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View Full Version : Tower City (WIP) (All comments, criticism welcome)



msherman94
May 8th, 2013, 08:38 PM
This is very much a work in progress, with about a billion and one things I plan on changing, but I wanted to post it anyway and get some early impressions. It is part of the first segment of my debut novel, but is lacking a beginning. This takes place shortly after the prologue chapter, wherein my protagonist, Dr. Alexander Monroe, is visited by his wife and son at his practice. He is contacted by one of his colleagues about a breakthrough concerning "the starers". As he hurries to meet with his coworker, he says a quick goodbye to his family and is promptly thrown across the room by an explosion and, after catching sight of what looks like his own leg laying a few feet away, falls unconscious. He awakens in his own medical bay and is informed that his wife has died and his son has suffered brain damage and total paralysis below his neck. He is also told that he is being reassigned from Level 58 of the city (part of the commercial district, the upper middle class of the city) to Level 17, the slums, home to a group of people known as the starers whom Monroe has studied obsessively for almost four years. He is granted a new leg equipped with nano-assisted prosthesis, and his son is given a Chair, a wheelchair designed for the immobile. The story picks up three months later with what follows-

She kissed my neck, her lips soft and cool, tracing a path across my weathered skin, a light moan escaping them as I caressed the small of her back. She was so beautiful in this dim light, a soft shadow cast across her glowing skin. Her hair lay over my chest like satin, flowing and enticing. Her breasts pressed against my flesh, her stomach against mine, our legs intertwined, breath heavy, hearts racing. I ran my hand along her waist and down her thigh, feeling the warmth she radiated so enticingly, and brought her head up to kiss her. Shards of steel and glass fragments stuck out from her face at sharp angles, the flesh ripped and hanging loose, one of her eyes replaced by a gaping, bloody hole. Screaming, I went to throw her from the bed, only for her flesh to melt at the touch of my hands, her arms and legs turning to blood and flooding over me. I tried to stop it, reaching out to halt the bleeding, but only managed to splash my hands in the flowing crimson liquid. She melted away, melted into the bed, into my own body...

I awoke violently, a sweat chilling my flesh to the bones and a shudder throttling my form. I was back again. Waking up to another nightmare.

Our home was a pathetic, one room cavity carved into Level 17. The four walls seemed always to be closing in, worn and beaten and torn. We had almost nothing in the way of furniture, save our bed and the decade old domestic air filter rattling in the corner, the emptiness threatening every day to overwhelm me, to swallow what little pride and self respect I’dmaintained since the accident. I lay on the floor, cold and somehow metallic plastic void of any carpet or similar covering, the same material which made up the walls and ceiling. I shouldn’t have been living like this, like an animal cast away by unhappy owners, left to wander the streets in search of work and food, in unending fear for myself and my son. I deserved so much more.
These thoughts threatened to overwhelm me. They tore me apart every day, from the moment I woke up to the instant I fell asleep at night. The only way I was going to help myself, help my son, was to do the job. To set aside my own beliefs and turn the needle on my moral compass. I sat up on the floor, put my head in my hands, and waited. Waited for the inspiration. Waited for the drive. Waited for the fire. It didn’t come. It never did.
“Daaa!”
Lucas was lying in our cot, a worthless stretch of fabric, calling to a man only a few feet away from him. Not that he had any way to know, blind as he was. Maybe it was nothing. Maybe he’d change his mind.
My eyes fixed themselves on the ceiling. Waiting for it to change. Hoping that this room would melt away, would be replaced with my old quarters on the commercial sector, with my office at the clinic. Instead I got only mocking stillness from above.
“Daaa!” Damn it. I rolled onto my stomach and pulled myself over to the prosthetic leg leaning against the wall. It was almost indistinguishable from my real leg, bearing even carefully dispersed artificial hair. At the top, however, about midway through the thigh, several jagged steel connection tubes stuck out like puzzle pieces, each ending in a syringe*like needle. I pulled the prosthetic up into what was left of my own leg, the connectors matching with similar tubes in my thigh, and pulled the roll of artificial flesh up to my waist. God how I wished it were flesh and blood again, warm skin I could massage, cut, bruise, bathe.The foot of the prosthetic fidgeted slightly as the nanomachines in my blood established a link, before going completely rigid. I’d been mugged my third day on Level 17, on my way back from getting food rations, my prosthetic taking a blow from a metal pipe. It now worked about as well as a wooden peg.
“Daaa?” He was scared now. I could hear it in his voice, could almost see the tears that were no doubt already forming in his useless eyes.
“I’m right here.” I hissed, perhaps too harshly. It seemed to satiate him though. My joints cracked and strained with the effort it took to rise from the floor, another reminder of all the time I’d just wasted. Taking a deep breath, I stood. “Alright, what is it?”
“Drink?”
“Do you remember where the sink is?”
“Drink!” He was agitated. It happened easily, and he had no control over it. If I didn’t help
him soon, he’d start screaming, and I wouldn’t be able to get him to stop for half an hour. I knew he had no idea what I was saying, and let out an exasperated sigh. It didn’t seem to matter how much I worked with him, how many hours I spent showing him around the house, going over the alphabet, counting to ten. He never remembered more than abstract phrases, using them as a toddler does, to notify me of whichever stimuli was causing him discomfort. A twenty-three year old toddler. I picked him up, an easy task considering how thin he’d become, and put him in his Chair.
“Alright, let’s show you again.” I moved behind him and began chiding him to move forward, calling out directions as we went along, his Chair responding to a combination of my voice and Lucas’ brainwaves. Even had he been able to see, I doubt he could have operated the machine on his own, but it made life much easier. It was the one thing the Regency had given us.
“... and then we take a few steps forward and here we are.” I sounded angry, a sarcastic steel beneath my words.
“Drink?” Somehow it infuriated me, the way he always stretched out his vowels, taking twice the time it should to say any one word.
“Yes, drink!” I set the temperature on our water purifier to two degrees celsius and pushed the lever up violently, causing water to spill all over the the floor and myself. I’d forgotten the cup. Cursing, I grabbed one out of the dish sanitizer and pushed it under the spout.
“Da?” He meant no harm, but I snapped. I don’t know why. I screamed at him, my words flowing out harsh and fast, everything I said lost in a haze of anger and despair. By the time I was finished yelling, Lucas looked like a beaten animal, tears raining down his face. For what felt like an hour I watched him cry. I was remorseless, and I had no right to be. I was as scared and alone as he was. Lost in a world I didn’t comprehend, surrounded by people that didn’t care, burdened with responsibilities I never asked for. After a while, we both calmed down, the tears dry on our cheeks and on the floor. Giving Lucas his water and a grain ration, I checked the pollution levels with my cerebral implant before grabbing my filtration mask, my brain struggling to process the .502 pollutant concentration. Lucas’ mask had broken the week before, so I wheeled him over as close as I could to the domestic filter.
“Listen, Daddy’s going to go see a patient for a little bit, ok? If you get hungry, eat your snack, and if you get thirsty again the sink is right in front of you. I’ll be back soon.” I stood up and looked at him. His head lay back on his chair, rolling around without reason. His eyes were covered by the thin black bandanna he’d loved so much as a child. His legs were thin, twigs long since fallen from the tree. The “snack” that lay in front of him was one of our last rations for the month. We had three more, and needed somehow to make those last a week and a half. As always, it wasn’t enough. We never seemed to have enough.
“Da?” His mewl ruined me.
“I’ll be back soon, I promise. I love you.” I turned, grabbed my bag, put on my mask, and walked out of my home.


Level 17 was a terrifying place. Trash and grime everywhere, the pedestrian platforms dangerously miskept. The air was rank with abuse, revulsion and fear, a person’s very presence here enough to threaten their life. Perhaps most disconcerting to me, my history in Level 58, was the number of people who seemed to stand on the platforms doing, well, nothing. They did not work, they did not play. Often you’d see those who weren’t even in company, just standing on a corner, seemingly staring into the distance. They intrigued me. Where I came from everyone always seemed to be in a rush, on their way to work, or to school, or the store. On Level 58 you were able to get anywhere within the commercial and medical sections quickly, the multi*directional elevators able to reach almost any destination within ten minutes. Here, elevators weren’t even kept. They weren’t in demand, and they weren’t necessary. The streets were generally void of activity, and what little movement there was tended to be hurried and discreet, people attempting to smuggle themselves between destinations without facing confrontation
I walked. It still amazed me then how big the city was. Miles and miles of pathways, spinning away as far as the eye could see. As a child, I’d stared for hours up at the ceiling, wondering at the lives of the Greater Regents and their underlings. I’d always been envious at that age; what would life be like in the upper levels, the living quarters of the Regents and the Greater Ones, their bedchambers and their grand hallways? A life of luxury. A life free of worries over money and family. Were I a Regent, I’d have been granted my son’s operations, the brain reconstruction, the spinal restoration. He’d be off in school now, getting his degree. He’d have been a doctor, I think, far better than I. Now he’d be no better off than someone in a coma, staring into the distance, waiting for someone to come along and feed him, to bathe him, to put him to bed at night and help him rise in the morning. Those thoughts clouded my mind, taking my focus away from where I was walking, and I ran straight into a man standing on the walkway, my
shoulder slamming into his, causing him to stumble back. He was a starer, his mouth agape, eyes barely coming into focus, just enough to register me. His clothes were torn, the fabric coated in grime and dried blood. He was bald, his face and scalp scarred. He wore only one shoe, the sole separated halfway from the heel, the laces long gone. He had three visible teeth, each of which was sharpened to a point. Slowly, his expression turned from a look of surprise to one of utter rage, a sound escaping his throat like an animal, a gurgling growl rising like a slow fire. I turned and sprinted away, my feet moving of their own accord, pounding into the ground like hooves. I glanced back to see how close he was behind me, an extra surge of adrenaline flowing through my veins. He stood in the same place as I’d bumped into him. Staring eyes. Gaping mouth. Somehow, it was scarier than a chase, having him just stop like that, go from bestial instinct to that same vacant state, from a primal man to a statue. He was still in my way.

“Hey!” I called out. I don’t know why I expected a response. As soon as I’d been reassigned to Level 17 I’d learned it was useless to try communicating with these people. Tentatively, my breath heavy, I moved towards him, just a few yards. “Hey, I’m going to move past you now, ok? I don’t want to fight!” He kept staring, straight ahead, not even his eyes wavering. What the hell was wrong with these people? I began moving again, my pace increasing as I drew closer and closer to the man in rags. By the time I’d reached him, I was practically hopping on my good leg, my prosthetic useless at anything more than a brisk walk. My heart was pounding, the blood slamming through my veins like a torrent. The man stood still, not even a finger shifting, a statue of flesh. His chest seemed not even to move with breath. From behind he was an even sorrier sight , shirt completely torn down the back, a scar spiraling down his spine.

What was wrong with these people? They’d fascinated me before my transfer, showing up occasionally in cerebral news broadcasts. Occasionally, they would form into groups, seemingly without communication or provocation, and try to climb up to the next floor. They’d keep moving, some walking calmly, some sprinting like wild beasts, until they reached Level 32, the start of the industrial sector. By the time they’d made it that far, the Lesser Regents would have formed a barricade bristling with sonic barriers and machine guns. It was treated almost like a sports broadcast by the populace, with bets exchanged to profit over whether or not one of the poor bastards would make it through the defenses. My money always rested with the starers, and my money was always lost.
I’d tried doing some research on them, on their condition, but only miniscule amounts of information were available anywhere in the net. I’d learned that they never appeared above the slums, that they did not communicate with one another save for bestial grunts, and that they often stood in one place, staring, until they collapsed from exhaustion and starved. In all my research I’d never heard of a similar ailment, especially not one so selective as to afflict only one section of the city. Old articles on extinct diseases like rabies and Alzheimers provided some parallels, but nothing like this. It seemed to completely reconfigure a person’s psyche, turning them into an empty, moderately aggressive being seemingly pumped out of some assembly line to populate the slums. The “regulars”, people who were not afflicted by this strange illness, hid away in their homes for the most part, only daring to show their faces when they collected their consumable rations. Back in the commercial sector, you could always tell who was around thanks to their cerebral implants, making any one individual easy to find. If you wanted to find someone here in the slums, you’d have to go out of your way searching for them.
I reached the pathway I was searching for, looking around for my destination. The street was destitute, not a soul in sight, rubbish strewn about liberally. I never could understand how the city got this way. The buildings were, architecturally, clinical. Each adhered to a standard appearance and layout, set evenly apart from one another. It was easy to see that the area had once been clean, maybe even beautiful in its simplicity. Now, however, there were holes in the exteriors of nearly every building, graffiti layered on the walls, damning the Regency, damning the starers, damning the slums. A pool of blood lay unattended a short way down the path. Each building was numbered above their respective doorway. I pulled a paper out of my pocket, checking over it one last time. Scrawled across the sheet in barely legible print, with words scratched out furiously, was the following message.

Ive herd you are a doktor. my Wife is sik pleese help. bilding 4612 fourtieth avinue. I will give you a grane ration. pleese.
Filip

I glanced around again, scanning over the building numbers. 4610. 4611. 4614. It took me a minute to realize the address had been torn off the structure, leaving instead just the number six staring mockingly out at me. Strangely, my destination and its neighbor, 4613, were the only buildings on the pathway which lacked their full addresses, with the latter’s designation being a simple three, hanging crooked over the entrance. I folded the note and placed it back in my pocket. I doubted I could do anything to help the man’s wife, but the chance at a grain ration was too good to pass up. I pulled my revetin gloves out of my pocket and rubbed the fabric between my fingers. They were much like standard latex, but almost two hundred times more durable, and much less common. The pair had been a gift from a colleague of mine, Thomas Wilson, the only other person on level 58 who’d even remotely shared my interest in the starers. On two separate occasions we’d shared conjectures and observances on the afflicted until the early hours of the morning, speaking of possible causes, going over symptoms and looking back on different instances of their gathering, trying to find any reasonable medical logic behind their behavior. We had, of course, discovered nothing.
After taking a moment to compose myself, I stepped up to the door of building 4612 and rapped on it lightly with my knuckles. When no response came, I knocked with greater force, the heavy plastic of the door reverberating and opening slightly with the force. Again, no answer. I reached down for the door handle and grasped only at empty air, the handle seemingly torn off. What the hell? I pushed the door, causing it to swing open noiselessly. I could make out a few shapes inside; what looked like furniture, some indiscernible objects strewn over the ground carelessly, even what looked like a book. A book? I haven’t seen one of those in** Movement at the back of the room drew my attention away from the ancient document, the figure of a small person shifting slightly in the back of the room. I couldn’t see their face, but I could sense their eyes on me, sending a small shiver up my spine.
“Hello?” I put on a bit of a show, doing my best to sound like someone of authority. “It’s Doctor Mon-” My voice cracked, taking an immediate dive from authoritative to meek* “Doctor Monroe. I’m here to see Philip.” The figure in the back of the room stirred slightly, seeming to shift its weight from one leg to another, before collapsing violently to the ground, a thudding noise followed by the the kind of thrashing I could attribute only to some kind of seizure. With a moments consideration, I turned from the door and began walking away. Wherever Philip was, It wasn’t here, and I didn’t want to deal with whatever was happening in that room. I’d gone maybe ten steps before I heard a man’s voice; loud, but softly textured, made a little husky by a gas mask, and obviously strained.
“Doctor? Are you Doctor Monroe?” I stopped moving and pivoted, my vision coming into focus on a rather short man, his complexion rough, with olive skin which looked as though it would have been tan had it ever been kissed by anything other than artificial light. I put his age in the late thirties.
“I... Yes. I am.” While most of his face was covered by his mask, the man’s eyes were nothing short of tortured, screaming in a way his voice never could.
“Please, my wife, she is here. She needs help.” He crossed the distance between us, giving me a better view of him. His body was terribly skinny, which combined with his height led me to believe that he’d been malnourished for a long, long time. I couldn’t turn my back on this man. When I read his letter, I’d hoped his wife would have something simple; a cold, a mild fever, something I could take care of easily and leave. But this...
“Alright. Take me to her.”
Philip’s home was squalid. His furniture was falling apart, the broken pieces lying near their origins, likely there since they’d fallen originally. Ration wrappers littered the room with abandon, and one of the lights at the back of the home had apparently been burned out. I’d never seen a burnt out light before. The walls had been... painted, somehow, colors splashed in random patterns with little in the way of rhyme or reason. There was a foot wide hole in the ceiling which looked as though it had been melted in. The room smelled of sugar, a repulsive sweetness that permeated every inch of the room.
Philip’s wife lay on her back at the rear of the room, completely still save the slow rise and fall of her chest. Like him, she was very thin, with light brown hair and porcelain skin which seemed to glow in the room’s artificial light. When I saw her eyes, however, my heart skipped a beat and I took an involuntary step backwards. They looked as though they had been seared from the inside out, blackened and ashy, with particles rubbed into her cheeks, giving the skin on her face a grayed appearance. The corners of her lips twitched intermittently, making her seem as though she were constantly trying to keep herself from laughing at an inappropriate joke. Philip fell to his knees at her side.
“Can you help her?” He wasn’t asking me to use my knowledge as a practitioner. He was requesting that I perform a miracle, and the pleading in his voice helped me understand that he knew it. I opened my bag half*heartedly, knowing full well exactly what was inside. Like a woman and her purse, I could find any item in my bag by muscle memory. I carried inside two hypos, each filled with water on account of the complete void for medicine in the slum levels, along with an Automatic Heartbeat Evaluation Device, two scalpels, Physio*Sealants for various wounds, a defibrillator, and a number of empty syringes which would normally contain medicinally infused nanomachines.
“What happened to her?” I attempted to transition into a professional demeanor, but I’d never seen anything like this before. I knelt next to Philip, hoping his answer could provide any sort of enlightenment as to what had happened to his wife. It didn’t.
“I don’t know. I had gone to drop off point for the rations, and when I come back she was gone from home.” He picked up her hand and held it tightly, his skin going white from the force of his grasp, his body seeming to shrivel up from the effort of recounting his story. “Looked for her for three weeks, must’ve walked the entire Level twice. Lost hope halfway through, but I couldn’t quit. Got back a few days ago and there she was, thrashing about like an animal. I tried taking care of her for a few days, but she just won’t stop. Keeps going like that for a few minutes and then just goes--” His voice wavered slightly, and his throat closed up on him, cutting off his sentence.
“Like this?” I asked. Philip took a moment to compose himself, closing his eyes tight for a moment before continuing.
“Yes. She stays like this for hours now. It started off as just a few minutes, maybe ten, and now hours.” He stood and walked over to the wall, glaring at a piece of the chaotic mural covering the room. “She painted this, you know, a few months ago. She was reading, that book on the ground there. Got up and left, came back with paint, left, came back with more. Never told me where she got it, no matter how much I asked.” He chuckled softly. “Threw this all over the walls, and when I ask her what it was, she says ‘Can’t you tell? It’s a sunrise.’”
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Again, this is a work in progress. Please post any thoughts you have and thank you for your time.

MS

kitsunescholar
May 8th, 2013, 10:11 PM
I took the time to read it and i wasn't bored. It was interesting! I actually feel sorry for this doctor and the zombie like condition of the starers is cool. You might add in a bit more description of the city but what is here is certainly well written and doesn't need much touch up. I will try to read more of it in the future.

Folcro
May 9th, 2013, 01:38 AM
My interest in your world and sympathy for your characters made this a difficult work to critique outside-the-box, but I just managed to pull it together.

As you plan on giving this an overhaul in the near future, I'll try not to get too specific with my suggestions, but sometimes I can't help myself.

You begin the story with a dream. I would really reconsider that. It has become a rather common go-to for story kick-off. In fact, one author told me that starting with your protagonist waking up at all is usually a bad idea.

"Our home was a pathetic, one room cavity carved into Level 17"--- I like this opening, but I think it would give the word "pathetic" more emphasis to say "Our home was Pathetic. A one-room cavity carved into Level 17."

As Monroe describes his living situation, he seems to state the obvious. Rather than tell me how angry he is, have him show me how his anger is affecting his life three months after the fact. To do this, it might be easier to switch to third person. Also: I'm having a difficult time seeing his home. You say it's carved, but into what, exactly?

I didn't like when his blind, quadriplegic son started calling and Monroe's first thought was to wait for him to change his mind. However, as I read more, I saw where you were going with it and actually, I find the direction sumptuously depressing--- perfect. Still, though, I would give the reader time to like Monroe before Monroe's less-perfect parts start popping up. For now, I would stick with that one thing--- the mule. It triggers anger in Monroe, and he resents himself for it. THAT I can understand 100%.

I see a good opportunity with that particular part...

I would show Monroe doing something--- something simple, yet struggling with it due to his disability, the anger of it all seeping in. Getting deeper. He throws what he was doing to the floor in frustration, starts crying quietly, seething. His son calls. Monroe struggles to put his leg on--- no time to think about his own problems--- just rushes, tripping over himself to advance a single yard. Then we see all the things he has to do just to help his son survive another moment. This is his life.

When Monroe describes his leg, how he wishes it were real, it might add a creepy depth of realism to tack on at the end of this description something like: "even still... sometimes it itched."

If you mentioned his son's age in your prologue, don't. Or at least try not to. The reveal in this chapter was perfect. I saw a little kid, then the big 23 hit me--- partly because it's my age. Brilliant.

I think you should describe Level 17 a little better. Where exactly in the city am I as compared to the other levels? On the ground? (presumably so, but would still like some more "grounding" on your part). How about a dense, orange cloud of filth that makes the upper levels and the sky impossible to see, separating Level 17 into its own world?

"They weren't in demand, and they weren't necessary."--- Put a line where the comma is and cross out the side of your choosing.

"I walked." I liked this little sentence, but I think it could have been a little more effective had you put more detail of terror into your one paragraph (and it should remain only one, or one paragraph and one line) describing Level 17. SHOW me how this place can kill me.

You don't need to say the furniture was falling apart if you say that its pieces were close by. The second sentence was perfect all on its own. You show here that you have a sense of "show, not tell." Just knock out that first sentence.

You ended with a bang. I loved that scene describing the sickly woman and her worried husband. It solidifies your showing of a natural ability to make me care about people who don't exist--- In my opinion, the most important trait a storyteller can posses.

A few notes to end on...

Considering Monroe's presumed mentality, I find his narrative a little too poetic and whittled with a few-too many adjectives (nothing catastrophic, just a few unsightly protrusions). It will be easier to get away with this if you switch to third person (don't mean to impose it on you again, just my preferred form). Otherwise, it may do you a service to whip out them shears.

Finally, and I know this is completely out of wack... was the name "Level 17" derived from Half-Life 2? (If you have no idea what I'm talking about, please forget I said anything).

I am genuinely looking forward to immersing myself further into your world and your characters.

msherman94
May 10th, 2013, 02:59 PM
My interest in your world and sympathy for your characters made this a difficult work to critique outside-the-box, but I just managed to pull it together.

As you plan on giving this an overhaul in the near future, I'll try not to get too specific with my suggestions, but sometimes I can't help myself.

You begin the story with a dream. I would really reconsider that. It has become a rather common go-to for story kick-off. In fact, one author told me that starting with your protagonist waking up at all is usually a bad idea.

Right, which is one of the things I plan to change. It was just sort of what happened when I sat down to let creativity do its dirty work. I think I'm going to revise it so instead of waking up staring at the ceiling, it will open with him sitting against the wall staring across the room at his prosthetic, flashes of not a dream going through his mind, but instead of memory.


"Our home was a pathetic, one room cavity carved into Level 17"--- I like this opening, but I think it would give the word "pathetic" more emphasis to say "Our home was Pathetic. A one-room cavity carved into Level 17."

Good suggestion, will definitely consider it.


As Monroe describes his living situation, he seems to state the obvious. Rather than tell me how angry he is, have him show me how his anger is affecting his life three months after the fact. To do this, it might be easier to switch to third person. Also: I'm having a difficult time seeing his home. You say it's carved, but into what, exactly?

The "carved" adjective is a placeholder word. It's not at all the image I wanted to portray, and will likely be replaced instead with a far more clinical sounding word.


I didn't like when his blind, quadriplegic son started calling and Monroe's first thought was to wait for him to change his mind. However, as I read more, I saw where you were going with it and actually, I find the direction sumptuously depressing--- perfect. Still, though, I would give the reader time to like Monroe before Monroe's less-perfect parts start popping up. For now, I would stick with that one thing--- the mule. It triggers anger in Monroe, and he resents himself for it. THAT I can understand 100%.

This is one of the purposes the prologue/opening chapter (I haven't quite decided which it will be) is going to serve. I hope to portray Monroe as an excellent father, a loving husband. He is respected as a doctor and treated as a highly productive member of society. Only when he finally hears about this breakthrough on the starers does the "accident" happen, and his life turn to hell.


When Monroe describes his leg, how he wishes it were real, it might add a creepy depth of realism to tack on at the end of this description something like: "even still... sometimes it itched."

Actually, it does suffer from muscle spasms, especially in high stress situations. Will be portrayed next segment.


If you mentioned his son's age in your prologue, don't. Or at least try not to. The reveal in this chapter was perfect. I saw a little kid, then the big 23 hit me--- partly because it's my age. Brilliant.

Will do my best.


I think you should describe Level 17 a little better. Where exactly in the city am I as compared to the other levels? On the ground? (presumably so, but would still like some more "grounding" on your part). How about a dense, orange cloud of filth that makes the upper levels and the sky impossible to see, separating Level 17 into its own world?

This is something that I fail to portray properly in this section alone, and I apologize for any confusion. Will make a new post describing the setting of the Tower City.


"They weren't in demand, and they weren't necessary."--- Put a line where the comma is and cross out the side of your choosing.

Thanks, simple lack of editing on my part.


"I walked." I liked this little sentence, but I think it could have been a little more effective had you put more detail of terror into your one paragraph (and it should remain only one, or one paragraph and one line) describing Level 17. SHOW me how this place can kill me.


No worries, I'll be taking care of this next segment. ;)


You don't need to say the furniture was falling apart if you say that its pieces were close by. The second sentence was perfect all on its own. You show here that you have a sense of "show, not tell." Just knock out that first sentence.


Will do.


You ended with a bang. I loved that scene describing the sickly woman and her worried husband. It solidifies your showing of a natural ability to make me care about people who don't exist--- In my opinion, the most important trait a storyteller can posses.

Thank you kindly.


A few notes to end on...

Considering Monroe's presumed mentality, I find his narrative a little too poetic and whittled with a few-too many adjectives (nothing catastrophic, just a few unsightly protrusions). It will be easier to get away with this if you switch to third person (don't mean to impose it on you again, just my preferred form). Otherwise, it may do you a service to whip out them shears.

This is really just a side-effect of my writing style. Once I finish the book, God willing, I'll come back through it with a scalpel and change the entire thing to better match Monroe's voice.


Finally, and I know this is completely out of wack... was the name "Level 17" derived from Half-Life 2? (If you have no idea what I'm talking about, please forget I said anything).

While I am indeed familiar with your source material, I didn't even think of that until now. I just liked the way "Level Seventeen" sounded haha. May have to change it.


I am genuinely looking forward to immersing myself further into your world and your characters.

Again, thank you. I look forward to posting. Will make a short post describing the city, followed by a few days of silence while I slap another few thousand words into the processor. See you around.

MS

msherman94
May 10th, 2013, 03:05 PM
I took the time to read it and i wasn't bored. It was interesting! I actually feel sorry for this doctor and the zombie like condition of the starers is cool. You might add in a bit more description of the city but what is here is certainly well written and doesn't need much touch up. I will try to read more of it in the future.

Thanks, I'll try to put more up ASAP.

msherman94
May 10th, 2013, 03:17 PM
On the setting.

The book, currently called "The Tower City" (working title), takes place in what most of its residents know only as "The city". It is not a city in the regular sense, but instead a single massive construct, a skyscraper a hundred miles wide, separated by level/floor not only geographically but also socio-economically. The first five levels are the prison, filled with murderers, rapists, and thieves. In the tower city all crimes above what we would consider a misdemeanor are punished by transfer to the prison, which is thought by those that know of it to be rampant with cannibalism and violence.

Above the prison district, starting at Level 6 and ending at Level 31, are the slums. These are only a step above the prisons, with very little in the way of law or resource. Those who break a misdemeanor crime are transferred here, along with the majority of those who would prove themselves liabilities to the state, such as the physically or mentally handicapped. This level is fed based on a rationing system, and there is never enough food to go around.

Above the slums, starting at Level 32 and reaching to level 57 is the industrial district, the lower working class. Their primary responsibility is to manufacture goods for the higher levels, and it's populace is paid hourly wages of food.

Got to go for the time being. Will post more shortly.

Folcro
May 10th, 2013, 03:37 PM
On the setting.

The book, currently called "The Tower City" (working title), takes place in what most of its residents know only as "The city". It is not a city in the regular sense, but instead a single massive construct, a skyscraper a hundred miles wide, separated by level/floor not only geographically but also socio-economically. The first five levels are the prison, filled with murderers, rapists, and thieves. In the tower city all crimes above what we would consider a misdemeanor are punished by transfer to the prison, which is thought by those that know of it to be rampant with cannibalism and violence.

Above the prison district, starting at Level 6 and ending at Level 31, are the slums. These are only a step above the prisons, with very little in the way of law or resource. Those who break a misdemeanor crime are transferred here, along with the majority of those who would prove themselves liabilities to the state, such as the physically or mentally handicapped. This level is fed based on a rationing system, and there is never enough food to go around.

Above the slums, starting at Level 32 and reaching to level 57 is the industrial district, the lower working class. Their primary responsibility is to manufacture goods for the higher levels, and it's populace is paid hourly wages of food.

Got to go for the time being. Will post more shortly.

Ohhhhkay. Much clearer now. But wow, that's goign to be a challenge to describe thoroughly throughout your story, especially in the beginning. Sort of reminds me of the great construct used to advertise Civilization III. Any way, by all means, rest as often as you need, but make sure you're writing everyday. Even if it's just one line. Keep your subconscious hard at work, even if you think you're resting.