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Tettsuo
January 10th, 2013, 09:09 PM
So basically I'm fishing for information of what works and what doesn't. All opinions are welcomed :).

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“Hi Mom, is everything okay?”

“Oh yes Joseph, everything is fine. I'm just calling to see how you're doing.”

“I'm good Mom.”

“Are they... treating you okay?”

Treating me okay? What kind of question is that? “Yes Mom, they are treating me fine. It's not like anyone's abusing me here.” At least not yet. I'm still hoping Jennifer will treat me to some abuse tonight if all goes well when I see her.

“I hear a lot of noise in the background. Are you boys having some sort of party in the dorms?”

Always with the questions. I certainly can't feign ignorance of the thumping Keynosian music filling the hallways, but I think it's probably safer to leave out the fact that the party is co-ed. Mom knows the rules. “Mom, it's graduation night so yeah, we're having a party... what's up?”

“You boys don't have a bunch of girls in the dorms do you?”

She's psychic, she has to be. “Awww Mom, come on. Look, nothing fishy is going on here... is that why you called? You need to make sure I'm following the rules?”

“No, no... it's just, I haven't heard from you in a while and I wanted to talk to my little man. I just want to make sure you're doing alright...”

Her voice is so small and frail, like she's on the verge of crying. God, I hate when she does that. It always makes me think something terrible looms on the edges of the conversation. She did the same thing when Grandma passed away. I'd rather she just come out and say what's really on her mind. “We've been busy, is all,” I assure her. “With all of the training, and now the prepping for graduation, my plate's been full. So, how are you and Mikey doin'?”

I wait for her response as she breathes deeply on the other end of the line. She's building up to something. I hope everyone's okay. “Look, the reason I called is... I'm... feeling terribly guilty. I feel so crummy about not coming to your graduation. I won't get to see my eldest walk across the stage to get his license and diploma. It's a big accomplishment.”

I don't want to talk about this. Not now. “Mom, it's cool, don't worry about it,” I say, but it still stings. I can easily recall the moment she confirmed her absence for tomorrow's festivities when I was home on break. Now it's too late for her to make an appearance and feeling crummy doesn't change a thing.

“No, it's not cool. I feel terrible about missing this moment in your life. I feel like I should be there with you regardless of how I feel about that... stupid, so-called school.” Even over the phone, I can tell she said that through clenched teeth. “I mean, you're graduating with intellectual honors! That's certainly something we should be celebrating together, right?”

“Mom, I'm 20 years old, I get it. You're doing what you think is right, as am I. You may still see me as a little boy, but I'm old enough to know that we've both made choices and we're both sticking to them. So, even if you're not here, you're my mom. I'll always love you, no matter what.”

She takes a breath. “You're a man, I know. I just... sometimes it feels like I'm losing you.”

“How are you losing me? It's not like they can stop me from being your son, or you my mom. I'm not leaving the country or even this continent, I'll be just a phone call away at the base in whatever sector I get assigned to.” I'll find that out tomorrow. I hope they give me something like Willow or even Stone Branch. “Anyway, before I'm shipped off, I'll be back home to pack and rest for a few days. After that, it'll only be a month until my next vacation break, so you'll be seeing me soon enough.” The sniffling begins. Damn it, I knew she was going to cry and ruin my night. “Are you crying Mom? Come on, I'll be home before you know it. No need to cry.”

“It's not that Joe. It's just, I'm so proud of you. I'm so proud of the man you've become.” I'm stunned. After all of the conversations we had regarding my enlistment, I didn't expect to hear her say she's proud of me. “I just want you to know that no matter what, I respect and love you very much. Okay sweetie?” She hated my decision to enlist. She felt it was forced on me and that I was not making a decision from my heart. But, I am a NextGen. The gene she and my father passed on to me may have kicked in late, but it kicked in, and did so quickly. It was obvious when over a month's time my weight increased so much that most normal beds could no longer support my weight. I still remember the sound of her sobbing in her bedroom the night we received the letter to serve. It broke her heart. At her speeches during FFA rallies, she often denounced this system of taking children and training them to work as police in the Sectors as slavery of both NextGen and Keynosians alike. 'They are forcing slaves to rule over other slaves', she'd say. Yet now, faced with my graduation and deployment, she tells me how much pride she feels.

I gear up to speak and a sudden swelling of emotion rises from my gut and makes a beeline for my eyes. I chuckle a little, to clear the swelling in my throat and rub my hand over my face to prevent tearing up in the dorm hallway. A few guys from the dorm floor, carrying empty beer bottles, glance at me as they pass. I don't want to be seen crying.

I lean in close to the receiver and shield my face. “I'm proud of you too Mom,” I whisper, hiding my loving words.

“You're proud of me?” she says with her voice rising in surprise.

“Of course Mom. I'm proud of your strength and conviction.”

She pauses, then chuckles. I suspect she's clearing her own sudden welling of emotion - a trick I'm sure I stole from her. “You've never waived on your stance regarding Northerners and South- err, Keynosians...” Damn.

“Was that... Joseph, you know better-”

“I didn't say it!” The guys here refer to Keynosians as Southies so often I almost slipped up and repeated it to Mom. I better make sure to purge that habit after I leave this place.

“You better not! I raised you better than that.”

Just saying Southie around Mom was and still is an instant grounding for a month or more. “As I was going to say, you've never backed down from what you believe in. Believe it or not, that's something they pushed in our training from day one. Staying vigilant and focused on your task was a big part of the teachers' mantra. Never being afraid to do what must be done to achieve your objective. That's something you have: vigilance.”

“Hmmm, never thought I'd agree with anything the Academy had to teach.”

“Actually, they've repeated or at least captured the spirit of lots of things you've said.”
“Minus a few other important things.”

“That we won't go into, right Mom?”

“No Joe, we won't. I.... I just want you to know that I love you, and I'll always be proud to be your mother, because you'll always do what's in your heart to do. I know you have a wonderful heart sweetie. Now go, join your friends. Sounds like you boys are having a serious party over there.” She noticed the music amping up a notch in the background.

“It's been a blast so far.”

“Mmmhmm... so, are you going to fess up?”

“Huh? Fess up to what?”

“Joseph, do you honestly expect me to believe no girls are over there? I hear booty-grinding music, and I know you boys are not up there grinding on each other.”
“Mom... booty grinding music? Really?”

“Yes, Booty. Grinding. Music. I hear it playing in the background. It's that pseudo-Keynosian music you kids love to dance to. I've seen those horrid music videos you kids enjoy.”

“Seriously Mom, I'm not getting into this right now.”

She erupts in laughter. “Ohh-kay fine, enjoy your supposedly girl-less party and I'll see you soon, yes?” Her sweet laugh always delights me. I hide smile from prying eyes as well.

“Of course Mom. By the way, tell Mikey I said, whatsuphomie!”

“What? Umm, how about I tell him you said hi? I'm not repeating whatever you said there.”

We laugh. For a moment, neither of us speaks, but I know her mind is churning on the other end of the line. “Mom, seriously, don't worry.”

“I'm not! I trust you. Now go, have fun. Love you son.”

“Love you too Mom.”

Of course, she's right about the girls, although I'll never admit it to her. Actually, there are lots of girls here, both norm and NextGen, all vying for attention in numerous ways. The norms, who don't attend the Academy of course, are all from the surrounding area looking to snag a NextGen meal ticket. Not a bad investment in time considering how often they'll see them between deployments.

Circadian
January 10th, 2013, 11:04 PM
Wow. I love the way this is written. You really managed to capture the voices of the characters through their dialogue and I loved the way you slowly introduce your world inbetween the bits of dialogue. It reads very naturally. Suffice it to say, this will probably be a short critique because I honestly don't see much that's wrong with this piece.


She felt it was forced on me and that I was not making a decision from my heart

I feel like it should be "the decision." It adds more emphasis on the particular decision you're referring to.


It was obvious when over a month's time my weight increased so much that most normal beds could no longer support my weight.

I feel this reads a bit strangely, and that you shouldn't include the word "weight" twice in this one sentence.


I hide smile from prying eyes as well.

"My smile." It also took me a few seconds of reading it and rereading before I finally understood what you were saying. But maybe I'm just slow.


I gear up to speak and a sudden swelling of emotion rises from my gut and makes a beeline for my eyes.

Nothing wrong with this; I just wanted to point out that I really like this sentence.

Overall, I think this is a very good start to your story.

~Circe

Tettsuo
January 10th, 2013, 11:14 PM
Wow. I love the way this is written. You really managed to capture the voices of the characters through their dialogue and I loved the way you slowly introduce your world inbetween the bits of dialogue. It reads very naturally. Suffice it to say, this will probably be a short critique because I honestly don't see much that's wrong with this piece.



I feel like it should be "the decision." It adds more emphasis on the particular decision you're referring to.



I feel this reads a bit strangely, and that you shouldn't include the word "weight" twice in this one sentence.



"My smile." It also took me a few seconds of reading it and rereading before I finally understood what you were saying. But maybe I'm just slow.



Nothing wrong with this; I just wanted to point out that I really like this sentence.

Overall, I think this is a very good start to your story.

~Circe

Wow.... thanks! I was really worried that the start was too confusing as I don't make any reference to the main character's environment.

Those typos are the reason I hired an editor. I seriously can't see them.

You're the second person that mentioned that line. It's so interesting to see what captures peoples attention, particularly when I didn't think much about the line at all. It just seemed to fit.

Much thanks for your very good review. I really appreciate your comments.

Ilasir Maroa
January 11th, 2013, 04:01 PM
This was pretty good. There were a few places where you used the wrong word, such as saying "waived" instead of "wavered", when the second was the correct word.

As the above poster said, you captured the voices of the characters fairly well. I particularly loved the mother's side of the conversation.

One thing I noticed is that there was a great deal of filler language. For example:


Her voice is so small and frail, like she's on the verge of crying. God, I hate when she does that. It always makes me think something terrible looms on the edges of the conversation.

Since you're in the first person, I think you can drop the bolded part. Instead of having him tell us it always makes him think that, just have him think it. He's already suggested it happens a lot from "God, I hate it" line.

Tettsuo
January 11th, 2013, 04:26 PM
This was pretty good. There were a few places where you used the wrong word, such as saying "waived" instead of "wavered", when the second was the correct word.

As the above poster said, you captured the voices of the characters fairly well. I particularly loved the mother's side of the conversation.

One thing I noticed is that there was a great deal of filler language. For example:



Since you're in the first person, I think you can drop the bolded part. Instead of having him tell us it always makes him think that, just have him think it. He's already suggested it happens a lot from "God, I hate it" line.[/FONT][/COLOR]

I do have a tendency to repeat my thoughts. I'll try to scrub those duplications. Great advice, thanks!

Silen
January 13th, 2013, 05:24 PM
Is this supposed to be an introduction?
or just an excerpt? if so can we get some more background on what is going on.
All i really read is a conversation, and a lengthy one at that.

ECFairWeather
January 13th, 2013, 08:45 PM
Hi Tettsuo!

This was a good dialogue piece. I enjoyed the playback between the protagonist Joe and his Mom, I got a good sense of who they are and their relationship overall, and felt like there was a good, natural flow between each of the characters. It never felt choppy or forced, so overall it was an enjoyable read. That being said, I really want to know what's going on with Joe, where he is, what a NextGen is and what the story is here!! haha I'm really interested to know more. That being said, I have some specific comments below:


#1.

Treating me okay? What kind of question is that? “Yes Mom, they are treating me fine. It's not like anyone's abusing me here.” At least not yet. I'm still hoping Jennifer will treat me to some abuse tonight if all goes well when I see her.


I suggest that you put some quotes around "abuse" to clarify that Joe's just using this word as a euphemism. Just being nit-picky! :P


#2.

Always with the questions. I certainly can't feign ignorance of the thumping Keynosian music filling the hallways, but I think it's probably safer to leave out the fact that the party is co-ed. Mom knows the rules.

You mention "rules" several times throughout this excerpt and I wasn't clear on what was meant by this. I took it to mean that Joe's Mom has these so-called 'rules' that are really more like moral guidelines, something that every parent has and something Joe doesn't take too seriously because she's his Mom and he's got this twenty-year-old ego where he's compelled to rebel (as any young adult is) - however, given where Joe is, I wasn't sure if 'rules' could have also referred to the militarized structure of his academy. If so, I would clarify this as being two separate (yet oddly equal) groups of rules. Perhaps that could be another way that you could distinguish between the role of Joe's Mom as an overprotective, yet nurturing authority figure versus the hardened, 'tough love' authority of the academy. It seems like both groups share similar rules and serve similar roles in Joe's life (i.e. his conscience), and yet Joe seems to want to get away from his Mom's rule ironically while he pursues an education under a stricter dictatorship. Food for thought...


#3.

“Awww Mom, come on. Look, nothing fishy is going on here... is that why you called?

“No, no... it's just, I haven't heard from you in a while and I wanted to talk to my little man. I just want to make sure you're doing alright...”

Her voice is so small and frail, like she's on the verge of crying. God, I hate when she does that. It always makes me think something terrible looms on the edges of the conversation. She did the same thing when Grandma passed away.

I got a good sense of Joe and a good sense of Joe's Mom - I think your character development is pretty strong. I get that Joe is a rebellious young adult who loves his Mom more than he's willing to admit, even to himself, and he puts up this front like he's very "yeah sure whatever Mom". Then on the other hand, you have Joe's Mom who is this, as you put it, "frail" older woman, who frets over her oldest son, who is still like her baby to her. She tends to nag and be overprotective but otherwise it seems like they have a strong relationship and that comes out pretty clear here through the dialogue and through Joe's narration.


#4.

“Look, the reason I called is... I'm... feeling terribly guilty. I feel so crummy about not coming to your graduation

“Awww Mom, come on. Look, nothing fishy is going on here... is that why you called?

Words like "fishy" and "crummy" kind of got on my nerves a little in this excerpt, to be honest. The way that they are used don't seem natural to me. So I would say "I just feel awful about not coming to your graduation" vs. "I feel so crummy...". I think more often than not the former is what most people would say in this situation rather than the latter. Then I would say, "Awww Mom, come on. We're just celebrating is all. Is that why you called?" or something like that.


#5.

“Mom, I'm 20 years old, I get it. You're doing what you think is right, as am I. You may still see me as a little boy, but I'm old enough to know that we've both made choices and we're both sticking to them. So, even if you're not here, you're my mom. I'll always love you, no matter what.”

For a twenty-year-old who doesn't like opening up a whole lot, Joe seems to make himself very vulnerable very quickly to his Mom when they're speaking over the phone. If I was in his situation, I'd have trouble even saying all of that. The most I could manage is, "I get it, Mom. You don't have to baby me - I'm alright over here," or something like that, where I shrug off as much of the emotion as I can. I think that's what Joe struggles with towards the end of the excerpt:
I gear up to speak and a sudden swelling of emotion rises from my gut and makes a beeline for my eyes. I chuckle a little, to clear the swelling in my throat and rub my hand over my face to prevent tearing up in the dorm hallway. A few guys from the dorm floor, carrying empty beer bottles, glance at me as they pass. I don't want to be seen crying.
He seems to hold in a lot but try as he might his Mom is just really that good at getting that emotion out of him. I think in order to sell it, you should try have Joe speak less dialogue to his Mom and show more of his struggle through his narration.


#6.

“How are you losing me? It's not like they can stop me from being your son, or you my mom. I'm not leaving the country or even this continent, I'll be just a phone call away at the base in whatever sector I get assigned to.” I'll find that out tomorrow. I hope they give me something like Willow or even Stone Branch. “Anyway, before I'm shipped off, I'll be back home to pack and rest for a few days. After that, it'll only be a month until my next vacation break, so you'll be seeing me soon enough.” The sniffling begins. Damn it, I knew she was going to cry and ruin my night. “Are you crying Mom? Come on, I'll be home before you know it. No need to cry.”


I like all of this and it shows that relationship between Joe and his Mom pretty well, as well as showcases some of what's going through Joe's head - he just wants to get out and move on but he's also trying to console his Mom, who's very sensitive and emotional and it seems like a part of him is trying not to feel guilty about leaving her behind.


#7.

But, I am a NextGen. The gene she and my father passed on to me may have kicked in late, but it kicked in, and did so quickly. It was obvious when over a month's time my weight increased so much that most normal beds could no longer support my weight.

Maybe because I don't have a summary of what this story's about but I don't understand what's going on here? What's a NextGen? What's the back story? Did Joe get really fat? When I read this the first time, my initial reaction was that Joe quickly became morbidly obese and they had to send him to this military base so he could train and lose weight. I'm 99% sure that that's wrong but I have to tell you that's what went through my mind in case anyone else had the same issue - again this is just because I don't understand the sci-fi component of your story is.


#8.

At her speeches during FFA rallies, she often denounced this system of taking children and training them to work as police in the Sectors as slavery of both NextGen and Keynosians alike. 'They are forcing slaves to rule over other slaves', she'd say.

Once again, my confusion lies with not knowing the back story, but I was curious as to what Joe's Mom does and who she is. I don't think you were looking for comments on that here but this was more out of my own curiosity for the story as a whole and not really a comment.


Ok, that's all I've got. I hope my comments help! Also, I read some of the other comments and generally agree with them as well, particularly regarding "filler" language. Ya just don't need it! :playful:

~EC

Tettsuo
January 14th, 2013, 03:14 PM
Thanks everyone for the great feedback. I'm going to print all of this and incorporate the advice into my piece! Much thanks all. :)

Tettsuo
January 14th, 2013, 03:27 PM
Is this supposed to be an introduction?
or just an excerpt? if so can we get some more background on what is going on.
All i really read is a conversation, and a lengthy one at that.

This is a portion of the first chapter of my novel in the works.

I wrote it this way because the story is in first person, present tense. I was making an effort to keep story in a state that feels natural, as if the reader stumbled upon this character and is following him along his path. I don't enjoy reading first person present tense that reads like the main character is always describing his world to the reader, like they're aware of the reader's presence. That never feels natural to me.

What I'm shooting for is getting the reader interested enough to understand what's going on mostly through the main character's thoughts and dialogue. The first two chapters of the book (I write really long chapters) is dedicated to that and to putting the main character into the story's initial conflict.

ECFairWeather
January 14th, 2013, 05:52 PM
Hi Tettsuo!

So excited that you're enjoying everyone's feedback so far. Hope your writing is going well!


I wrote it this way because the story is in first person, present tense. I was making an effort to keep story in a state that feels natural, as if the reader stumbled upon this character and is following him along his path. I don't enjoy reading first person present tense that reads like the main character is always describing his world to the reader, like they're aware of the reader's presence. That never feels natural to me.


I think it's a really cool approach to writing in first person. I always struggle with first-person narrative because I'm always afraid I'll end up making my character sound like a narcissistic d-bag lol :encouragement: I like your approach, though, and think your character development is pretty strong, so kudos!

You've got something good going on here, so I hope you post more of your excerpts in the future!

~EC

rotsuchi1
January 18th, 2013, 05:26 PM
very well written

James_KirkPatrick
January 20th, 2013, 08:17 AM
Hi, I'm no expert. I have lots of issues to work through in my own craft and story telling but I hope I can offer something in the way of advice to you.

I noticed in one of your follow up posts that you wanted the reader to feel as if they stumbled upon this character and were discovering the story with him rather than being told a story in a typical fashion. It's seems like an unorthodox way to tell a story and I really like that. The piece is full of foreshadowing that really wet my appetite. Maybe I'm just a jerk, but I didn't really relate to the drama playing out between the mother and son all though I did find it very human and touching the way Joe hid his tears from his classmates. What mostly interested me about the exchange was what was between the lines. I mean, Joe's mom seems to be a political activist of sorts, who challenges a government system her son has now become deeply involved in. It would be like Mayor Bloomberg's son joining the NRA...sorta. Anyway I think there is a lot of meat there and I'm interested to see where it is going.

I like to see stories come full circle so because the story begins with the relationship between the mother and son, I would be disappointed if that relationship wasn't tested by the opposing roles Joe and his mother now inhabit. Then again, that is a very formulaic and maybe you have something more surprising planned out. Either way, you have gotten my interest.

One of the things I enjoy about the Sci-Fi or Fantasy genre is the potential to create a whole world for the reader to become immersed in. If there was anything I would criticize this story for, it is the fact that you have hinted at all these elements of the world you have created and explained very little. I understand that you plan to do it as the story progresses but I think you could maybe give us a bit more. For example, you've hinted that the NextGen's are superhuman or special in some way but all you have really told at this point is that they are heavier than normal people. On that basis alone, I don't know why that would qualify them as super soldiers. I assume they are of an increased size and mass, perhaps even strength but that is just me guessing. I think the story might benefit f you shed a bit more light on that subject.

The last thing I would say, I have brought up in another review. It might come off as a bit picky, because you have already explained that this is just a portion of the story but I'll mention it anyway. The writing ends rather abruptly (once again, I know it's not complete) but when I walk away from something, or submit it for review, I try to put some sort of cap on it, and not end it in mid thought. Even if it just finished with Joe contemplating the discussion as he hangs up the phone and heads back to the party. I think it help the reader see the segment as a whole...and it just seems more tidy to me. But like I said, that's sorta a non issue if you're OK with it.

I hope this helps. Keep writing and posting.

Best wishes

J