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RedSuinit
March 12th, 2012, 02:05 AM
I have started on my second draft for my novel. This is the first few pages of that second draft. I feel like I am struggling, and could use some help. If anyone had any advice, or anything they think I could improve on feel free to speak up

Wednesday, December 3, 2087.

It was morning, and as the sun crested the horizon, light touched Samuel Atkins face, its warmth waking him peacefully. Blinking away the sleepiness that still dulled his mind; he couldn’t help but think of how this was a welcome change to the routine he had gotten used to.

Lying on the bed, he stared at the ceiling, pondering what he was going to do next. Should he stay here, or move on to the next hole he could find. The fact that he could wake peacefully was a good reason to stay put. The need to find someone, anyone to live with, was a good reason to move on. Loneliness can consume a man’s soul when he’s been without company as long as Sam had. It didn’t help that the few people he had come across were either too scared to trust him, or too insane for him to trust. Ever since the Reckoning of Kismet three years ago life became nothing but a strung together series of tragic events, and searing loss. Lots of suffering and death had occurred, and only a small percentage of the population remained on this forsaken planet.

Attempting to use his abs as little as possible, he pushed himself up into a sitting position, wincing at the pain in his left side as he did. He didn’t want to reopen the wound from two nights ago. Reaching over with his right hand, his fingers ran over the gauze covering the stab wound.

Dry, that’s good; it means I didn’t reopen it during the night.

Battle experience taught him how to survive, to stitch himself up, to clean and stop a bleeding wound, and to tell if someone was going to live or die. Being able to tell if someone was going to live or die was a skill he never wanted, because it only came by experience. How many people had he seen die now? How many eyes had he watched the light dim out of? How many lives had he robbed of that light? More than he ever wanted.

Sam dropped his legs over the side of the bed, and his body twitched the moment his feet touched the cold floor. Gazing down, he couldn’t help but notice how lovely the chestnut wood looked, a dark stain with a hint of red. A glossy finish that had been dulled by time and lack of care, stole away some of the beauty. It amazed him that this mansion had retained most of its dignity, though everything of value had been taken long before he had ever come to live here. He looked around the room, with the pale blue walls, and the large full panel windows with the suns golden rays pouring in it was a safe-haven from the bitter and cruel world waiting outside. A world ruined by the greed of evil men.

He stood, a towering six feet and three inches, and every last inch of his body was fit and toned. He had always been an athlete, but this lifestyle had turned his body into a rippling field of muscle. He was lean, toned, and strong. If you wanted to survive in this new world, you had to be. It was every man for himself, and with no government in place anymore, why wouldn’t it be? There was no law, no consequences for their actions. If you wanted to live, you had to enforce your own law. Protect yourself at any cost, and be willing to eliminate those who sought to do you harm.

Samuel picked the holster off the bedside table. It was designed to be worn under his clothing, which he liked. Having a gun strapped to your side was a great way to make yourself a target these days. He put the holster against the small of his back, with two clamps grabbing the waistline of his jeans. He reached back to the nightstand and grabbed the forty-four caliber, magnum revolver. The cold steel of the pistol brought his numb fingers to the forefront of his mind, cursing at him for putting them to sleep again. He would have to stop sleeping with his hands under his pillow, because it unfailingly put his hands to sleep. He always told himself it was going to end his life one of these days. Even after three years, he still would do it occasionally, and he cursed at himself every time he did. He slid the pistol into the holster, and carried on with his routine.

Hanging on the bedpost was a Kevlar vest. It was VIP style, 3-A class protection; thin, lightweight, and concealable under his clothing. It gave him a fair amount of protection without being a hindrance to his speed and movements, and it already saved his life several times. The tattered shirt slid smoothly over his head, and the red color was closer to a light pink, faded by time. It had holes in both armpits, and several others in random places. An army green, polyester and cotton jacket finished off the ensemble.

After running his belt through the loops of his tattered jeans, a leather knife sheath was on his right hip, and a scabbard on his left. His thick fingers grasped the mahogany stained wood that created the handle for the seven inch blade, and he slid it into the sheath. A full inch and a half at its base, the hunting knife was thick, sturdy, and kept sharp. Samuel had claimed the lives of a dozen men with this knife, and even more with his swords.

Wood grinding against steel rang through the air as Samuel slid his double-edged long sword into its scabbard. Light from the window glistened off the polished steel blade, and reflected it onto the wall in front of him. Sam had picked this sword because it came to a fine point at the end and was perfect for stabbing through most types of armor. It always felt good in his hands, the hilt was the same polished steel as the blade, and the grip was wrapped in brown leather. His short sword was always worn on his back, he had considered wearing on his hip like the samurai used to do, but he found it uncomfortable. With the shield on his back though, each step he took caused the scabbard of the short sword on to collide with it. The shield was round, and made of solid bronze, causing each strike to sound like a muted bell making it impossible to sneak around without removing it first.

With firearms and ammunition being outlawed before the fall of the civilized world, all the ammunition that did exist was used up quickly. As a result, the world fought with swords and knives as in the days of old. After three years, Sam considered himself lucky to still have thirty-six rounds for the forty-four caliber pistol in his possession.

Thanks for the pistol dad; it has saved me more than once.

Samuel had become more than adept at fighting hand to hand, and was able to take care of himself against almost any foe. His footsteps made deep thuds as he walked across the room and stopped to look at himself in the mirror. He let out a deep sigh. At the ripe age of twenty-three, he already had the visage of a man well into his forties, and the life experience to match it. His scruff had grown into a beard and it was always causing him grief. He hadn’t shaved in three weeks, his faced itched terribly, and scratching did little to suppress it. His fingers ran through is short cropped hair, no longer than an inch or two and it matched the coloring of his new beard, dark chocolate with specks of grey and white becoming more and more abundant. His body was scarred from battle, and his face bared witness to that fact. A deep red scar stretched from the bottom of his jaw up to his eyebrow on the right side of his face. That scar caught his eye in the mirror; no surprise really, because it did every time. Running two fingers down the scar, it served as a constant reminder to never underestimate an opponent.

His image faded from the mirror as Samuel walked down the foyer towards the living room. The pain in his left side brought the memories of two nights ago back with a vengeance, and the thought made him cringe. Never before had he confronted such evil. Murdock is what the deranged man had called himself, and those piercing black eyes would be burned in Sam’s memory forever. Those eyes could look straight through a man, push his soul straight out of his body, and leave it to wander the plains of oblivion forever.

Cold. Heartless. Evil. If I ever see that man again, it will be too soon.

The throbbing in his side broke him out of his thoughts, and as he rubbed the area of the wound Sam considered himself lucky to be alive. He had been no match for Murdock in that fight, but how do you fight a man that moves with superhuman speed? Sam had heard that the Reckoning had driven some men mad, while others had developed strange abilities. He didn’t know how much he believed these rumors, but this Murdock fellow certainly seemed to fit both, mad and superhuman. Something wet hit his hand, and he realized he was sweating profusely.

It’s not even hot right now. I can’t believe just thinking about him is causing this type of reaction. I was so afraid. So scared. I can’t believe that I wept like a little girl in front of him, but more important than that is, why? Why did he let me live?

A loud growl signaled the awakening of a hungry stomach, and pushed Sam into the kitchen to consume yesterday’s catch. He opened the door to his refrigerator and grabbed a large slab of fresh venison. The memories of going hunting with his father brought tears to his eyes.

Dad, thanks for everything you taught me, but I wish you were still by my side.

The lessons he had learned on those hunting trips had proven to be invaluable. The laws of nature and the methods for hunting, and skinning were skills that had been extremely useful since the Reckoning.

The meat made a loud plop, and a thrilling sizzle as Sam tossed the steak onto the hot skillet. He considered himself lucky to have found the skillet two months ago in Richards Grove. It made cooking the animals he killed much easier. He was used to using some sort of stone, but this skillet was a wonderful luxury, one he took full advantage of.

The meat continued to brown in the pan, and the smell of the cooked deer filled the room, making him salivate uncontrollably. He only got to eat meat like this on the rare occasion he managed to kill a deer or something similar. Opportunities to hunt meat was thankfully on the rise, and with fewer and fewer hunters killing them for sport the wildlife was flourishing in this new world. It brought warmth to Sam’s soul to know that life could still flourish, even if it wasn’t human.

After flipping it several times Sam checked the toughness of the venison against his palm when he pressed his thumb to his middle finger together.

Medium, just the way I like it.

He liked to have a little bit of blood in his meat, but not too much. He never did understand those people that always ate their meat rare. It was almost like eating the meat raw, and it made Samuel sick to his stomach.

He pulled the meat off of the skillet, placed it on his plate, and set the table. Using plates and utensils was one thing Sam did to feel normal, and feeling normal helped him stay sane in these dark times. He grabbed his fork and knife, and began cutting away at the venison, pushed the cut open, and indeed it was a medium temperature steak. Grease and blood began to pool on the bottom of Samuel’s plate, and he relished every moment of it. He wanted to keep his strength up, and protein rich foods such as this helped him do just that.

Sam was nearing the end of his breakfast when a window shattered in the study down the hall. Instinct and trained skills kicked in immediately, and by the time Samuel stood up, his pistol was in his right hand, and his dagger in his left. Ears perked, and eyes focusing down the hallway in the direction of the study, Sam waited for the intruder to walk into his line of sight.

The shadow began to grow in the frame of the door, and Sam already had the trigger half-way pulled. With no safety, he would have to make a split second judgment call, one that he would not regret either way.

If he has a firearm, pull the trigger, and if he doesn’t holster the gun and draw the short sword. There is enough distance from here to the door I can pull it off.

Focused on his target, he noticed the lack of movement from the study. He let the silence continue for several moments, and the tension started to build. The intruder had stopped just short of the door, and Sam couldn’t tell from the shadow on the floor if the man had a weapon or not.

SMACK!

Sam’s face spun to the right, and the gun went off. He was off balance and caught himself on the wall. Where had that come from? A pair of strong hands grabbed his jacket collar, and flung him across the room. His back slammed against the wall, and he looked up in time to see a boot flying towards his face. He dodged right, and plunged his knife into the calf of the man’s leg. A low uppercut met Sam’s jaw, his head slammed into the wall, and in that moment everything went dark.
________________________________________

A throbbing head greeted Samuel as he came to, and a bright light shone in his face.

Ugh, it hurts. It really hurts. Pain is good though right? I mean, if I feel pain then I’m still alive right?

The light wasn’t bright enough to completely blind him, but he couldn’t see much of anything. He looked down at the floor, the dark chestnut wood told him everything he needed to know.

The bedroom. I’m in the bedroom.

The door was 10 feet behind him, and off to the right. The bed was 6 feet straight ahead. He was sitting in a chair from the main table at the kitchen, and was strapped into it by thick zip-ties. One hand on each arm of the chair, and each foot strapped to a leg. The waves of pain just kept coming; they made him nauseas, and kept his mind clouded.

“So, you finally decided to wake up.” A strangely familiar voice said. If he knew this person, it could explain why he wasn’t dead yet. “You really should mind your manners. It’s not nice to point a gun at someone.”

The shadow moved from the corner of the room behind him. He was off to Sam’s left, and about 6 feet away. The footsteps were heavy, and deep.

Boots. I remember seeing them during the fight. Looked to be military issued. Male, large, and can handle himself. No real way out of this one yet Sam. Just going to have to bide your time, and pray he makes a mistake.

Taking everything in, Sam was making a mental list of everything that he could. If he wanted to stay alive, he would have to remain calm, and know everything about this adversary as he could.

If only I was closer to the bed, I could reach the detonator for the C4 along the front wall and blow this guy to kingdom come. Getting out of here would be a piece of cake. I have to rea-

“I already found the C4.”

Samuel’s eyes went wide.

What?! How is that possible? It was concealed inside the wall! Who is this guy? How am I going to survive this?!

Sam could tell he was starting to lose his nerve. This man, whoever he was, knew how to survive, knew how to fight, and clearly knew how to intimidate.

“I’m not going to kill you; at least not yet.” The man took a few more steps, stopping directly behind Sam’s chair. The man leaned forward, placing his mouth next to Sam’s ear “You have something I need. Something I desperately want. Something you were born with, that I can only have if you give it to me.”

“I have no idea what you are talking about. What on earth could I have been born with that you want?” Sam was confused, off kilter. He needed to regain his focus. He needed to get himself back in control.

“If you don’t already know, you’ll find out soon enough.” The man circled the chair, and Samuel could finally see his captors face.

“You.” Sam’s blood turned to ice in his veins. Fear took hold of his mind, and quickly drove him to madness. It was now impossible to stay calm, he was panicking. He had lost it. He had to get away, and it had to be now!

How is this possible?! How did he find me?! Why God?! Why?!

“Hello Samuel, Surprised to see me again?”

“This isn’t possible. This can’t be happening! I made sure no one was following me!”

“But it is happening Sam. I am real. I am here. I am in control, and I will get what I want.” The man’s deep sickening laughter filled the air in the room. A clear and present evil seeped from the core of this man’s being. The temperature in the room began to drop just from his presence. Sam’s skin began to form goose bumps from the cold, and the windows began to frost over.

"Murdock!" Sam let out a scream of terror, desperately struggling against his bonds. Everything began to dim, and then went dark once more.

Outiboros
March 12th, 2012, 07:32 PM
The two tips I could think up:

- some more space between paragraphs. Maybe it's just the site, but it's a pain to read, for me at least.
- there is, at the same time, a huge amount of detail and too little of it. I'd rather know something about the world or the actions of the protagonist than what colour the heft of his knife is, or what wood the floor was made of. It's fine to have some in it if you want the reader to know that Sam has a large knowledge of weapons or is very perceptive. If the latter, I guess it would better if he saw small things that were actually of importance to him.

patskywriter
March 12th, 2012, 08:16 PM
I rather enjoyed reading this. I didn't mind the extraneous details, but I think they could be made more useful if they're tied to the character. For example, while steeling himself to withstand the pain of standing up, the character can stare at the floor. For a few seconds he can get lost in the details of what he's looking at. It happens all the time. Also, while he's looking at the floor, he can be thinking to himself how surprised he is that the mansion has retained its dignity after [blah blah blah]. The details of the mansion's condition are given in a detached manner, so if they're tied into the character's thoughts we readers won't wonder why you're including them.

stellar
March 15th, 2012, 07:44 AM
It's pretty solid! I am curious how you will plan to work out what Sam does next since it seems you have just finished giving the reader the necessary introductory information, and in a very polished way too!

RedSuinit
March 16th, 2012, 07:45 PM
I rather enjoyed reading this. I didn't mind the extraneous details, but I think they could be made more useful if they're tied to the character. For example, while steeling himself to withstand the pain of standing up, the character can stare at the floor. For a few seconds he can get lost in the details of what he's looking at. It happens all the time. Also, while he's looking at the floor, he can be thinking to himself how surprised he is that the mansion has retained its dignity after [blah blah blah]. The details of the mansion's condition are given in a detached manner, so if they're tied into the character's thoughts we readers won't wonder why you're including them.

Thanks, after you said this I read it again, and understood what you meant. Working on another re-write to see if I can tie that stuff in a bit better.

Jon M
March 16th, 2012, 07:56 PM
Dawn broke, and as the warm breath of the morning sun kissed the side of his face, Samuel Atkins awoke peacefully. Blinking away the sleepiness that had only moments ago held him captive; he couldn’t help but think of how this was a welcome change to the routine he had gotten used to.The writing here is too flowery. The first sentence runs into trouble almost immediately -- how does the sun have breath, and how can breath kiss anything? And I also take issue with sleep holding this man 'captive'. It seems needlessly poetic.

RedSuinit
March 16th, 2012, 09:06 PM
The writing here is too flowery. The first sentence runs into trouble almost immediately -- how does the sun have breath, and how can breath kiss anything? And I also take issue with sleep holding this man 'captive'. It seems needlessly poetic.

So your saying it should read more like this:

Dawn broke, and as the warmth of the sun hit his face, Samuel Atkins awoke peacefully. Blinking away the sleepiness that still dulled his mind; he couldn't help but think on how this was a welcome change to his routine as of late.

Is that a bit better? I tried to be direct, and leave out the decoration.

Jon M
March 16th, 2012, 09:30 PM
Dawn broke, and as the warmth of the sun hit his face, Samuel Atkins awoke peacefully. Blinking away the sleepiness that still dulled his mind; he couldn't help but think on how this was a welcome change to his routine as of late.

Is that a bit better? I tried to be direct, and leave out the decoration.I think that is an improvement, yes. I'm not suggesting you strip the writing down to the bare essentials, because I love a good turn of phrase, or a good image, but the priority should be on making sense -- clarity -- first. After that the prose can be dressed up however you want.


Dawn broke, and as the warmth of the sun hit his face, Samuel Atkins awoke peacefully.In this sentence, 'hit', 'broke' and 'peacefully' are at odds. The first two sound violent, while the latter is not. Better perhaps is this: "The sky lightened, and as the sun warmed his face, Samuel Atkins woke peacefully." Just a quick suggestion -- I'm sure you could write something better.

RedSuinit
March 16th, 2012, 09:42 PM
I think that is an improvement, yes. I'm not suggesting you strip the writing down to the bare essentials, because I love a good turn of phrase, or a good image, but the priority should be on making sense -- clarity -- first. After that the prose can be dressed up however you want.

In this sentence, 'hit', 'broke' and 'peacefully' are at odds. The first two sound violent, while the latter is not. Better perhaps is this: "The sky lightened, and as the sun warmed his face, Samuel Atkins woke peacefully." Just a quick suggestion -- I'm sure you could write something better.

Thanks. This is the first piece I have ever shared with others, so I appreciate the feedback. I know my writing needs polish and that is why I am here. How does this sound:

It was morning, and as the sun crested the horizon warmth from the light touched Samuel Atkins face, waking him peacefully.

stellar
March 17th, 2012, 04:59 AM
The writing here is too flowery. The first sentence runs into trouble almost immediately -- how does the sun have breath, and how can breath kiss anything? And I also take issue with sleep holding this man 'captive'. It seems needlessly poetic.
I'm a bit curious. What does flowery language do to the reader in your opinion?
For me sometimes if there is too much poetic writing my eyes can glaze over a bit, but I don't remember feeling that way with this one. But it is something I have heard many times in many places.

SeaBee1
March 17th, 2012, 02:24 PM
Thanks. This is the first piece I have ever shared with others, so I appreciate the feedback. I know my writing needs polish and that is why I am here. How does this sound:

It was morning, and as the sun crested the horizon warmth from the light touched Samuel Atkins face, waking him peacefully.


You are getting a ton of good advice, and I was reluctant to chime in. I didn't want to muddy the works here with ANOTHER piece of advice. This bit you did here however would read better to me like this:

It was morning, and as the sun crested the horizon, the light touched Samuel Atkins face, its warmth waking him peacefully.

This, to me, keeps the verb agreement in agreement, so to speak. The order of events flows naturally this way.

Best regards

CB

RedFraggle
March 17th, 2012, 04:55 PM
I liked it. The main thing that I saw which might need "fixing" is that you told us he's wounded, then later stated "every inch of him is fit and toned." I know it's possible to be a fit person who is wounded, but it seemed a bit inconsistent to me. Maybe something like,

"He stood, a towering six feet and three inches; aside from the present damage, his body was fit and toned."

RedSuinit
March 17th, 2012, 05:41 PM
In the next part of the chapter, you learn why he is wounded, and that he was stabbed. I probably should post the whole chapter that has been re-worked.

RedSuinit
March 17th, 2012, 05:57 PM
Is there any way to change the thread title? I posted the rest of the chapter, and need to edit the number of words. It's now 3,063 words.

RedSuinit
March 21st, 2012, 11:23 PM
No one able to help me with the thread title?

Jon M
March 22nd, 2012, 12:04 AM
Send a message to one of the forum moderators here -- either Sam W or Bazz. Click on their name to go to their profile and you'll see an option to PM them.

RedSuinit
March 22nd, 2012, 12:58 AM
Send a message to one of the forum moderators here -- either Sam W or Bazz. Click on their name to go to their profile and you'll see an option to PM them.

Thanks.

RedSuinit
March 27th, 2012, 06:51 PM
Alright, I have a few things to comment on. I'll say now that I haven't read the whole thing, but I read enough to possibly be helpful. This is my take on it.

First, have you thought of trying to change the story from third person to first? Your writing seems to fit it, especially when you start talking about Sam. Some things tend to get a bit repetitive. For example:

"His image faded from the mirror as Samuel walked down the foyer towards the living room." While in the same paragraph, it goes on to say, "...and those piercing black eyes would be burned in Sam's memory forever."

You see, by this point in the story, the reader understands that Sam is in the room alone. Therefore his name doesn't need to be mentioned as much, or at all if you can help it, until another character is introduced. But in just twenty-six paragraphs(not including the ones where Sam is thinking in first person), you mentioned his name nineteen times. Unnecessary, even if Sam was having a conversation the entire time. But on the other hand, you can't use "he" and "his" to the point of redundancy either.

Also, the narrator keeps switching between calling him "Sam" and "Samuel," which makes me think that you've already seen the repetitive problem. Switching back from his nick name to his full name doesn't help much, though.

That's why I say that maybe you should try first person for a while, and eventually switch back to third once you get the hang of writing more. As you improve your writing, you'll eventually see ways around the repetitiveness. That's the beauty of it. Here's an example of another part of your writing that has the same problem:


"The meat continued to brown in the pan, and the smell of cooked deer filled the room, making his mouth salivate uncontrollably. He only got to eat meat like this on the rare occasion he managed to kill a deer or something similar. Opportunities to hunt meat was thankfully on the rise, and with fewer and fewer hunters killing them for sport the wildlife was flourishing in this new world."

In three sentences, you managed to use the word 'meat' three times and 'deer' twice, along with other unnecessary information. In the paragragh before that, you already stated that you were cooking, and what you were cooking with. No need to say what you're using again. You could turn those sentences into something like this:

"With the meat darkening, the smell of deer filled the room; it was a rare delicacy, and it made his mouth water in anticipation. Opportunites to hunt were scarce, but now with less hunters killing for sport, it was on the rise."

We achieved the same end result; the reader has the same information from both of us, they're just written differently. I put barely any thought into that. You could do so much better with the time put into it. The possibilites are endless.

That's pretty much all I have to say right now. The other things are minor and may just be a personal issue on my part. Me not understanding what you're saying. I'll point them out.


"Sam’s face spun to the right, and the gun went off. He was off balance and caught himself on the wall. Where had that come from? A pair of strong hands grabbed his jacket collar, and flung him across the room. His back slammed against the wall, and he looked up in time to see a boot flying towards his face. He dodged right, and plunged his knife into the calf of the man’s leg. A low uppercut met Sam’s jaw, his head slammed into the wall, and in that moment everything went dark."

"His back slammed against the wall." At that point my mind was telling me that he was still standing, but when you said "he looked up in time to see a boot flying towards his face. He dodged right, and plunged his knife into the calf of the man's leg," it gave me the impression that Sam was on the ground. There's no problem with that. The part that got me confused was the uppercut. Sam got uppercut while he was on the ground? How does that happen? Was the guy falling, and as he was falling he uppercut him or something? These things need to be explained to the reader. Remember: Just because you're thinking about something as you're writing it, doesn't mean the words you are writing down are potraying your thoughts. You have to use your words to manipulate the reader's mind to see what you want them to. This doesn't mean go into detail about everything like you did earlier in the story, going as far as telling the colors of the floor. You can leave that much to the imagination. But bigger things, especially fight scenes should be explained in detail. There are two huge ways to get better at writing, both equally as important. Reading and writing. I don't read many books that involve a lot of fighting, but go pick up the book Thirst by Christopher Pike. Vampire book, yes, but he does a great job of explaining fight scenes. That's the only example I have, as I said, I don't read a lot of fighting. But go re-read your favorite action books if need be.

Oh, and even if you dislike certain books, that doesn't mean they don't hold valuble information on writing.

I had another comment, but I believe I've written too much already. Sorry about that. Maybe I'll mention it in the future, when I decide to read the rest of what you have posted here.

Hope I helped.

Good luck on your future in writing.

Thanks. I appreciate all the feedback you gave me, and I think the only reason I am even remotely good at writing is because I read so much. I will have to go back and see what I can do about the repetitiveness.

Draxia
March 29th, 2012, 07:55 PM
I think you started well with scuplting your characters. Then it gets a bit...lost. Details should enhance your character, not vice-versa.