PDA

View Full Version : The Creationist (Not in a Religious Context)



Freakconformist
January 16th, 2013, 02:40 PM
I finally sat down yesterday and pounded out a prologue for my most recent story. Despite the name, it is not about a guy who believes God created the earth in seven days, quite the opposite, actually. While critique and corrections are welcome I have a few specific questions.
Am I giving too much away? Or am I hiding too much? I don't want to be confusing.
Is it obvious that Dr. Cavonni is the villain? Does he sound like an interesting villain?
Is it odd to introduce a story with the villain? I haven't seen it done a lot, but it seems to be the best way to start off the story.
Please note any awkward phrases if you see them.


The Creationist
By Anne Coleman

Prologue:

In exam room four a lovely woman by the name of Aura Peckenos was sitting on the exam table lovingly resting her hand on the mound protruding from her mid-section as she chided the small girl kneeling on the doctor’s “rolly chair” as the toddler concentrated on her My Little Ponies coloring book. The four-year-old brushed her wispy blonde hair away from her sun darkened nose and with a serious look in her pale green eyes she assured her mom that she wasn't hurting the chair. Her mother smiled and wondered if all four-year-old's were this self-assured.

After a few minutes of the mother watching the chair’s ball feet wiggle back and forth a knock sounded on the door and the doctor finally walked in. Mrs. Peckenos tilted her head a bit, Dr. Gregory had been going through a lot of doctors lately. This one was a tall man in a white lab coat and dark rimmed glasses; he was carrying a tray with cellophane wrapped needles and several vials of mystery liquids on it. His dark neatly trimmed hair had the pepper of an older man at the temples, but she couldn't really determine his age. Nothing about his bright, charming smile said that he wasn't any more or less than who he appeared to be.

“Good afternoon, Mrs. Peckenos, I’m sorry for the long wait. Dr. Gregory and I have been particularly busy today. I understand you’re getting ready to go into your third trimester, right?” He set the tray down on the pale grey linoleum counter top next to the girl who gave the needles a suspicious glare.

“Don’t worry, dear. Those are for your baby brother.” He patted the girl’s head and she looked up at him. Her orange crayon stilled half a breath over Pinkie-Pie’s curls as her eyes met the flat dark green surface of his.

Katrina Peckenos frowned fiercely, not for the first time, she had the feeling that somebody wasn't telling her the whole truth, but this man was a doctor and she was only four-years-old. Her mommy never believed her when she said people were lying. So she averted her eyes and secretly watched this false doctor's every move.

The doctor turned away and started up a chipper conversation as he washed his hands and pulled out the supplies he needed. He whetted a cotton ball with alcohol as he turned to Mrs. Peckenos.

“So you've had a relatively uneventful pregnancy so far, the sample we took for genetic testing shows that he’s a healthy little boy without any conditions you have to worry about. That’s a typical result, but you can never be too cautious at this stage. Today we’re just going to give you a vitamin compound to replenish the nutrients you've lost recently, it’s all harmless.” As he said this he stuck a needle into one of the vials and the syringe filled with a brownish liquid that made the hairs on Katrina’s arms stick up.

“Mom!” Katrina burst out “He’s lying!” Before now she had never known a person could lie this big.

“Katrina!” Her mother shouted as both adults turned to stare at her in shock. Her mother flushed red with embarrassment, the false doctor flushed red with anger. Her mother clapped an elegant hand to her forehead and rubbed as if she had a headache.

“I’m sorry" she said to the doctor in a tired voice "she’s been so difficult lately. The books say that most four-year-olds start telling lies at this time, my daughter accuses everybody of lying. The other day she told me the box of cereal was lying, she didn't know about what, just that it was and she refused to eat it.” Her mother sighed and pinched the bridge of her nose so she didn't notice the look of avid interest he was giving Katrina. She shrank back suddenly afraid of his scrutiny. The same niggling in her brain that told her when people lied, told her that this doctor was a bad man.

“Indeed” he said in a casual voice that belied his gaze. “That is unusual. You never had her genetically tested, have you?”

“They weren't doing that when she was born. She’s a fairly normal little girl, so I didn't think to have it done.” Mrs. Peckenos waved her slim finger in the air as if to dismiss the thought. “I think a trip to the psychologist might be in the future, though.” She shot her daughter a quelling look, but since Katrina didn't know what a “sykolojist” was, she wasn't too concerned.

“Mmm.” The doctor commented as he apparently remembered his purpose. He held Mrs. Peckenos arm out straight as rubbed the cotton ball against the skin of her inner elbow. Katrina watched nervously as he laid the sharp tip of the needle gently against her mother’s skin, she knew that her mother was angry enough that another interruption might earn her a tanning when they got home.

“Mooooom…” she moaned softly, not sure of what else she could do or say to convince her mom that the brown liquid was bad.

“Not. Another.Word. Katrina Sophia Peckenos.” Her mother bit out the warning.

Dr. Cavonni only paused long enough to assure himself that Mrs. Peckenos wasn't going to suddenly start believing her daughter. She really should listen to the girl, he thought as he finally plunged the needle into Mrs. Peckenos’ artery. The girl obviously had some kind of lie-detecting psychic talent. And that allowed her to somehow know her mother would come to harm from the 4RW compound? Or did she sense that he thought that the compound might cause harm? Dr. Cavonni mentally shook his head as he waved the mother and daughter out of the exam room. The girl actually turned her nose up at the lolly-pop he offered her, much to her mother’s further embarrassment. Not that 4RW hasn't caused harm to most of the mothers he administered the serum to, but he was sure the boy would come out okay this time.

It was amazing the kind of talents were popping up with now that genetic testing was becoming more common. He was tempted to step into the lab and see if his good friend Dr. Gregory had any of the girl’s blood in storage. Then he dismissed the idea, he wasn't into studying psionics, he was a genetic biologist, and he had enough on his table with the information coming in from his experiments.

“Oh, Samuel!” A short man with a ring of salt and pepper hair circling the top of his palate and an equally distinguished mustache quivering over his lip stepped into the exam room without a preamble. “Oh, you took care of Mrs. Peckenos already? Good, good.”

He continued talking as he walked straight back out of the room, assuming Dr. Cavonni would follow him. Samuel scowled, the man was an idiot, but he was a nice to his patients so he was a fairly popular family physician. When having babies genetically tested became popular, Samuel had appeared to offer his services.

“I’m glad you were able to come down and help me out,” Dr. Gregory prattled on “these young doctors I hire always seem to fall sick at the worst of times. Always when I have a hoard of hormonal mothers-to-be demanding I go through their tests with a fine tooth comb. I know you’re not a physician per se, but you have a medical licence and enough knowledge to help the less temperamental mothers. Any port in the storm as they say. I’m sure you’re just glad that you don’t have to deal with the emotional ones, huh?”

The rotund Dr. cackled at his apparent joke and Samuel mentally rolled his eyes.

“No problem,” he smiled smoothly “It’s good to be able to work with human subjects every now and again.”

Three and a half months later:

“Yes, Dr. Gregory?” Dr. Samuel Cavonni tapped the smooth surface of his smart phone to turn on the speaker phone. The tall windows of his study were open to the quiet night, the delectable salmon his wife made sat on his desk cold and half eaten, the only light in the room was the desk lamp that reflected dispassionately off of his thick rimmed glasses. He didn't bother to stop with his note taking.

“Uh, yes, Dr. Cavonni. I was calling to see if you still have that sample from the Peckenos boy.” Samuel’s pen scratched the page as it jerked to a stop. He did a mental inventory of the women he had visited. Peckenos, Peckenos, Peckenos… ah, yes, the one with the little lie-detector.

“No, I’m afraid,” he lied easily. “There was an accident in the lab. One of the students dropped the sample after the first test. The results were typical, so I didn't feel the need to bother with another test.” The excuse slipped out more easily than he thought it would when he came up with it three years ago. It did make Samuel and his lab look a bit sloppy, but he realized long ago admitting to a false failure made a lie a lot more believable.

There was a heated pause at the other end of the line, and then a resigned sigh as Dr. Gregory probably acknowledged that he needed Samuel's help. “It’s okay, I’m a little disappointed that you didn't ask for another draw, but I've hedged a few bets myself for the sake of being over worked.”

“Do you mind if I ask why you needed it?” Dr. Cavonni quietly flipped the paper on his legal pad and gently touched the pen to its cheery yellow surface. Every detail is important.

“Mrs. Peckenos went into labor a few nights ago. She has been having a hard time for the last few months; it’s like her body was being drained somehow. Her obstetrician finally decided to do a cesarean, but she’s still pretty weak from the effort, I’m not sure if she’ll last too much longer. I was just hoping that you could double check the results of the boy’s genetic analysis to see if anything was missed that could have explained this.”

“Hm,” Samuel said as his finished taking notes in the special code he used for his experiments. “It’s possible. It could be an unknown genetic flaw that we geneticists aren't aware of. Can you send me a sample of the embryonic sac? I’ll do a new analysis; no charge.”

“You would?” Dr. Gregory audibly perked up “I know that would really help the Perkenos. I know the husband is in skilled labor, and the family has been struggling. This whole thing has set the family back quite a bit. I've done what I can for no charge, but I didn't expect for you to do so also.”

“It’s the least I could do. Please, send it to my lab tomorrow.” Samuel leaned back in his chair as the phone emitted a click that told him that Dr. Gregory hung up. He absently tapped his pen on the edge of his desk as his eyes perused the notes he jotted down during the short conversation. Now why did he care about the father having money troubles? He quickly scratched a decisive line through the sentence.

“Uh-oh, I know that look, trouble with one of your experiments?”

Samuel looked up to see his wife, Mellisa, standing in the door way of his study. Her yellow night shift was lovely against the pale skin of her collar bone, her straight chocolate brown hair curled over her shoulder and her equally delicious eyes looked at him adoringly.

“I thought you were resting.” he said quietly as he swiveled his chair to face her.

She reached up to caress her bulging mid-section and gave it a gentle chiding smile. “Little Donovan here apparently has different plans, I was just on my way down to get some warm milk.”

“Did you take your vitamins?” he asked suddenly. The news of Mrs. Peckenos’ condition made him strangely concerned that Mellisa might suffer from something similar, but then he was personally monitoring her condition, so there was little chance something would go wrong.

She just smiled indulgently at him and gracefully crossed the gap between him and the doorway. She wrapped her arms around his head and enveloped him in her milky motherly scent.

“You worry too much. Nothing has happened to warrant your concern, what can happen when I have you to look out for me?” She echoed his thoughts perfectly. Samuel tried not to think of all of the mothers who had been unwittingly part of his experiments as he took comfort in her arms.

Mellisa gently laid her chin on the crown of her husband’s head and let her eyes absently drift over the contents of his desk. His laptop was open, but dark as if he started to come to bed but got distracted, that was typical. His desk top lamp was the only light in the room and its yellow light didn’t reach much farther than then the contents of his desk. A yellow legal pad sat on top of a scattered pile of genetic results packages. Her eyes skimmed over the familiar curves and angles of the code he took notes in and she couldn't help it when her body suddenly stiffened.

“Honey?” Samuel looked up at her with honest concern in his dark green eyes. “What is it? Are you in pain?”

Melissa Ellis-Cavonni wasn't sure what he saw in her eyes, but she was sure he didn't want her to know what was written on that page. She forced herself to relax. She waved a dismissive hand as she backed away toward the door. “Only hunger pains." she laughed. "I think I’m going to make myself some fish sticks while I’m at it.”

“Well, okay.” Samuel relented hesitantly with a mental shake of his head, it was unlikely that she would start feeling the pains now. “You sure have been craving fish. Just don’t try to eat them in bed, you’ll get indigestion. I’ll be up soon.”

With that he turned back to his work. Mellisa watched a few minutes more from the shadow of the hallway as he slouched indolently in his chair. The gleam of the lamp light off of his glasses gave him an autonomy that suddenly made her feel like she was sharing a house with a stranger.

Oh Samuel, was the only thought in her head, What have you done?

bazz cargo
January 16th, 2013, 10:13 PM
Hi FC,
neat story. Good characterisation. Nice hook.

The first sentence is a bit of a hurdle on first read. Other than that this line gave me a moments pause.


Dr. Gregory had been going through a lot of doctors lately

This is first class work.
Thank you for sharing
Bazz

Tettsuo
January 16th, 2013, 10:23 PM
I'm hooked!


In exam room four a lovely woman by the name of Aura Peckenos was sitting on the exam table....
You can eliminate the second exam. You've already established where you were.


Dr. Gregory had been going through a lot of doctors lately.
This was bit confusing. I didn't see the relevance in mentioning Dr. Gregory, which was why I had to read it more than once. It dragging me out of the story.

The rest was quite enjoyable.

Freakconformist
January 16th, 2013, 11:27 PM
I'm hooked!


You can eliminate the second exam. You've already established where you were.


This was bit confusing. I didn't see the relevance in mentioning Dr. Gregory, which was why I had to read it more than once. It dragging me out of the story.

The rest was quite enjoyable.

Would it help if I said "Exam Room 4" to distinguish it as the name of the room. I want to let the reader know right away that she's at the doctor's getting a check up. Also you're right, I'll try to look out for repeated words.

With the second line, I was trying to indicate: 1. Dr. Gregory is her regular doctor, and the head of the clinic. 2. This guy is not her regular doctor, in fact, she's never seen him before. 3. I was trying to hint that there is a reason why Dr. Gregory is going through so many junior doctors.

Maybe there's another word for doctors that work under other doctors? I haven't been able to find it. "Resident" stands for doctors that are starting out their career in hospitals, I don't think the same term applies to a family clinic. I don't want to use the term "Nurse" or "RN". I want her to mistake Dr. Cavonni for a doctor, otherwise she wouldn't trust him when Katrina protests. Maybe I should just elaborate on the thought.

Thank you both for the praise and the insights. :)

Tettsuo
January 16th, 2013, 11:45 PM
Would it help if I said "Exam Room 4" to distinguish it as the name of the room. I want to let the reader know right away that she's at the doctor's getting a check up. Also you're right, I'll try to look out for repeated words.

You've made it clear she was in the examination room. From that point if you stated she was on the table, ready, that would be enough. It felt redundant even though it's not only because you used the word exam twice.

With the second line, I was trying to indicate: 1. Dr. Gregory is her regular doctor, and the head of the clinic. 2. This guy is not her regular doctor, in fact, she's never seen him before. 3. I was trying to hint that there is a reason why Dr. Gregory is going through so many junior doctors.

Maybe there's another word for doctors that work under other doctors? I haven't been able to find it. "Resident" stands for doctors that are starting out their career in hospitals, I don't think the same term applies to a family clinic. I don't want to use the term "Nurse" or "RN". I want her to mistake Dr. Cavonni for a doctor, otherwise she wouldn't trust him when Katrina protests. Maybe I should just elaborate on the thought.

Thank you both for the praise and the insights. :)

You've answered the question right there. The clinic is going through a bunch of doctors. Like that, a separation is created from the business and the practitioners.

ktee
January 18th, 2013, 01:55 PM
This is really cool. I would like to read more so in that respect the prologue has worked :)

To answer your questions. Yes I think you're giving too much away. I've made comments in the text, but as an add-on: I don't think you even need to include the name of the drug in the section with the little girl. keep everything generic, you don't want to give the rader a brain overload of technical details when narrative and character is what will keep people reading.

It also seems too long for a prologue - especially it broken up over two periods of time. And by bringing his pregnant wife in this early I'm starting to think that he's motivated by the safety of his own child and I shouldn't even have a clue about his motivation yet. I think this can be halved - either 1) just have the clinic scene or 2) have him in the study, he get's the phone call about the patient and he has a quick recollection of the events at the clinic. I would like the part about the salmon from his wife in - keep this but leave her appearance out - it's good, subtle writing and adds the other dimension to his character - he's in a loving relationship therefor must have deeper motivations that just science.

I would need to know who the main characters in the rest of the story are before I can properly know if it works having a villain in the prologue As a general comment, yes I think it's fine, it adds mystery. But if he's a secondary character I would go to another part of the story in chapter 1 to build up the suspense about what the drug is etc. Keep the readers guessing.

Honestly, I think that right now your villain is too one-dimensional (except for the part about his wife) because of his actions and thoughts in the clinic. There's only annoyance at people, and no guilt. Yes he shows guilt when holding his wife so this seems out of place, like an afterthought, compared to his previous actions. There might be a danger that he becomes a cliche lab villain - no compassion for others except for the pursuit of knowledge to save his own son. And this has been done to death unfortunately (for example, just from what DVDs I watched recently, Fringe had one in season 4 as well as season 1 I think... :) ). I think you need to open up his emotional range to make sure you're creating a fresh villain. Maybe make him less cold in the clinic. You know about his weaknesses, demons etc. so you can work these in subtly.

A warning: I give detailed critiques! But it's mostly comments or questions that pop into my head when I'm reading the excerpt so feel free to disregard. I am in no way proclaiming to be an expert, I just have too much time on my hands ;)


I finally sat down yesterday and pounded out a prologue for my most recent story. Despite the name, it is not about a guy who believes God created the earth in seven days, quite the opposite, actually. While critique and corrections are welcome I have a few specific questions.
Am I giving too much away? Or am I hiding too much? I don't want to be confusing.
Is it obvious that Dr. Cavonni is the villain? Does he sound like an interesting villain?
Is it odd to introduce a story with the villain? I haven't seen it done a lot, but it seems to be the best way to start off the story.
Please note any awkward phrases if you see them.


The Creationist
By Anne Coleman

Prologue:

In exam room four a lovely woman by the name of Aura Peckenos was sitting on the exam table lovingly ["lovely" and "lovingly" used close together, this seemed a bit jarring to me, I suggest keep one but change the other] resting her hand on the mound protruding from her mid-section as she chided the small girl kneeling on the doctor’s “rolly chair” as the toddler concentrated on her My Little Ponies coloring book. The four-year-old brushed her wispy blonde hair away from her sun darkened nose and with a serious look in her pale green eyes she assured her mom that she wasn't hurting the chair. Her mother smiled and wondered if all four-year-old's were this self-assured.

After a few minutes of the mother [you've already introduced her name, maybe it should be "After Aura had been watching the chairs... for a few minutes"] watching the chair’s ball feet wiggle back and forth a knock sounded on the door and the doctor finally walked in. Mrs. Peckenos [is there a reason why you're using her name so formally? I know she's referred to in this way by the doctor, but it distances me as a reader when the narrotor also refers to her this way] tilted her head a bit, Dr. Gregory had been going through a lot of doctors lately. This one was a tall man in a white lab coat and dark rimmed glasses; he was carrying a tray with cellophane wrapped needles and several vials of mystery liquids on it. His dark neatly trimmed hair had the pepper of an older man at the temples, but she couldn't really determine his age. Nothing about his bright, charming [this a small thing about consistency, you've used a comma here but not "His dark neatly trimmed hair..."] smile said that he wasn't any more or less than who he appeared to be.

“Good afternoon, Mrs. Peckenos, I’m sorry for the long wait. Dr. Gregory and I have been particularly busy today. I understand you’re getting ready to go into your third trimester, right?” He set the tray down on the pale grey linoleum counter top next to the girl who gave the needles a suspicious glare.

“Don’t worry, dear. Those are for your baby brother.” He patted the girl’s head and she looked up at him. Her orange crayon stilled half a breath over Pinkie-Pie’s curls as her eyes met the flat dark green surface of his.

Katrina Peckenos frowned fiercely,[I would put a fullstop here] not for the first time, she had the feeling that somebody wasn't telling her the whole truth, but this man was a doctor and she was only four-years-old. Her mommy never believed her when she said people were lying. So she averted her eyes and secretly watched this false doctor's every move.

The doctor turned away and started up a chipper conversation as he washed his hands and pulled out the supplies he needed. He whetted a cotton ball with alcohol as he turned to Mrs. Peckenos.

“So you've had a relatively uneventful pregnancy so far, and the sample we took for genetic testing shows that he’s a healthy little boy without any conditions you have to worry about. That’s a typical result, but you can never be too cautious at this stage. Today we’re just going to give you a vitamin compound to replenish the nutrients you've lost recently, ; it’s all harmless.” As he finished speaking said this he stuck a needle into one of the vials and the syringe filled with a brownish liquid that made the hairs on Katrina’s arms stick up.

“Mom!” Katrina burst out “He’s lying!” Before now she had never known a person could lie this big.

“Katrina!” Her mother shouted as both adults turned to stare at her in shock. Her mother flushed red with embarrassment, the false [I][I don't think you need this. It takes away from the mystery] doctor flushed red with anger. Her mother clapped an elegant hand to her forehead and rubbed as if she had a headache.

“I’m sorry" she said to the doctor in a tired voice "she’s been so difficult lately. The books say that most four-year-olds start telling lies at this time, my daughter accuses everybody of lying. The other day she told me the box of cereal was lying, she didn't know about what, just that it was and she refused to eat it.” Her mother sighed and pinched the bridge of her nose so she didn't notice and missed the look of avid interest he the doctor was giving Katrina. The girl She shrank back, suddenly afraid of his scrutiny. The same niggling in her brain that told her when people lied, told her that this doctor was a bad man.

“Indeed” he said in a casual voice that belied his gaze. “That is unusual. You've never had her genetically tested, have you?”

“They weren't doing that when she was born. She’s a fairly normal little girl, so I didn't think to have it done.” Mrs. Peckenos waved her slim finger in the air as if to dismiss the thought. “I think a trip to the psychologist might be in the future, though.” She shot her daughter a quelling look, but since Katrina didn't know what a “sykolojist” was, she wasn't too concerned. [ha, cute! I love this :) ]

“Mmm.” The doctor commented as he apparently remembered his purpose [this reads a bit clunky. I would rework it]. He held Mrs. Peckenos arm out straight as rubbed the cotton ball against the skin of her inner elbow. Katrina watched nervously as he laid the sharp tip of the needle gently against her mother’s skin, she knew that her mother was angry enough that another interruption might earn her a tanning when they got home.

“Mooooom…” she moaned softly, not sure of what else she could do or say to convince her mom that the brown liquid was bad.

“Not. Another.Word. Katrina Sophia Peckenos.” Her mother bit out the warning.

Dr. Cavonni only paused long enough to assure himself that Mrs. Peckenos wasn't going to suddenly start believing her daughter [I would reword this. It's a bit clunky, feels like you're trying a bit too hard to get across that he's the villain. I would say "Dr. Cavonni paused for a second, watching Mrs Peckenos' face for any sign of doubt. He saw nothing. She really should..."]. She really should listen to the girl, he thought as he finally plunged the needle into Mrs. Peckenos’ artery. The girl obviously had some kind of lie-detecting [you say "lie-detecting" here like he's categorised her ability, but then he ponders whether she can sense his intention or the harm of the compound in the next sentence] psychic talent. He wondered if And that it allowed her to somehow know her mother would come to harm from the 4RW compound? Oor if did she could sense his belief that he thought that the compound might cause harm? Dr. Cavonni mentally shook his head as he waved the mother and daughter out of the exam room. The girl actually turned her nose up at the lolly-pop he offered her, much to her mother’s further embarrassment. Not that 4RW hasn't caused harm to most of the mothers he administered the serum to, but he was sure the boy would come out okay this time. [feels clunky and doesn't quite make sense. Issues: "hasn't", should this be "hadn't"?. "mothers" = pregnant women are referred to as expectant mothers usually so this is confusing. Do you mean after the child s born? "but he was sure" = you've jus said "he thought the compound might cause harm". I'm not sure if I've read it correctly, but a possible suggestion is: "He hoped the girl had been picking up on his thoughts. 4RW has caused harm to most of the mothers to date, but he had some hope the boy would come out okay this time.]

It was amazing the kind of talents were popping up with now that genetic testing was becoming more common. He was tempted to step into the lab and see if his good friend Dr. Gregory had any of the girl’s blood in storage. Then he dismissed the idea, [insert fullstop of semicolon] he wasn't into studying psionics, he was a genetic biologist, and he had enough on his table with the information coming in from his experiments.

“Oh, Samuel!” A short man with a ring of salt and pepper hair circling the top of his palate and an equally distinguished mustache quivering over his lip stepped into the exam room without a preamble. “Oh, you took care of Mrs. Peckenos already? Good, good.”

He continued talking as he walked straight back out of the room, assuming Dr. Cavonni would follow him. Samuel scowled, the man was an idiot, but he was a nice to his patients so he was a fairly popular family physician. When having babies genetically tested became popular, Samuel had appeared to offer his services. [feels a bit clunky. It also feels like there is something missing between this sentence and the previous one. Are you trying to say that the short man was popular therefor had a large patient list and that's why Samuel wanted to work for this practice? Also, you've suddenly gone from "Dr Cavonni" to "Samuel" and it confused me about who was who.]

“I’m glad you were able to come down and help me out,” Dr. Gregory prattled on “these young doctors I hire always seem to fall sick at the worst of times. Always when I have a hoard of hormonal mothers-to-be demanding I go through their tests with a fine tooth comb. I know you’re not a physician per se, but you have a medical licence and enough knowledge to help the less temperamental mothers[it feels like you added this information for the readers and so the conversation doesn't feel authentic. I don't think you need this info yet in the story, so would cut it]. Any port in the storm as they say. I’m sure you’re just glad that you don’t have to deal with the emotional ones, huh?”

The rotund Dr. [consistency issue: previously you've used "doctor", now it's "Dr."] cackled at his apparent joke and Samuel mentally rolled his eyes.

“No problem,” he smiled smoothly “It’s good to be able to work with human subjects every now and again.”

Three and a half months later:

“Yes, Dr. Gregory?” Dr. Samuel Cavonni tapped the smooth surface [this feels too ambiguous when I started reading it I thought "surface" would mean the back of the phone because "screen" or "touch screen" os the common word used] of his smart phone to turn on the speaker phone. The tall windows of his study were open to the quiet night, the delectable salmon his wife made sat on his desk cold and half eaten, the only light in the room was the desk lamp that reflected dispassionately off of his thick rimmed glasses. He didn't bother to stop with his note taking.

“Uh, yes, Dr. Cavonni. I was calling to see if you still have that sample from the Peckenos boy.” Samuel’s pen scratched the page as his hand it jerked to a stop. He did a mental inventory of the women he had visited. Peckenos, Peckenos, Peckenos… ah, yes, the one with the little lie-detector.

“No, I’m afraid not,” he lied easily. “There was an accident in the lab. One of the students dropped the sample after the first test. The results were typical, so I didn't feel the need to bother with another test.” The excuse slipped out more easily than he thought it would when he came up with it [I'm not sure what 'it' refers to. Also you've said twice now that he can lie easily. Maybe removed the "he lied easily" from the first sentence?] three years ago. It did make Samuel and his lab look a bit sloppy, but he realized long ago that admitting to a false failure made a lie a lot more believable.

There was a heated pause at the other end of the line, and then a resigned sigh as Dr. Gregory probably [the narrator is 3rd person and so far has known what all characters in the exam room were thinking. So I would have thought that you can removed the "probably" so as not to confuse the reader about perspective - the "probably" shifts POV to Samuel] acknowledged that he needed Samuel's help. “It’s okay, I’m a little disappointed that you didn't ask for another draw, but I've hedged a few bets [I don't think this is the correct usage. Hedging your bets means to ensure beforehand that you are covered for a foreseeable risk. I think you mean something like "but I've covered my tracks"] myself for the sake of being over worked.”

“Do you mind if I ask why you needed it?” Dr. Cavonni quietly flipped the paper on his legal pad and gently touched the pen to its cheery yellow surface. Every detail is was important.

“Mrs. Peckenos went into labor a few nights ago. She has been having a hard time for the last few months; it’s like her body was being drained somehow. Her obstetrician finally decided to do a cesarean, but she’s still pretty weak from the effort, I’m not sure if she’ll last too much longer. I was just hoping that you could double check the results of the boy’s genetic analysis to see if anything was missed that could have explained this.”

“Hm,” Samuel said as his he finished taking notes in the special code he used for his experiments. “It’s possible. It could be an unknown genetic flaw that we are as yet geneticists aren't unaware of [doesn't sound authentic for him to say "we geneticists - sounds more like you're trying to specifiy something to the reader]. Can you send me a sample of the embryonic sac? I’ll do a new analysis; no charge.”

“You would?” Dr. Gregory audibly perked up “I know that would really help the Perkenos. I know The husband is in skilled labor, and the family has been struggling. This whole thing has set the family back quite a bit. I've done what I can for no charge, but I didn't expect for you to do so also.”

“It’s the least I could do. Please, send it to my lab tomorrow.” Samuel leaned back in his chair as the phone emitted a click that told him that Dr. Gregory hung up. He absently tapped his pen on the edge of his desk as his eyes perused the notes he had jotted down during the short conversation. Now why did he care about the father having money troubles [are you trying to say that he had written a note about the money problems and when reviewing the notes realised it was of no importance? This sentence could almosy be read that he's questioning compassion he feels for the father]? He quickly scratched a decisive line through the sentence.

“Uh-oh, I know that look, trouble with one of your experiments?”

Samuel looked up to see his wife, Mellisa, standing in the door way of his study. Her yellow night shift was lovely against the pale skin of her collar bone, her straight chocolate brown hair curled over her shoulder and her equally delicious eyes looked at him adoringly.

“I thought you were resting.” he said quietly as he swiveled his chair to face her.

She reached up [confusing. "lifted her hands" instead?] to caress her bulging mid-section and gave it a gentle chiding smile. “Little Donovan here apparently has different plans, I was just on my way down to get some warm milk.”

“Did you take your vitamins?” he asked suddenly. The news of Mrs. Peckenos’ condition made him strangely concerned that Mellisa might suffer from something similar, but then he was personally monitoring her condition, so there was little chance something would go wrong.

She just smiled indulgently at him and gracefully crossed the gap between him and the doorway. She wrapped her arms around his head and enveloped him in her milky motherly scent.

“You worry too much. Nothing has happened to warrant your concern, [fullstop?] what can happen when I have you to look out for me?” She echoed his thoughts perfectly. Samuel tried not to think of all of the mothers who had been unwittingly part of his experiments [he hasn't shown any empathy at all up tot this point so this seems off] as he took comfort in her arms.

Mellisa gently laid her chin on the crown of her husband’s head and let her eyes absently drift over the contents of his desk. His laptop was open, but dark as if he'd started to come to bed but got distracted, that was typical. His desk top lamp was the only light in the room and its yellow light didn’t reach much farther than then the contents of his desk. A yellow legal pad sat on top of a scattered pile of genetic results packages. Her eyes skimmed over the familiar curves and angles of the code he took notes in and she couldn't help it when her body suddenly stiffened [is this referring to something psychic? It was a bit confusing - such a sudden change in mood that needs a bit of explanation to the reader].

“Honey?” Samuel looked up at her with honest concern in his dark green eyes. “What is it? Are you in pain?”

Melissa Ellis-Cavonni wasn't sure what he saw in her eyes, but she was sure he didn't want her to know what was written on that page. She forced herself to relax. She waved a dismissive hand as she backed away toward the door. “Only hunger pains." she laughed. "I think I’m going to make myself some fish sticks while I’m at it.”

“Well, okay.” Samuel relented hesitantly with a mental shake of his head, it was unlikely that she would start feeling the pains now. “You sure have been craving fish. Just don’t try to eat them in bed, you’ll get indigestion. I’ll be up soon.”

With that he turned back to his work. Mellisa watched a few minutes more from the shadow of the hallway as he slouched indolently in his chair. The gleam of the lamp light off of his glasses gave him an autonomy that suddenly made her feel like she was sharing a house with a stranger.

Oh Samuel, was the only thought in her head, What have you done [this seems to sudden. She had such a mood shift and seems out of place]

Freakconformist
January 18th, 2013, 08:00 PM
This is really cool. I would like to read more so in that respect the prologue has worked :)

To answer your questions. Yes I think you're giving too much away. I've made comments in the text, but as an add-on: I don't think you even need to include the name of the drug in the section with the little girl. keep everything generic, you don't want to give the rader a brain overload of technical details when narrative and character is what will keep people reading.

It also seems too long for a prologue - especially it broken up over two periods of time. And by bringing his pregnant wife in this early I'm starting to think that he's motivated by the safety of his own child and I shouldn't even have a clue about his motivation yet. I think this can be halved - either 1) just have the clinic scene or 2) have him in the study, he get's the phone call about the patient and he has a quick recollection of the events at the clinic. I would like the part about the salmon from his wife in - keep this but leave her appearance out - it's good, subtle writing and adds the other dimension to his character - he's in a loving relationship therefor must have deeper motivations that just science.

I would need to know who the main characters in the rest of the story are before I can properly know if it works having a villain in the prologue As a general comment, yes I think it's fine, it adds mystery. But if he's a secondary character I would go to another part of the story in chapter 1 to build up the suspense about what the drug is etc. Keep the readers guessing.

Honestly, I think that right now your villain is too one-dimensional (except for the part about his wife) because of his actions and thoughts in the clinic. There's only annoyance at people, and no guilt. Yes he shows guilt when holding his wife so this seems out of place, like an afterthought, compared to his previous actions. There might be a danger that he becomes a cliche lab villain - no compassion for others except for the pursuit of knowledge to save his own son. And this has been done to death unfortunately (for example, just from what DVDs I watched recently, Fringe had one in season 4 as well as season 1 I think... :) ). I think you need to open up his emotional range to make sure you're creating a fresh villain. Maybe make him less cold in the clinic. You know about his weaknesses, demons etc. so you can work these in subtly.

A warning: I give detailed critiques! But it's mostly comments or questions that pop into my head when I'm reading the excerpt so feel free to disregard. I am in no way proclaiming to be an expert, I just have too much time on my hands ;)

Oh, boy.
Thank you for the full analysis, I appreciate that. I'll try to address all the things you pointed out, but I might miss something, I apologize ahead of time.

First of all, let me make it clear that this story isn't really about the doctor. The first chapter will quickly switch to 18 years down the line when the PBI (Paranormal Bureau of Investigation, think MIB for super heroes) receives information that leads them to suspect that Dr. Cavonni has been doing illegal genetic experimentation on humans. At the point our heroine comes in, she is sent off to work undercover in Dr. Cavonni's home town to figure out what has happened to his wife and son, who have both disappeared under mysterious circumstances.

One thing I think you misinterpreted (or more likely I muddled up), is that Dr. Cavonni is not sympathetic. If he didn't have such an avid interest in genetics he would be a serial killer. He is cold and clinical. I was a bit concerned that he would seem a bit too loving with his wife, but I think it's more likely she is the person he tolerates the most. He loves her in a way, but it becomes secondary to his experiments. Most of his concern is for her offspring. He's not trying to "save" his son, he's hoping that his son will be his most successful attempt to prove that a fetus' genetics can be altered in the womb without causing harm to the mother or the child. At this point, he thinks he knows the right combination of genetic fluid that will ensure the fetus' survival. He's hoping with the additional care, like what he is giving his wife, he can prove that the mothers can also be left strong enough to breed again. (and he's going to work another 18 years unhindered. O_O)

The wife is psychic. She is what the PDI calls a Crypto-path, she can easily unscramble and read codes or foreign languages when she makes the effort to do so, but since she has only ever wanted to be a wife and mother, she has never felt the need to really show off this talent. This is the scene that she first realizes that her husband is up to something awful. I haven't quite worked out how it's going to happen, but the PDI finds out about Dr. Cavonni's activities through a coded message she hid in a book that she borrows to a cousin.

I think a lot of confusion was caused when I switched thinking patterns according to whose perspective I'm currently writing in. I can see that in some places this was clear (since you mentioned it) and in others it wasn't. Like, when the little girl thinks of Dr. Cavonni as a "false-doctor" because the knows he's not the real doctor, but she can't put it into words. Do you think that her thinking pattern was a little sophisticated for a four-year-old? I was worried about that.

I think a lot of places that you mentioned as "clunky" are places where I was adding stuff on the fly. I'll try to re-work it so it makes more sense. It's funny, that it seems like the more work I do on the story, the more information I find to squeeze in. I think you're right that I can condense this, and stick that information in other places.

Most of the other small items you found are pretty valid and I look over them.
I had a "find and replace" function oops, and you found the one "Dr." that I forgot to switch back to doctor.
I'm still not quite sure of the name, I like Samuel, but not his last name. Maybe he should become Dr. Samuels?

ktee
January 19th, 2013, 02:36 AM
Oh, boy.
Thank you for the full analysis, I appreciate that. I'll try to address all the things you pointed out, but I might miss something, I apologize ahead of time.

First of all, let me make it clear that this story isn't really about the doctor. The first chapter will quickly switch to 18 years down the line when the PBI (Paranormal Bureau of Investigation, think MIB for super heroes) receives information that leads them to suspect that Dr. Cavonni has been doing illegal genetic experimentation on humans. At the point our heroine comes in, she is sent off to work undercover in Dr. Cavonni's home town to figure out what has happened to his wife and son, who have both disappeared under mysterious circumstances.

Now that I know about the rest of the book I would say it still works having the villain in the prologue. In fact, if I was reading it fresh and it went evil doctor in prologue to main character in chapter 1 I'd keep reading becasue I'd want to know how he ties into the story.

Hmm if the wife and son have disappeared I see the conundrum about what to include in the prologue. But maybe you could just keep it to a mention of the wife in the prologue. This way it seems like he's just an evil scientist and then the reader discovers he actually had a son along with the protagonist.



One thing I think you misinterpreted (or more likely I muddled up), is that Dr. Cavonni is not sympathetic. If he didn't have such an avid interest in genetics he would be a serial killer. He is cold and clinical. I was a bit concerned that he would seem a bit too loving with his wife, but I think it's more likely she is the person he tolerates the most. He loves her in a way, but it becomes secondary to his experiments. Most of his concern is for her offspring. He's not trying to "save" his son, he's hoping that his son will be his most successful attempt to prove that a fetus' genetics can be altered in the womb without causing harm to the mother or the child. At this point, he thinks he knows the right combination of genetic fluid that will ensure the fetus' survival. He's hoping with the additional care, like what he is giving his wife, he can prove that the mothers can also be left strong enough to breed again. (and he's going to work another 18 years unhindered. O_O)

I think the error was on my part :) If he's not the main character then it works for him to be a creepy super-villain. Like I said above, the tricky thing you face is when to divulge information about him. I think the scene with his wife where they embrace does come off as too loving, and the cliche of the doctor driven to extremes to save his child was what I superimposed over the story.


The wife is psychic. She is what the PDI calls a Crypto-path, she can easily unscramble and read codes or foreign languages when she makes the effort to do so, but since she has only ever wanted to be a wife and mother, she has never felt the need to really show off this talent. This is the scene that she first realizes that her husband is up to something awful. I haven't quite worked out how it's going to happen, but the PDI finds out about Dr. Cavonni's activities through a coded message she hid in a book that she borrows to a cousin.

And again I see your dilema! Do you include her in the prologue because she is so integral to the investigation...


I think a lot of confusion was caused when I switched thinking patterns according to whose perspective I'm currently writing in. I can see that in some places this was clear (since you mentioned it) and in others it wasn't. Like, when the little girl thinks of Dr. Cavonni as a "false-doctor" because the knows he's not the real doctor, but she can't put it into words. Do you think that her thinking pattern was a little sophisticated for a four-year-old? I was worried about that.

Yeah, was wondering about her thinking patterns as well. Part of me was thinking you got away with it because if she's psychic then she would be picking up on adults thought patterns and speech patterns. Does she have to 4? Maybe 6 would be more realistic. The word "false" does seem too sophisticated especially with that gorgeous way she tries to say "psychologist". Maybe if you pick a vocabulary for her then make sure when it's her POV you use some of those childish words and sentence structures so it's clear there has been shift. But in saying that, I really struggle with POV changes so I may be giving really cruddy advice.


I think a lot of places that you mentioned as "clunky" are places where I was adding stuff on the fly. I'll try to re-work it so it makes more sense. It's funny, that it seems like the more work I do on the story, the more information I find to squeeze in. I think you're right that I can condense this, and stick that information in other places.

I have the same problem - the more I work a story the more details come to me.

And when I was reading this it was clear the clunkiness was an exception rather than norm. I really enjoyed the way you have written this.



Most of the other small items you found are pretty valid and I look over them.
I had a "find and replace" function oops, and you found the one "Dr." that I forgot to switch back to doctor.
I'm still not quite sure of the name, I like Samuel, but not his last name. Maybe he should become Dr. Samuels?

I actually liked his last name because it had character; there was something a little evil about it. Also, I think it would stand out whereas Dr. Samuels is an ordinary sounding name. But then again, maybe it's good to have an unassuming name so that his actions speak for themselves and you can avoid a caricature. Dang, that was probably no help at all :) But maybe to avoid confusion in the prologue, only have him referred to as Dr ______ to keep that coldness and clinical feel. I think part of my thinking that he should be a warm and cuddly evil doctor was that when his first name was introduced, it suggested he would be a main character and that I should start getting to know who he is underneath his work. But what you're saying is that he is all about his work, so maybe keep him as Dr ____ as a representation of this. If you keep his wife as a part of the prologue she could use his first name because that would represent that we are seeing a different side of him in his home.



In terms of what to do generally with the release of information, maybe you could continue writing the rest of the book, put the prologue on hold and write as if it's not there. That way you can see what information about Samuel, his wife and son can be told to the readers through the investigation as the protagonist uncovers it for herself. Then you can review your work and use the gaps in the narrative as the guide for the prologue.

I hope my critique wasn't too harsh; a lot of it is just off the top of my head so could be completely wrong. And your story sounds really interesting and as a reader I would definitely keep reading :) And again, that psychologist comment was pure gold!

jedellion
January 19th, 2013, 08:46 AM
Hi there

New to the forums, but decided to dive straight in.

For the most part people have already covered some of my slight issues with the first line exam, exam table etc. One comment I relaly did feel after reading this was that I am not sure you should be giving so much away in the prologue.

I am guessing that the book will be about various gifted people who were dabbled with as babies. I am thinking along the lines of x-men etc. I cold be wrong, but if not, you have removed the mystery that could have been revealed slowly through the story.

If I were you i would pare this down, or just use it for your own reference, and have this information slowly be revealed as the story continues...

Freakconformist
January 19th, 2013, 02:31 PM
Hi there

New to the forums, but decided to dive straight in.

For the most part people have already covered some of my slight issues with the first line exam, exam table etc. One comment I relaly did feel after reading this was that I am not sure you should be giving so much away in the prologue.

I am guessing that the book will be about various gifted people who were dabbled with as babies. I am thinking along the lines of x-men etc. I cold be wrong, but if not, you have removed the mystery that could have been revealed slowly through the story.

If I were you i would pare this down, or just use it for your own reference, and have this information slowly be revealed as the story continues...

Welcome to WF! :)
Thank you for the new perspective, don't worry about repeating something if you see it differently than others.

You guess correctly, a lot of my characters have some kind of special ability, but they aren't supposed to be secret. The "Paranomals" in the "Paranormal Bureau of Investigation" are a special class of citizen that have abilities that the average person does not. This is one story placed in a world where "Paranormals" are common day, thus the creation of the PBI. Think of the PBI a scene full of extras behind Brad Pitt, there are "Supers" who get a splash on the 6 'o'clock news when they fly over, but the PBI do most of the work quietly and in the background. Rather than having a comic that focuses on one of the grandstanding hero punching out the villain who is about to blow up the moon, these stories are about the quiet cases the PBI are working on in the background. I guess the most accurate comparison is X-Men meets Criminal Minds.

I'm starting to think I should write an introductory story just to get people familiar with the world I created in my head. It's similar to what people have read before, yeah, but it's my own interpretation and thus not like anything else.

drwood
February 7th, 2013, 03:03 PM
What an excellent story,

Is there going to be a second part?

I liked the style, and the potential for the wife of the evil doctor to be the heroine. The whole "what is a lie" philosophy could appear in the story too. Samuel would undoutably have a PhD which would make him a Doctor, but the little girl did not register it as a truth.... maybe that is not where you want to go with the story though.

*EDIT*

If you do decide to go with the 'i know when you are lying' route, Please be consistant, otherwise you will end up like that silly "lie to me" show which is ruined by inconsistant plot lines about what lies they can detect and how they are intrepreted.

Nemesis
February 7th, 2013, 03:17 PM
It was nice, I spotted a few things here and there that needed to be tightened, but to be honest I had a hard time with the subject matter (overly sensative about babies and pregnancy) And I liked the woman and her daughter so I really didn't want anything bad to happen to her =(

I guess that means you did a good job ;)