a motorcycle raced past, only inches from his feet. The roar of the engine faded into the city traffic as the machine disappeared altogether. Victor quickly lost his scowl, shrugging as his dark eyes resumed their former activity: searching for some way through the maze of cars filling the street. Even though the traffic was basically at a standstill, he had trouble convincing himself that it was safe to cross the street – mostly because of people like that motorcycle rider. Very few motorists, it seemed, paid close attention to 16-year-olds trying to cross the road.

    After a few seconds more of tentative steps forward, and then hasty steps backwards, the boy decided that it would be much easier to use the crossing at the other end of the street – probably quicker, too, even though right now he was directly opposite his destination. Although, he thought darkly, coming back the next day would probably get him there quicker when the traffic was in this sort of mood.

    Slightly annoyed by the large detour, Victor didn’t pay much attention as he hurried down the street. Instead, he concentrated on exactly what torture he’d put in place for motorcyclists when he was mayor of the city, no, Prime Minister. As he walked up the steps of the grand office building his father worked in, he had just decided that having their bike torn in to scrap metal before their very eyes would be a suitable punishment for dodging traffic.

    He opened the doors and entered, mind elsewhere, and he was embarrassed to find himself walking straight into somebody else. “Sorry, wasn’t looking where I was going,” he began automatically, beginning to crouch and gather the papers the person had dropped.

    “That much is obvious,” was the sarcastic reply.

    Another pair of hands joined his in trying to gather the documents together, but Victor wasn’t paying attention to them any more. He knew that voice. The boy stared in shock at the girl he had bumped into.

    “Zoe? Zoe Stockton?”

    He started moving again as a tall man in a sharp suit pointedly walked around them to get to the door; Victor had forgotten that he was blocking the entrance. By this time, Zoe had managed to gather nearly everything together – she was, of course, Zoe Stockton, and therefore everything she did was done better and quicker. At least, that was what you’d think if you heard the teachers singing her praises; she wasn’t quite as bad a person as they made out.

    “What are you doing here?” Zoe asked him suspiciously, tucking a stray strand of red hair behind her ear.

    “Dad was working on some advertising thingy for hours last night,” he explained, “But, being useless as he is, he forgot to take it with him this morning.”

    She smiled and shook her head. “Like father, like son.”

    “Hey, I’m no where near as forgetful as Dad,” Victor protested.

    “You always forget your homework.”

    “Yes, but – that’s homework. It doesn’t count.”

    “Very true,” Zoe mused, “You wouldn’t do it even if you did remember.”

    He shrugged. “Yeah, well, why waste my time on something I don’t need to do?”

    Zoe sighed. “One day, Victor, I’m going to find out how you manage to do so well in school without trying at all. But not today. See you around, maybe.”

    “Why, are you here all day?” he asked, surprised.

    She paused long enough to give him an answer. “I’m helping Mum.”

    Then she dashed out of the doors and down the steps to the street. Zoe Stockton was always in a rush. Victor shook his head and moved towards the lift. His father’s office was only on the second floor, but he’d walked the whole half-mile to get here and he felt justified in not wanting to walk up several flights of stairs.

    Joseph Coburn was always happy to see his son, but on this occasion he was initially confused as to why he was there. It was only after Victor handed over the massive briefcase and his father’s memory stick that the expression cleared.

    “Oooh, I would have missed that later,” his Dad joked, ruffling his son’s dark hair as he had done when he was small. “Thank you.”

    Victor batted his father’s hand off and ducked away. “Yeah Dad, whatever.”

    “I’ve seen Clara Stockton’s daughter around today,” Mr. Coburn told his son, almost casually, as he carefully placed the briefcase on his desk. “She’s a nice girl.”

    “She’s alright,” he replied warily.

    “Quite pretty, too.”

    Victor groaned. Not this again. “Dad!”

    “I’m just saying,” his father answered defensively, holding up his hands. “It’s, you know, an observation.”

    “Not a very subtle one . . .” Victor scowled, annoyed by his father’s words – although it wasn’t so much his words as the tone behind them. His Dad was of the mistaken belief that he hadn’t quite “gotten over” Michelle yet and, apparently, a new girlfriend would solve this problem.

    His Dad said a hasty goodbye, perhaps sensing his son’s annoyance – or more likely, Victor thought, he wanted to get on with his work before he forgot what he was supposed to be doing. Victor closed the door with a sigh – a sigh which turned to a start of surprise as he turned around and took a step only to walk straight into the second Stockton of the day. To his relief, Clara Stockton’s files stayed firmly in her hands. It struck him as slightly ironic, because although with their red hair and green eyes mother and daughter looked similar, Mrs. Stockton was much more – well, probably the kindest way of putting it was ‘eccentric’. Or, as Zoe often said: “My Mum is completely insane.”

    Even today, the woman’s bright, mismatched clothing threw him off for several moments. It was only after a slight pause in which he registered the bright pink trouser suit and turquoise shirt that he said, “Er, sorry, Mrs. Stockton.”

    “Not to worry dear, we avoided disaster,” the woman replied airily, “I don’t suppose you know where Zoe is?”

    “She was in the lobby about ten minutes ago . . .”

    “Oh, that’s right. I asked her to go out to the car . . . would you tell her that I need her to take all those files up to Jonson on the sixteenth floor? She’ll know what I mean.” Before he had a chance to give any answer other than “Uh . . .” she had disappeared into the office next to his father’s.

    He’d just been contracted into hunting down Zoe Stockton and delivering this message – wonderful. Eager to leave, but not quite having the heart to leave without passing it on, Victor hurried down the stairs to the lobby. Zoe was nowhere in sight.

    “You look a little troubled, dear,” the old receptionist said, making him jump. “Can I help you with anything?”

    “I don’t suppose you’ve seen Zoe Stockton?” he asked hopefully.

    “You mean Clara Stockton’s daughter?”

    Victor felt like answering ‘No, I mean your daughter’, but decided against it and simply said, “Yes.”
    “She took the lift – probably gone back to her mother’s office. Fifth floor, turn left and it’s the ninth door on your right.”

    “Thanks,” Victor replied, a little surprised that she’d shared this information so freely. Not that he was complaining. Trying to convince an old lady that he wasn’t a stalker really wouldn’t do much to improve his day.

    Now fervently wishing he’d just apologised to Mrs. Stockton and vanished instead of waiting around for orders, Victor hurried to the fifth floor. To his relief, Zoe Stockton was just struggling to open the door as he arrived – her arms being taken up by a huge pile of folders. Victor was impressed that she’d made it this far – knowing Zoe, she’d insisted on doing everything for herself. Deciding to spare her the agony of this last door, he ordered her to move and held it open for her.

    “Thanks,” Zoe said. The note of surprise in her voice was almost insulting. With a sigh of relief, she dumped the folders on a nearby desk. “Phew, glad I don’t have to do that again.”
    Victor winced on her behalf. “Well, actually . . . I ran into your Mum outside Dad’s office, and she said . . .”

    “Take them to Jonson on the sixteenth floor,” she finished, dismay creeping into her voice.”

    “That. Yeah.”

    “Great.” Zoe looked at the folders and back to him again, pouting. “Help?”

    That was how Victor found himself being forced into tasks he didn’t want by a Stockton twice in the space of an hour and making the journey to Jonson on the sixteenth floor.

    What do you reckon on this for a short prologue? I was planning on having the next chapter lead them into the other world. Is this the right sort of direction, or should I have that happen sooner?

    Also, suggestions for a name would be nice. All I have right now is “Too Much Like Hard Work”.

  102. B. Macon 08 Dec 2008 at 7:05 pm

    Hello, Holliequ. If your novel has settings both in Earth and a fantasy realm, I’d recommend starting with the characters on Earth. It would be easier to work a fantasy realm into a story set on Earth than vice versa, I feel. (Knowing that the main characters are from Earth allows us to know a lot about them right off the bat. In contrast, we’d have to start pretty much from the ground up with fantasy inhabitants).

  103. Bretton 08 Dec 2008 at 7:13 pm

    B. Mac, if you don’t mind, I would like your opinion on the next section of my work which I have posted here:

    http://www.superheronation.com/2007/11/28/an-in-depth-forum-for-bretts-work/#comment-13058

    Your thoughts?

  104. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 08 Dec 2008 at 7:20 pm

    Okay, thanks! I’ll start changing that scene now now.

  105. Ragged Boyon 08 Dec 2008 at 7:24 pm

    I only intended for there to be a central issue if you started with the fantasy world. For example, mention of some person preparing the MC’s for their crossover by getting the portal ready or something. I didn’t mean to imply that you completely introduce the strange concepts of the story.

    I meant somethin like the opening for Ben 10. It started with a brief space ship battle(odd concept), after which the Omnitrix is launched to Earth(Link between odd concept to MC) near Ben’s campsite(MC).

  106. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 08 Dec 2008 at 7:26 pm

    Oops, I said “now” twice! Haha.

    I’m reading a good book right now, called “Nobody True”. The first couple of sentences really sucked me in.

    “I wasn’t there when I died. Really. I wasn’t.”

    It’s about a man who has out of body experiences, and returns after one to find that he’s been murdered. The killer starts targeting his family and he has to stop him without physically interfering (because he’s really only a consciousness now).

  107. Ragged Boyon 08 Dec 2008 at 7:28 pm

    I hope that makes sense.

    I’m sleepy and I still have homework.

  108. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 08 Dec 2008 at 7:55 pm

    Okay, I’ve rewritten my scene:

    After leaving the Crabclaw, I began to work on my assignment. If I were Prime Minister I would abolish homework. We do enough at school, anyway, and it just stresses us out more than a pair of work pants. Nobody wants to write essays about historical events, people and the movement of tectonic plates. On television, teens party and date all the time. That’s a lie. We actually spend much of the time neck-deep in homework and assignments, and if a show centred around that it would be critically panned.

    The year before, I had been juggling homework with obligations at my job and not slept a wink. Fighting my fatigue, I stayed up all night working on a project about volcanoes. The next day I was drowsy and grumpy, and forgot to take my project to class. I left it in my locker and got a detention. My school principal is really stupid. As Will says, he probably donated his brain to science but got it cut out while still alive. That would explain why he seems to look through people instead of at them.

    Even though this homework was easy, I hated having to spend my time doing it. That I had homework AT ALL was a major killjoy. It’s safe to say that this particular project screwed up my life, but at the same time helped me to save the lives of others.

    I pulled up my hood to protect my eyes from the glare of the sun. My only good view of the nearest building was facing the sun directly, and I didn’t want to be all squinty. If I couldn’t see clearly I would probably end up taking a picture of a seagull. I really needed a good pair of sunnies.

    I took out my camera and switched it on, hearing the familiar beep it made. Holding the zoom button down, I aimed for the nearest cluster of buildings and took a picture of them. They were all around me, but most of them wouldn’t do for my homework. Even when I had zoom mode fully retracted, they would fill the vision of the camera and be an unsuitable shot. I would definitely fail if I used one of them, so it was distance all the way. Get it? Distance, all the way? Oh, comedy is lost on you. My Mummy says I’m funny. I’m kidding! Please, feel free to punch me if I ever say that and mean it.

    What do you think?

  109. Ragged Boyon 08 Dec 2008 at 8:06 pm

    It seems kind of rambly, he’s just going on and on about the assignment. This project leads to him getting his superpowers right? I would focus more on that than how he feels about homework and school. Although, his opinions are important as the main character I think it can be better expressed.

  110. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 08 Dec 2008 at 8:37 pm

    He was born with his powers, but this project indirectly leads to him becoming a superhero. Before then he just blended in and tried not to draw attention to himself.

    What do you think of this scene? It’s intended to show what his family life is like. He’s about to cook dinner for his family in this scene.

    I walked to the pantry and started digging around, looking for some sweet potatoes. In an extremely rare instance, I asked Mum if she could get me the parsley out of the fridge.

    I heard the door open, and she asked me where it was.

    “Top shelf,” I said, shutting the pantry. I know you’re thinking that it was more like I was the parent, but I had the fridge all organized in my special way. I got very irritated if anyone messed with it, but the only person who’d do that is Lonnie. Annoying little… girl. She was always fumbling around in there, probably looking for meat. I’d told her a zillion times that we don’t eat it in this family, and so have no need for it in our fridge, but I’d always catch her in there again, screwing with my system. Some times I’d almost yelled at her, but with her past (Neglect and verbal abuse by her bio parents), it wouldn’t be wise. Plus it would add unnecessary stress onto our parents.

    She walked through and pulled herself onto a stool at the counter, resting her elbows on the slab and putting her face in her hands. For someone so – I’m not ashamed to admit it – cute, you’d never expect how shattering her blows could be. Once, in a fight at school, she’d taken down three kids twice her size in a big brawl. She even bit one of them so hard that they bled.

    Lonnie wasn’t doing herself any good. She had been nicknamed ‘Vampira’ at school, and no one would go near her. I can see why, but that wouldn’t have been helping her self esteem. I mean, she had a really bad past, and now she was stealing her own future.

    “Hey, Lonnie,” I said, looking up from peeling the potatoes to give her a quick smile. She just raised her hand in greeting and then dropped her head onto the counter, forehead first. Ouch.

    Mum turned around at the sound of the bang.

    “What was that?” she asked.

    I pointed at Lonnie, making sure to put the knife down first. She would probably start crying if I didn’t, because of her parents, the ‘Trash’. “She smashed her head on the counter.”

    “Why?”

    I shrugged. “Lon, you shouldn’t do that. You’ll hurt yourself.”

    She grunted in indifference.

    I heard a key sliding into the lock of the front door, and knew Dad was home. Washing the potatoes under the tap and putting them on the stove to boil, I went to go open the door for him.

    He got the door open before I reached it, and so I gave him a hug instead. Lonnie turned on her stool, and I saw that she was getting a bruise not dissimilar to mine. Except mine was from an accident with a doorknob, hers was deliberate from a counter.

    “Ooh, what happened to you, Isaac?” asked Dad, gesturing at my bruise.

    “Oh, this? The hook on my door fell down, and I smashed my head on the doorknob when I went to pick it up.”

    He chuckled. “Yeah, trust you with anything more complicated than walking.”

    I smiled, but I didn’t mention that the coordination of muscles in the body to walk was much more complex than that required to bend down. It just wouldn’t do to jeopardize my disguise. I thought I’d perfected it by then, but it was vital to examine any and all risks before taking them.

  111. Ragged Boyon 09 Dec 2008 at 7:51 pm

    I think this scene is okay. But, what is Isaac’s objective. Lonnie being a child could be problematic, but I like her. Her personality is fresh for a child character. In addition, her relationship with Isaac helps to develop his personality (i.e. compulsive neatness). I love the line about having the frigde organized in his special way, great characterization.

    Seeing as there isn’t much going on here, I’d recommend shortening it or reworking it to make it more objective.

    Other than that It’s quite good. I can tell you love details.

  112. Ragged Boyon 10 Dec 2008 at 2:47 pm

    Oh, god. I’ve been so bogged down. Thank goodness, winter break is coming soon. Iv’e only gotten to page six on my comic script and I haven’t even typed it out yet. I don’t usually write and then type, but since this was something new I wrote first.

    So far I’ve got a big shot of the school, looking wretched as ever. One big panel, maybe smaller panels lining it showing areas of the school. Page One and Two .

    Adrian being introduced, impatietent and anxious. Small panels. He closes his eyes in the last panel. Page Three and Four.

    FANTASY SEQUENCE. Big house with a pool, bikini women, pet tiger, agents blowing his phone up, Adrian on tv. Page Five.

    This is my planned page six.

    One final of Adrian’s fantasy. He’s just about to recieve an oscar.

    Announcer: The winner is…Adrian Gaines. For his star performance in (whatever movie). Lets take a look at this scene.

    Adrian opens his mouth on screen but this comes out.

    Eric (Off panel): The drugs are gone and the police are on my ass.

    Adrian awakes from his fantasy in horror.

    Don’t worry I’m not going to type it out like this, I know it’s not really descriptive enough. That was just to show what happened.

  113. Holliequon 10 Dec 2008 at 3:42 pm

    I don’t mean to seem pushy, but would anybody care to comment on the prologue I posted above? I don’t want a very picky critique, because all that can be handled later, just a general impression (or any glaring style issues . . .)

  114. Ragged Boyon 10 Dec 2008 at 4:21 pm

    I’m on it.

  115. Ragged Boyon 10 Dec 2008 at 5:07 pm

    Ok Holliequ. In general I feel that your writing is really good, but this piece is very slowly paced. I don’t think this counts as a prologue, as it does a first chapter opening. My main concern is that this doesn’t develop Victor as well as it does other characters like Joseph(forgetful and congenial) and Clara(eccentric and congenial).

    Victor doesn’t seem to have a goal other than giving the briefcase to his dad and finding Zoe, which are both quickly resolved. Victor is portrayed a little, sarcastic, moody, and intelligent(?), but he seems a little unlikeable. In my intro, I did portray some negatives of Adrian’s personality, but I made a note to have him be likeable. Likeability is very important for a character, if a character isn’t likeable the reader may feel that the person’s negative attitude is annoying.

    I do, however, like that Victor has a life goal, becoming Prime Minister. This makes him feel more relatable as alot of people, as most people have a dream.

    My recommendation would be to give Victor a concrete goal, it doesn’t have to be that big, but it should generally help to develop his traits as well as hold the readers interest. In his goal, make sure that his positive traits are portrayed well, if he’s intelligent but doesn’t like working have him show it, but center on his smarts.

    Also, I’d recommend shortening the writing between goals, if you don’t it can seem rambly. I appreciate your level of descriptiveness, but I think it’s best you incorporate that into the goal Victor is trying to do.

    “his father’s memory stick that the expression cleared.” This is a weird phrase, I understand it, but to others it may be slightly confusing. I suggest rephrasing it.

    B.Mac, Jacob, and Davis may give you a forum for your work if you ask. Their analysis may be more in-depth than mine but, I think I got the key flaws.

  116. Ragged Boyon 10 Dec 2008 at 5:13 pm

    Uh-oh, Holliequ, I posted my response to your piece but for some reason it hasn’t showed up yet. I hope I don’t have to retype it, I will if I have to, but it would be a nuisance.

  117. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 10 Dec 2008 at 5:17 pm

    Okay, thanks! His objective is mainly to cook dinner, but it’s also to take his mind off what he did earlier (rescuing a girl from falling off a building). Of course, it’s on the news while they’re eating, and he almost flips out with worry.

  118. Ragged Boyon 10 Dec 2008 at 5:25 pm

    Cooking dinner is an okay objective, but it’s not very strong. There isn’t much at stake. I recommend having him more openly try to keep his thoughts under control to raise dramatics of the scene. Making him a little unfocused on what he is doing might help the scene.

  119. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 10 Dec 2008 at 6:34 pm

    Okay, I’ll work on that. I just revised my intro for the first chapter, and I’d like an opinion on it please.

    I’m Isaac Maehara, student/waiter/superhero. (I know this breaks a rule for introductions, but it isn’t the only part aimed at the reader. The whole thing is full of rhetorical questions, as though Isaac is sitting across the room, telling the story)

    Here’s the truth: I’m weird. Think of that kid in science class who always half raises his hand for every question, but seems too shy to fully extend it. That’s me. Think of the guy who tends to get benched during team sports. That’s also me. Then think of a comic book hero with the power of flight, psi-blasts and extra strength and speed. If you think I’m going to say that it’s also not me, you’d be wrong. It IS me.

    By no means am I superstrong or quick as lightning, but I’m higher than the average human in those respects. I myself am average, just not compared to you. Compared to the others of my species, I am a plain old student. I’m from a parallel universe where the inhabitants took a slightly different evolutionary path to humans. We had to adapt to a much more coarse and frightening environment, so developed different defenses over the years. The result was my people, the Yinyusi.

    I’ve known all this for my whole life, due to being found with a book. You wouldn’t think that’s very significant, but on my second birthday I accidentally dropped it, and the back cover opened up. Inside was a letter, explaining what had really happened and who I was.

    Apparently I was given up to a scientific facility for “the purpose of testing the Paralator”. It explained that it’s basically a machine capable of sending people and objects through the walls of the universe and into a neighbouring one. I was a guinea pig for this reality, and no doubt they had a whole bag full of babies to send to other universes. They probably bought us all in bulk at a supermarket.

    My abilities are of no surprise to me. I’ve been different for my entire life, and I never had a stereotypical “moment” like in the movies where I realised I had these really awesome powers. It’s always been who I am, but I often find myself wishing my abilities away in favour of a more human existence. Don’t get me wrong; I like myself. I’m definitely not Narcissus, but I’m content with my personality. My physical appearance leaves a lot to be desired, and my powers aren’t very helpful in my pursuit of a normal life. Not that they haven’t come in handy from time to time, my flight enables me to reach the very dustiest corners of my room. But I’d rather share a room with a family of tarantulas than be the freak that I am.

    It’s no doubt that you will have experienced some less than nice things so far. All teens face things like forgetting the combination to their locker, or forgetting to do an assignment and having to rush to get it done. But I doubt many of you have had to outrun the media and get home without being seen. I doubt you will have to get past your parents and avoid them seeing how battered and bloody you are.

    I guess you get the picture. You’re probably shaking your head and saying “No, that’s never happened to me.”

    Well, you’re lucky. Those are things I face nearly every day. I fight off the criminals and defend the undefended, all while trying to remember what the hell SOH CAH TOA is.

    Not to sound like an alien, but you humans have never before seen something quite as strange as me. Sure, I can walk the walk and talk the talk, but sometimes it’s hard to blend in. Though I was raised by two very nice people in the foster care system that’s set up here, my actions don’t always come off as human as I’d like. Fortunately, in this society (I’m not sure about my own one), it just gets me labeled as a dork.

    Also fortunately, I have enough appeal to some people to actually make friends. Without Will and Rana, I’d be a sad little guy in a screwed-up world. I can lean on them, though not too much, or we’d all fall over like dominoes. They have issues too, and I have to consider that before whining about my own woes.

    What do you think?

  120. Ragged Boyon 10 Dec 2008 at 7:20 pm

    Hmm, you were right about breaking the rule. It’s well written like most of your work. But this feels a little weird as the intro to your story. Breaking the fourth wall and then continuing the story would be oddly upsetting. However, I think if you shortened it a little it could be a great prologue before you start the story.

    Isaac explains himself a little too much when it comes to how he feels about being different.

  121. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 10 Dec 2008 at 7:52 pm

    What could I cut out/shorten so that he isn’t over-explaining himself? Thanks!

  122. B. Macon 10 Dec 2008 at 8:14 pm

    I don’t have a whole lot of time to do updates today, but I set up new review forums for R.W. and Holliequ.

  123. Ragged Boyon 10 Dec 2008 at 8:23 pm

    “My abilities are of no surprise to me. I’ve been different for my entire life, and I never had a stereotypical “moment” like in the movies where I realised I had these really awesome powers. It’s always been who I am, but I often find myself wishing my abilities away in favour of a more human existence. Don’t get me wrong; I like myself. I’m definitely not Narcissus, but I’m content with my personality. My physical appearance leaves a lot to be desired, and my powers aren’t very helpful in my pursuit of a normal life. Not that they haven’t come in handy from time to time, my flight enables me to reach the very dustiest corners of my room. But I’d rather share a room with a family of tarantulas than be the freak that I am.

    It’s no doubt that you will have experienced some less than nice things so far. All teens face things like forgetting the combination to their locker, or forgetting to do an assignment and having to rush to get it done. But I doubt many of you have had to outrun the media and get home without being seen. I doubt you will have to get past your parents and avoid them seeing how battered and bloody you are.
    -The last two sentences here can be reworked into another part of this. Other than that the rest is unneccesary

    I guess you get the picture. You’re probably shaking your head and saying “No, that’s never happened to me.”
    -I think this is unnessacry.

    Well, you’re lucky. Those are things I face nearly every day. I fight off the criminals and defend the undefended, all while trying to remember what the hell SOH CAH TOA is.

    Not to sound like an alien, but you humans have never before seen something quite as strange as me. Sure, I can walk the walk and talk the talk, but sometimes it’s hard to blend in. Though I was raised by two very nice people in the foster care system that’s set up here, my actions don’t always come off as human as I’d like. Fortunately, in this society (I’m not sure about my own one), it just gets me labeled as a dork.”
    -I’d suggest not using the parenthesis, you could just make that into a sentence.

    -The last paragraph about his friends can be removed and explained later while in the story, when his friends actually show up.

    “Apparently I was given up to a scientific facility for “the purpose of testing the Paralator”. It explained that it’s basically a machine capable of sending people and objects through the walls of the universe and into a neighbouring one. I was a guinea pig for this reality, and no doubt they had a whole bag full of babies to send to other universes. They probably bought us all in bulk at a supermarket.”

    -This paragraph could be explained in the story, it would do his origin justice here.

    I think that will shorten this to the more important factors, try to avoid idle chit-chat (

  124. InsertSomethingWittyon 30 Jan 2009 at 5:34 am

    Hey, umm, I was wondering if someone could help me with where to start my novel – there’s two places to start I’m torn between:

    -The week of soccer tryouts where the main character’s powers manifest physically which force her to move away, resulting in the main events of the story.
    -The main character’s first month in the new town, where she has a chance encounter with someone with similar powers and decides she wants to control them so she can return home.

    I thought the first one had a more defined inciting event, but I’m not sure whether or not it’s a good idea to start it there or not.

  125. Ragged Boyon 30 Jan 2009 at 10:15 am

    The first one is probably better. It’s important to start a story when everything goed down so that there isn’t a bunch of filler until that point. I suspect you could introduce the new person with powers after the main event begins.

  126. B. Macon 30 Jan 2009 at 10:52 am

    I agree; I think the first one will structure the story more smoothly. My concern with the second one is that it would probably force you to recount the sudden emergence of her powers as backstory. In my opinion, that’s way too important to tell as backstory.

    What do you think?

  127. InsertSomethingWittyon 31 Jan 2009 at 8:29 am

    Good point. I kinda suck at doing backstories anyway… 😛
    thank you for the help 🙂

  128. Lunajamniaon 31 Jan 2009 at 10:23 pm

    I’ve tried writing the introduction to Abby’s story twice now, and the third time it probably won’t work either. I think a suggestion (was it RB or Holli?) was great with Abby in the woods, watching these kids (she’s only seen her parents, really) and then meeting them and they freak out, she follows them out of the woods and into town, where she’s never been, etc. …

    Except it just isn’t flowing. Is it because I haven’t really gotten ‘in touch’ with her yet ‘connected’ with her like with my other characters? (Sorry, kind of ‘thinking/typing’ ‘out loud’ here). It doesn’t feel like it’s going to work but I like the idea of starting it out that way, because like you said not too much of a back story. Unless I started it out when she’s four and she changes, and then go to the woods scene? In three pages or less?

    Maybe I just need to push these other story characters out of my head (I’ve finished 9 novellas/stories but have about 15 stories I haven’t finished yet) and become obsessed with Abby. When I’m obsessed with my characters, I know how they work and think and why they do what they do … even though all of these lists and stuff you guys have made helped me out a LOT with her characteristics and powers and everything, I just don’t feel she’s real.

    … ranting again. :/

  129. Lunajamniaon 31 Jan 2009 at 10:27 pm

    I just don’t know how I did it with my other characters. I think I forget every time. With my other characters, I’m totally obsessed with them and know exactly how they’ll act in every situation, their stories always seem to flow right; it’s like they’re the ones writing the story and actually ‘talking’ and not me.
    It just isn’t like that with Abby. Maybe I should have something really tragic happen in the beginning. I think I ‘feel’ tragedies more/better than just being secluded from the rest of the world for a while. In many of my stories, characters’ loved ones die but at the same time I want to do something different so for this story it would seem rather cliche.

    Maybe I just need to do a LOT of roleplay with her before I actually write anything. And make and extensive bio type thing on her, even if it takes forever.

  130. B. Macon 31 Jan 2009 at 10:39 pm

    Have you seen this article yet?

  131. Lunajamniaon 31 Jan 2009 at 10:47 pm

    Yes sir. It helped a little.

  132. Lunajamniaon 03 Feb 2009 at 4:04 pm

    [Moved by B. Mac to Lunajamnia’s review forum here].

  133. Ragged Boyon 03 Feb 2009 at 4:11 pm

    [Moved by B. Mac to Lunajamnia’s review forum here].

  134. Lunajamniaon 03 Feb 2009 at 4:32 pm

    [Moved by B. Mac to Lunajamnia’s review forum here].

  135. Lunajamniaon 03 Feb 2009 at 5:27 pm

    Btw … thank you guys for your suggestions and help. 🙂

  136. Ragged Boyon 03 Feb 2009 at 5:44 pm

    I think that the parents should have a more forceful reaction, instead of going to the hospital, they call a house doctor. The doctor says that the condition is unlike anything he’s ever seen before. I’m guessing Abby isn’t the first mutant ever, so he would probably have some mutantion detection drink or equipment, that will signify that she is, in fact, a mutant. He then tells them he’ll be back tomorrow to take her to the hospital and further examine her condition, assuring that the itching is probably the worst of the symptoms. The parents, fearing for their daughter’s condition going public, go into hiding in the woods. Wherein years later, the story will pick up.

    This will make the parent’s reaction more realistic and set you up for the rest of the story.

    Also, this will save you from having to write an overly medical scene.

  137. Lunajamniaon 03 Feb 2009 at 6:12 pm

    It’s my prologue.

    You’re right, “I’m itchy” does sound much better; and I’ll try rewriting the prologue and see if I can make it more comprehensive.

  138. Beccaon 17 Feb 2009 at 8:41 pm

    I used the first sentence “Leia had heard the legend of the drunken squeegeemaster in hundreds of taverns, but never from a talking plant.” I’m probably having way too much fun writing the story. I think I’m going to make it into a space opera. Needless to say, it’s very strange, but I really enjoy writing it!

  139. Wadeon 16 Mar 2009 at 2:50 pm

    Ok, please tell me what you think. The start of my story would be set fifteen years ago, when a group of heroes are saving some people from a burning building. Then a group of armed men come and try to capture the superhumans using specialized weapons. One of these heroes is Nexus, a superhuman with the power to give powers to others. I need some help from there.

  140. Holliequon 16 Mar 2009 at 3:16 pm

    Hmm. Is this prologue necessary for the story? Wouldn’t it be possible to just start with your MCs? Alternatively, what about just starting with Nexus entering their town?

    I think the burning-building scenario is a long-winded way of explaining that he’s a superhero wanted by the government.

  141. Ragged Boyon 16 Mar 2009 at 4:42 pm

    Along with Holliequ’s comment, your next question is… does he get caught? Do they all get caught? If not, you could have a scene with him/them escaping the armed men, then a scene where they contemplate why they are wanted. If so, you could have a slightly informative (you wanna save the story for later) scene about the governments motives for capturing the superhumans, then have the superhumans escaping from captivity.

    What do you think?

  142. Ragged Boyon 16 Mar 2009 at 4:45 pm

    Also, starting with a burning building scene plunges the reader into action, this is usually an uneffective beginning. You probably want to have a scene developing the important charracters before you throw them into action.

  143. B. Macon 16 Mar 2009 at 4:52 pm

    My main concern would be that the main characters seem to be removed from the scene. Are people going to want to read about Nexus? Why does he matter?

  144. Gurion Omegaon 20 Mar 2009 at 3:16 pm

    Problem: I just have all this trouble with openings!

    In one instance I try to open the novel from another characters POV, but I spend so long on it, that sooner or later I just can’t turn to the main characters POV.

    Maybe, since I’m writing my first full-length novel, I should just use 3rd person omniscient, so that way, the reader can see how all characters see the current situation.

  145. Ragged Boyon 20 Mar 2009 at 3:32 pm

    Since your story involves personal depth and being one-of-a-kind, I think a first person POV may be effective. This way a reader would have direct insight into the personality and development of the character.

    Alternatively, with a third person POV, you could do as you said and show all the characters. Is your main character very central? Or can he/she share the spotlight?

    I suspect third person is easier, but first person is more focused. This is just my opinion, though.

    What do you think?

  146. Davidon 12 Apr 2009 at 2:23 pm

    I’m gonna redo my intro, resetting the scene but this time involve them with the characters. Rather than just saying they are there, also show how Cara feels about the party and the fact that her father will be drinking. Is that gonna work?

  147. Educated Amateuron 05 Jun 2009 at 1:41 pm

    Here’s the intro to my story, both negative and positive feedback is appreciated.

    Despite its emptiness, the darkness of space is not actually all that dark, even when one is light-years from any star. A bright band of stars and glowing clouds always lights up the expansive black of the sky, bathing whoever gazes upon it in a mystical glow.
    Shane gazed out at the star field through the large quartzite observation dome, looking like nothing so much as a monarch surveying his domain. Around the raised dais he stood upon, many uniformed technicians performed mysterious duties at their stations, occasionally glancing at the tall, scarred man in fear and respect.
    A cowering functionary approached Shane fearfully.
    “Fleetmaster?” the functionary asked in a quivering voice.
    “What is it, Yang?” Shane’s voice was a soothing baritone, contemplative and majestic, with undertones of malice.
    “There is a message for you from the homeworld. The Khan wishes to speak with you.”
    “The Khan? He knows how I dislike being disturbed in my contemplations.”
    “His majesty was extremely adamant, Fleetmaster Redblood. Apparently, some very important plans have been disrupted and require your immediate attention.”
    Shane Redblood, Fleetmaster of the Ragorian Armada and the Deadliest Man Alive, turned his head toward Yang and his eyes narrowed menacingly.
    “Did he specify which plans had been compromised?”
    Yang blinked nervously and sweated, dreading the rage of his master.
    “The…the plans…”
    “Spit it out, Yang!”
    “The plans concerning…Whitefall.”
    The expression on Shane’s face did not change, but the light in his eyes became murderous.
    “Oh really? Please elaborate.”
    “Apparently some…vital…information was…stolen, master.” Yang cowered as close to deck as he could get, trying to present a smaller target for his master’s wrath.
    Shane’s face, now stone-hard, turned back toward the vast starscape outside the dome. His voice was now under deadly control:
    “Prepare for the return jump to Ragor. I will see to this problem myself.”
    Yang, seizing on any excuse to leave, hastily said “Yes master!” and scurried away.
    Shane, now alone in his thoughts, clenched his jaw. Whitefall is it? he thought angrily. I swear, that damned fool of a Khan will get us killed yet. Shane had no fear of thinking or saying such things about his liege lord. The Khan needed Shane and knew it.
    “Well then,” Shane said softly to himself. “We shall just have to rectify this little problem before it gets out of hand.” Shane stared resolutely into star-studded mists of the future.
    Victory will be ours yet.

  148. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 26 Jun 2009 at 7:50 am

    How many chapters would you say it takes for a reader to really identify with or at least sympathise with a character, to a degree that they actually care about whether he/she lives or dies?

  149. HUsheron 19 Aug 2009 at 5:12 pm

    Hey, maybe this sounds like a stupid question, but I’m just curious. How long should you really spend introducing your main character before getting into the meat of the plot? Five pages? Ten? Fifty? More? Just wondering. It’s late, and I’m too tired to go riffling through my bookshelves to check when the plot hoves into view in my books.

  150. B. Macon 19 Aug 2009 at 9:08 pm

    Generally, I’d recommend spending 5-20 pages to establish the status quo for the main character, the inciting event for the plot, and a goal for the main character. However, that’s just a guideline– some authors go well beyond that, but I feel that a first-time author is generally most likely to succeed if he doesn’t wait too long.

  151. HUsheron 20 Aug 2009 at 3:28 am

    Okie dokie, thanks. My chapters are generally about five or six pages long, so that works out rather nicely.

  152. MOODYon 19 Jan 2010 at 1:36 pm

    I have a problem…
    I can’t decide how can I introduce the novel, my novel doesn’t show the character since they got their power, the novel actually begins after a year or two, also the origin of power is not the same origin of discovering the power, I mean the source of the power of genetic and it has an origin story , and the event in which the character discovered his power is different, so I want to introduce the origin of both power and discovery in one chapter and quickly, would I start by the character remembering how it had begun, or would it start 2 years before the actual story?
    can you give me advices..sorry I can’t give you much information now because I am a bit busy .. I will post everything after a week, but please try to give me advices now

  153. B. Macon 19 Jan 2010 at 2:13 pm

    I’m having a bit of trouble understanding you. Let me try to see if I understand this correctly…

    Your story begins a year or two after the main character gets his power, but it takes him some time to discover that he has superpowers. Could you do a timeline for me so that I have these events in the correct order?: The character gets his powers, then the book starts, and later the character discovers his powers. How old is the main character at each of those points in the story?

    It might be easier to narrate the story if the character discovers he is superpowered at the same time he develops his superpowers. A few superhero stories separate the discovery from the development of superpowers, like Superman, but I think it might be easier for you to explain if both happened at the same time.



    One final note. I’m sorry if I’m wrong about this, but I get the impression that English might not be your native language. If you’d happen to be more comfortable working with Spanish or German than with English, I’d feel fairly comfortable helping you in either one of those rather than English.

  154. MOODYon 19 Jan 2010 at 2:44 pm

    actually , yes, English isn’t my language.. you might also be surprised when you know that I am just 13.. and thanks for trying to help but I don’t speak spanish nor german but no problem I will make it easier to understand…The main character DISCOVERS his power at age of 12, you may ask me why I used the word “discover”,
    that’s because he has had his powers since he was born due to a different DNA( he is not the only person who’s like that , this is actually the origin story which is “what is the story of that DNA” but I will explain later) during 1 year he knew other people at his age whose DNA is also different , this is all unnessecary becaus the story of the novel begins after this year when he is at the age of 13.Hope I could make it more clear and sorry for not giving much inf. because I am a bit busy right now

  155. B. Macon 19 Jan 2010 at 3:22 pm

    Okay, so he was born with special genes but the powers only manifest around 12. That sounds workable, although it may help to make sure that the origin doesn’t feel too much like the X-Men mutants.

    Generally, I’d recommend telling a story in chronological order unless it’s really important to do otherwise. So, for example, it might be easier to start with the year where he knew some other superhumans (age 10 or whatever) rather than age 13 because otherwise you’ll have to cover the year he was 10 as backstory. Backstory is tricky because it can disorient readers. Readers may become so attached to the character as a 13 year old that they get displeased when you try cutting back in time to explain what happened earlier.

    Good luck!

  156. MOODYon 19 Jan 2010 at 3:36 pm

    Thanks, I ‘ve got an idea but I am still thinking about it , and don’t worry the origin is completely different from that of x-men.

  157. SuperWriter (in training)on 23 Feb 2010 at 3:24 pm

    What do you think about this for an introduction:

    “Lucas Raid was in a shack on an uncharted island filled with ogres, giants, werewolves, lions, pumas, and all the other kinds of creatures or animals you can think of. He is an 14 year old boy, which is the only one of his kind. Lucas was the only human in the room. He wasn’t a regular human though. He was part eagle, part wizard, and part human. Lucas still looked just like an average human, but any animal or creature, could sense that he was something more just by sniffing him.”

  158. SuperWriter (in training)on 23 Feb 2010 at 3:28 pm

    I have more, but that’s just the beginning and I will exept whatever reply you send to me.

  159. B. Macon 23 Feb 2010 at 5:59 pm

    I feel like it’s too detached and rushed. It sounds more like a backcover blurb than an introduction paragraph. It may be worthwhile to show Lucas in his element before you throw him into the uncharted island. I’d recommend zooming in a bit on him before you show us the big picture.

  160. SuperWriter (in training)on 24 Feb 2010 at 2:18 pm

    Okay, I’ll fix it.

  161. Hopefulon 07 Jun 2010 at 10:26 am

    Could you tell me what you think about this.
    Have you ever woken up and felt completely different. Like your life has been changed forever? This was not that day.
    People were getting hit everywhere. Half are gone the other half aren’t all that much help. Unfortunately I am in that half so I knew success was out of the question. Our only hope is to outlast them. A few more minutes and this will be over. Wizz-thunk. That one came way to close, I thought. Everyone is focusing all one the two people left with skill. Yes an opening has formed I thought to myself. Taking the chance I dove behind their lines. Picking my targets wisely, I curled back and Thunk.

  162. B. Macon 07 Jun 2010 at 11:10 am

    “Have you ever woken up and felt completely different. Like your life has been changed forever? This was not that day.” Some thoughts.

    –If you use this sort of 180-degree turnaround (“this was not that day”), I’d recommend making it absolutely clear what sort of day this is. Right now, the only thing I’m getting out of this day is that it’s sort of banal and of no consequence to anybody, which confuses me a bit because it seems like they’re in a pretty intense, possibly life-threatening, battle.

    –One potential risk of this opening is that you’re hinting to readers that the story is static and not going anywhere. (The characters don’t change?)

    –I’d recommend being careful with rhetorical questions early on, like “have you ever woken up and felt completely different?”, because there’s no way to know how people will respond. (I would think that the narrative has to continue under one of the following assumptions: that the reader says yes and relates to what’s going on, that the reader says no and this is alien to him, or trying to straddle the fence).

    –I don’t feel like this is a particularly effective introduction to the character. What are you trying to establish about him/her?

    –With the action, I had trouble understanding what was going on. It might help to ease us into the characters before cutting to the action. That way, when you start talking about general groups like “people,” we’ll have a better idea of what images are supposed to come to mind.

    –I’d recommend being careful with nonspecified words like “people,” “us,” and “them.” Could you replace them with nouns that actually specify who you’re talking about?

  163. Hopefulon 07 Jun 2010 at 11:16 am

    I forgot to copy paste all of it.
    Have you ever woken up and felt completely different. Like your life has been changed forever? This was not that day.
    People were getting hit everywhere. Half are gone the other half aren’t all that much help. Unfortunately I am in that half so I knew success was out of the question. Our only hope is to outlast them. A few more minutes and this will be over. Wizz-thunk. That one came way to close, I thought. Everyone is focusing all one the two people left with skill. Yes an opening has formed I thought to myself. Taking the chance I dove behind their lines. Picking my targets wisely, I curled back and Thunk.
    “I’m out” I called. That is one of the reasons I suck at dodge ball
    The main charactor is a sophmore in high school not a man in his twenties in a battle

  164. B. Macon 07 Jun 2010 at 11:39 am

    Okay, umm…

    I’d recommend scrapping the opening paragraph because it doesn’t seem to set up the rest of the material well. (Also, the “my life is boring” subtext probably doesn’t help).

    This passage is extremely short, so it’s hard to say what we’re supposed to think about the character. Maybe we’re supposed to find him/her ridiculous because (s)he treats dodgeball like a gruesome war of attrition. Or pathetic? (A pathetic protagonist is not necessarily harmful–a lot of the humor of Kickass, for example, derives from the fact that he is a rather pathetic superhero 95% of the time).

    It’s hard to say based on what I see here, but I don’t feel like this is an effective setup for interesting character development. Okay. He’s bad at dodgeball. So what? Why will prospective readers care? I think it would be more effective to use the dodgeball (or whatever introduction) to set up an interesting trait and/or relationship. For example, maybe the guy takes competition FAR too seriously and goes all out in dodgeball and then his competitiveness leads him into conflict with an antagonist. Maybe he gets into conflict with his own teammates because he takes the game more seriously than they do.

  165. Hopefulon 07 Jun 2010 at 11:59 am

    Thanks I’ve been looking for an excuse to scrap this. You gave me a reason to.

  166. ekimmakon 17 Jun 2010 at 1:11 am

    I’m trying to figure out how to start my novel. At the moment, it starts with an introductory scene with the dark villain that lasts for about two pages. Then, it’s a scene with one of the characters being dragged down a corridor by scientists.

  167. esnippleeon 28 Jun 2010 at 3:57 pm

    i’m suddenly wondering if the main charrie of my story (not human) having an accident which induces him growing wings but after he loses his tail-leaf and is forced into hibernation would work. because like, the /seconday/ start is him waking up.
    and then i describe where he is instead of him noticing his wings. after that someone else noticed but then didnt point it out just was surprised and rushed off to tell the leaders. the tension building is a bit late…

  168. B. Macon 28 Jun 2010 at 5:53 pm

    What’s a tail-leaf? Why does it matter that he loses it, or that he gains wings instead? (IE: maybe the tail-leaf is something really valuable in his culture and he’s in danger of losing something valuable without it?)

  169. ekimmakon 07 Sep 2010 at 4:24 am

    Ok, I’m trying to figure out whether I should use my current prologue (723 words) or this one, (227 words). They’re both the same setting, but the current one is more exposition through conversation, where Datecrom is talking to a minion. Should I put the current one up as well for comparison?

    A man clad from head to toe in dark grey and red power armour strode over the black stone. His name was Datecrom, and he was master over all he could see. The earth was scorched black by volcanic eruptions that ran almost like clockwork. The sky was a perpetual red, changing only to dark grey during the frequent thunderstorms. The oceans devoid of life, save the schools of sharks that preyed on shipwreck victims. All in all, the Doomsday Isles were a depressing place to live.

    A bolt of lightning struck Datecrom, who didn’t even flinch. He just clenched his fist, and the electricity arced into his hand, absorbed by the suit. The words FULLY CHARGED appeared on the visor. He turned around, and walked back towards his fortress.

    But they were also the perfect place to create an empire. His army had held the world by the throat for almost two decades, armed with technology far ahead of their time. While the quality of his troops had degraded over time, they were still a force to be reckoned with.

    Datecrom launched himself up to his fortress wall. Looking outwards, a legion clad in dark armour, with only a few misshapen men throwing in variation, marched into a giant mechanical transport, shaped almost like a beetle.
    This time, there won’t be any superheroes to stop me…

  170. ekimmakon 07 Sep 2010 at 4:28 am

    Slight problem with italics, there.

  171. Ragged Boyon 19 Sep 2010 at 8:29 am

    I’m trying to build a world. I have no idea of the medium I want the story to be in, but my working title is Sapien Plus. It’s basically about a universe in which a Higher Intelligence contacts Earth after the planet unites to stop a crisis. As reward the H. I. boosts humanity’s’ innate abilities; our ability to break down mental barriers and directly affect reality with one’s mind. This ability manifests itself differently for everyone.

    Also, the H. I. basically gives Earth a solution for the energy problem at the cost that they must use their newly acquired skills and resources to protect the bonds that the H. I. has made with other planets. Of course, there are those that would seek to use their gifts to overpower the H. I. And so, there are a group of particularly enlightened individuals who use their abilities to protect Earth and the H. I.’s mission known as Sapien Plus.

    What do you think? Any holes right from the gate? Let’s patch ’em!

  172. ShardReaperon 20 Sep 2010 at 10:47 am

    My story starts out with two characters discussing the fate of the planet and Omega team’s status. Shortly after, it’s revealed that all 7 of them are dead and one of the two (Tenzen) uses his power to delve into their memories and discover what happens.

    What do you think?

  173. Malloryon 10 Jan 2011 at 9:37 am

    I forgot where the first paragraph that I showed you was, but I changed it. Here is the first bit of my story.

    Whoosh! I jumped to aside as the fiery arrow shot past my head and pierced a tree. I gasped as the entire tree burst into flames. I ran in zigzag motion trying to throw of my attacker. Looking back I saw an arrow heading straight towards me. A scream got died in my throat as I threw myself to the ground. The arrow hit the tree making it burst into flames.

    Would this work better as the first paragraph?

  174. B. Macon 10 Jan 2011 at 2:34 pm

    Hello, Mallory! So, the original paragraph was:

    “There was always trouble in Polista City. There were the normal everyday bad guys, like thugs, robbers, muggers, killers, and more. Then there were the villains who were powerful, cunning, and evil. Added to villains are the monsters and demons from the underworld making my city more deadly.”

    I think it could have been more distinct/exceptional/memorable–for example, you could use a sentence or two introducing a memorable thug/robber/monster/demon to set the stage. However, personally I preferred the original paragraph to the one about dodging the fiery arrows. I feel like I picked up more about the narrator in the original: the phrase “my city” makes me associate the character with danger and supernatural violence with a broad, diverse scope. It’s okay foreshadowing.

    With the revised paragraph (the one about the fiery arrows), I think it might help if there were more sentences with a subject besides “I.” That’s sometimes a sign that the narrator/character could be adding something besides describing what he/she is doing. (For example, adding interjections or making opinions known or describing the setting with sensational details or something?) Right now, the only thing I’m picking up about the character is that (s)he is in danger. And maybe some signs that this character is not used to danger (the scream and gasp), but I think those could be sharpened. I think it would help if something more about the character (particularly something about the personality or voice) stuck out more early on.

    This next element is one that’s always very different for each reader, but personally I didn’t feel really emotionally invested in whether the character survived or not. It might help if the character shows some flash of wit or something else that makes the reader think “Oh God, I like this guy.” (Or gal).

    To help get some ideas about what causes people to have those reactions to a character really early on, I’d recommend checking out Flogging the Quill, which compiles first pages by many prospective authors. I’d recommend reading as many of those as possible and keeping note of what distinguishes the characters you’d want to read more about from the ones you wouldn’t.

  175. Grenacon 11 Jul 2011 at 9:14 pm

    I’ve had a lot of trouble in starting up my novel and I think it’s because somewhere in my mind I knew I was giving it a really wrong start. I wasn’t doing what points 1 and 2 said.

  176. Grenacon 11 Jul 2011 at 9:19 pm

    Oh! Now that I’m here, may I ask for a review of my first chapter. It’s still in its rough stages, but I want to know how it’s going for an introduction. I have it posted on my deviantART account.

  177. B. Macon 12 Jul 2011 at 1:08 am

    I posted my review for your first chapter, Grenac.

    PS: What a small world! I have previously seen some of your work on DeviantArt–I was looking for anime eye references.

  178. Grenacon 12 Jul 2011 at 1:39 am

    And I thank you for it very much! I’m currently reading through it and my mind’s working now.

    Oh wow, I hope it helped…somewhat?

  179. Grenacon 12 Jul 2011 at 1:44 am

    *+ It’s nice to have honest feedback, rather than “It’s really good” from friends.

    Proof that I’ve lurked the NaNo forums too much: Spending near ten minutes looking for the “edit” button on my post.

  180. B. Macon 12 Jul 2011 at 2:37 am

    “I hope it helped… somewhat?” Yes, it did.

  181. Chihuahua0on 24 Jul 2011 at 7:18 am

    Re Characters 1): What’s your opinion on In Medias Res in novels? I’m thinking of using it to start my novel to introduce some of the fantasical elements right away, since starting at that point linearily would require lots of awkward exposition, and waiting until that scene would have three chapters of easing into the story. I promised myself to get to the point as soon as possible, instead of having the readers wait for fifty pages until the main plot kicks in, like some books.

    Like with the first comment, most writing books say start with the action. At least one of them said that readers would sympathize with the character that is in danger, even though they don’t know him/her.

    I could link a draft of it and the first chapter later, once I’m finished with my rough draft.

  182. invader-mynaon 24 Jul 2011 at 7:48 am

    I like In Media Res, it’s refreshing. Not a lot of novels choose to do that, so it’s more distinct than most beginnings, and in a story that starts slowly (like most fantasy does) it’s an easier way to just jump into the action. And it lightens up on the worldbuilding.

  183. B. Macon 24 Jul 2011 at 9:17 am

    “I’m thinking of using it to start my novel to introduce some of the fantasical elements right away, since starting at that point linearily would require lots of awkward exposition, and waiting until that scene would have three chapters of easing into the story.” If you handled these concerns, I don’t think it would be problematic to go with an “in media res” opening.

    –Do we know enough about the setting/characters/premise to understand what’s going on?

    –Do we care about the characters and have some idea of what’s at stake for them?

    –Will we have the context to understand the events that we see? For example, I once read an opening where the main character burst into a throne-room and beat up the guards for no readily obvious reason, and a protagonist that was supposed to be a badass hero actually struck many of the readers as a psychopathic villain.

    –Have the main characters distinguished themselves from other main characters in their genre(s)?

  184. YoungAuthoron 15 Jan 2012 at 3:12 pm

    so for this superhero novel im starting i have a description and i want to know how it sounds. This isn’t in the beginning of the story so most of these characters have been introduced.

    “How is your brother popular and you aren’t?” asked Kane
    “I don’t really care about popularity,” said Tyler. “It doesn’t matter.”
    “Popularity gets you hot girls though.” Said Kane. Tyler nodded his head in agreement. As if on cue, Aaron’s girlfriend Vanessa came out of her sisters’ car and strolled over to Aaron. Boys all across the campus turned their heads and feasted their eyes of this godly sight. Her long, wavy black hair, tanned skin, brown eyes, and cherry red lips were enough to turn most guys on. Her C-cups and her curvaceous figure accompanied an ass that turned even the heads of male teachers. Aaron sneered at the rest of the 9th grade male population as his girlfriend planted a kiss on his cheek. Her outfit, which consisted of a tight white spaghetti strap tank top and tight blue jeans, left other guys with a tent in their pants. Aaron adjusted his Panthers snapback and put his arm around his girlfriend. “”

    So what does everyone think? All feedback would be helpful.

  185. Marquison 15 Jan 2012 at 3:38 pm

    What is your audience ? It sound good far just a little mature

  186. B. McKenzieon 15 Jan 2012 at 3:55 pm

    It’s hard for me to say, because I don’t know what you have introduced about the characters prior to this point, but personally I feel that Vanessa could sound a lot more interesting here than she does. She doesn’t get to do anything but look hot. (Although the narrator does work in some comedy there). I think Tyler could also be more interesting. I think he’s supposed to be the main character, but he gets shown up here not only by Kane, but also by Aaron’s girlfriend. I thought Kane was okay–ditzy-and-popular is a sort of cliche combination for young adult fiction (antagonists, usually), but I could maybe see this character being the sort of guy I’d want to read about. Tyler, not so much yet. The only thing I know about him is that he’s not into popularity, which is pretty much a given for young adult protagonists. I’d recommend giving him something more unique, something that distinguishes him from most other protagonists of similar works. If I could use my own work as an example, one notable thing about the main character in The Taxman Must Die is that he’s an unpowered guy in a story where pretty much everybody has superpowers. I think he stands out compared to the protagonists of most other superhero stories. (Also, there’s a lot of conflict with other teammates because he’s so poorly-suited for the line of work he’s in).

    Marquis: “It sound good so far, just a little mature.” I’m not an expert in young adult fiction by any stretch. However, I was under the impression that YA authors typically do have some latitude to be risque. That said, I’m wondering about the target audience for this work in particular. Usually the target audience for a YA work is something like 0-3 years younger than the protagonist. If so, this might be too risque for readers aged 11-14. It might help to make the characters upperclassmen.

  187. YoungAuthoron 15 Jan 2012 at 9:37 pm

    Thanks for the feedback. I intend my audience to be ages 13 and above. Tyler is one of two main characters, although he’s the main main character. Tyler is the average teenage boy and he gets his powers early in the book. Kane is his best-friend who will get his powers soo after the event i posted. (i have a special event that happens to most superchildren for them to get their powers). I later have Kane becoming a batman like character (who becomes a hardened killer) b/c his family dying. A couple sentances later, i introduce Tylers’ love interest. Also, thanks, ill try to make Tyler a more unique character. Vanessa (although it is not known now) becomes the antagonist. And this is about as risque as it will get, because seeing as it is set in a high school setting, it needs that little bit of maturity. And i think i might change the age of the characters to possibly sophmores or juniors. Thank you!

  188. Zoeyon 25 Feb 2012 at 4:17 pm

    Quick question: Is the sentence below a good opening? I really need to know. Thanks!

    “Just for the record, I am not stalking; sitting on a branch outside’s someone’s window is not stalking. “

  189. B. McKenzieon 25 Feb 2012 at 4:46 pm

    I like it, Zoey.
    –The protagonist gives the audience a good outline of what’s going on and some idea of why we should care.
    –I have some idea of what the character’s personality is like.
    –I have some idea of how the protagonist is different than other protagonists. The distinctness helps make him/her more interesting.

    I’d definitely keep reading.

  190. Ashleyon 13 Apr 2012 at 2:37 pm

    What do you think of my opening line? (I might just use this as an line for my prologue, though.)

    It is impossible to go through life without having at least one sudden realization. It could be something simple, like ‘If I put chips on my sandwich, it will taste twice as good’, or I can be something more earth-shaking, like mine.

  191. Ashleyon 13 Apr 2012 at 3:25 pm

    I mean to say “it can be something more earth-shaking, like mine.”

  192. B. McKenzieon 13 Apr 2012 at 5:09 pm

    Ashley, I think it would help to replace “or it can be something more earth-shaking like mine” with something more specific. For example:

    Everybody has at least one sudden realization at some point. If I put chips on my sandwich on my sandwich, it will taste twice as good. Just because the sign says “No shirt, no shoes, no service” doesn’t mean no pants is okay. All available evidence suggests that Miley Cyrus and my Social Studies teacher are conspiring to murder me. Uhh, about that last one…

  193. Ashleyon 13 Apr 2012 at 8:47 pm

    Thanks for the advice!

  194. Nightwireon 15 Apr 2012 at 10:03 pm

    Yesterday, when I was thinking about the X-Men (long story), a most wonderful of idea came to me.

    My novel’s opening will start with an in-universe broadside distributed by the University to parents of children inclined to Tinkery. Something along the line of: “So you’ve discovered that your child is a Tinker. Do not fret, for it’s more of a blessing than a curse. If you do not fancy the prospect of torches and pitchforks in little Tommy’s future career, send him to Cogsworth at once!”

    I think this prologue will do a good job at making a first impression on the mood of my world, plus providing the readers with a broad introduction of the Tinkers and the University of Cogsworth.

    Then, it will cut right to Matthew and yet another of his hare-brained invention.

    What do you think?

  195. Revengelon 16 Apr 2012 at 7:25 am

    @ Nightwire:

    I think that’s a hit! Looking forward to more.

  196. Nightwireon 16 Apr 2012 at 9:31 am

    @ Revengel: Thanks! Long time no see. How’s your work going?

    Here’s the outline for “Ghost In the Machine”:

    -Prologue (the broadside)

    -Cut to a ruckus going on at Batterbridge Campus, as another of Matthew’s project, the Automated Puppet (yeah…) has gone haywire again. This scene will establishes the personalities of important characters.

    – Matthew and Nicholas got hold of the news that Sir Charles Byton (their idol) is setting of a research team for his latest project. Matthew gets excited and endeavors to join in. The goal: Matthew must compete with the other undergraduates to procure a part in Byton’s team (He will succeed, of course).

    -Something is off with the research. Matthew’s curiosity leads him to walk into Byton experimenting with a gremlin. He must save the creature.

    – Matthew got his mind melded with the gremlin. The subsequent usage of his newfound power and his discovery of the Glitch.

    -The fight with the main villain.

    Your thought? Is it too much? I hope not.

  197. YoungAuthoron 16 Apr 2012 at 9:38 am

    Cogsworth? Hogwarts? might wanna change the name

  198. Nightwireon 16 Apr 2012 at 10:03 am

    I don’t think it would be a problem. The names are not really that alike anyway( most notably the placement of the ‘s’).

  199. YoungAuthoron 16 Apr 2012 at 11:28 am

    ehh as soon as I read Cogsworth, all i could think about was Hogwarts. it sounds like a complete rip-off. While it’s not a huge issue, it may distract the reader seeing as how they’re both schools for the gifted

  200. B. McKenzieon 16 Apr 2012 at 2:32 pm

    When I think of supernatural schools, some combination of Harry Potter, X-Men, Unseen University and Ender’s Game usually come to mind. The name “Cogsworth” brought Hogwarts to mind for me–I’d recommend replacing -worth with a suffix that sounds less like -worts (i.e. how the -warts in Hogwarts is pronounced). Additionally, “Cog” and “Hog” rhyme, but I’d give you a pass on that because “Cog” sounds fittingly steampunk.

    I don’t know enough to say whether the concept of the school strikes me as sufficiently original (and would certainly have phrased any concerns there more politely, YoungAuthor), but generally I think it is very important to differentiate a submission from a possibly comparable novel or novel series. Especially if most editors have heard of the novel(s) in question.

  201. YoungAuthoron 16 Apr 2012 at 5:46 pm

    Sorry Nightwire, i didn’t mean to be harsh at all, but the name (to me) sounded like Hogwarts

  202. YoungAuthoron 16 Apr 2012 at 6:16 pm

    I need some feedback on this story I’ve been working on. I started it out with my main character waking up (sounds terrible I know) but there wasnt really another way to start it.

    CH.1
    It was distant gunfire and cries of terror that woke Adrian Fuente from his peaceful sleep. He rolled onto his stomach, stretching as the warmth from the sun heated his tan muscular back. He calmly rose from his bed to peer outside his window. In the distance he could make out heavy smoke and gunfire.
    “The rebels must be at it again,” He said to no one in particular.
    Adrian yawned before shutting the blinds. His feet slapped against the dirt floor of his one-story house as he made his way to the bathroom. After a quick shower and the brushing of his teeth, he entered his room once more. On the window side was a small black panel with buttons. He tapped in his password followed by a ten-symbol sequence that opened his Missions inbox.
    “One new message,” it said to him.
    Adrian tapped the link that led to a short message. He read it as he got dressed.
    Dear Mr. Fuente, it read. While you are at the mere age of seventeen, you have one of the most feared and admirable reputations throughout the Universe. Those who have seen your work describe you as a death-bringing shadow that always lurks nearby.
    “An understatement,” Adrian said as he smiled with at the compliment.
    “Another one for the ever growing ego sir,” said the robotic voice of the Mission inbox.
    Adrian chuckled before he continued reading. Your skills with the Armants are reminiscent of those of your father’s. Congratulations, your skills as an assassin have reached my attention due to a recent crisis. As you know, the rebels have been quite troublesome in their attempts for their so called liberation. However, for my own purposes, I would like to further advance their plans. I hereby ask you, Adrian Fuente III, to assassinate Colonel Edmund Sauk, Commander of the battalion of Jemen. He shall be defending my jail fortress of Alcatraz at the city of Jemen. This mission is to be executed by 15:00, but during the rebel attack. You shall be handsomely rewarded with the payment of 30 million gold credits.
    “Holy shit,” Adrian said as his gold eyes glanced over the payment. He read this over and over again, not quite believing his eyes.
    5 million has been prepaid into your account. Adrian’s eyes widened even more as he read this next tidbit.
    “Mission inbox,” Adrian said to the electronic black box on his wall.
    “Yes sir?” it said.
    “How much money is in my account,”
    “Five million gold credits and nine hundred thousand five silver credits.”
    Almost six million gold credits, he thought. Adrian read on, hoping for more good news.
    Attached below is a picture of your target. May you have good fortune in your endeavor. Sincerely, Chancellor Ripkein. Year 2237, Month 8.
    Adrian closed the message, grinning from ear to ear.
    The Chancellor Ripkein was paying him, Adrian Fuente, thirty million to kill some guy, he thought.
    “It is definitely my lucky day,” he said he ran his hands through his spiky jet-black hair.
    “Mission inbox,” Adrian said as he hurried to his armory.
    “Yes sir,” it asked.
    “Find how far it is from here to Jemen. The shortest route by Mechahorse.”
    “Yes sir,” it replied. The machine toiled rapidly as calculating noises filled the air.
    Adrian pressed in a ten-digit code and the steel door slid open. He glided into the state-of-the-art room and began to dress for work. The tools of his trade were not cheap, but they were many in number. Adrian grabbed his Armants from the rack on which they were laid. The Armants were a beautiful piece of laser technology. They were flexible mechanical arms that went from the shoulder to the wrist. On the bottom side, close to the wrist held a small square. When Adrian opened his palms out as much as possible, a lethal eight-inch red laser blade came out from the metallic square. On the top of the wrist was an even bulkier square. When Adrian closed his hand in a fist, a wide triangular blade called a katar came out from the top square. It was also eight inches in length and made from red laser technology. The two metal “sleeves” connected across his chest and turned on with the touch of a button. Adrian slid on the Armants with ease before choosing his next item. He reached out and grabbed the handle of his Laser-katana. Laser-K for short, it was a four and half foot curved blade made by Red Laser Technology. He locked the sword into his mahogany belt. The belt contained a normal steel knife and fifteen assorted grenades along with a grappling hook and a mini Mission inbox. Adrian slipped on his signature cloak. It was a naturally obsidian black with gold stitching. The original materiel was impossible to find, a gift from his father. He used his mind to change in from its natural color to sandy brown.
    “Much better,” Adrian said. He put a quiver of twenty laser arrows and a Mechabow on his back along with a pack of laser throwing knives on his belt.
    “Mission inbox?” he asked.
    “Yes sir?”
    “The distance please,” Adrian said as he filled his canteen with water.
    “Twenty four miles sir.”
    Adrian groaned as he slipped on a pair of black gloves. Twenty-four miles even on a Mechana-horse was quite a distance.
    “Ok, I’m on my way,” He called out to it.
    “Do you have my handheld version sir?” it asked.
    “Never forget it.”
    Adrian walked to the back corner of his house and knocked on the wall three times in three different places. The wall slid open and lead to another room. Adrian took his hood off and entered. Inside the small room were three grave markers. Adrian stayed silent as he kneeled in front of them. Inscribed on the three graves was Dad age 44, Mom age 43, and Jacob age 2. He put his hands out in front of him in a praying motion.
    “Dad and Mom, please forgive me,” he started, his voice cracking. Tears stung his eyes. He bit his lip and continued. “I’m so, so sorry I wasn’t there that day. Please forgive me. I’m sorry. I should’ve been there w-w-when Mortem came. I s-should’ve l-listened, but I wanted to go on my first m-m-mission so badly.” Tears sprinted down his face and Adrian clenched his fists tightly. “Jacob, tell mom a-and dad that until I kill Mortem, I don’t deserve to be forgiven. Jacob, I’m s-sorry to y-you too. If I was there, you’d be s-six years old right now. It’s my f-fault but I’m going to make it right. I love you all.” Adrian rose from he was kneeled. He did this before every mission and it hadn’t gotten any easier. In fact, it seemed like it got harder. He wiped the tears off his face and left the room. As soon as the door closed behind him, he slid on his boots and jumped through a tunnel in his kitchen. Memories of his parents flooded his mind as he walked alone through the empty tunnel. He made his way deftly through all the twists and turns in little time as he thought about the times he’d played with baby Jacob. As he came out from the tunnel’s end, he remembered coming home to the bloodied scene of what used to be his family. The bright light hit him in the face and he put up his hand to shield his eyes. He came out from a rundown building. Adrian quickly covered the hole from which he came with various debris. Once it was covered to his satisfaction, he scanned quickly to see in anyone had heard or seen him. The only sounds he could hear were the voices in the bustling market place. He took to rooftops jumping from building to building, making his way to the Mechana-horse stables. He was just about there when the screaming started.

  203. Nightwireon 16 Apr 2012 at 8:55 pm

    Yeah, I think a rename might be in order to avoid confusion. However, Cogsworth has grown on me, so I’m kind of stuck there. Have you got any suggestion? Cogsfort? Cogsbridge? (haha, lame puns, I know.)

    @YoungAuthor: Don’t worry, your concern is legitimate and I appreciate that you thought of it before I did. However, I tend to be a wee bit touchy whenever my work is compared to Harry Potter, given how much I hate it. I mean, it isn’t bad or anything. I just think that Rowling’s world-building is sloppy, and the concept of Hogwarts is just poorly thought-out. Teaching teenagers dangerous spells without any safety precaution is not unlike handing firearms to preschoolers and say “Try your best not to shoot anyone in the face.”

    I think you guys are going to hate me for saying that 😛

    _ _ _

    In essence, Cogsworth (I will just keep using that name until something better comes to to mind) operates more like Terry Pratchett’s Unseen University. Since young Tinkers are most likely to become raving mad scientists, the university’s main objective is to snuff out any sign of creativity, imagination and skepticism that its students show. To prevent further damage to the world as it as, Tinkers are trained to be unimaginative drones willingly subjected to the Church of St. Friedrich’s doctrine. The results are a pretty mixed bag, as a leopard cannot change its short; but hey, points for trying.

    Cogsworth is effectively an independent city-state overseen by the University’s Chancellor. As Tinkers are not highly thought of in other parts of the world, it is truly a heaven for scientific researches and innovations. The city is also home to 36 craftmen’s guilds (most of which are immigrants following their children’s entrance to the uni), which added a lot to its prosperity.

    The University revels in applied sciences. In fact, it gets most of its funding from selling useful researches to guilds and the nearby countries. Of course, the faculty always keep the best (and particularly dangerous) things for themselves.

    After graduating, students are to choose between three options: stay at the university for teaching and doing postgraduate research (the best choice), doing freelance work (this is very rare) or come back to their place of origin and given a government job (often undesirable, because other nations are not very fond of Tinkers, so they will be given insidiously boring desk jobs).

    Of course, to prevent any Tinkers from getting out of line and trying something funny, the University takes great care to keep tab of all of its former students. That is the reason why the Graverobbers’ Guild still exist: as the sole providers of “raw materials” and minions to highly prolific Tinkers, they act as a vast network of spies (and assasin, as necessary) employed by the University to keep a close eyes on individuals inclined to madness.

    _ _ _

    I hope that gives you a better idea of what Cogsworth is like. What do you think? Is it original enough?

    @ Young Author’s excerpt: Heh, I’m not really good at critiquing other’s people work, but I’m liking it so far.

  204. B. McKenzieon 16 Apr 2012 at 11:20 pm

    “…the concept of Hogwarts is just poorly thought-out. Teaching teenagers dangerous spells without any safety precaution is not unlike handing firearms to preschoolers and say “Try your best not to shoot anyone in the face.” Well, there are a few mechanisms in place (e.g. the kids can only use magic at school, because theoretically the school has responsible adult supervision) and the school stays away from spells which are easily lethal. The school does make some very questionable decisions*, but 1) it’s not clear the school could do more to control the students’ use of magic than it does and 2) I don’t feel like Hogwarts’ behavior ever veered into Idiot Plot territory. (Well, I suppose the entire Slytherin house should arguably have been disbanded and its students all summarily expelled after Voldemort’s first attempt at global domination, but I can understand why a school might be nervous about administering that sort of serious collective punishment).

    *For example, hiring Hagrid, admitting a student body that is about 25% homicidal fascists, hiring a number of teachers who are also homicidal fascists, etc. The overarching theme seems to be that Dumbledore is far too trusting of people with MAJOR credibility issues. Rowling was at least aware of that flaw with the character and holds him accountable, though–he gets killed by someone he thought he could trust.



    One thing that annoys me a bit about the Cogworth setup is that it looks like students are mainly set on paths laid for them by others (e.g. they’re only given three choices after graduating). Unless the purpose is to make readers feel the school is something of a control freak (which is consistent with the keeping close tabs on the students), that could be problematic… personally, I’d be more interested in reading about students at a place like Hogwarts, where I felt the possibilities were more unlimited. Alternatively, Xavier’s Academy didn’t have many different possibilities, but the paramilitary commando thing strikes me as more exciting than being shuffled into mindless government drudgery or back into a school that’s designed to hammer out creativity.

  205. Nightwireon 17 Apr 2012 at 12:09 am

    I did say that “so far the results have been a pretty mixed bag”. The university assure the parents of potential students that their children will be kept in line so that they are content to send the kids there, but whether they manage to fulfil that is a different matter.

    A leopard cannot change its shorts. It takes an inconsiderable amount of effort to hammer out a Tinker’s creativity. In fact, the main point of setting up a high concentration of Tinkers in one place is to prevent the crazy stuff from spilling onto the outside world. Within Cogsworth’s vicinity, all bets are off. Wacky student pranks, insane underground experiments, mutated animals running amok, guilds fighting, etc. Whatever you say about life Cogsworth, it is certainly not boring. The professors usually manage to restrain themselves, but they are just as crazy as the students. It will just take one snap of a finger.

  206. Nightwireon 17 Apr 2012 at 12:14 am

    Basically, I want my setting to have to feel of real-life 19th century: despite the old guards’ and the masses’ persistence in smothering changes, technological progresses cannot be stopped

  207. Nightwireon 17 Apr 2012 at 12:31 am

    Oh, and one more thing: I use my home country’s education system as a template for Cogsworth: the ones in charge are dogmatic, and the teaching methods are dull, all theory and not enough practice. But that isn’t enough to wear the students down, as they are still crafty and sneaky little devils.

  208. Nightwireon 17 Apr 2012 at 4:13 am

    As for the whole Control Freak problem, it’s not entirely unjustified. An unsupervised Tinker is a very dangerous individual. The natural state of a Tinker is an amoral raving lunatic with a taste for megalomania. In fact, the inciting incident which led to the institution of Cogsworth Uni is the decade-long Metric War, a global-scaled conflict between the various mad scientists’ factions of the world, which resulted in a whole continent being turned into a barren wasteland.

    During the Dark Ages before the University’s time, Tinkers were mostly out for themselves. They did things on a whim as led by their maniac creativity and curiosity. As such, Tinkers brought no good to the normal masses aside from death and destruction.

    The University keeps itself afloat by providing the community with technological consultancies and practical inventions, in order to prove that Tinkers are of some use to the world and not worth purging. On the other hand, the ordinary folks need not concern themselves with the “Tinker menace”, while at the same time benefitted from their researches. It’s the best of both worlds.

    The city of Cogsworth is also the only place where normal people and Tinkers co-exist peacefully (well, as peacefully as it could be). Contrast the two major superpowers in my world:

    – The Collaborated States of Lobotomia: the former Lobotomian Empire. At the end of the Metric War, the Empire dissolved; and mainland Lobotomia was divided into 12 states, with one Tinker Lord in charge of each. Since Tinkers are the one with political power there, they are free to do whatever they want (and what they want is picking on the peasants for laughs).

    – The Nadelland Commonwealth (a parody of the Soviet Union): the place where mob mentality is at its extreme. Near the end of the Metric War, a bunch of peasants in Nadelland decided they were not having any of this mad science nonsense, picked up their torches and pitchforks, then proceeded to slaughter Tinkers en masse. Soon, the revolution spreaded to nearby nations, and thus the People’s Commonwealth was born. Tinkers were discredited, stripped of their political powers, and forced to conform.

  209. Blue Xon 17 Apr 2012 at 7:56 am

    Hey B. Mac! I understood what you’re saying about one dimensional characters. They do have more traits, I was just in a hurry that to show them to you that I didn’t write them all down. Let me try them again with the two most important characters, plus one more. I will also list their flaws.

    They come from a race that already has powers. But because of a war going on, they were transported somewhere that they could live safely without standing out… the closest thing was Earth. Since they grew up in Earth, they didn’t expect to have powers. Some realized them earlier, some realized them later. (Is this enough information, or should I say more?)

    Jason (Main Character)
    Personality: Let me summarize this better. He follows the code his dad left him; he never kills, he always does his best to safe someone in need, etc. Here’s what makes him unique.
    #1. He doesn’t lie, ever! How is this interesting. (Ex. A character cooks some food and it’s terrible. All the other characters say, (Wow, that was good!). Jason says, (That was awful! Did you follow the recipe???) Or when he met the powerful and cruel leader of his race, Jason says, (You’re a terrible leader, how can we replace you?) Which gets the army to aim their weapons at the young hero!
    #2 He’s able to convert people over to his side. This isn’t a power, it’s just who he is.
    Flaws: Jason is extremely gullible and trusting because of his good natured core. Not to mention if someone mentions his family in a bad way, he’ll go berserk and unleash his power without consideration to those around him.

    Ann (Is much more different than the other characters)
    Info: First, she isn’t even from the same race as the others. She’s a powerful member of a more powerful race of beings. How powerful? She was supposed to be the leader, but her parents, simply because she looked different, chose someone else to succeed them and threw her out on the streets. That’s when she’s near death and the main character saves her.
    Personality: Ann has experienced much in her life. As a result, she has become a key player in this battle for the universes (yes, there’s more than one) that the heroes get thrown in. As a result, she wants her friends to be key players as well. She’s been betrayed often, but trusts the main character completely. As a result, she’s herself around him. Kind, caring, compassionate, but still secretive. Around anyone else, she’s cruel, suspicious, unforgiving, monotone, etc.
    Flaws: Ann has lived a long time. She’s nearly as old as the universe! (So are other main characters, the just experienced a massive time skip in the story!) As a result Ann doesn’t make many mistakes. However, she is a bit of an extremist when it comes to protecting her friends. Ex. She’ll wipe out an entire planet if they just looked at Jason the wrong way.
    PS. She took a page from the main character’s book and doesn’t lie too! I wanted the readers to have a mystery. So every word she says is 100% true. Since I know how I’m going to end it, I made her say hints about her secrets as early as the first chapter of the first book! Plus, she’s a bit crueler when it comes to the truth. (Ex. She meets someone. Says, “Don’t worry, I’ll treat you like family.) However, based off of what we know about her, she hates her family!

    Wasp (Love Interest, not her real name, just the one she goes by)
    I’m stating this because I do take a huge interest in the love aspect. Here’s what I got.
    Personality: At first, she’s a girl who is obsessed with Jason. Once she joins his team, however, she gets to know him better and gets even more attracted to him… until they fight one enemy and Wasp gets knocked out.

    Here a metamorphosis happens. Wasp realizes that she and the rest of the team had been alive for a long time, just unconscious, and she regains access to her lost memories and learns most of the secrets that Ann holds. She finds out that her cousin Kenya, has wiped out her branch of her people, except her and her sister. (There were different branches of their super race.) She was saved by Jason, which explains why she liked him so much. This part about her stays the same, but the rest of her changes. She becomes a girl bent on revenge for her people. She thought summoning was a weak power, but someone from her past (the main villain) offers to help her if she would join their side. Once Wasp leaves, (she’s about 13) Jason starts to like her and it becomes a struggle to save the girl he likes from being consumed with power. Wasp even goes so far as to attack her little sister, nearly killing her, to get her to be stronger. At the age of 16, Wasp becomes a key player in the universal battle.
    Flaws: Um… is it obvious???

    That it for now, what do you guys think, does that help?
    I look forward to hearing you!
    ~Blue X

  210. vvhs89on 24 Apr 2012 at 10:18 pm

    So I have been working on a superhero novel, and I would like to know if these opening sentences are any good.

    “Let me just start by saying that I am aware that whenever somebody has a bad day, they believe that it is “the worst day ever”. Let me also say that the day I had actually WAS “the worst day ever”. It wasn’t just because I had arrested a supervillain’s decoy (in my defense, his costume was very detailed and convincing), or because I had let my high school get blown up (in retrospect, I don’t feel too bad about that one, but I am aware that there are some freaks that actually enjoy school). Heck, it wasn’t even because I had unintentionally assisted my evil ex-girlfriend in her plot to assassinate the President.
    Those were all bad, but the icing on the cake was this: this was the day that a five year old girl smacked me in the face with the Washington Monument.”

    What do you think??

  211. B. McKenzieon 24 Apr 2012 at 11:47 pm

    I like the concept, but I think it could be shorter and smoother. What do you think about:

    Many people say they have had the worst day ever, but until they’ve arrested a supervillain’s decoy, let their high school get blown up and unintentionally assisted their evil ex-girlfriend in her plot to assassinate the President, they should shut up. Oh, also, there might have been a five year old girl smacking me in the face with the Washington Monument.

  212. vvhs89on 24 Apr 2012 at 11:57 pm

    hmm I like it.
    I guess I also wanted to know if you think those few lines say anything about the character?? If so, how does he come off?? Or do you need more??

  213. B. McKenzieon 25 Apr 2012 at 12:16 am

    I think it tells me more about the plot than the character. He’s a teenager. He has a disgruntled ex-girlfriend. Life is going, ahem, not so well for him at the moment. As far as superheroes go, he strikes me as more irresponsible and incompetent than most (which could be interesting).

  214. vvhs89on 25 Apr 2012 at 12:38 am

    Yeah most definitely. He’s wildly inept when it comes to hand to combat, and he has a tendency to overlook details (which is why his high school got blown up). He gets involved with super-heroics not for vengeance or justice, but because he wants the fame that he believes comes with being a hero (he eventually finds out that fame only comes to those that can actually do something) He’s also wildly unpopular among the hero community because he smells bad, and he is certifiably insane (he’s a paranoid schizophrenic). As far as his personality, he is very energetic, and arrogant. Due to his experience with his ex girlfriend (the one who wants to assassinate the President), he has little regard for the safety of others. He is quick to anger (mood swings), and he has no qualms about violence and killing.
    Oh, and his name is Adam Buchanan.
    Does that seem workable??

  215. YoungAuthoron 25 Apr 2012 at 4:07 am

    @vvhs89- Adam seems like and interesting chracter to deal with but i’d need more from the introduction

    For my own story, i started with my character waking up b/c there was a lot to explain, but i feel like i should change it to him finishing a mission. ( he’s an assassin)
    Yes? No?

  216. Blue Xon 25 Apr 2012 at 5:12 am

    I read your introduction, YoungAuthor, I thought it was really good! I wouldn’t try to change it, though there’s nothing wrong with revising it.

    Although my answer would change a bit if we had some information on what happened after the introduction. Would the story change if you had another introduction? If that’s the case, I wouldn’t change it unless it’s absolutely necessary. You should finish the story (If you already hadn’t) and then worry about changing the intro.

    Keep up the good work!
    ~Blue X

  217. vvhs89on 25 Apr 2012 at 8:10 am

    @YoungAuthor- Thank you. Is there anything you think that I should change or add to his character?? And is there somewhere I can post what I’m writing??

    As for your story, I personally don’t like when characters start the story by waking up, so I think that starting with him finishing a mission would be more, um, exciting and gripping

  218. vvhs89on 25 Apr 2012 at 6:30 pm

    So I’m going to post the first page or so of my book. I’ll listen to anything that anybody has to say, just please try to be nice.

    Many people say they have had the worst day ever, but until they’ve arrested a supervillain’s decoy, let their high school get blown up, and unintentionally assisted their evil ex-girlfriend in her plot to assassinate the President, they should shut the hell up. Oh, also, there might have been a five year old girl smacking me in the face with the Washington Monument.

    I momentarily felt the cold white marble on my face before the energy of the obelisk transferred into my body, sending me flying head over heels. Pain shot through me as my face grinded across the rubble. I heard and felt my nose crunch, and I knew right away that my nose was broken. Several of my teeth were shattered and knocked loose. After several seconds, I skidded to a stop, and my feet hit the ground with a thud. The sound of running footsteps became audible as I struggled to return to my feet.

    My arms gave out, and I was momentarily tasting the ground. Tasty, I know. I slowly pushed myself up. Blood began to flow from my mouth and nose like water from Niagara Falls. I lifted my head to observe the surrounding area. My vision was blurry, but as it began to clear, I began to see the outline of a woman running towards me. I slowly stood on wobbly legs and attempted to prepare for the coming attack, which I did about as well as a drunken person drives.


    I heard the little girl grunt, as well as the sound of something being ripped out of the ground. Like a javelin, she hurdled a shiny, sleek flagpole at me. I set my feet and launched myself into a ninja-style double front flip- or, at least I thought that I did. It turns out that I’m not as agile as I thought that I was. The flagpole speared the left side of my torso. My momentum carried me over, and I landed with the end of the flagpole hitting the ground, driving it deeper into my body.

    I landed on my side with the tune of several of my ribs cracking. Angie, the woman that had been running towards me before, stopped by my side as the little girl readied another flagpole. Angie raised her hand, firing a burst of energy that blasted the little girl backwards into the fallen Monument, leaving a hole and several large cracks in the area she had vanished into.

    “Adam! Adam!” she said as she crouched down and lifted my head. “Are you okay?” The blurriness in my vision had almost gone away. I focused on her and rolled my eyes.

    “A little girl just hit me with the damn Washington Monument. And then she impaled me. Yeah, let me just walk this off.” A frown came across her face as she sighed. “Wait…….did I just say that she impaled me?”

    “Yep,” she said as she nodded. I looked down at my body to see that the flagpole had become embedded in between my ribs and my hip. I groaned.

    “This is another reason why little girls are evil. They summon ghosts, they crawl out of TVs, and they impale people. Do you believe me now?” She smiled. I heard the sound of sirens in the distance.

    “Sure. The ambulance will be here in a minute. Just stay with-” The Monument flew over me, clipped the flagpole, and clotheslined Angie, sandwiching her between itself and the ground.

    “ANGIE! Ow. Shit. Hurts……hurts to………yell.” A small shadow appeared over me, and the last thing I saw before fading into the inky blackness of unconsciousness was a tiny fist with pink fingernails and a temporary My Little Pony tattoo.

    Thoughts?? Suggestions??

  219. B. McKenzieon 26 Apr 2012 at 8:08 pm

    Here are some suggestions on your first page.

    –It might help to show us a bit more of the character before cutting to the action, something to make us care more about the character as he gets beaten up.

    –I think that the character could come across more effectively during the fight scene. For example, in terms of his voice, is there something this character says or thinks during this fight that most other characters wouldn’t?

    –“I began to see the outline of a woman running at me… I heard the little girl grunt.” I’d recommend making it clearer that the two are separate people. My first thought here was that the character was so badly disoriented that he couldn’t tell the difference between a five year old and an adult.

    –I think it might help to imply more and tell less. The narrator is telling us everything that’s happening. Implying more might build up the depths beneath the “surface” of the story and I think it’d probably be mentally engaging.

    –It might be possible to incorporate the setting and/or atmospherics (e.g. weather, using the terrain to set the mood, etc) more. Using the Washington Monument is a great touch. Besides that, this fight sort of feels like it’s happening in a vacuum. For example, if this is an urban environment, maybe you could show that there are many witnesses and/or screaming bystanders and why that might matter. (For example, if I were getting my ass kicked by a five year old, the news cameras would really salt my wounds).

    –“I heard the little girl grunt.” I’d recommend rephrasing this to the “The little girl grunted”—the first person narrator is describing it happen, so we can assume that he perceived it happening.
    “It turns out that I’m not as agile as I thought that I was.” This could possibly be shortened to “It turns out I’m not that agile” or perhaps “I’m not as agile as I thought.” But I think it might be more effective to remove the sentence altogether and instead push ahead with a sentence which implies the character is surprised by his getting out-agilitied here. (Yes, I did just use “out-agilitied” as a word. In your face, Webster).

    I would recommend adding more sentences beyond what the main character and combatants are doing. Right now, many sentences are phrased in terms of “I did X” or “Another character did Y to me.” I’d recommend reading Point of Impact for some decidedly kickass battles and I’d recommend specifically checking out what the author does with sentences with subjects and direct objects besides the main character. For example, the narrator doesn’t pull any punches with the description of the violence, right? One way you could make the action feel more gritty is by covering the atmospherics of a building collapsing (e.g. dirt and soot kicked into the air, the sound, etc).

    “This is another reason why little girls are evil. They summon ghosts, they crawl out of TVs, and they impale people.” I feel like there’s something of a tone discrepancy between the comedy and the action here… the comedy’s sort of light-hearted, but I think the action is much more serious. A few possibilities come to mind (e.g. making the comedy darker and/or more serious, making the action more slapstick, etc).

    “Angie raised her hand, firing a burst of energy that blasted the little girl backwards into the fallen Monument, leaving a hole and several large cracks in the area she had vanished into.” I’d recommend checking this article on extraordinary superpowers–I think it’d help if the superpower usage here was more visceral. For example, sensory imagery might help.

    “A small shadow appeared over me, and the last thing I saw before fading into the inky blackness of unconsciousness was a tiny fist with pink fingernails and a temporary My Little Pony tattoo.” I thought this was darkly hilarious. This is the sort of line that I know I couldn’t get anywhere else—I’d recommend going for lines like this more often because I think they will help you stand apart from the pack.

    My main suggestion is to give the characters more chances to do/say unusual, distinctive things. In particular, I’m not getting a great read on what separates the superhero from any other teen hero—he comes across as occasionally bitter (e.g. “shut the hell up”) and occasionally sarcastic, but I think he could make a more memorable impression of whichever trait(s) you want to show here.

    –If you haven’t done so already, I would really appreciate if you would sign up for the email list for my upcoming book about how to write superhero stories. Thanks–it’ll help me get published.

  220. vvhs89on 27 Apr 2012 at 4:17 pm

    Okay, I see what you’re saying. So I should take the time to introduce him and the other characters (maybe at school, or on a class trip to the White House, which I was thinking could partly explain how he accidentally helps his ex with her plan. What sounds better??) in their element before delving into the fight, right??
    Instead of saying, “Angie raised her hand, firing a burst of energy”, what do you think about, “As she ran, she raised her hand. There was a sound similar to a shotgun firing, and a small beam of purple energy bolted out of her palm. It tore through the air, making an unpleasant screeching sound as it passed me.” Better??
    And what do you think would be a better replacement for “It turns out that I’m not as agile as I thought.” I really like your idea about sentences implying his surprise about being “out agilitied”, but I just can’t think of anything that sounds good.
    How can I make his sarcastic remarks seem a bit darker??

  221. B. McKenzieon 28 Apr 2012 at 12:58 am

    “So I should take the time to introduce him and the other characters (maybe at school, or on a class trip to the White House, which I was thinking could partly explain how accidentally helps his ex with her plan. Which sounds better?)” I’m not very familiar with the plot, so it’d be hard for me to say, but my outsider’s impression is that the White House tour would be more promising. If the main character starts out by mentioning that he accidentally ended up helping his ex-girlfriend attempt to assassinate the President*, I’d really want to see how that White House tour goes sour.

    *(Hello to our new Secret Service reader).

    “Instead of saying, ‘Angie raised her hand, firing a burst of energy’, what do you think about, ‘As she ran, she raised her hand. There was a sound similar to a shotgun firing, and a small beam of purple energy bolted out of her palm. It tore through the air, making an unpleasant screeching sound as it passed me.'” It’s better but (when you’re ready to do intense rewriting) I suspect it could be smoother (e.g. “making an unpleasant sound as it passed me” could be shortened to “screeching as it passed,” because the word “screeching” implies that it is making an unpleasant sound. I’d generally recommend holding off on heavy rewriting until the first draft of the manuscript is done, though.

    “How can I make his sarcastic remarks seem a bit darker?” If he’s making jokes about getting leveled, I’d go more macabre than, say, “My arms gave out, and I was momentarily tasting the ground. Tasty, I know.” This quip (and the Niagara Falls line and probably the joke from Angie) strikes me as sort of light-hearted for this scene. I don’t think I know enough about the character/his voice/his distinguishing traits to write something distinct to his voice yet, but I can probably suggest something as I get a better feel for him.

  222. vvhs89on 28 Apr 2012 at 9:35 am

    Ok. Is there another way I can contact you for help with this story?? Because I’m not exactly comfortable posting everything about my story

  223. B. McKenzieon 28 Apr 2012 at 3:51 pm

    I think it’s prudent not to post very much online. I can be contacted privately either through superheronation-at-gmail-dot-com or through my contact form.

  224. vvhs89on 28 Apr 2012 at 4:42 pm

    Okay, thank you. I just sent you an email

  225. ehrichon 29 Apr 2012 at 12:30 pm

    can you start a graphic novel off with a black panel and dialog like… ” i was happy once, i had a lot going for me” as like a fade back to the prolog. then at the bottom put in like back ground noise of a voice saying ” wheres my money?” with the sound of a punch landing. then do the fade back to the prolog introduction of the main character’s back story.

    then after the intro snap back to present moments before his near death power gaining situation?

  226. YoungAuthoron 30 Apr 2012 at 4:49 pm

    thanks Blue X and vvhs89

  227. Zangetsuon 14 Jun 2012 at 5:35 am

    First off, I wish to thank the author for writing the passage. It’s been most informative and such I’ve learned a lot. With that said, I do wish to have some feedback, regarding my work, specifically with issues of plotting and narrative.

    That said, allow me to give a brief synopsis. My main character, Derek, is a 16-year teenager living in Seattle Washington, until he’s one day summoned. It’s there he’s presented a chance to become an Adjudicator of the Omniverse: a group of enforcers”.

    Their a superhero group, kind of inspired by the Green Lanterns, but more mystical than extraterrestrial. Having said that, I understand this plot point sounds rather cliche and such I apologize for that.

    My main concern is that for about the first five chapters, I started off by introducing the character, establishing his relationships with the others and trying to define his aspect of life for the readers.

    However, at the end of chapter five I had him mysteriously abducted by the Adjudicators. That said, was by any means too rushed? From what I read, twists and actual getting into the thick of things should come much later on, or when the characters intermediate goals (For instance him trying to survive school) are met.

    All in all, I do appreciate feedback and or criticism of what I did was right and if I should make any changes?

  228. Rick Crawfordon 09 Jul 2012 at 9:40 am

    Yes, I totally agree. I’ve been considering a change to my story, but I decided that I need to ease readers into the setting slowly.

  229. CrazyIndigoChildon 26 Jul 2012 at 11:07 am

    Heyy, B!

    Whoa, I just found this website the other day and I’ve already three quarters of it written down in my personal journal xD There was just so much I hadn’t realized I was doing wrong! Originally I came here to find out how to make my character more interesting to the readers (A serious, dissatisfied financial manager living with his brother and aged father isn’t really super impressive 😉 ) but once I took a look around–HOLY CRAP!

    Well, I’m obviously commenting on this article for a reason, so I’ll get to it 😉

    When you open a novel, you mentioned how having more than one point of view or having the story follow more than one character isn’t the best idea. Well my story is based around a main character who becomes more and more unreliable over time as he finds he has brain cancer and his mental awareness begins to fade. You could say I ‘opened’ the story with his point of view by narrating a small scene of his later condition (in the future) using a first person prologue. This goes on to explain his inability to be a trustworthy narrator by mentioning how he has a ‘scripted monologue’ memorized of what he’s done that day, though more often than not he’s either sleeping or staring out the window.

    Since I don’t really trust myself to be able to narrate the progression of his disease, nor am I ready to jump into huge abstract concepts he’d experience with the confusion and whatnot, I decided to give a huge portion of the point of view to the other main character who will be his future (boring financial manager) love interest/caretaker.

    What I’m asking is: Since the actual main character isn’t likely to be a reliable source for story telling in the future, would it be better if the story is predominantly focused on the other main character with a few scenes jumping to his own experiences from the very beginning? Or would the audience benefit if a more dynamic and interesting character lead the story along until he is unable to do so?

    If it helps at all (or smack me if this is a shoddy idea) there will be parts between chapters that serve as a flash-forward to his more advanced stages.

    Perspective and point of view are by far my vice! I would appreciate if you commented back 🙂 I’m looking forward to abusing your website often 😛

    -CrazyIndigoChild

  230. SuPerFrAnKon 29 Jul 2012 at 10:44 am

    “This goes on to explain his inability to be a trustworthy narrator by mentioning how he has a ‘scripted monologue’ memorized of what he’s done that day, though more often than not he’s either sleeping or staring out the window.”
    ^How will the reader know what’s going on if the narrator is untrustworthy?

    “there will be parts between chapters that serve as a flash-forward to his more advanced stages.”
    ^Switching back and forth between the past and present can be really confusing but if you write it well enough it could work 🙂

    Overall it seems ok, Good luck

  231. Hyakuyanon 29 Jul 2012 at 4:49 pm

    “He undeniably lived in a monochrome world, stained gray by the lack of life and sound in his current place of residence: a gray hole that stretched forever in all directions — no worries, Breach had most certainly checked. He was not appreciative of the new living situation because he was placed here without his consent. It was not as if he had some foul, lingering disease that killed people the instant they were infected, no — that would have resulted in a different punishment. His sealing away was reasoned by the fact that Xerxes Breach brought change; too much change, if he had heard those priests right, way back when his monochrome world was stained red.”

    So this is the first paragraph to my story. I’d love some feedback on it, if at all possible 🙂

    Thanks, B. McKenzie and anyone else,

    ~Hyakuyan

  232. Hyakuyanon 29 Jul 2012 at 9:56 pm

    Dear B. McKenzie,

    I apologize for the state of my last post; ^ it was not worded properly. Please allow me to take this time to start over and introduce myself a little better.

    My penname for the writing sites I am affiliated with is Hyakuyan. I am an aspiring novelist, working on a manuscript that I hope to get published one day. I came across your website looking for tips on how to make the introduction to my work stronger, as well as various other ways to improve my writing. The tips here are wonderful and very helpful, however I am still worried that my introduction is not as strong as it should be.

    If you would be so kind as to look over this first paragraph and point out any flaws, I will greatly appreciate it 🙂

    “He undeniably lived in a monochrome world, stained gray by the lack of life and sound in his current place of residence: a gray hole that stretched forever in all directions — no worries, Breach had most certainly checked. He was not appreciative of the new living situation because he was placed here without his consent. It was not as if he had some foul, lingering disease that killed people the instant they were infected, no — that would have resulted in a different punishment. His sealing away was reasoned by the fact that Xerxes Breach brought change; too much change, if he had heard those priests right, way back when his monochrome world was stained red.”

    I implore you for critique and feedback.

    Thanks so much :),

    ~Hyakuyan

  233. Hyakuyanon 29 Jul 2012 at 10:00 pm

    P. S. And please; anyone else who feels the need to say something, I urge you to go ahead and do so, I’d appreciate the feedback. 🙂

  234. B. McKenzieon 29 Jul 2012 at 10:28 pm

    “He undeniably lived in a monochrome world, stained gray by the lack of life and sound in his current place of residence: a gray hole that stretched forever in all directions — no worries, Breach had most certainly checked. He was not appreciative of the new living situation because he was placed here without his consent. It was not as if he had some foul, lingering disease that killed people the instant they were infected, no — that would have resulted in a different punishment. His sealing away was reasoned by the fact that Xerxes Breach brought change; too much change, if he had heard those priests right, way back when his monochrome world was stained red.”

    Some thoughts:
    –In the first sentence, I’d recommend changing “He undeniably lived…” to “Breach undeniably lived” or “Xerxes undeniably lived…” to help mentally orient readers.

    –“his current place of residence: a gray hole that stretched forever in all directions — no worries, Breach had most certainly checked” could be shortened to “his current residence, a gray hole stretching forever without any hope of escape, at least as far as he had checked.” I rephrased “no worries, Breach had most certainly checked” because it sounds like it’s on the verge of 2nd person narration, which might be a bit awkward in a 3rd person work.

    “He was not appreciative of the new living situation because he was placed here without his consent.” Please show this. For example, if you mention that he was looking for a hope of escape, that would imply that he’s not here because he wants to be.

    –I would recommend working in more supernatural details into this passage to help suggest that you’re LITERALLY talking about a place which is all gray and not just “Peoria is a gray, forgettable town.”* For example, you could describe howling winds (or use the silence to create a more creepy vibe), demented-looking trees (or use the absence of vegetation to more effect), gray sludge which is difficult to trudge through, etc. This will also help establish that this is a place he wants to escape.

    *Except for the grisly triple homicides, the carjacking maneuver known colloquially as either a “Peoria Shuffle” or a “Detroit Fire Drill,” and the local produce. I digress.

    “It was not as if he had some foul, lingering disease that killed people the instant they were infected, no — that would have resulted in a different punishment.” I really like how this sentence builds the setting/world. That said, I think the phrase “foul, lingering disease that killed people the instant they were infected” could be shortened to “horrifically lethal disease”, unless you’re deliberately trying to create a contrast between this character and humans. (If he had a disease that instantly killed humans, presumably he himself would die before he could be punished unless he were extraordinary in some way).

  235. Hyakuyanon 30 Jul 2012 at 6:05 am

    B. Mckenzie,

    Thank you for your thoughts; I will most certainly be working them into my introduction, and I appreciate your guidance.

    I developed another question while reading the last bit of feedback. This man I am discussing in my first paragraph happens to be the villain, or one of them (the one that got caught). In relation to “(If he had a disease that instantly killed humans…unless he were extraordinary in some way)”, would it be best to introduce what makes him extraordinary in the same chapter, or should I develop him along the way, like with a main protagonist?

    Thanks again,

    ~Hyakuyan

  236. B. McKenzieon 30 Jul 2012 at 1:12 pm

    “Would it be best to introduce what makes him extraordinary in the same chapter, or should I develop him along the way, like with a main protagonist?” So far, I think it’s pretty easy to figure out that there’s something unusual about the character. For one thing, he has been thrown into this singular prison–if he were a regular prisoner, presumably there would be signs of other people.

    I would, however, definitely recommend making it clear that this is not a sympathetic character and/or that he is a villain. Otherwise, I think the “he’s not actually the hero” reveal might be disorienting.

  237. Hyakuyanon 30 Jul 2012 at 1:41 pm

    B. McKenzie,

    Sounds great. 🙂 Thank you once again for your thoughts on my introduction, and I will most definitely take everything you have said into consideration and work it into my first chapter.

    Your site is a reference I will continue to use in the future. 🙂

    Thanks a million,

    ~Hyakuyan

  238. YoungAuthoron 30 Jul 2012 at 1:50 pm

    My 1st protagonist, Adrian Fuentes, is an assassin. I’ve done a complete overhaul of this story so I’ve started all over. I begin with his finishing up a mission to help describe his profession.

    “The lights flicked off and the door to the corridor hissed shut. Adrian stood with his back to the wall, his obsidian cloak doing well to hide him. His eyes adjusted in seconds to the darkness and he slid his laser-sword from his combat belt. His hand rested on the ON button of the cool rusty metallic handle as he slowly stalked towards the guards in front of him.”

    I go further in the story to introduce his character which his arrogant, intelligent, somewhat vain, loyal, sincere, and argumentative/stubborn.

    I think that by starting the story off this way shows his character better than having him wake-up.

    I could use some help so Any/All ideas are welcome and appreciated 🙂

  239. SuPerFrAnKon 31 Jul 2012 at 12:33 pm

    I personally think that starting with action is not too bad of a way to start a story.

    “My 1st protagonist…” How many do you have? Remember that protagonists are the MAIN MAIN characters.

    An assassin is a tough protagonist to make appealing to readers. It might help to make your target audience around 14 and up. Also, you could try to give him a somewhat sincere personality.

    Good Luck!

  240. Ragged Boyon 21 Aug 2012 at 8:34 am

    Hey, would anyone have any particular advice about writing stories in a post-apocalyptic/survival setting. I’ve done some reading in the genre, but I am still quite inexperienced with writing it. I would like to try to avoid glaring potential problems (like turning the story into a Fallout fan-fiction). The setting isn’t a nuclear fallout or invasion aftermath, more like civil anarchy with minimal technological resources. I wanted to do a superhero* story about life after the effects of a massive solar flare. The main character has to learn to survive and takes on the responsibility of protecting people from chaos**. The solar flare altered people’s vibratory frequency causing enhanced abilities and rapid adaptations in some and deformities and disabilities in others.

    What do you guys think? Any reads you’d recommend? Or potential problems that the genre/mix of genres could possibly have?

    *More super-humans than cape and cowl heroes. Although, the main character does reinvent himself into a persona more than a person.

    **The plot is quite underdeveloped at this point. Haha.

  241. Ragged Boyon 23 Aug 2012 at 7:55 pm

    Would love some advice or input on the above post if it’s no incommodious. 😉

  242. B. McKenzieon 24 Aug 2012 at 1:14 am

    ““My 1st protagonist…” How many do you have? Remember that protagonists are the MAIN MAIN characters.” Personally, I use “protagonist” very loosely. Is there a better term for characters that are generally on the side of the hero(es) but are not major characters (e.g. Gordon and Rachel Dawes in The Dark Knight)?

  243. YoungAuthoron 24 Aug 2012 at 4:37 am

    I have two MAIN MAIN characters from whose point of views the story is told.
    “his character which his arrogant, intelligent, somewhat vain, disloyal, sincere, and argumentative/stubborn.” This is my infamous assassin, Adrian Fuentes

    Lucy Shakr is the other character. She is the 18 year old supreme commander of The Liberty Fighters. She is aggressive and likes things to go her way. Lucy has a soft spot for those in need and often tries to do her best to take care of them. She is quite arrogant as well and is also very stubborn. She will do anything for her soldiers or friends and is more than willing to sacrifice herself for the good of the cause and/or the mission.

  244. ColdWindon 16 Sep 2012 at 6:18 pm

    @YoungA-sounds pretty good! I like the multiple point of views changing with gender, but make sure you represent both characters uniquely or it’ll seem like your writing the same character but as a male/female.

  245. Dr. Vo Spaderon 16 Dec 2012 at 5:10 pm

    Quick question – a friend is uncertain about the first few lines of his manuscript. (Chapter 1, after the prologue.)

    “I need a new job.”
    “I need a new apartment.”
    “I need new friends.”

    He isn’t extremely attached to this, there was just a minor concern about if it was too…silly(?).

  246. B. McKenzieon 16 Dec 2012 at 9:42 pm

    I don’t think it’s too silly, but it doesn’t really tell us anything about the character besides that his life is generically unhappy. I’d recommend rewriting it so that it’s more distinct (e.g. is there any memorable issue he has with his friends and/or apartment and/or job?)

  247. Dr. Vo Spaderon 17 Dec 2012 at 12:10 am

    Alright. Thanks!

  248. B. McKenzieon 17 Dec 2012 at 12:35 am

    Case in point for The Taxman Must Die:
    –Gary is woken up by commandos minutes before a supervillain bombs his house.
    –He gets fired/transferred from the IRS shortly thereafter–the IRS thinks he is a liability because he brought the supervillain down on himself.
    –His new employer, a top-secret counterterrorist agency he’s grossly unqualified to actually work for (except as bait for the supervillain), isn’t willing to spend an actual investigator on him. They assign him a partner/bodyguard that had previously been on desk duty for threatening to eat a district attorney.
    –Random visual concept: maybe Gary comes back from a grocery run to find his partner hosting a bacchanalian Florida football party at Gary’s safehouse with hundreds of inebriated and/or festive alligators.
    –There are so many people attempting to kill Gary that I could not do the list justice in a summary.

    Hopefully that goes a bit further to establishing Gary than…
    “He needs a new house.”
    “He needs a new job.”
    “He needs new coworkers.” Etc.

  249. Asiago Caesaron 17 Dec 2012 at 9:04 am

    The story starts with the protagonist in the back of a van. These words aren’t spoken to anyone in particular (talking to himself was an attribute added to emphasize his solitary and methodical nature). In the brief narration that follows he explains how his apartment was broken into and trashed, how he had been stealing bits of money from the company fund, and how a friend who was in on it sold him out.

    From here he escapes by crashing the van off of the bridge. So a man responsible for stealing near one million (in total) dollars from one of the biggest corporations in the country has dissapeared. In other, bigger news which happens to sweep the former event under the rug – a superhero has appeared in town. It IS the protagonist.

    He is a vigilante type hero. This isn’t a revenge story, and the corporation isn’t corrupt. He was stealing money because he felt that it could put to better use than “green technology” (which is what the corporation was in to). It wasn’t his decision to make, but he made it anyway, saving every bit he stole until he could have neough to set an organization up. But his friend ratted him out in exchange for (a lot) of money. Presumed dead, possessing an excessive amount of money, and still consumed by an urge to help, he becomes Moral. (Name open for change if suggestions are available)

  250. Asiago Ceasaron 17 Dec 2012 at 9:10 am

    By the way, that was not “Dr. Vo Spader”, though I am on his laptop.

    ~~~

    The name Moral also has more bearing if you consider the end. The antagonist forces the main character to either reveal his true identity, or let an innocent man (his brother) pay for his crime. Hoping that the city will forgive him for his earlier crimes and be grateful for all that he has done for them, he reveals himself.

  251. R.O.S IIIon 26 Dec 2012 at 6:08 pm

    Question- how does this site work? Do I just post various questions about whatever I’m writing?

  252. B. McKenzieon 26 Dec 2012 at 7:21 pm

    “Do I just post various questions about whatever I’m writing?” Yes. Another possibility would be to email me at superheronation-at-gmail-dot-com.

  253. R.O.S IIIon 26 Dec 2012 at 9:13 pm

    Alright then, my story is about this guy named Solomon Fletcher. He’s your typical smart-guy college student, but I decided to give my superhero a twist. He’s just applied to a research facility- IOTA Labs, and wants to work under the uber-smart and rich Justice Pearce. Now Pearce is a “good guy”, I’ll have him become Sol’s mentor, but he engaged in some bad business. (I’ll figure out WHY soon). He’s conducting experiments in his lab, attempting to produce a clean, alternative energy source for the story’s antagonist(s)- The OMEGA Project. The leader of the OP wants to make weapons that will be sold to the highest bidder in international black markets. I want to tie Solomon into this in that he applies for an internship at IOTA, ( a VERY hard thing to get into), but doesn’t make the cut. I want his friend Welsh to make some kind of offer, one that involves changing Solomon’s internship scores, but at the last minute Solomon does the right thing and declines. He starts walking to some kind of public event hosted by Justice Pearce, then ends up saving his life. It doesn’t take an idiot to see what happens next. I’ll have something go wrong with the experiments Pearce conducts. Solomon’s cells get irradiated and eventually he (or his body) gains the ability to adapt to any situation that could kill him. He can’t control his powers but for SOME reason becomes a superhero. I’ll also include him getting WAY smarter and opening his own (very profitable) research laboratory but am not sure of how to continue. I want to introduce a conflict with the OP, show them clashing with Sol, but I think my idea of them stealing his ideas is kind of lame. I’ve seen others post their pages, so I’ll include the first (I have a second) chapter to my story…

    One quiet evening in his dorm room at Liberty University, Solomon Quintus Fletcher sat waiting for a phone call that would change his life. For the past three months, he had been among a select group of individuals attempting to earn an internship at the IOTA Research Institute, one of the best in America. It had been three months of tribulation; of all applicants, many lacked the true motivation to attain the prized internship, seven dropped out after being rigorously assessed on their abilities, knowledge, and drive. Two sought employment by other means, attempting to steal answer sheets and bribe researchers. When caught, the pair broke into tears, pleading with the assistant directors who headed the examination for forgiveness. One applicant was rumored to have had a nervous breakdown, sadly reduced to a broken, sobbing, version of herself.

    Upon recalling the process, Solomon felt a chill go down his spine. They had tried to break him too, one of the only African-American candidates, but in his life, he had acquired an incredible level of perseverance, all due to his father’s constant berating of his already sky-high intelligence quotient. His father, Bishop Caesar Fletcher, had never been one to indulge in praise, not when his son brought home his first set of straight A’s in his freshman year of high school, and certainly not when he was accepted into Liberty University, one of the most prestigious colleges in the state. Sitting there, checking e-mail with the blue light of his computer starting to dim, Solomon wondered why he thought of his father, the most cliché “distant father-figure” he could think of. While not one to complain about the undeniable luxury of his youth, Solomon knew that he would instantly replace the opulence and splendor with some quality time spent with the man if presented the opportunity.
    “Darn, I’m doing it again”, he muttered to himself.

    His thoughts had a habit of going back to his father whenever situations grew tense. There were a number of solutions that Solomon would employ in frustrating times like this one, namely an all-night session of “Mark of Zenith”. His X-Box was with his roommate however, and Solomon was afraid that gaming would prevent him from hearing the phone call. Another option was to call his girlfriend Eve Sanders, but she was away on an Advanced Instruction Law retreat in Rome, a city Eve’s professor thought was the epitome of democracy. Solomon personally considered himself to be a man of science, from an early age he had been intrigued by the laws that governed the universe.

    After learning of the job opening at IOTA, Solomon literally had to fight to contain his excitement. He would be blessed with the opportunity to work alongside Justice Pearce, the Justice Pearce, one of the most innovative and intelligent minds on the planet. Solomon filled out his application, taking extreme care to dot all i’s and cross all t’s, and mailed it.

    Sent back to him was a letter explaining their interest, how they were curious to see what he could contribute to IOTA. After a series of rigorous tests, both of the mind and body, they had sent an e-mail telling him that they would notify within a week if he had been accepted (or rejected) as an intern. A week had come and almost gone; Solomon was more nervous than he had ever been in his life. This internship would certainly shape his career; open a gateway to new scientific horizons. Of all applicants, only 10 would be chosen as an intern, and even fewer would actually receive a job of employment at IOTA. With this in mind, Solomon closed his laptop and waited.

    While he knew that worrying about the IOTA internship would only increase his stress level, Solomon could not shake the feelings of anxiety that plagued him. What if he were rejected? His application turned down due to a lack of interest in him? There were hardly any research companies of the same caliber of IOTA in Liberty City, and being a chemistry teacher didn’t exactly strike Solomon as a fulfilling career. He wondered what his father would think, what the response would be on the end of the line, if he were to explain that he had been rejected from IOTA. His mother would understand, Macalla was a good matured woman who owned a large event planning business. The defining aspect of Macalla and Company that set the business apart from others however, was the fact that around the Thanksgiving-Christmas Day party planning rush, Macalla offered free event planning, employment opportunities regardless of past history, and a warm meal to those who volunteered to help clean up. The woman was famous for her revolutionary business ideals, and Solomon had always been devoted to her. If he called her, she would most likely pray with him, offer a home for the holidays, and or send some money regardless of the nature of the conversation.
    Thinking of his mother put a smile on Solomon’s face. He decided that the best way to further get rid of his worry would be to stay active, focus on other tasks. He got up, stretched, and took a shower. He typed away on an essay for his Biophysics major, one such major that Solomon had pinned for since he was a sophomore in high school. Then, after another hour of wait, his cell phone rang. He made a mad dash for it, typing in the required password faster than he had ever done before. He raised the phone to his ear, taking great care to modulate his voice.
    “Hello? This is Solomon speaking.” He firmly braced himself for the inevitable outcome, in or out?
    “Sol? This is Welsh; I’m calling about your X-Box.”
    The voice of his roommate had a somewhat calming effect on Solomon. While the stakes were as high as ever, Welsh’s call brought with it an abatement of the tension within Solomon.
    “Oh! Welsh, bro, you had me scared out of my mind,” Solomon answered, taking great care to balance the tone of his voice. “Listen, keep the thing for as long as you want, I certainly won’t be playing it for a while.”
    “Actually, that’s exactly why I called. You’ve been so tense lately, like you have the whole world on your shoulders or something. Would you like to come down to the Game Room for a little stress alleviation? I just got the “Mark of Zenith Expansion Pack”, and it’s not as fun by myself.”
    “It’s a two player game Welsh, you couldn’t possibly play without me. And I appreciate the offer, but I’m just too busy right now.” Once again, the stress of the IOTA internship began to exert itself upon Solomon’s mind. His entire career would be dictated by this internship, one that few people were able to acquire. Solomon of course, had been forced to rely on his father.
    Bishop was the presiding president of “Bishop, Dawson, and Associates” law firm, the most expansive one all of Liberty City. It had taken one agonizing phone call from Solomon to his father; one man pleaded over the phone to another, who would then “think about it”. Bishop definitely had the power to help Solomon; he had once singlehandedly defended the CEO of IOTA against a multitude of angry researchers. The researchers had claimed that IOTA was using unorthodox methods in its quest to produce a clean, renewable, source of energy. The whole affair had been clouded from the public eye, with few knowing the true details of the trial. Eventually, Bishop pulled through for Solomon and his son was able to apply for the internship.
    As all of these thoughts chased themselves through Solomon’s head, he realized that he was still on the phone with Welsh.
    “Hello? Sol? SOLOMON! I hear you breathing, so don’t think that you can skip out on me. Listen, I seriously think that you need to take a freaking chill pill,” His roommate’s tone was assertive, and Solomon knew Welsh long enough to realize that he needed to reassure to him, let him know that all was well.
    “Alright already! Welsh, bro, I said I’m fine. I’m just extremely nervous about that IOTA internship I told you about. I finally finished all the tests they had for me, now I’m waiting to see if I got in. I don’t mean to reject your offer, but I can’t afford to miss this phone call.”

    There was a pause on the other end of the line, as Welsh registered what Solomon was saying.
    “Explain to me why you can’t miss this phone call again, Sol. If you got in, you got in, I don’t understand why you talking to them matters.”
    “I cannot afford to miss this phone call, Welsh; because if I don’t answer them, I’m sending the message that they aren’t the most important aspect of my life right now. They are the most important aspect of my life Welsh, and if I don’t answer their phone call, they’ll move on to someone else who will. Does that make sense?” The anxiety was not only back in his voice, but also in his stomach. Solomon dropped the phone and ran to the bathroom. When he came out, he saw that the call had dropped, noticing the dark screen of his previously lit up phone. As he picked it up and tossed it unto his bed, he heard the sound of someone banging on his dorm door. It was unmistakably Welsh’s voice yelling from the other side, so Solomon decided to welcome him in before he was kicked out of the building.
    Welsh stumbled into the room, his movements a quick blur.
    “Solomon, bro are you okay? I ran down here after I heard retching on the phone. I’m sorry man; I had no idea how worried you were.” With a red face, a panting Welsh collapsed onto Solomon’s bed.
    “Ha! Welsh man, you need to get some exercise. And I’m fine, just a little jittery over the whole IOTA thing.” Solomon went back to his desk, picked up his textbooks, and resumed typing his essay. Not wanting Welsh to realize that he was extremely fearful, he worked on an already perfected thesis. Out of the corner of his eye, Solomon saw Welsh stir. His roommate regained his composure and nervously looked around.
    “Listen Sol. If you need anything, let me know. I don’t like seeing you this way, a nervous wreck and all. You’re my friend and I owe it to you to help you by any means possible, so if you need anything tell me. Please?”
    Solomon knew how obvious it was that Welsh was just as worried as he, how Welsh’s fears stemmed from a strong bond of friendship that had been formed three years previously. Welsh had been the typical new boy at Venture High school, but had expressed the same love of science that Solomon had. The two at first had developed mild admiration for one another, however, after numerous science and theology debates, a mutual respect was shared between the pair. Welsh was practically an extension of Solomon’s skin, the ultimate wing-man. When the two were accepted into Liberty University, they could barely contain their excitement.
    “So, you’re really hopeful for IOTA right Sol? I mean I hope you are, I swear if I had the ability to go I would cherish the whole process. Even if…,” He paused and made a quick glance at Solomon. “Do you understand my meaning?”
    Welsh’s face had lit up as the words left his mouth. He was from a less fortunate family than that of Solomon, and getting into Liberty University had taken a huge chunk out of their life savings. If he had access to the means by which one gets into IOTA, Welsh’s future would have been set. He told Solomon of the vow he had made to reimburse his parents for all the love and support they had shown him, how he planned to make enough money to allow his parents to enjoy life and not worry about their bakery. Welsh’s parents owned a modest bakery that was in danger of being taken over by a larger candy corporation. Being in the very center of Liberty City, the bakery was sitting atop prime real estate, and if Welsh’s parents were proven to be incapable of handling their property, they could potentially lose their business.
    Solomon too had made a vow, albeit a private one, to help Welsh. The first aspect of the plan involved getting into IOTA, if that didn’t happen, he would need to ask for his father’s advice.
    “Even if you didn’t get in, right Welsh? I respect that man, and I promise you that will not, seeing as how I cannot, waste this profound opportunity,” Solomon laughed out loud. “I feel like I’m talking to my dad man. He’s always telling me to be proactive; you know “carpe diem” and all.”
    “Join the club Sol. My old man’s telling me always to—.” Welsh’s voice was cut off by the sound of the phone ringing. It took the pair a few seconds to register the fact, before Solomon ran into Welsh who had grabbed the phone. They fumbled around for a second before Solomon checked the caller I-D, not wanting to be nervous for nothing.
    “It’s IOTA Labs, Welsh. This is it, the real moment of truth.” The tension in the air was palpable, and Solomon swore he could taste his own fears.
    He put the phone to his ear and, in a calm and even tone, answered it.

  254. mythos manon 27 Dec 2012 at 12:41 am

    nice bro. really interesting stuff. i hope you figure out some of the stuff your stuck on.

    good on you bro.

  255. R.O.S IIIon 27 Dec 2012 at 7:04 pm

    Thanks man. The comment is appreciated, but I do need advice.

  256. B. McKenzieon 28 Dec 2012 at 2:48 am

    “He applies for an internship at IOTA… but doesn’t make the cut.” I think this is more dramatic than having him skate through on the first go.

    “I’ll also include him getting WAY smarter and opening his own (very profitable) research laboratory but am not sure of how to continue.” Hmm. One potential wrinkle here: if the character goes from a typical smart-guy to an extraordinary genius, it might lead to unpleasant questions. I’d recommend using this to create tension—he probably either has to hide his true abilities and/or risk losing his anonymity to the enemy.

    One minor tweak: unless you’re actually talking about the Liberty University in Virginia, I’d recommend naming the school after a person or a place.

    “I want to introduce a conflict with the OP, show them clashing with Sol, but I think my idea of them stealing his ideas is kind of lame.” Perhaps they have research differences (e.g. they’re taking different approaches to a problem), or are fighting for limited funding from the same sources, or the work of one is discrediting the other (or contributing to some other obstacle).

    “Solomon’s cells get irradiated and eventually he (or his body) gains the ability to adapt to any situation that could kill him.” Will you be able to challenge him? If the character is not sufficiently challenged, I think the story will be much less interesting than it would be otherwise. #4 might help here.

    –“ One quiet evening in his dorm room at Liberty University, Solomon Quintus Fletcher sat waiting for a phone call that would change his life. For the past three months, he had been among a select group of individuals attempting to earn an internship at the IOTA Research Institute, one of the best in America. It had been three months of tribulation; of all applicants, many lacked the true motivation to attain the prized internship, seven dropped out after being rigorously assessed on their abilities, knowledge, and drive.” I’d recommend against starting with an infodump—I think showing this from the character’s perspective would be more interesting than just having (relatively bland) narration here. For example, maybe the character wakes up in a cold sweat wondering about whether he could have handled a particularly challenging question from an IOTA interviewer any better. (I can only speak for myself, but with the FBI HI, I had that sort of thing going on for WEEKS—e.g. why didn’t I speak more articulately about the project I had in mind? I didn’t get the job, ended up working on Pennsylvania Avenue, and ended up walking past the FBI Headquarters every day. On the plus side, other federal LEOs – particularly the Secret Service—know above-average FBI jokes when off-duty). Also, making the character and/or setting come across as more unique early on would probably help. If you can imagine me bitterly cursing the FBI Headquarters as a forlorn den of hippies, that’d probably tell you more about my internship search and personality than an overview of the FBI internship would.

    “They had tried to break him too, one of the only African-American candidates…” Hmm. Unless his race actually is relevant here, I wouldn’t recommend mentioning it—his personality almost assuredly matters a hell of a lot more, and we don’t know very much about it so far. Unless he’s meant to come off as paranoid here, in which case I think the characterization is proceeding very smoothly.

    “his already sky-high intelligence quotient.” And so modest, too. Hmm… I’d recommend showing this instead? Perhaps doing a brief recap of him thinking through one of the questions might show how seriously he’s taking this and what his thought process is like? PS: His speculation that they tried to break him because of his race leads me to suspect he’s more paranoid than logical—the phrasing here does not cast his reasoning in a positive light. (Which is perfectly okay, assuming that’s intentional).

    “Solomon knew that he would instantly replace the opulence and splendor with some quality time spent with the man if presented the opportunity.” Might feel more natural as “he would have instantly traded the money for [INTERESTING EXPERIENCE] if he could have.” Additionally, it might help rephrasing this to make him sound more proactive rather than simply idly wishing his father had done something differently. (E.g. Russell from Up is incredibly emotionally effective because we DO see him trying to save his relationship with his father—he tries to win his father’s approval by becoming a veteran boy scout.

    “ “Darn, I’m doing it again”, he muttered to himself.” Interesting line. “His thoughts had a habit of going back to his father whenever situations grew tense.” The first line was more interesting before this bit of explanation. I’d trust that your readers will come up with a plausible explanation on their own.

    “one of the most innovative and intelligent minds on the planet.” I’d recommend showing this with a detail or two.

    “Justice Pearce.” Not a huge deal at this point, but in time, I’d recommend changing his first name, unless it’s supposed to come across as anachronistic and/or odd.

    “There were hardly any research companies of the same caliber of IOTA in Liberty City, and being a chemistry teacher didn’t exactly strike Solomon as a fulfilling career.” I’d recommend fleshing this out a bit more. He can’t come up with any opportunities besides this elite internship and teaching chemistry? He’s driven enough to desperately want this internship but isn’t apparently willing to relocate to another city if that’s where his career takes him? One possibility: there’s assuredly SOME university that would take him in a pretty-good research position, but there’s something driving him to this one in particular. Some possibilities: his idol works there, it’s better than pretty good, he might feel personally rejected and/or inadequate if he were rejected, and/or the issues with his father (particularly if his father was the sort of guy that got this sort of job back when racism was far more overt/discernible in hiring practices).

    –If the mother matters, I’d recommend fleshing her out more beyond being generically nice. If not, you could probably cut a lot of her opening paragraph—her business practices are a bit tangential to the central plot.

    –There are a few minor typos (e.g. “pinned for” should be “pined for”).

    –“His entire career would be dictated by this internship.” How are we meant to interpret this? I’d recommend showing us that the stakes are as high as he imagines. One possibility would be playing up the degree to which Justice Pearce factors into his dream. He can’t work with JP anywhere else.

    –“Once again, the stress of the IOTA internship began to exert itself upon Solomon’s mind.” Show this.

    –“ Bishop definitely had the power to help Solomon; he had once singlehandedly defended the CEO of IOTA against a multitude of angry researchers. The researchers had claimed that IOTA was using unorthodox methods in its quest to produce a clean, renewable, source of energy.” I’d recommend phrasing this more naturally. For one thing, he doesn’t seem to have an opinion about the claims by the researchers, even though he appears to know something about the case.

    –There are some opportunities to show/imply more and tell less. For example… “Hello? Sol? SOLOMON! I hear you breathing, so don’t think that you can skip out on me. Listen, I seriously think that you need to take a freaking chill pill,” His roommate’s tone was assertive… I think we can safely infer that his tone was assertive based on his dialogue.

    “reassure to him”

    –He comes across as desperate and/or pathetically driven. I approve! (That said, it might help to flesh out the reason he’s not willing to use his father to get the job if he is that concerned about the job).

    –I’d recommend avoiding unnecessary repetition. For example, “Explain to me why you can’t miss this phone call again…” Haven’t we already gone through this once? I’d recommend keeping the conversation moving forward…

    –A biophysics essay? Is this believable? Would it be more plausible to do a more stereotypically scientific assignment? (Perhaps something plot-relevant later on, research which becomes important later—e.g. in X-Men: First Class, Xavier’s thesis on mutations leads the CIA to him). Might also be helpful in establishing that he really is a cutting-edge science student.

    –“however, after numerous science and theology debates, a mutual respect was shared between the pair.” Please show…

  257. R.O.S IIIon 28 Dec 2012 at 10:46 am

    Thank you! I really appreciate your feedback!

  258. R.O.S IIIon 28 Dec 2012 at 11:19 am

    What kind of science major could I use that would tie in to the renewable energy source I’m using? I want to trade the biophysics essay with something, but I’m not sure what…

  259. R.O.S IIIon 31 Dec 2012 at 4:16 pm

    So I tried to take your advice, how do some of my revisions sound?

    Arising from turbulent dreams, Solomon Q. Fletcher shook himself from the bed in his Ekle University dorm room. The man sat, waiting for a phone call that would change his life. For the past three months, he had been among a select group of individuals attempting to earn an internship at the IOTA Research Institute, one of the best in America. Solomon thought of the examination process, his mind a quick whir.
    “Solomon, we see your credentials and appreciate your experience, but what sets you apart? What makes you the obvious choice for this internship?” The examiner had sat, legs crossed. Solomon distinctly remembered the face of the woman, firm but understanding. There was a mole on her cheek, and her red dress stood out like water in the Sahara. Solomon was unable to take his eyes off it.
    “WELL, uh, well.” He swallowed. His mouth felt stale and the beads of sweat had dribbled down his face. “I’ve always had a profound love for science. Most people don’t see things the way I do. I’m always the first to look for a logical solution to the issue at hand.”
    “Ah. I see.” The examiner proceeded to jot notes down on the small pad in her lap. There was a smile on her lips, and Solomon’s heart sank. It had been obvious that his response wasn’t a good one, and now the examiner probably thought he was a dunce.
    “Dear God, what is wrong with me? I’m tenser than a presidential election.” Solomon inquired. There was no divine response forth coming, so he got up from his bed and moved to his desk. Worrying wouldn’t help, and anyway his essay was in need of work.
    Solomon looked over his thesis. He was trying to prove that the human body was like a sponge, able to harmlessly absorb various energy wavelengths. His essay had a good intro, but something was missing. He stretched his back and looked around at his college dorm room. His desk was a neat pile of textbooks and papers, the floor was spotless. Now abandoning the essay, Solomon got up and mounted his exercise bike, one of his favored stress relievers.
    As his legs acquired their usual rhythms on the exercise bike, his brain once again pondered the IOTA interview. Upon recalling the process, Solomon felt a chill go down his spine. They had tried to break him too, but in his life he had acquired an incredible level of perseverance. He remembered one particular assessment that he had been presented with.
    “Now you will be tested on your ability to follow directions. You will be presented with a question, after which you will have exactly ten minutes to answer it. There is a sheet of paper and a pencil that will be provided for you to do any figuring and record your answer. If you feel that you have sufficiently answered the question, then turn in your paper. If you exceed the time limit however, you will not be allowed to submit your answer. Do you have any questions?”
    “I have none.” Solomon had taken a seat at the only desk in this particular examination room. This time, a woman in a blue dress had given him his instructions and then proceeded to press a button on the large display board at the front of the room. The display board began to count down from 10:00.
    “You may proceed. Ten minutes.” The woman left the room through a door on the left.
    Solomon cracked his knuckles and got to work. He picked up the pencil, put it to the paper and… Stopped. His eagerness had turned to confusion when he quickly realized that—there was no question. He eyed the paper closely, adjusting his glasses to get a closer look. Nope. No question on the paper. He had looked up at the wall and saw nothing but the display board. There was nine minutes and 17 seconds left of his time. He played it smart, checking the desk, pencil, and even the ceiling for a hint. Nope, nothing, and nada.
    Solomon began to think of the woman’s words. “You will be presented with a question, after which you will have exactly ten minutes to answer it.” Maybe the question wasn’t an actual question but a conundrum, a confusing situation. The question may well have been: “What is the question?” It certainly made sense. He once again looked up at the display board.
    Six minutes and 10 seconds.
    “Alright then,” Solomon had thought aloud. “I can either write down what is the question, or…” His thoughts trailed off. Something in his heart had told him otherwise. “Think Fletcher, there must be some logical answer, but what?” The counseling voice was Solomon’s and it grew more pressing as time continued to count down. Growing all the more desperate, Solomon thought harder.
    “Well, asking ‘what is the question’ is most likely too general; they want an intern who has more a distinctive mindset. Wait a minute…” She had asked him a question. “Do you have any questions?” Solomon slammed his fist on the desk.
    “I’m over thinking it. It’s not what the question is, but if it exists!” The joy Solomon experienced was unparalled. He picked up his pencil placed it on the paper, and…
    “BEEEEEEEEP!” It was the sound of the display board. Solomon’s time had run out.
    Back in his Ekle University dorm room, peddling away at his exercise bike, Solomon mentally berated himself for his lack of diligence. If only he had been swifter, more quick on the draw. His legs were actually starting to burn, so Solomon got up. He was drenched in sweat and felt like a shower. Immediately afterward he felt refreshed, the stress of IOTA was less in his head. Solomon went back to his desk and resumed working on his thesis. If he could prove that the human body’s ability to absorb energy could be taken further, that these energy wavelengths could be substituted for other conventional sources of energy, food for example, he would be all set.
    “Heh, if only Dad could see me now. Writing a thesis on the very dynamics of the human body itself.” Solomon looked at the photograph of his parents on his bed side. In it smiled his mother’s warm face, her arms around her husband’s neck. Solomon looked at his father’s face. The man’s eyes were bright, and he smiled back at his wife with a look of pure glee on his face.
    Despite the photographer’s obvious intentions of portraying Bishop C. Fletcher as an extremely impassioned man, Solomon knew otherwise. His dad had never been one to indulge in praise, not when his son brought home his first set of straight A’s in his freshman year of high school, and certainly not when he was accepted into Ekle University, one of the most prestigious colleges in the state.
    Sitting there, checking e-mail with the blue light of his computer starting to dim, Solomon wondered why he thought of his father, the most cliché “distant father-figure” he could think of. While not one to complain about the undeniable luxury of his youth, Solomon knew that he would instantly replace the money with some quality time spent with the man if presented the opportunity.
    He had even called his dad, wondering if the two could meet up for a warm lunch. Solomon’s call was answered however, by Bishop’s secretary, Mrs. Martha.
    “Aww, Sol,” She had said. “That’s very sweet of you and I’m sure that your father will appreciate the gesture. He’s a tad occupied by a very important case right now hon’, but I’ll be sure to tell him.”
    “Thanks Mrs. Martha, and please, have a nice afternoon.”
    The woman had been kind enough to pass on the message, but both she and Solomon knew it was unlikely that it would be returned.
    “Darn, I’m doing it again”, he muttered to himself. “It’s always about my old man isn’t it?”

  260. Blackscaron 03 Aug 2013 at 5:10 pm

    Hi there! I know everyone probably has their own stuff to worry about, but if it isn’t too much trouble, could someone lend me a hand?

    I don’t know how to start my novel off. I have most of the rest of it planned out except for the beginning. It’s giving me a lot of trouble, and I don’t know what to do.

    I was planning on having Alice, my main character, attempt to enroll in a slayers’ academy of some sorts. However, I think that they would probably reject her at first, not thinking she has the potential. They don’t want to waste their efforts on anyone who would make rash decisions or act recklessly.

    This, of course, would spur her into doing something totally ridiculous, such as attempting to track down and kill a vampire without being able to sync with any sort of weapon. (She doesn’t always think things through.) She thinks that they’d have no choice but to accept her into the academy then; who wouldn’t want someone who could kill a vampire totally on their own?

    All I know from there is that it won’t end well in the slightest, and I was considering having one of the professors at the academy finding her and helping her take the vampire down before it kills her.

    I was planning on maybe starting it around mid-evening, so she could try to turn in the form, then try to kill a vampire once the sun goes down. Everything is set in modern times, by the way.

    Any suggestions for how I could streamline it so it would make sense? (Also, I can provide more information if necessary.)

    -Blackscar

  261. Proxie#0on 03 Aug 2013 at 8:50 pm

    Hmm…

    I know of very few ways to make a school submission request scene interesting. But, I was thinking that you could start off with her tracking down the vampire, or nearly in the fight itself. This would help quickly define the story and start it with an interesting “bang.” I would not suggest immediately jumping into the fight though… That is really jarring most of the time, and no one cares abut the characters yet, so it’s a wasted movement.

    I would mostly go along the lines of having her start off at a dark and dreary raver or some other similar locale, and have her reflect in what she knows of the Vamp, and why she’s doing it (the registration) and the negative feelings towards the schools administration. I’d also set up some reason for the school having “operatives” nearby.

    On another not, I don’t know whether or not anyone has read”Soul Eater,” but this seems like an interesting take on parts of that series. 😉

  262. Blackscaron 03 Aug 2013 at 8:55 pm

    @Proxie#0

    Ah, thank you so, so much!

    I think I might take that route, perhaps. I’ll say she was tracking it, desperate to prove to herself and the school that she was worthy of the title ‘Slayer’. Maybe she’s desperate to take it out over the course of one night, so it doesn’t have time to recover and strike back?

    Maybe this particular vampire is quite vicious, and it’s taken out quite a few humans by this point. Would it make sense for the school to have its full-fledged slayers stationed in the area, keeping a sort of vigil?

    I have heard of Soul Eater, though I haven’t watched or read it in over a year, haha. I’m hoping it doesn’t sound too similar, though!

    -Blackscar

  263. Proxie#0on 03 Aug 2013 at 10:36 pm

    @ Blackscar

    That sounds great! How far away is the vamp from the school though? And is she the kind of person that would announce herself before going, or would she be the one that would try to surprise the vamp. Just fruit for thought, because fighting a pissed off arrogant vampire might also seem like a good idea if she’s trying to gain some attention. If that not in her personality though, so be it.

    It doesn’t sound too similar. The only thing that reminded me of it were the general idea. Besides, the thing that best separates any two stories is the execution. I remember somewhere on here that B. Mac had a quote that essentially said that you could write the entire harry potter series from the perspective of, say, the janitor, and it would be that much different, and interestingly unique.

    The reason for this, however, was just because the setting is essentially:

    “A magic school where youngsters go to learn how to control their abilities, hunting down supernatural monsters as well as getting closer to and learn to synchronize with their weapons.”

    In the show/manga, these people and their weapons are sentient, while in yours, they are not. The syncing gave me a similar feeling, but definitely still has its own style/flavor.

    Vampires are, in my opinion, much more interesting and ominous than a witch or [I think?] Oni can ever be. They also provide a much more interesting set of problems and often have their own stylistic approach.

    If going to a publisher, however, you COULD use the show/manga as a possible parallel, though it could appear niche, as it IS a manga/anime.

  264. Blackscaron 04 Aug 2013 at 6:00 am

    @Proxie#0

    The vampire is about half a mile away from the school. The school, while disguised as a normal boarding school, is still easily stumbled upon. It’s located near a human day care as well, and since the vampire has nearly gone insane, the academy does not want to risk it brutally murdering about sixteen toddlers and four teachers/employees.

    Alice would be the type to act all sneaky about it on the days or weeks leading up to it, but by the time the day arrived, it’d be so obvious that she was hiding something that people would question her for the entire day.
    Also, she might (depending on the situation) do something rather stupid once in the vampire’s territory, unintentionally alerting it to her presence. It’s a good thing stealth isn’t required at the academy, or else she’d be kicked out in a heartbeat.

    All right, then! I’m seriously glad that it’s not too similar, because then I’d obviously have to edit quite a bit of it. I’m not the sort to rip off of others’ work and claim it as my own.
    However, since this is not the case, I can continue to work on this!

    I was also considering tossing werewolves into the mix, so I could give the vampires and humans a common enemy later on in the series. Werewolves, in my novel, are gigantic, hulking beasts (sort of like a gigantic bipedal wolf, though with a more humanlike body structure) with no control over themselves whatsoever. Instead of transforming on the full moon, they transform every night BUT the full moon, meaning they’re out hunting all night long.

    The humans hate them, the vampires are terrified of them, and the werewolves aren’t even aware of their existence. Werewolves are not intelligent enough to form a council to civilly interact with the other two races.

    The werewolves are also weak to silver, though they can withstand larger quantities than most vampires.

    See, the reason why vampires are so afraid of them is because even the smallest werewolf is still more powerful than the largest strength-type vampire. Granted, the smallest werewolf would still be at least nine feet tall, so one could take that as they will.

    Is that a decent idea, or no?

    Also, I may use the manga as a possible parallel, though as you said, I’m not sure how well that will go over. Thanks for all of your help, though! I do appreciate it!

    -Blackscar

  265. Dr. Vo Spaderon 04 Aug 2013 at 6:59 am

    Simple question…do you think starting off with a conversation is a good idea? (To introduce the characters) Like on page one, I mean.

  266. Proxie#0on 04 Aug 2013 at 10:48 am

    @Blackscar

    The werewolves you’ve designed sound pretty good! They have their own flair while not straying too far from their own proverbial backyard, which in my opinion is a great thing. My only worry is that them being added in in a later story might distract you a little from your current one. My advice on this would be to take as many notes on them as you like, have an idea of how you’d like to use them, then set it aside until you get there. But don’t entirely forget then, because randomly throwing something in can be annoying. That’s actually one thing that kind of annoyed me in certain Harry Potter books. Random entities appearing with little to no foreshadowing.so I guess what I’m saying is…don’t try to throw them entirely into your first book unless you already know they are plot central. But, do not forget to foreshadow their existence.

    And no problem by the way, I love helping fellow aspiring writers…though I shy away from questions I cannot give a substantial answer to.

    @Dr. Vo Spader

    It does not sound like a bad idea, it can quickly show characters personality and such depending on execution. For example (I hate self promotion…) in my story, the book begins with the main protagonist questioning (unorthodox and illegal) a “victim” of her brothers , in the police station itself.

    Also, as a note: I am typing this up on my phone, so please forgive any misspellings or bad grammar.

  267. Blackscaron 04 Aug 2013 at 11:04 am

    @Proxie#0

    Don’t worry, I’ll allude to their presence early on. The academy has a course on werewolves, too, though they’d /NEVER/ send a new recruit out to slay one, whereas they might with a vampire.

    Werewolves are monsters, in a literal sense of the word. Even a team of five proficient Nervetech users would have an incredibly hard time subduing one moderately-sized werewolf, much less two.

    Even in the first chapter, I’ll allude to their existence. Maybe I’ll have the vampire that Alice encounters be muttering to himself about ‘those furry bastards’, or something of the sort.
    Does that seem reasonable?

    -Blackscar

  268. Proxie#0on 04 Aug 2013 at 11:35 am

    @Blackscar

    That sounds great to me! As long as you mention them, then it’s great. Just don’t let it slip from the audiences knowledge that they exist. Hell, you could even have one of your characters apply (and depending on where you’d want to go) have them get accepted or rejected from the class. Another good, and sometimes kinda cheap, way of doing this could be having future villain continuing a murder spree, with bodies of werewolf victims appearing every now and then. Actually, that could prompt the school to make the anti-werewolf class mandatory…

    And also, I like the idea that she “tries” to be stealthy, but generally isn’t any good at it. This could add some interesting conflict in my opinion. Quick question. Is Alice the tye that often goes off alone to do something? Or is that more for this specific incident? If she is generally like that, you could have this incident, or another, later one cause her to get herself and her team caught/injured/etc., effectively “teaching her a lesson” on the value of teamwork.

  269. B. McKenzieon 04 Aug 2013 at 12:40 pm

    “Do you think starting off with a conversation is a good idea?” If executed well, it could be extremely effective. Do the characters come across as interesting? Does the conversation advance the plot and ideally raise the stakes for the characters?

  270. Blackscaron 04 Aug 2013 at 12:59 pm

    @Proxie#0

    I think I may have one of them apply for the class; probably Erik, since his weapon is the most powerful. (I posted a description of it on another page, I think, though I can transfer it to here if you’d like.)
    I was definitely planning to introduce a werewolf villain early on, though he’s one of the rare ones who can sort of control their transformation. He’s in league with the vampire council, and, since he’s a twelve foot tall hulking monster, he’s their most dangerous weapon.
    The class will be mandatory once they discover the bodies of a few of their students, I think.

    Alice is indeed the type who tries to go off alone to get things done; she doesn’t want to slow people down, nor does she want to be slowed down by others. She has a bit of a hero complex, which makes her want to be the sole hero for her squad. (After students sync with their Nervetech weapon on their first day, they are sorted into squads of four, which are the ones they work with on missions. They have no obligation to remain with their squad during the school day, however. Also, the squads are comprised of members whose weapons complement each other; the secondary elements have nothing to do with it.)

    Yes, she’ll definitely have to learn her lesson at one point in the story; she’ll probably almost get everyone killed, somehow.

    -Blackscar

  271. Proxie#0on 04 Aug 2013 at 1:32 pm

    @ Blackscar

    That sounds great then. It’d be fine if you could just let me know which page it was, you don’t need to re-post it! 😉

    That sounds pretty interesting, I actually haven’t heard of that particular type of allegiance before, the Vamps using the…well in this case, a werewolf as a weapon.

    I also like the idea of the strongest guy getting into the class. I think it would be particularly interesting if it were actually really difficult, even for him. That would create an interesting tension and anxiety within the group in general.

    I.E. – “Wow! Our strongest guy can barely keep up with the stuff going on here, how can we possibly hope to?!”

    Alice sounds pretty good then. That will definitely be able to add tension or drama, in good ways and bad. I look forward to hearing more!

    “Yes, she’ll definitely have to learn her lesson at one point in the story; she’ll probably almost get everyone killed, somehow.”

    Also…I love how us writers are able to nonchalantly throw around peoples lives. It sounds so evil to people that jus happen to hear THAT part of the conversation, and I think it’s hilarious.

  272. Blackscaron 04 Aug 2013 at 2:02 pm

    @Proxie#0

    Here you go! Would you mind telling me what you think of their personalities, and if they’d all fit the setting? http://www.superheronation.com/2007/10/15/character-naming-superheroes-and-otherwise/#comment-661039

    Also, I can link you to the post about Nervetech, if you’d like.

    They provide the werewolf – Kendall White – with a steady source of humans to destroy, and facilities to train in, so long as he doesn’t turn on them and attack them. Kendall, however, is selfish and only cares about himself, so as soon as they stop providing for him, he’ll attack them and move on.
    By the way, nothing is more painful to a vampire than the bite of a werewolf; the opposite is also true. It won’t turn them, but they’ll wish it had by the time it stops hurting.

    It will be difficult, and he’s the only one of the group to make it in. John is precise and fast, though he lacks the body type to cleave through bone and muscle very easily. Alice has a unique situation with her weapon, and Charlotte…well, you’ll see about her.

    Ah, okay! I might post my first chapter in my review forum once I complete it! 🙂

    Yes. That’s the main perk to being a writer; you get to sound like a total maniac and it usually has hilarious consequences.

  273. Blackscaron 05 Aug 2013 at 9:12 am

    Hmm…another issue…I have four main characters; how quickly should I introduce the other three? I was hoping to have them introduced by chapter four; is that too soon?

    -Blackscar

  274. Proxie#0on 06 Aug 2013 at 2:25 pm

    @ Blackscar

    So from what I’ve read, John is one of those guys who tries their hardest to “seem” “cool” to his frineds, and tries his hand at being funny. He does all this because he feel perpetually lonely, and believes that doing these things is a way to gain them? Also, does he act differently towards his sister or those that he is actuallly friends with?

    If so, then this seems like a very interesting way to go about the “belive in yourself” character arc. What I mena by this is that he could, throughout the story, learn that he doesn’t HAVE to do these things to get friends, but just to be himself. And also…what IS the reason he’s synced with two sets of katanas (4…dual weilding?)On a final note, it’s great that you won’t have him wangsting around…I mean wasting…or do I?

    I like Charlolette from what I’ve read. I think she sounds really interesting actually, and agree on your way to handle her “luck.” I have always liked the ability to lie in particular, perhaps ever since I grew attached to the character Lyra from the “His Dark Materials” series. Anyhow, she does sound rather interesting…as long as she doesnt turn into a walking joke about Twilight fans. I know you won’t do that, but it would actually be an interesting way to handle comic relief. Speaking of which…toasted digital Eclipse sounds pretty good right now. Also… why would you, the author, reason she is at the Academy?

    Erik seems great too, but I have a question. From what you’ve shown with the rest of his personality, I’d assume he was rather outgoing, as well as being a lovable hothead. My question is, is the light self-hate really going to mesh well with the rest of his personality? He just doesnt really seem like the kind of guy that would joke about himself to others. He seems more like the guy that would harbor a slight distrust in other people, more specifically women, than any self-hate. Also, I like that he openly likes romantic comedies. Very few men would ever admit they actually enjoy it, especially in books/movies. So its a very slight, but interesting, change for the better.

    I think Kendall is alright. It adds an air of tension for the “bad guys” when their greatest weapon is a [very] fickle, sentient being. I would though, like to hear more about both antagonists/group of antagonists. Also, is Kendall the kind that, just because they are trying to kill those guys he doesn’t like, he’d help them? Or would he be more on the side of, if they were attacking, he’d just try to take them as an exit snack, potentially revealing their existence as they sneak in for, say, surveillance.

    As a final note, I must add that I am aware that there are probably a thousand or more spelling corrections to be made here, but I am at work, so I have no chance to fix it…and this computer does NOT have spell check… -__-

  275. Proxie#0on 06 Aug 2013 at 3:11 pm

    @ Blackscar

    There are certain ways that you can introduce characters, slow or fast. It is usually best to find a happy medium, tyring to get a moderate amount of character d4velopment in before going on to the same for the others. That way audience can expect, on some level, how the first character introduced will react. Of course, multiple characters can be introduced at once through mediums such as conversation or fights, and those CAN work wonderfully.
    The only real advice I can offer on this front is not to introduce so many at one time that the audience will ecome confused or overwhelmed. I f I could use my own novel structure as an example without sounding too much like self promortion:

    Chapter 1:

    Main Character introduced via questioning minor antagonist.

    Fututre Major character introduced briefly to show Main character to her brother’s cell. He is also characterized by tactfully ending an argument between the MC’s brothers lawyer and the MC, and escorting her out.

  276. Blackscaron 06 Aug 2013 at 5:25 pm

    @Proxie#0

    Oh, thank you so much for the help once more! I seriously appreciate this!

    Also, I forgot to mention earlier, but your novel sounds quite interesting. My email is petulantcorsair@aol.com; if you have any chapters done, would you mind sending them my way? I’d like to read it!

    -For John, I meant one set of two katanas. Typos; sorry about that. He’s quite protective over Charlotte, and he is slightly more open to her than to his friends. He’s generally not the sort of guy to trust people easily, and he’s slightly more reserved than, say, Alice is, for example. (I only use her since they both share the trait of not trusting others easily. John would try to avoid the situation, whereas Alice would be all up in said person’s business with varied accusations unless they earned her trust.)

    I was intending to have John go through a sort of ‘believe in yourself’ arc, actually! Now, he isn’t the type to mope around in a fight or not even bother because “Oh, I’m not good enough -dramatic sigh-“. His insecurities stem more from the fact that he doesn’t think people would want to talk to him, though this begins to fade over time. Also, he never brings it up in conversation; he knows that whining about his problems would achieve the opposite effect. He’d drive potential friends away instead of reeling them in.

    As for his friends, he starts off as the aloof coolkid when they first become his friend, but over time he’ll start to open up, usually choosing to call or text people late at night to talk about stuff. He pretends that he truly believes they won’t remember it in the morning, but they always do, and he’s okay with that.

    -Trust me, a walking joke about Twilight fans Charlotte is not. (Wow, that was wonky.) She alludes to the lethargy and eventual spontaneous combustion that is prevalent in her species whenever they’re exposed to copious amounts of sunlight, though her only comment is something along the lines of, “Yes, sunlight harms us. What did you expect us to do; sparkle?” If that’s a bit too obvious, however, I might change it to ‘glitter’, or something of the sort.

    Charlotte is at the academy because she figures that while she’d certainly die if caught, say, drinking another student’s blood, she definitely would NOT be suspected of suffering from vampirism. Many of the instructors think a vampire would be suicidal to try to join, and most vampires honestly wouldn’t have reason to. (An event later on in the story changes their views, though; the academy eventually becomes more suspicious and begins testing future recruits to make sure they’re totally human.) She’s relying on pure luck, and she figures at least she’d die on her own terms instead of being hunted and killed.

    Besides, she enjoys the school’s literature/library section. It’s very peaceful, and she likes their choice in decor.

    -Erik is slightly more complicated for me to talk about; he’s easier to show than tell. However, I think I do agree with you. I’ll scrap the self-hatred, and replace it with distrust for the opposite sex. He thinks that they’re perfectly capable in a fight, and that they belong on the battlefield as well; he just doesn’t trust them enough to befriend them anymore.
    This will eventually change, though, and while he’ll hate himself every minute for breaking his promise to himself, he eventually gets over it.

    I thought the rom-com angle would be interesting; hence why I added it. I figured that it would add a different side to his personality; he was sensitive at first, and still sort of is, though now he’s a bit more careful as to whom he shows that side to.

    -Haha, I’m actually surprised that you thought Kendall was all right; I literally made him up on the spot.

    He would not help those who help his enemies; he’d point out their existence and ruin any recon attempts, cause a huge fight, then eat the people who wandered too far away from the midst of the chaos. That’s how he works. He’s enamored with human and vampire luxuries, and has a childlike love for sweets, and that is literally the only reason he works with them.

    As for the groups of people, I will actually type up a post on all three…factions, I suppose you could call them; the vampires, humans, and the largest pack of werewolves. However, it’ll be rather long, so I’ll post it in a separate thing.

    Regarding introducing the characters, I think I’ll be careful not to introduce, say, all four in the first chapter. I’ll spread them out; since there are four main heroes, I’ll do one per chapter, and introduce a main antagonist in chapter five. However, there will be a goal to tide them over until the real conflict begins; I’m being incredibly careful about all of this!

    Thanks for all of your help! 🙂

    -Blackscar!

  277. Blackscaron 06 Aug 2013 at 7:23 pm

    @Proxie#0

    All right; long posts aplenty! I’m going to explain a bit about the three major factions (I’m hesitant to use the word, but it’s all I have) in my novel.

    First, the humans:

    -The humans are obviously the underdogs in this scenario; while they have invented cool weapons to combat the other two sides, they are at a physical disadvantage. Prior to signing away blueprints and scientific secrets to the vampires, they were the only species with guns and nuclear weapons.

    Now, of course, this is not true anymore; the vampires have equal access to these weapons. They’re not aware of Nervetech yet, save for a few who are either spies, or are legitimately keen on helping the humans.

    The humans have a few academies spread throughout the world, three (two are high schools, one is a finishing school / elite fighting group) being located in America, where my novel is set. (This is only because I am American, and trust myself better to write a novel that is set in my location of origin.) There are at least three per major country and continent, though Canada has the highest number of academies, totaling at about 6.

    America’s three academies are Rosewood Academy, the most prestigious yet difficult to enter; Thornton Academy, the most lax and accepting, though it suffers extreme budget cuts; and Larkspur, an elite group of trained combatants who do battle alongside the military with the other two groups.

    The academies focus on both regular academics and special anti-vampire and anti-werewolf courses, along with Nervetech training. Larkspur mainly sends its members out on extermination missions. The academies do this as well, though not as often.

    Next, the vampires:

    The vampires have formed a council, which goes by the public name ‘Virgo’. This council is also the main founder of Virgo Electronics, which produces various electronic devices sold to both humans and vampires; the ones sold to the humans can be monitored by the CEOs of the company. This is done in the event that the humans ARE planning to wage war on them – which they are – so they can learn of the human armies’ plans in advance.

    The vampires in my novel are able to withstand the sunlight, but if they stay in direct sunlight for any longer than three to four hours, depending on the vampire, then they will begin to smolder and eventually burst into flames. Simply staying in the shade can temporarily stave off the effects, though not for very long.

    Also, vampires have a wide range of skin colors; not all of them are pasty and pale like the traditional ones in the movies.

    They are also rather lethargic during the daytime, though some of them have painstakingly trained themselves to mimic humans’ sleep schedules. They’re still quite sleepy during the day, and many of them have harsh bags under their eyes.

    They are also weak to silver, though they can handle it if they wear protective coverings, such as gloves or a coat.

    Also, Virgo’s main goal is to subdue the humans and form a sort of army from them to eliminate the werewolves, though they’re quite irked by the humans’ attempts at rebellion.

    Werewolves, next:

    Werewolves are large, monstrous pack animals, who transform on the full moon into their wolf form once they reach about sixteen years of age. This transformation is permanent in ninety percent of all werewolves, though about ten percent consist of mutants who can retain a human form. Their general appearance consists of large, bipedal wolves with slightly human-esque torso structures. They are known for their wickedly sharp claws, long arms, and powerful legs.

    They possess basic intelligence, though they are incapable of human speech, and many of them rely on instinct to hunt both humans and vampires, or whatever else they happen to find while hungry.

    However, the ‘mutant’ werewolves are far more intelligent than the others, possess human speech (though only in human form) and they usually tend to be the largest, too. Werewolves range from anywhere from nine to twelve feet tall, with the 12ft class only being occupied by mutants.

    Virgo’s current enemy is the Whitefang pack, led by Kendall White, a fickle, selfish werewolf whose only goal is to provide fresh meat for his family / pack through whatever means necessary.

    So! There is a bit of info on the three main factions; did I cover everything? Any questions?

    -Blackscar

  278. Blackscaron 07 Aug 2013 at 10:19 am

    @Blackscar

    Ah, damn, I forgot to mention that werewolves are weak to silver…

  279. Blackscaron 07 Aug 2013 at 5:36 pm

    @Blackscar

    I also seem to have forgotten to mention that a werewolf could conceivably sync with Nervetech, though many of them lack the intelligence to do so.

  280. Blackscaron 08 Aug 2013 at 9:16 am

    @Blackscar

    And, since I’m apparently on a roll with forgetting to mention things, vampires will eventually gain access to Nervetech and use it against the humans.
    It wouldn’t make sense, otherwise!

  281. Proxie#0on 10 Aug 2013 at 6:40 pm

    @ Blackscar

    So essentially these two other schools are your basic high school, with other “advanced classes?” Now I do have a question I hadn’t thought of before. Are these high schools like boarding schools, universities, or actual high schools? And also, I am assuming that since these are probably very prestigious places, they probably have some school fee. If so, I would also assume it is waive-able if you are, so to speak, “good enough.” Or they see value in you.

    So do these other Academies ever get face time, get mentioned, or show up for that matter? And also, which Academy does this story, your story, take place in? Also, I agree with your sentiment about writing where you know. One of my biggest fears in writing, especially with y other book series under a different faux name, is writing about places I’ve never been. Seeing an image of the place and actually having been there to experience it are two whole different things.

    Hmm. First question. Do the Vampires live among the humans ala “Blade,” or do they have their own “land” that they inhabit, ala Transylvania. And if it’s either one, what, or how, do they structure their society. More like a secret underground or does everyone know that they’re there, but does nothing about them. Or more of a mix?Also, why would the humans knowingly give them weapons of mass destruction, or blueprints for weapons in general?

    What would make the Vampire’s electronics any more advanced or marketable than those sold by mainstream humans? Are they just styled differently, or are all vampires part Asian, capable of making vastly more advanced machinery? (please excuse that horrible stereotypical joke -__-) A more realistic question would be: Have the vampires used their time stuck indoors to try to advance their own technology a lot, or have they just lofted around all day? Other than that, this idea feels very realistic and interesting.

    Question…Do they spontaneously combust within the three to four hour window, or does it take even more time? Does the density matter. An example of what I mean is hiding under a tree, and in a buildings shadow. While both provide shade, one is more absolute. Just curious, because it does make sense. I was asking mainly because I would think that having no contact with he sunlight (I.E. In a buildings shadow) Also…I like that they aren’t all pale, pasty soap monsters of seduction.

    So is the effect on vampires similar to what Kryptonite does to Supes? What I mean is does the mere presence of it harm them, or does it have to physically touch them?

    You said earlier that “Virgo” is the main Vampire faction. Now, here, it is also the production company. Which is it? Or is it more like a proxy company, a front for the real “Virgo” to operate through?

    It makes sense that they’d be tired all day. Curious Georgeing here…but I’m wondering whether or not Charlotte is one of those that tries, and fails, to mimic a humans sleeping cycle. If so, that would make for a very suspenseful subplot throughout. At least until she were to get “caught.”

    “Also, Virgo’s main goal is to subdue the humans and form a sort of army from them to eliminate the werewolves, though they’re quite irked by the humans’ attempts at rebellion.”
    Does this mean that your story involves the “Fall of the Human Race?”

    They possess basic intelligence, though they are incapable of human speech, and many of them rely on instinct to hunt both humans and vampires, or whatever else they happen to find while hungry.
    So to my understanding, and no offense here if this is not what you were going for, but they are aesthetically similar to the werewolves from the “Elder Scrolls” series of games?

    If you aren’t sure what I mean by that, I’l get a few hyperlinks here in a moment.

    http://cghub.com/files/Image/052001-053000/52326/658_large.jpg
    http://images1.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20111116005056/elderscrolls/images/0/05/Werewolf_Attack.jpg

    “However, the ‘mutant’ werewolves are far more intelligent than the others, possess human speech (though only in human form) and they usually tend to be the largest, too. Werewolves range from anywhere from nine to twelve feet tall, with the 12ft class only being occupied by mutants.”

    So I take it these are the ones that can transform to and from wolf form at will? What is it that caused them to “mutate” into a more intelligent and stronger WWolf?

    Wait. I thought that Kendall was the one they had “enslaved.” Or is this a “they don’t know he’s their enemy yet” type deal. As in, is he letting the vamps use him to get deeper into their ranks, only to kill them all? If so, I thought he had slightly different motivations…

    Wait, nevermind hah ha. I just remembered you said he was an on the spot guy. So I take it this is you fleshing him out more. My bad hah.

    I would assume as it is the origination (as i know it) of monsters being weak to silver, that the WWolves are weaker/more susceptible to it than the vamps.

    As for nervetech getting in the hand of the antagonist. that sounds great! It really raises the stakes (heh he, vampire puns) if the enemy gets the thing that was the protagonists only advantage. Adds a lot of conflict in a reasonable way.

    Also, I would like to say that I do not, at present, have any chapters written. I have chapters planned, as well as scenes, but nothing written. I’m planning everything out right now. I actually have a lot more on all the characters, but didn’t want to overload my review forum in its infancy. I can readily post more detailed character bios and plot.

    But I will email you with any chapters I do make in the future, or any long based questions. If you want to email me your chapters: usmcfischer1993@yahoo.com

  282. Proxie#0on 11 Aug 2013 at 1:22 pm

    Thank you much B. Mac!

  283. Blackscaron 11 Aug 2013 at 1:44 pm

    @Proxie#0

    Thank you! I’d love to read them.
    Unfortunately, I don’t have any chapters completed yet; I’m working on a basic outline for the first five, and then I’ll wing it from there. As soon as I finish the first one, however, I will send it to you! 🙂

    I’m typing up a response to your response right now; it might take a bit, though.

    -Blackscar

  284. Blackscaron 11 Aug 2013 at 3:05 pm

    @Proxie#0

    -Essentially, yes, though they do have a heavier focus on those ‘advanced’ classes. They are boarding schools, as it would be difficult for some students to commute to and from Rosewood daily; many of its attendees hail from out of the state. (I’m not sure which state to set it in; I don’t want to use New York, as it’s a bit too overdone. I was considering downtown Cleveland, maybe?)

    -There is a tuition that must be paid, though legacy students have a reduced fee. As the school is rather prestigious, it is quite expensive; the majority of Rosewood’s students come from wealthy families. However, it is more than possible for an affluent student to be a legacy student, so there isn’t necessarily an ‘all-legacy-students-are-poor-and-therefore-scum’ attitude.
    My story mainly takes place in Rosewood, though halfway through the series the characters graduate and wind up in Larkspur, which mainly focuses on fighting missions. Thornton is alluded to many times, but its headmaster only makes one brief appearance in the entire series. (There is a reason for that. I would tell you, but it would spoil a lot of the things I have planned for the novel.)

    -Both. Vampires who live among humans tend to keep their identities secret, but vampires who live in exclusive ‘vampire cities’ tend to boast about their skill level and kill count and things of that sort.
    I think you know how human societies work, so I’ll focus on the structure of the vampire cities. There are vampire mayors, officials, police forces, and things of that sort. They trade humans with other cities, and the humans are used as bloodcattle, pets, slaves, and anything else their vampire master deems necessary.
    Both wealth and number of kills determine one’s rank; the kill count applies to werewolves, humans, and even other vampires.
    Also, humans are warned which cities are vampire cities or not; if they choose to enter one, it’s their fault if they die.

    -They don’t willingly give them away; a very skilled spy from Virgo stole copies of the blueprints.

    – Joke excused. 🙂 Hmm…I’m not quite sure, for that one. Perhaps I’ll make it so that their products are ridiculously fast in terms of Internet speed, and nearly infallible when it comes to durability. Also, they come in a wide range of colors; the vampires have learned how partial humans are to colorful things.
    (Vampires as a whole think that fashion is stupid, and tend to dress rather simply in dark colors, as those help them blend into their environments, especially during their nighttime hunts. The most extravagantly you’ll see one dressed would be in, say, a simple suit or dress of some sort. However, the ones that mingle with humans more often tend to try to match their habits in order to blend in. Yes, Charlotte knows a bit more about fashion, and deems it a bit more important, than most vampires she’s met.) Yes, they have spent quite a bit of their time perfecting their technology in order to have access to more advanced resources than the ones humans have to offer.
    -They spontaneously combust more towards the end of the third hour, though the minutes leading up to it are torturous and seem to drag on forever. Many of them would be reduced to begging, whimpering messes, pleading that they’re either killed or taken out of the sun.
    _You have a point, there! Shade from a building would be far more comfortable than shade from a tree, though the tree’s shade would provide enough protection for them to survive.

    -They have to physically touch the silver for it to harm them; they can be in the same room as it and be totally fine.

    _Yes, the cell phone company is a sort of front for the real Virgo to operate through, so as to not raise suspicion.

    -Charlotte is one of the ones who can sort of imitate being diurnal, though it becomes increasingly obvious that she’s failing as the days go on. There’s only so much caffeine can do. She also begins falling asleep during classes, free time, even meals. It’s one of the causes of her discovery; the teachers begin to notice this becoming a regular occurrence, so they naturally become quite suspicious

    -It might. I may eliminate that from my novel, however, if it’s one of those annoying cliché types.

    -Ah, sort of! I am familiar with the Elder Scrolls series; it’s where I got my inspiration for the aesthetical aspect of my werewolves. Unlike Elder Scrolls, however, my werewolves’ transformations are permanent. (Except for mutants, though I’ll cover that later.)

    -I’m still working out reasons for why the mutant werewolves have mutated, actually. So far, I’m considering making it so that they mutated due to either the ritualistic transformation being interrupted. Any suggestions? Yes, the mutant werewolves can transform at will.

    -It’s more of a ‘they don’t know he’s their enemy’ sort of situation. He views Virgo as a threat to both himself and his pack, so he wants to eliminate them. Also, vampires are graceful with their kills, and pride themselves on neat, clean ones; werewolves are absolutely brutal and will quite literally rip someone limb from limb when a simple bite would do. He plans to massacre them in the most violent way possible.

    -Yes, the silver is far more painful to the werewolves than it is to the vampires. If, say, John stabbed both a vampire and a werewolf in the leg with one of his swords, the vampire would be in pain for a few hours, though the wound would heal cleanly. The werewolf, however, might be in pain for a few days, and the injury would leave a jagged, ugly scar. Both would be able to try to finish the fight, though.

    -Oh, thank you! I was worrying that it would seem too contrived; I’m definitely glad that that isn’t the case! I’m planning to have Virgo produce modified, upgraded versions that they will sell to the vampires.
    Yes, there’s going to be a vampire-human war, with the werewolves killing everyone who wanders onto their territory.

    Oh! By the way! Werewolf bites spread like a virus. Once it reaches the heart, the person will begin to either die or transform. So, if someone was bitten on the arm, they’d have a little bit of time to save themselves before they turned. Turning someone into a vampire is far more complicated, and requires a certain ritual in which the human must drink the vampire’s blood.

    Thanks once more for helping me out!

    -Blackscar 🙂

  285. Dr. Vo Spaderon 11 Aug 2013 at 6:05 pm

    Idle comment – I cannot believe how many people I’d met in Skyrim were actually vampires. The implications that gives about the things they say… O.o

    @Blackscar,
    It’s awesome how much you’ve put into this. Really hope the best for you, and now I have to find some vampire/werewolf content to get into. Thanks!

  286. Blackscaron 11 Aug 2013 at 6:24 pm

    @Dr. Vo Spader

    Awh, thank you so much! 🙂 You have no idea how much that comment made me smile!
    I seriously do appreciate it!

    -Blackscar

  287. Blackscaron 15 Aug 2013 at 4:10 pm

    @Blackscar

    I should add that I was planning to have Kendall bite someone important, though I’m not sure whom, yet. Hmm…

  288. Les Mackeyon 20 Aug 2013 at 7:49 pm

    I am a first time writer, and I am currently writing my first book. I have always been told that basically when writing anything (a novel, book, story, etc.) that if your opening or beginning of the writing piece isn’t interesting or suspenseful, that nobody would want to finish reading it or even starting it. This helped me a lot in understanding how to start my book/novel. Thank You!

    Please email me if you have any extra tips please.

  289. B. McKenzieon 21 Aug 2013 at 4:33 pm

    Hello, Les! I don’t have your email address*, so I can’t email you this, but I’d recommend checking out Surviving to Page 2 and Surviving to Page 20.



    *Unless you happen to be interested in statistical machine learning? (If so, then you’re in the university directory).

  290. Leahon 17 Oct 2013 at 5:27 pm

    @B. McKenzie,

    I wouldn’t be surprised if this gets a short answer, but is an opening monologue ever a good idea?

  291. Anon.on 18 Oct 2013 at 12:41 am

    I’m not B. McKenzie, but I can tell you… yes. Almost certainly.

    It does admittedly depend on how you define an opening monologue, but I’ve read a few examples that are actually pretty good and fairly interesting. It all depends on the tone, style and nature of the story as much as anything else, and when it comes to fiction, having a blanket statement that something is a bad idea can often result in that statement being wrong.

  292. B. McKenzieon 18 Oct 2013 at 5:32 am

    I’d say a monologue is when we have a character or narrator speaking to the readers without an actual scene happening. Personally, I think leading with a scene would generally be significantly more effective. You can still incorporate the character/narratorial voice from the monologue, while adding plot development, perhaps character interaction, and setting that you probably wouldn’t get from a monologue.

    If you’d like me to look at the monologue, please email it to superheronation-at-gmail-dot-com.

  293. Leahon 20 Oct 2013 at 12:21 pm

    @B. McKenzie (and Anon),

    Thanks for the advise! If I get a more steady/strong opening set up, I’ll try to get it to you!

    2nd Question – In terms of writing, is a good idea to sort of skip around? I couldn’t get the begining set up perfectly for me, so I moved on to what I assume will be chapter two. (With a few notes for key points typed in as a temporary chapter 1) Do you think doing this is a good idea, or is it counter productive?

    Again, thanks! 🙂

  294. B. McKenzieon 20 Oct 2013 at 1:14 pm

    “In terms of writing, is it a good idea to sort of skip around? I couldn’t get the beginning set up perfectly for me, so I moved onto what I assume will be chapter 2… Do you think this is a good idea, or is it counterproductive?” I’d only recommend it as a last resort if you’ve written yourself into a corner (see #7 here). We’re talking about chapters 1 and 2, so I’m guessing that’s not the case here…

    Generally, writing in sequence (chapter 1 -> 2 -> 3…) will make it a lot easier to stay on track. Have you been able to finish a manuscript by writing out of sequence? If not, I think it’d be a lot more productive to stay in sequence.

    “I couldn’t get the beginning set up perfectly…” I’d also recommend checking out this article on perfectionism. Your first draft doesn’t need to be perfect, or even good. It’s just a scaffolding to build on. Until the first draft is written, I’d strongly recommend setting your only writing goal as finishing the first draft. Then you can rewrite it and that’s when the quality/readability happens.

  295. AlucardZainon 07 Feb 2014 at 11:56 am

    So, I’m about to start my story, however I’m still having problems on how to start it. But i want it to start like this:

    “A beautiful young woman is walking calmly and collectively down a busy street on a sidewalk, passing by fellow pedestrains. She is going through businesses to look for a job.”

    So, I don’t know if this is any good. However, I think I did set the scene and telling what she’s doing. So, any help would be greatly appreciated.

  296. B. Macon 07 Feb 2014 at 7:09 pm

    Some thoughts, AlucardZain:

    –I believe “collectively” should be “collectedly” in this case.

    –I’d recommend leading with something a bit more urgent than her calmly walking. For example, perhaps she’s late to a job interview, or perhaps she’s in the waiting room as the job interview looms, or perhaps she’s trying to convince someone to give her an interview, etc.

    –Perhaps you could lead with something more important about her than that she’s beautiful? E.g. something about her personality? It might help to give her something more distinctive to do or say or think about than walking past pedestrians. For example, what (if anything) did she lie about or exaggerate on her resume? How much of a chance does she think she has?

    –Right now, the story is told in the present tense. I’d recommend using the past tense (it tends to be smoother).

    –As much as possible, I’d recommend “showing” rather than “telling.” For example, you might be able to replace “She is going through businesses to look for a job” with a shorter phrase that mentions her resume.

    –This has absolutely nothing to do with ANYTHING, but “AlucardZain” is an anagram for “Nazi Dracula” or “Ainu Czar Lad.” The anagram opportunities for “B. Mac” are rather more limited.

  297. AlucardZainon 07 Feb 2014 at 11:47 pm

    Thanks for the input @B. Mac. I like the one where she’s late to a job interview better. And if going that way, how can I describe her personality? And past tense, eh, I could work it in… And I do have trouble “showing” than “telling”….

    Also, I like how you caught on to my name. I like Nazi Dracula better, but thats just me. You aren’t the first to notice, nor will you be the last.

  298. B. McKenzieon 08 Feb 2014 at 5:09 am

    “How can I describe her personality?” It depends on what her main personality traits are. In particular, what makes her different from most other protagonists? I’d recommend very quickly getting to moments where her most distinctive traits cause her to make decisions or do things or say things that most other protagonists would not have done/said in the same situation.

    One technique which may be helpful is creating some sort of contrast between the character and his/her surroundings (or surrounding people) to help show readers what is distinctive about the character. For example, the first Harry Potter book uses a contrast between Harry Potter and his adopted family to help show that Harry is friendly but very isolated. (For example, before meeting Hagrid, his only friendly conversation is with a boa constrictor). If I could shamelessly plug my own work in progress, the first conversation between the two main characters is a job interview that goes horribly awry because of the two characters’ very different personalities and backgrounds.



    “I like Nazi Dracula better, but thats just me. You aren’t the first to notice, nor will you be the last.” I won’t be the last to notice Ainu Czar Lad, either. It’s more fitting.

  299. AlucardZainon 10 Feb 2014 at 9:03 am

    Well, my heroine’s traits are that she is curious, sheltered (only have 2 trustworthy friends and not much of a family), innocent and reserved. And she is nice and likes to listen. So, I still don’t see how I can incorporate all this in the opening. Maybe when she gets to her job interview, she comes off as shy, not really talking that much to the person thats interviewing her. And later when she’s done, she goes outside and sees someone getting mugged and she decides to help out the person in need.

    Just some thoughts…

  300. NecroBladeon 02 Mar 2014 at 2:21 pm

    Hello.. I’m kind of new to this site and probably not as experienced in writing as everybody else here but I have lots of ideas and written things before. I have an idea for a book and have been trying to put it together in my head and I think I have done a pretty good job with it. The only thing I can’t work out how to do is the start of it. I know what’s going to happen at the start but not how I’m going to do it. Basically it’s a story about a necromancer assassin named NecroBlade set in rome. His name at the start is Felix Faustaus. At the beginning he is a thief who steals food and money but only enough to get by. (Just thought I’d explain the magic and such of this book that I’ve been working on. Only a very small amount of people have magic. It is very rare and very difficult to use effectively. There are three types o magic. Might Magic: Includes super strength, turning into large animals/creatures,e.t.c. Focus Magic: Includes the ability to control fire, water, shadows(necromancy), lasers, spikes,e.t.c. Blood Magic: Includes teleporting, Medusa kinds of things, invisibility,e.t.c.) Felix steals from a church and is seen by a member of the bad brotherhood (no name yet :)). I really don’t know how to introduce it and I need help… Any ideas?
    -NecroBlade
    PS calling it “The Rise of NecroBlade”

  301. Rufus Barmaon 15 Apr 2014 at 5:32 pm

    Hi there; wonderful site. I’ve posted here briefly before under a different name (I had been one of those ‘Anonymous’ individuals because I hadn’t quite been sure how this site operated), but it’s certainly been a year or so. I’ve decided to take a crack at writing once again, and this is the concept I came up with:

    Considering the cafe’s name was The Clay Rabbit, it came as little surprise the establishment played host to a variety of unusual incidents; the baristas resigned within a week of applying for the job due to mysterious injuries, the cafe was regularly attacked by demons, and the lemon coffee cakes were never quite up to par. Granted, the cafe’s owner was rumored to be some sort of underground mafia overlord, and as that occupation usually entailed lots of paperwork and other unsavory things, the quality of the pastries could certainly be forgiven.

    The next paragraph basically introduces the main character, a vampire with an existential crisis, trying to deduce the reason for both her existence and the existence of the person she ‘replaced’. (In my story universe, vampires are formed by a malevolent, personality-devoid spirit possessing and forcing out the soul of the body they possess. They must subsist on both blood and souls to retain their grip on the body, or else they’ll deteriorate quite quickly. Hope I put a decent spin on vampires for mine, but they’re not the central focus of the story. You’ll probably hear more from me on those later.) The plot’s basically got to do with a demon-slaying mafia organization, political and familial conflicts, and the revival of some sort of demon, but in a hopefully innovative and unique way.

    Does this seem like a strong introduction for a novel?

  302. […] from SuperHero Nation, an online repository of writing articles and advice. http://www.superheronation.com/2008/05/01/how-to-open-a-novel/ Share this:FacebookGoogleTwitterEmailPrintLike this:Like Loading… April 18, 2014 in Writing […]

  303. Glamtronon 18 Apr 2014 at 4:19 am

    @Rufus

    It sounds good, but i’m more concerned with how the cafe stuff relates to the basic plot(as you stated,) about the mafia organisation.(perhaps a little more details). But if it connects it sounds good to me!

  304. Rufus Barmaon 18 Apr 2014 at 12:50 pm

    Glamtron –

    Oops, I forgot to elaborate. Sorry – the cafe serves as a base of operations for the primary ‘protagonist’ family in the story. They use it to gather information and select targets and whatnot. They’re also trying to figure out what specifically causes a soul to escape Hell and possess a body, and also how the soul can retain both its own and the body’s prior soul’s memories without imploding on itself – the head of the family is looking to atone for a certain thing in his past, and he’s also attempting to ensure a certain individual – who would fall under the malevolent soul category – won’t try to return.

    That’s also how my main character gets entangled into everything, what with her being a ‘vampire’ and searching for her own memories and whatnot.

    Hope that cleared up any confusion!

  305. DarkPaladinon 18 May 2014 at 1:21 pm

    I have an idea for a superhero novel featuring the war between Heaven and Hell. The main character, Christian, is a Paladin (my term for superhero).

    I was thinking of starting with a phone call. Chris, a PI, is hired by a woman who believes her husband has been seduced into joining one of the cities growing number of church/cult organizations.

    My enjoyment of a leisure spring afternoon was shattered by 5he thunderous ring of my phone. I picked it up just as the second ring began. “Morgansen Investigations, how my I help you?”

    My phone is starting to overheat. I can continue more a bit later.
    What do you think thus far?

  306. Jade D.on 28 Jun 2014 at 12:49 am

    B.Mac
    This article was very helpful. Do you have any advice on how to do team introductions? I’m working with a team of 5 and I don’t know how I should introduce them. I want each to have a moment were I can describe certain thing in depth, but I want it to be as fluent as possible.

  307. B. McKenzieon 28 Jun 2014 at 10:04 am

    Hello, Jade.

    With a team of 5 characters, I’d generally recommend introducing them a few at a time because I think that introducing 5 new characters in a scene (or in the first scene of a book) will probably cause characters to get lost in the shuffle. For example, if you’re introducing a superhero to a team he hasn’t met before, I’d generally recommend having him meet (say) two or maybe three members before he meets the others. That will help readers keep track of who’s who without getting overwhelmed by character introductions.

    Alternately, if the team’s 5 members are the main characters of the book, perhaps we’re introduced to 2 or 3 members before the rest (e.g. perhaps the team has split into 2 smaller squads for a particular mission or the characters are off on assignment or a few characters are dealing with other problems across the city). Generally, I wouldn’t recommend introducing all 5 at the same time.

    “I want each to have a moment where I can describe certain thing [sic?] in depth, but I want it to be as fluent as possible.” What thing(s) are we talking about?

  308. Jade D.on 28 Jun 2014 at 5:44 pm

    Specifically, one of the team members is an extra terrestrial (in which this universe is not uncommon) and I would like a moment to describe the species unique appearance. Also, a different team member is an AI and I feel deserves a few lines about the function of AIs in the universe’s society (it is more original and interesting I feel than most bulk sci-fi) Besides that, pretty much anything else is suggested in-story and is not that important to character development.

  309. B. McKenzieon 28 Jun 2014 at 6:22 pm

    Yeah, I think it’d make sense to cover those details (e.g. the appearance of a very unusual-looking character and/or a few sentences related to AIs) and I think it’d probably be really easy to handle smoothly in a scene introducing 1-2 characters. (In contrast, in a scene introducing all 5 characters, I think for coherence’s sake it’d probably be helpful if those sentences about the AI developed at least 2 characters).

  310. Jade D.on 08 Jul 2014 at 9:39 am

    I also need help introducing the story in a generally better way. I was contemplating a scene at the team’s HQ, where they are reviewing their last mission. However, It seemed a little…”info-dumpy”. These are some major points I am trying to get across:

    – They are complete newbies when it comes to being heroes. This was originally shown by their poor battle performance and the internal conflicts (See Below)

    -Internal tension was apparent, especially between the hopeful, young, team-leader Gary and the world-wary, older Amadeus. This conflict arises when Gary, after reviewing the team’s last failed battle, claims the team just needs a little more experience and training. Amadeus, however, claims to have know they were doomed from the start and that nothing could possibly make this rag-tag group of super-powered teenagers an actual functional team.

    -In addition to being newbies, they are also pretty more alone. This is shown by their headquarters, a run-down family diner on the outskirts of town. Also, this is shown in the scene when the waitress refuses to take one of their orders because of their previous debt.

    Is there a smoother way to introduce these concepts, also without introducing all at once like you suggested?

  311. Jade D.on 08 Jul 2014 at 9:41 am

    Sorry, lots of typos

  312. P.K.F.on 10 Jul 2014 at 8:03 pm

    Here’s my intro to my story. I put the background in the How to write Origin stories article. Feedback appreciated

    Connor kissed the forehead of the naked girl that lay on top of him as his phone buzzed on the floor of the backseat of his car. Night blanketed the park that they were in, swamping the surroundings like a tidal wave.
    “Gotta s-see who this is,” Connor slurred, patting the floor in a drunken attempt to pick-up his phone.
    “Let it go,” the girl mumbled as she planted little kisses on his chest.
    Connor finally located his phone and tapped in his passcode.
    “Mom’s located us again. Time to disappear,” the text read through his squinted eyes.
    “Leave it to Steven to ruin a good time,” Connor sighed, running his hand through his hair. He slid out from under the girl and hurried to slide his jeans on.
    “What’s wrong? You dressing faster than you undress,” the girl said as she too sat up, reaching for her own clothes. Worried eyes tried to decipher the sudden change in the mood.
    “I have to leave.”
    “Leave?”
    “Yes Tyra, I’m leaving,” Connor said as he struggled to simultaneously open the car door and slipped on his sneakers.
    “Do you mean ‘disappearing’?” Tyra questioned, holding Connor’s phone in her hand. “Why are you running from your mother?”
    “Stop asking so many questions,” Connor snapped as he held out his hand for his phone. “Just give me my phone.”
    Just then, the phone buzzed again.
    “Steven says to meet him at Smithy’s bridge in five minutes. Why are you meeting your brother at an abandoned bridge?” Tyra interrogated as she stepped into her car.
    “I need to go Tyra. Give me my phone.” Connor’s voice shook with anger as he gripped the side of the car.
    “ Calm down, I’ll drive you there. It’ll take two minutes.” Tyra said as she started the car.
    Connor took a deep breath and pinched the bridge of his nose. The metal where his
    “Are you getting in or not?”
    Connor hopped in the car and Tyra handed him his phone.
    “Tell me everything,” she ordered as she stepped on the gas pedal. “ And don’t leave anything out.”

    ______________________________________________________________
    Steven tapped his foot rapidly on the car floor as he waited for the light to turn green. He checked his watch for the seventh time in eight minutes and drummed on the wheel of the minivan. All of their belongings were packed and he was two minutes away from the bridge. He stepped on the accelerator as soon as the light turned green, his eyes taking in his surroundings.

  313. Edward Thatchon 25 Nov 2014 at 9:41 am

    Well my intro/first chapter….

    Have you ever had that feeling that you’re being watched. It’s like Deja vu to me with that
    and the fact that i’m in my Cabin. stupid-ass Island. oh yeah lets recreate a Republic that people got hanged for on an Island founded by the Gods… Sorry im’ in bad mood with a Hunter outside Nate’s Cabin (which is right beside mine) Nate is alright though it’s not like he’s human. My apologies I meant to tell you my name, Daniel Thatch is the name , Piracy’s the game. yeah I know thats sounds a little heroic but what else can I say “” Hi mysa name Pablo, mesa a Pirate””. Its all I can do for a hold on… I checked outside the window and What I saw was freaky. It was a Hunter Mutated into a Draconian, sounds cool looks disgusting. just think about the slime coming off of its wings all green and shit, its teeth looks deformed probably due to a mutation giving off all diseases to the vessel, this one may have Treacher Collins with pneumonia and a staph infection so big it shows its heart
    the pneumonia thing is from all mutations along with whatever species you become I made a vaccine for me,Nate and Dom, Superhumans. i had forgot where i was with the conversation but anyways heres a scientific scale of what we are and our nicknames

    Daniel Thatch a.k.a. Odin= Superhuman strength speed and almost Immortal with a sixth sense I call ” Wolf Scent ”

    Dominique Harvey a.k.a. Adapter= hence his name he can Adapt to any situation he’s a mutant but looks human so we treat him human

    Nathaniel Frost a.k.a. Acolyte (he couldn’t decide so we did)= the ability to create anything within reason(though Dom is teaching him what to do how I didn’t care)

    but the Mutant already flew away when we went outside to try and kill it. Nate created the Leviathan and it was awesome and awkward it came out of the ocean awesome like but it started humping … the… mutant.”Wow” is all I could say as we were on the Cove (of the island Devil’s Dominion) we burst out laughing. the next morning I woke up ate a Debby Cake and started laughing again Levi(Leviathan) was still at it “What in the bloody hell is Levi doing” Kaitelynn Screamed. ” He’s having fun” i joked…

  314. Anonymouson 19 Jan 2015 at 9:41 am

    I have a story where the MC gets into a fight and reveals her power. Is a fight a good way to start a book (10-15 might be the target range)

  315. B. McKenzieon 19 Jan 2015 at 6:16 pm

    “Is a fight a good way to start a book…” Possibly. Is the fight a good introduction to the character? Does the character make an unusual choice/decision or otherwise set herself apart from other main characters in her genre? If not, it probably wouldn’t be my first choice.

  316. BTMythicVIon 24 Jan 2015 at 2:38 pm

    Hi, I have looked at Superhero Nation quite a bit and wanted to say thank you for all the great tips you give, I also have some questions. I am a young-ish aspiring comic writer… I plan on writing up my script and synopsis and overall information on my story while finding an artist (I have already started these steps) and then starting a website with several free webcomics before starting to make and sell hardcopies. My question is about my stories I have two and I cant decide which one to start with and so I was hoping to get a second opinion from some people with more experience than me. so here they are, please let me know what you think
    Story 1: Some time in the near future something happens (this is one of the things I need help with, i need a sort of a universal origin story kind of like the mutant gene thing from x-men) and people with weird abilities start popping up and the government starts to look into them, they start the Government Sanctioned League of Heroes (Name ideas are appreciated) which is an organization that hunts down, imprisons and does experiments on people with abilities while telling the public they are putting them in specialized housing. Some people with abilities find out about it and form a sort of terrorist organization to stop them and the stories follows members of both groups as they uncover secrets while trying to destroy each other.

    Story 2: The Diary of an Immortal A recently bankrupt man, while clearing out his house he inherited from his grandparents, finds an old diary which holds the story of an immortal, someone who transferred their soul into an inanimate object and possesses humans who touch it, inside the man finds the story of the Immortal starting way back in medieval times. The story tells of all the Immortal’s magical adventures but also talks about a huge fortune so the reader begins to follow clues in the book to find the fortune and the sword containing the soul of the immortal.

    please let me know what you think

  317. B. McKenzieon 24 Jan 2015 at 5:49 pm

    Of these two, I feel story 1 sounds somewhat more promising, albeit very generic (i.e. hard to distinguish from Heroes or X-Men). I’d recommend incorporating an unusual angle (e.g. an unexpected choice for main character).

    Also, personally I feel that using Jim Crow or Holocaust-style mass persecution tends to makes the story feel very dated, like it was written 50+ years ago.

    For story 2, I like the concept but would recommend a more interesting hook than the guy being bankrupt and discovering the diary. Maybe something more high-stakes, e.g. a heavily indebted gambler winning it in a game of cards (or stealing it from someone that beat him in cards) or anything that develops him more than stumbling upon it passively.

  318. BTMythicVIon 27 Jan 2015 at 2:10 pm

    Okay, thanks. Also, for story #1, I have two different teams and I want to follow both of them but they are fighting each other… How would you say is the best way to handle something like that? (I am trying to write this as a comic book series, not a novel) And I have several characters but I am having trouble deciding how to introduce them and who I should have as the main character. Since both are groups of people would you advise on using someone who is already a part of the group or is a new recruit?

  319. B. McKenzieon 28 Jan 2015 at 8:33 pm

    “And I have several characters but I am having trouble deciding how to introduce them and who I should have as the main character. Since both are groups of people would you advise on using someone who is already a part of the group or is a new recruit?” While I feel that being new to the team is a plus when picking a main character, it’s a lot more important that the main character be easily able to maintain a reader’s interest and drive the plot forward. If the rookie isn’t able to do both of those things for whatever reason, I’d go with someone else. The rookie could still be useful in terms of introducing readers to the main character or team (e.g. “Dirty Harry” uses a rookie partner to show us what the main character’s personality is like, but besides that the rookie doesn’t have a huge impact on the plot).



    Some other factors that could be useful for picking a main character (or changes that you could implement to make a character more suitable as a lead):
    –A proactive personality is virtually required for a main character. A character that is willing to walk away from the plot or stand still as things happen around him will probably be a major liability as a main character.
    –A willingness to make risky and/or bad decisions is a plus. It gives you more dramatic opportunities compared to a more by-the-book protagonist.
    –Main characters don’t need to be chatty, but the ability to contribute to interesting dialogue is probably necessary. E.g. if the character’s dialogue were limited to something like HULK SMASH! or the character were 100% blandly agreeable, I’d recommend revisiting that over the course of the manuscript or perhaps selecting a different main character altogether.
    –Bold personalities are generally easier to work with, I feel. E.g. Sherlock is probably more promising as a main character than John Watson could be.

  320. Fact-Or-Fictionon 12 Apr 2015 at 2:22 pm

    I’m wondering about the intro for my project (The urban fantasy buddy cop thing). It’s essentially about a timid man who’s wife is killed by some supernatural entity (I’m thinking werewolf,) which he inadvertently kills. He is inducted as a junior agent to the Department of Supernatural Affairs, and only accepts because he knows that they might have information that could help to bring his wife back from the dead. Right now, it begins with him ditching a disastrous first date to go hunt leprechauns with his partner. I’m thinking about working the backstory into the novel gradually, but I’m open to showing everything outright. Thoughts?

  321. B. McKenzieon 13 Apr 2015 at 8:32 pm

    “Right now, it begins with him ditching a disastrous first date to go hunt leprechauns with his partner.” Unless there’s some sort of ulterior motive (e.g. it’s a sting operation or he’s trying to gain an informant’s trust), I think starting him on a date may undercut his goal to get his wife back. If that’s not intentional, I’d recommend holding off on dates until he’s hit a really rough patch and is starting to waver.

    PS: When hunting leprechauns, having a partner is absolutely critical (e.g. to help you identify what’s a leprechaun rather than, say, an ill-tempered Irishman that just robbed a pharmacy with a hammer).

  322. Writer no. 45on 22 Sep 2015 at 9:42 am

    Hey B.Mac would you mind taking a look at my first chapter? I’m one of those people who really believes an opening has to be done really well. I have read many great books with bad openings that people just don’t read because they aren’t drawn in by the opening. Would you mind taking a look at mine and giving me some feedback?

  323. Jay Kesavon 31 Oct 2015 at 1:32 am

    For a sequel, where the characters are already introduced, I like to start off with some good action.

  324. Vixis Shiar'Deluson 30 Nov 2015 at 4:16 pm

    My story starts on two fronts. The one I list first is technically the first thing you see, but with changing POV, you do see the second listed event too. They are occurring at the same time, so I know I’ll have to be careful with pacing and chapter breaks and whatnot. While not necessarily changing to their POV throughout the opening, the character names in CAPS are POV characters.

    1.) JASON is preparing to give a fairly motivating speech at a campaign rally on a military base called the Edge, near the border between dead and living earth is. JASON is providing security to other facilities and whatnot on the base, while ALFRED is providing security directly to JASON. The speech begins, and SUSAN begins covering it. Scene may transition to show different characters roles in the speech, and/or their reactions to it (apathy, annoyance, cynicism, hope, etc)

    2.) WILBUR and TONY are rummaging through rubble and whatnot in an abandoned city, in hopes of finding evidence of survivors living south of the great divide (this will have already been name dropped and explained somewhat in Jason’s speech, as he is on the Edge, and promises to increase military funding there), though Wilbur hopes more so to find his mother and sister. They realize that the Novae (again, already name dropped and explained somewhat in Jason’s speech, as Jason also promises to begin making a concerted effort to increase humanities control over Novae infested areas) are on their way to the area, and quickly begin to hide/run. Doing so, they also realize that the aliens are on their way north, towards their shack to the east of the Edge.

    3.) Jason’s speech is over, and everyone is preparing to leave. JASON is in his vehicle preparing to leave himself, when the auto-turrets in the south activate, and the lockdown procedures are activated. Everyone is quickly escorted underground to various bunkers, though security forces (including ALFRED and MATTHEW) stay above the surface to try and secure the base. SUSAN pursues what may be the biggest story of her career, and ends up helping MATTHEW while ALFRED takes charge of the security forces and manages to stave off the novae.

    4.) TONY and WILBUR sneak their way back towards their shack, and observe the direction that the fleeing novae forces are going in, in hopes of following them to what would likely be conversion chambers (chambers humans are converted into goop to be made into whatever the novae need) where human hostages are held.

  325. War Machineon 15 Apr 2016 at 9:28 pm

    thanks for the help

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