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View Full Version : Standing Alone (Chapter 1)



Aiyooona
May 27th, 2013, 04:15 PM
This is one of my first novels, so critique away!

Alone, in the middle of the dark road, stood a dark figure, watching. No one knew who he was, or where he had come from. Taking the straw out of his mouth, he threw it to the ground and took a deep breath. “Um, sir?”
“What?” the figure demanded.
“When will it be time?”
The figure stopped and laughed with a cold, dark smile and answered,” be patient, my apprentice. The time has almost come. Its very close.”

“As you can see, the wind patterns in this area of the United States cause many twisters to touch down here in Oklahoma. Any questions?”
I raised my hand. “Ms. Folkenburg, why do people live here if they might die from tornadoes?”
“Sure we have twisters. Every place has a fault, but sometimes, you fall in love with a place and there is nothing that can keep you away.” She turned to sit down in her chair. Just as she was about to sit, she cried in surprise and stood up. “There- there was a tack on my chair! Who did-“ she stopped in her tracks. “Bergitta!” I turned and looked at her. “Yes ma’am.”
“This is the third time this week, and its Thursday!”
“But ma’am, its so funny!”
“We’ll see how funny it is when you have after school detention for a week!”
“Alright ma’am. Can I do some pranks, there too?”

I’m not a bad kid. I just love practical jokes, don’t you? Its funny to see people’s faces when they discover something odd, gross, or creepy. But, I’m not a bad kid as I said before, I’m just a prankster. Oh, by the way, I’m Bergitta. I’m 14 years old,in the eighth grade, and number 3 of 7 kids. I’m the oddball of my family. While the rest of my family has black hair and blue eyes, I have dirty blonde hair with green eyes. Not that I’m complaining. I like to be different. But sometimes its hard. You know, with everyone thinking I’m adopted. Not only is my appearance different, so is my personality. The rest of my family is quiet and collected and generally focuses on their school work, I love sports, and anything active, including pranks. That gets me into trouble sometimes.
“I’ll see you at home, Bergitta. I’ll tell mom you had to stay after.”
I couldn’t help but smile. “Thanks Colbs.”

Colby is my older brother, but not by much. As a matter of fact, we’re twins. He’s my best friend- well, one of them. My other best friend is Colby’s best friend, Jorgen. We’ve been the three amigos since the 1st grade, and we have the best fun.
“Bergitta. Why do you keep on pulling pranks on everyone?”
“It’s fun!”
“But, they are rude and disrespectful!”
I sighed. “I’ll try and do better.”
“Good. That’s all I can ask of you. Now I want you to sit here quietly and do your work until 4:00. Then you can go home.”
I rolled my eyes. “Okay.”
Ms. Folkenburg sat down at her desk and began to grade the papers from our science test yesterday. I had finally settled down and had become focused enough to work on my math homework, when someone opened the door. I don’t even know how to explain what he looked like. When he glanced at me, I stopped cold. I couldn’t tear my eyes from his, mainly because if I did, I knew I wouldn’t be able to look at him again. Behind him stood a boy, probably about fifteen or sixteen, with blonde hair and green eyes. He was short and stocky, and he seemed almost…. Scared. He cleared his voice and directed his question to me. “Excuse me. I’m looking for Alexandria Folkenburg.” His raspy voice…did he drink acid when he was a kid? Unable to speak, I pointed to my teacher, who sat at her desk, totally zoned out.
“Thank you, young lady. “ He went to her desk, put his hand on her shoulder, and whispered in her ear. The moment his hand touched her shoulder, she first flinched, then froze when she realized whose hand it was. She looked up, surprised, then gave a nervous laugh and said, “Well, go- good afternoon! It’s been a long time!” The boy stayed by the door, uncomfortably looking around. I glanced at the clock. 3:59. I stood up and gathered my books. “Well, this has been fun, Ms. Folkenburg, but it’s four o’ clock and I’m gonna head home.”
“Okay. See you tomorrow, Bergitta”
Don’t say my name! My mind screamed. I didn’t know these people, but something about them wasn’t right. I smiled at the man and headed towards the door. I slowed my pace as I approached the boy. He turned and held the door open for me. I smiled and asked, “What’s your name?” He looked at the ground and mumbled, ”Frederick”.
“Nice to meet you.” I started to turn away, but he grabbed my arm. “Run.” He whispered. “Run away as fast as you can and don’t turn back.”
I hung up the phone hastily. I gasped for air, trying to regain a sense of logic. My heart beat a million miles per hour, and my temples throbbed. I looked up at Colby. He had reacted the same way as me. "Are you sure this isn't some kind of prank?" he asked me. I knew it wasn't a prank. There was something about that man...
"No. This is real. And so is the danger." I replied. It was all I could say. I had some money saved up. So, Colby and I did the only thing that seemed logical. We packed our bags, snuck out of the house in the middle of the night, and caught the next plane to Washington.
"Are you sure this is a good idea?" Colby asked me. I shrugged. " You got a better idea?" He looked at the ground. "That's what I thought." We passed airport security, and boarded the airplane. We sat down uncomfortably and got ready fro the flight. I felt like someone was watching me. I slowly turned around, only to see a boy, he looked like Frederick, but his eyes.... they were dark and cold. It WASN'T him...
I tapped Colby on the shoulder and informed him of my plan. Apparently, this boy, was working for that man... he was following us, or could I say, stalking? To this day, I can't remember what he looked like, just his eyes. We stayed on the plane, but the moment the plane touched the ground, I stood up and ran to the escape hatch by the wing of the plane. Before anyone had time to respond, we bolted out of the plane and took off running down the runway. I heard yelling from all sides of us. As we turned, men from three sides began closing in on us. The fence was our other option. Since there was no possible and humanly way we could climb it, we did the next best thing...
Chapter 2
I grabbed the chain link fence and started kicking at it, trying to break it free from the ground. Colby dug into the ground and pulled it up. We both climbed under it and took off down the road. I heard the men telling the others to let us go, and that we weren’t worth it. We kept running until I collapsed about an hour later. As I tried to fill my lungs with air once again, Colby tried to figure out where we were. He finally concluded that we were in Seattle. Of course, we should have known because of the rain. My phone rang in my pocket. It was Frederick. “Hello?”
He seemed out of breath. “They lost you. Keep moving though. He won’t give up.”
"Well, I can't keep moving forev-"
"He's tracing this call. i have to go. Keep moving, and good luck"
"Wait, what do I-"
The phone stayed silent. He had hung up. I threw the phone on the ground in frustration and turned to sit on a bench. Colby quietly picked up the phone from the ground and sat down under a nearby tree. I put my face in my hands, trying to gather up my feelings. Colby put his hand on my shoulder. At least, I thought it was his hand. For some reason, his hand was unusually large, cold, and the way the hand squeezed my shoulder was dark and creepy. I removed my face from my hands and looked at the feet that the hands belonged to. My eyes traveled upwards until I reached the figure's face. It was....him..... I looked to the side and saw that his henchmen were holding Colby's limp body. He must have been knocked out.

JamesOliv
May 28th, 2013, 04:50 PM
This flowed much more smoothly for me. I like your tweaks to dialogue. The dialogue seems much more natural.

On this read, one thing that jumped out at me is how (I believe) it is impossible to have green eyes if everyone in your family has blue eyes. Both are recessive traits (versus having blonde hair in a family with black hair, as it would be possible for both parents to possess a recessive blonde gene which could be passed to one of the children). I'm sure the eye thing is relevant as the apprentice seems to have a similar coloring.

For me, this sort of thing poses a tiny problem only because I don't know if you acknowledge the impossibility of the green eyes or made the mistake out of misunderstanding. So I would simply advise that, in keeping with Chekhov's gun, unless that eye color is going to become relevant quickly, consider positioning it later in the story.

But that is just a little detail. So far, the story is proving quite interesting.

Aiyooona
May 28th, 2013, 11:20 PM
Thanks! I'm glad you caught on, as I was trying to make they whole eye thing impossible, as it will be important later on in the story. I have one small question though: Does the man with brown hair... does he seem... creepy? scary? mysterious? at all odd? because that is what I was aiming for.... and that will be important later on in the story as well, so I have to make sure that he has those traits.

JamesOliv
May 29th, 2013, 01:02 AM
It's OK, but it doesn't instill a deep sense of creepiness. Let's look at a quote from Harry Potter:

Voldemort in the graveyard: "You know of course, that they have called this boy my downfall?" Voldemort said softly, his red eyes upon Harry, whose scar began to burn so fiercely that he almost screamed in agony. "You all know that on the night I lost my powers and my body, I tried to kill him. His mother died in the attempt to save him -- and unwittingly provided him with a protection I admit I had not foreseen.... I could not touch the boy."
Voldemort raised one of his long white fingers and put it very close to Harry's cheek.

Notice how Rowling didn't info dump Volemort's physical description. Little physical traits are mentioned when relevant. We only know voldemort has red eyes when those red eyes look at Harry. We only know he has long white fingers when they are moved near Harry's cheek. Rowling could have said:

Voldemort had red eyes and his skin was white and pasty. He stood seven feet tall, but his long white fingers were most unnerving...

But, had she done so, the entire description would be a dry, clinical read. As she wrote it, it really helps you form an image of Voldemort in your own mind. And it is a very creepy image indeed.

Your physical description of the guy isn't particularly scary. He is scruffy and tall. That describes the guy who makes me my caramel macchiato in the morning. But even without a peculiar physique, you can help make him scarier by allowing me to form an image of him in my mind rather than presenting the entire physical description in one sentence.

I hope this helps.

Aiyooona
May 29th, 2013, 04:26 AM
Ohhhh. I see what you mean now. Does this instill a little more creepiness? Still a work in progress, but I think I'm headed in the right direction.
I kinda changed up the paragraph...

I don’t even know how to explain what he looked like. When he glanced at me, I stopped cold. I couldn’t tear my eyes from his, mainly because if I did, I knew I wouldn’t be able to look at him again. Behind him stood a boy, probably about fifteen or sixteen, with blonde hair and green eyes. He was short and stocky, and he seemed almost…. Scared. He cleared his voice and directed his question to me. “Excuse me. I’m looking for Alexandria Folkenburg.” His raspy voice…did he drink acid when he was a kid? Unable to speak, I pointed to my teacher, who sat at her desk, totally zoned out.
“Thank you, young lady. “ He went to her desk, put his hand on her shoulder, and whispered in her ear. The moment his hand touched her shoulder, she first flinched, then froze when she realized whose hand it was. She looked up, surprised, then gave a nervous laugh and said, “Well, go- good afternoon! It’s been a long time!” The boy stayed by the door, uncomfortably looking around. I glanced at the clock. 3:59. I stood up and gathered my books. “Well, this has been fun, Ms. Folkenburg, but it’s four o’ clock and I’m gonna head home.”
“Okay. See you tomorrow, Bergitta”
Don’t say my name! My mind screamed. I didn’t know these people, but something about them wasn’t right. I smiled at the man and headed towards the door. I slowed my pace as I approached the boy. He turned and held the door open for me. I smiled and asked, “What’s your name?” He looked at the ground and mumbled, ”Frederick”.
“Nice to meet you.” I started to turn away, but he grabbed my arm. “Run.” He whispered. “Run away as fast as you can and don’t turn back.”

Vincent Reng
July 15th, 2013, 05:19 PM
Honestly...the way Bergitta introduces herself makes her seem kind of like...a brat, not all that likeable a character. I mean, unless that's what you're going for, but, otherwise, there's not much connection between the reader and the protagonist. Also, the sentences can be kind of choppy, and there are places where commas aren't needed. i.e. (I heard the men telling the others to let us go, and that we weren’t worth it.) Also, it seemed kind of odd to me that a girl would just immediately think to flee the area in an airplane as soon as some creepy guy came and some stranger told her to run. Certainly she'd have some creeped-out moment, but I think for the situation, it's kind of drastic.

Sintalion
July 16th, 2013, 02:49 PM
1. "Alone, in the middle of the dark road, stood a dark figure, watching. No one knew who he was, or where he had come from. Taking the straw out of his mouth, he threw it to the ground and took a deep breath. “Um, sir?”
“What?” the figure demanded.
“When will it be time?”
The figure stopped and laughed with a cold, dark smile and answered,” be patient, my apprentice. The time has almost come. Its very close.”"

Do we really need this? You can't paint a broader picture here. I don't find this exciting or interesting or even much of a hook (especially because this is told in first person). You'd benefit more from the shock factor. Here's our heroine, going about her life when something extraordinary happens. Let the reader expereience her emotions in first person. You can build dread and suspense without having the reader KNOW something is going to happen in advance.

2. "...is the third time this week, and its Thursday!" Okay so she didn't do it one day? Why do we care about Thursday? Three times says it all.

3. "“Alright ma’am. Can I do some pranks, there too?”" I have to agree with Vincent. Bergitta sounds like a brat and unlikeable. Unless she shows a spark of something else, I wouldn't read on.

4. The dialogue is very choppy, especially at the beginning. I think that's part of why your narrator is so unlikeable. You let her sass for the sake of sassing and waited to say why she does it. Even the why (I'm a good kid but a prankster) is weak and unendearing. You can certainly transform a brat to a nice kid in a story, but you need to give 'em redeeming qualities. Think Tom Sawyer, Huck, etc. You have to make them likeable enough to put up with. It's tricky.

5. "I couldn’t help but smile. “Thanks Colbs.”" Don't forget to transition! You were talking to the teacher then monologue-ing and all of a sudden talking to a voice.

6. "Colby is my older brother, but not by much. As a matter of fact, we’re twins. He’s my best friend- well, one of them. My other best friend is Colby’s best friend, Jorgen. We’ve been the three amigos since the 1st grade, and we have the best fun." This is a perfect example of where you can trim to be smooth and precise.

7. "I don’t even know how to explain what he looked like." No! Do not say this! You are the narrator! We are the readers! We expect you to explain!

8. "then froze when she realized whose hand it was" First person. We don't know she realized anything.

9. "Don’t say my name! My mind screamed. I didn’t know these people, but something about them wasn’t right." Too late? Not great that you included this after the name was spoken. You also don't need to point out that something isn't right. I also don't understand why she'd ask a personal question to the kid if she was feeling so iffy.

10. New speaker? New paragraph.

11. "I hung up the phone hastily. I gasped for air, trying to regain a sense of logic. My heart beat a million miles per hour, and my temples throbbed. I looked up at Colby. He had reacted the same way as me." I'm confused. What phone? I thought Colbs said he'd see her at home? How are they together?

12. I've gotta say that you're flying through scenes. I think you need to slow down and take it a little slow and walk us through this. It's very unconvincing that they'd just up and leave.

13. "He finally concluded that we were in Seattle. Of course, we should have known because of the rain." You took a flight and only ran an hour! I'd expect you to know where you are. The rain thing though- it rains in all kinds of places. How does one rainy hour tell you? Why didn't you mention rain before?

14. Frederick is a friend? How's he have her number and how does she know it's him before saying hello?

This reads as a detailed outline about where you want the story to go. You don't spend nearly enough time developing scenes. For example, the whole pranking thing: not once does she ever prank or crack a joke again. The man doesn't sound like anything because you rushed the scenes. I don't have a good grasp on Colbs let alone a stranger you describe with generic words (large, cold, creepy, scary). Using this as a guide, you could have an interesting story, but you need to expand scenes and characters.