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View Full Version : The Scorching (working title) (Post-Apoc)(language)



Tbird0000
November 19th, 2013, 11:38 AM
Prologue

Ever hear of the Solar Max? Yeah, neither had I. Itís a period in time when the activity on the sun is at its strongest. The newscasts had reported that there would only be minor electrical interference. They couldnít have been more wrong about it. Two years now. Thatís how long itís been since the flares hit. They came in waves. The first one disrupted every piece of equipment on the planet burning out satellites and rendering all electronics useless. The blackout lasted days. There was mass hysteria worldwide and entire countries had collapsed. Everything was lost; a complete breakdown of transportation, communications, banking and financing systems. The fall of modern day man, as I refer to it.

The second flare was what did the world in. The single moment in history that will never be forgotten by anyone that made it indoors before the scorching. A single solar flare responsible for burning everything unprotected. Unimaginable heat had incinerated everyone I ever cared about. I was inside when it happened and I survived the horror, the horror of Hell on Earth. It was the ocean that saved the planet in the end. The spontaneous evaporation that created a rain cooling everything on the surface. We, the ones that were left, were lucky another flare never came. Unlucky, that everything was gone and that our lives had been changed forever.

Chapter 1

Iíve never been so exhausted. Never breathed so hard that I felt my lugs would explode in my chest. I trained day in and day out to be this war machine, this person with a body of steel. And yet, the pain that is coursing through every fiber in my body is excruciating. I have to keep running, I canít stop, I have to keep on moving. My life depends on it. If only there was a safe haven somewhere. But there never will be. Itís the same thing all the time. Just donít die. Thatís what I have to tell myself. I have to get away, I have to hide, I need to live. The city is so big when all you do is run and hide. Guess itís a good thing I was getting my ass handed to me by my First Sergeant every day. ďGive me a hundred, you smartass!Ē is what heíd say no matter the attitude I had. ďCome see me after youíve run a mile, I donít like the way your boots look today, theyíre too clean.Ē Bastard. But Iím grateful now.

Behind me there were the sounds of rapid shoe patter, I could feel it beneath my boots. They were chasing me and getting closer. I could hear glass breaking from behind me. They were on my coattail, and I had to keep moving.

Jackson was running down a street littered with cars and trucks. Overgrowth had taken the roads by now. There were tall weeds and grass coming through the concrete and thick vines had grown up the sides of the buildings and houses. Behind him were the horrific sounds of desperate people chasing him out of hunger. The sound of death was drawing ever closer. He turned only to see them rounding the corner and putting him right in their sights. They were ravenous looking. Their only purpose in life was to hunt down and kill any remaining human survivors. They used to be people before all this, just normal people with goals and families. Jackson had seen them tear people to scraps in a matter of minutes.

He had a plan in place and the chase was all part of his scheme to take down his pursuers. This group in particular had been sniffing him out for days. It was time he ended this cat and mouse game. Up ahead was a bridge that ran over the street. There, he would spring his trap. If only he could get there. By now the tension in his legs and chest was almost too much to handle. But this was life and death. Better to be exhausted than become someoneís lunch ticket. They grew closer as they weaved between cars making their way to Jackson. He lost his footing and rolled to the ground, his rifle sliding just out of arms reach. At this point, the only thing he could think of was his impending death. His life was going to end.

The hunters slowed their pace to that of a brisk walk. They knew this mouse was out of steam and had exerted every ounce of energy to this point. They drew closer moving between the brushes of grass until they were twenty feet away. Just a few more steps he thought. Youíve been chasing me this long, and now Iím just a few feet away, what are you waiting for? They smelled repugnant even from this distance. Their clothes were covered in blood and pieces of human flesh. They stared at Jackson, on the ground, insatiably. Some were licking their lips and thrusting their hips in a sexual innuendo. One of the men was laughing loudly and yelling into the air as he was slamming his hand repeatedly on the hood of a car. And with that, the hunters moved forward sure of what was about to happen.

Chapter 2

The hunters shambled closer right into his trap that was set earlier that day. The trip wire was attached to a row of claymore proximity mines Jackson had acquired from an abandoned Army truck. This brought a smile to his face when the hunters, in their last moment alive, lunged for him and were consumed in the explosive hellfire that followed. Blood spewed in all directions covering everything, even Jackson.

The hunters were in chunks and parts all around him. Jackson lay on the ground soaking in his victory for just a second; after all, every second was life or death in the world he now knew. He got up after catching his breath and slumped over them like a gladiator stepping on the chest of his dead opponent. Satisfaction is what he felt. Accomplishment even. Like he had destroyed the last of them. But he knew there were more, many, many more. He heard the faint sound of moaning coming from behind him. He turned and saw one of the hunters on the ground, missing his left arm and right leg, attempting to crawl away. He was bloodied and looked up at Jackson with his only good eye. He walked to him and stood over looking down not feeling sorry for one second as he smashed the manís skull with the bottom of his boot. There was a sickening crunching sound of bone soon followed with the spilling of brains on the cold concrete. A fitting death for a man such as him.

How far had he run? Must have been a mile or two. His hideout was pretty far away. Better get going if he was going to make it by nightfall. Cannibals or whatever they could be called were many. Once, he had seen them from a distance stalking a group of survivors foraging for food and supplies. They crept along the building hiding in the shadows circling in for the kill. They didnít stand a chance. Too bad about the food and supplies that were gathered too, such a waste. They grabbed everything so Jackson couldnít go get what he needed.

On the way back to his hideout, he spotted a hardware store. Alas, he thought, he hadnít seen one in awhile. Always the cautious type, Jackson had slung his rifle and was ready for anything. He approached the door from the side so as not to stand directly in front of the glass. He peeked through the posters and flyers glued to the outside of the window. He saw nothing but that didnít mean the danger wasnít there. Up on top of the door was a bell for entering customers. Attention to detail. One of the best personality traits the marines had taught him. One minute detail was the difference between a silent ambush or a bloody shootout. He opened the door carefully and grabbed the bell so as to not make any noise. Once inside he dipped behind the checkout counter nearby listening for anything that might have heard him coming in. Nothing. Silence. Just ringing silence.

He peered over the countertop and surveyed the area. Looked all clear but looks could be deceiving. He took the extra minute to sit and observe everything. The ravished news papers and broken glass on the ground. He didnít want to be that idiot like in the horror movies that kicked a can of soda in the most inopportune moment. The aisles were in a line like youíd expect of a hardware store. The lights were off and that would make things easier. He could move much more quietly and hidden in the dark.

He got up and stared down the barrel of his rifle. Time to secure the area, he thought. He walked carefully one foot in front of the other making sure to avoid any obstacles on the ground. Up and down the aisles he walked looking high and low. He just had to be sure he was the only one in here. He made his way to the back near where the managerís office would be located. He couldnít be for sure but he thought he heard something, like the ruffling of paper. He stopped in his tracks and put his back to the wall giving a clear line of sight on both sides of him. He heard it again. This time, he knew that he wasnít alone in the building. He walked down the hallway very slowly. He slung his rifle back and went to grab his combat knife sheathed on his chest for a stealthier kill. Bullets were hard to come by and were used only in the direst of moments.

Before he could wrap his hands around his knife, he heard the spinning and whirring of boot spurs on the linoleum and froze in place as he saw two men round the corner with a murderous look in their eyes.

REFER TO POST #10 FOR CHAPTERS 3 AND 4.

escorial
November 19th, 2013, 01:36 PM
It reminded me of The Day of the Triffids...I wonder were your heading!

popsprocket
November 19th, 2013, 02:05 PM
It wasnít so long ago that the world was a normal place. People were living and breathing and going about their days in a complacent manner;
This reads awkwardly because your pluralisation is kind of strange. 'People' being plural doesn't necessarily require their action to be plural, but I changed it to 'days' anyway because it reads much better. Remember that if it improves the flow of a sentence, rules can be bent and broken to suit your needs.


driving to work, catching the subways or riding the bus through heavily populated metropolises (a metropolitan is a person who lives in a metropolis). Itís amazing the percentage of the world that is outside at any given time.
That last sentence is kind of wrong. It would either be:

It's amazing, the percentage of the world that is outside at any given time.
OR
It's amazing what percentage of the world is outside at any given time.


Did you know that ninety-eight percent of the world population is going about their business outdoors? Everything was normal, until it wasnít. I remember waking up for work early in the mornings and drinking my coffee, reading current events through the newsfeeds on my tablet. Technology and science were my favorite articles. The world was booming with new inventions at an alarming rate. But nothing could have stopped what happened. Not even the brightest minds in the world could prepare us for the series of events that unfolded.
At this point it starts to fell like its dragging on. Admittedly, it's not a bad idea to hook the reader with teasers of what is happening, but I don't feel like it's working in this particular case. You would be far better off just cutting to the chase rather than dancing around it.


Iím a U.S. Marine. Staff Sergeant Ryan P. Jackson, Sniper.
Snore. Every time a character introduces themselves in full - titles and all - on the first page of a book (excusing those doing it for effect or for irony), a kitten somewhere drops dead.


Good eyes and even better hands. There isnít a target Iím not able to shoot within centimeters.
This doesn't sound like much of a boast. I won't claim to be an expert on shooting, but I can tell you that 'within centimetres' is what the Australian army considers to be a minimum accuracy score.


I was, and to be technical, am still that good. But times have changed. One day you're sipping coffee, and the next, you're fighting for survival, being hunted down, struggling for the very next breath. Thatís the world I live in now. Every day is a constant battle to stay alive. It sounds like the works of science fiction, but I can assure you that isnít. It wasnít pleasant and most of the world was gone almost in the blink of an eye. Those of us that were inside when it happened were spared. Those of us that werenít, never even stood a chance.
Your thoughts leap about a bit, but if you insist on having a prologue (see my hatred of prologues below) I would start with this bit. Especially the 'It wasn't pleasant and most of the world was gone in the blink of an eye.'


Ever hear of the Solar Max? Yeah, neither had I. Itís a period in time when the activity on the sun is at its strongest. The newscasts had reported that there would only be minor electrical interference. They couldnít have been more wrong about it. Two years now. Thatís how long itís been since the flares hit. They came in waves. The first one disrupted every piece of equipment on the planet, burning out satellites and rendering all electronics useless. The blackout lasted days. There was mass hysteria worldwide and entire governments collapsed and were overthrown (nitpick - in a few days people went that insane? I know people who can't put down their phone for 30 seconds, but I doubt it came to that so quickly; governments have measures to keep people in line if they really need to). The 'fall of modern day man', as I refer to it.

The second flare was what did the world in. The single moment in history that will never be forgotten by anyone that made it indoors before the scorching. A single solar flare responsible for burning anything and everything unprotected. A thousand degrees. Thatís how hot it was, or so itís said. A thousand degrees
That doesn't sound very hot. A quick google tells me that the internal temperature of a solar flare is more than 10m Kelvins. 1000 degrees is a drop in the ocean beside that kind of temperature. Even still I'm going to pick you up on this: pretty much everything begins to burn when it gets hot enough. Even a thousand degrees would be enough to destroy a house, I'd guess. At the very least you'd superheat the roof tiles and they'd shatter and then the wooden structure of the ceiling and house would be exposed to enough heat to set them alight... It's a technical glitch in your story, but it might be big enough that you ought to reconsider just how people managed to survive at all. Perhaps they got word at the last minute about the second flare and a few people managed to get underground.


of unimaginable heat that incinerated everyone I ever cared about. I was inside when it happened and I survived the horror, the horror of Hell on Earth. It was the ocean that saved the planet, in the end. The spontaneous evaporation that created a rain, cooling everything on the surface. We, the ones that were left, were lucky another flare never came. Unlucky, that everything, (huh? why a comma here?) was gone and that our lives had been changed forever.


As a general note: prologues are bad. That's not a law, but it's a good rule of thumb. The information contained in this one could be inserted naturally into the story proper as it progresses. You gain nothing by giving this little blurb. If your first chapter began with "We barely survived. Seven billion people burnt in an instant." then I, as the reader, immediately know that it's a survival/apocalyptic tale and don't have to read a prologue.

There's some tense confusion in here, but it might be excusable given the format of someone actively telling a story to a listener.

Other than that my edits are marked in red. You seem to have a bit of trouble using commas, but that's nothing that I can really give advice about. It becomes second nature the more you write.

As a whole... I would put this book down. Sorry, that's just the way it is.

The oldest bit of writing advice in the book goes 'begin with (the) action', and I'd imagine that a post apocalyptic book has plenty of action to pack into chapter one.

mber341
November 19th, 2013, 02:17 PM
Firstly, I'm merely a [very] novice writer myself so I'm not going to give you an in-depth critique. What I will do is tell you my opinion from from reading your excerpt, whether it be technically correct or not. Take it as you see fit. :-)

I like the idea you got going on here, but my biggest issue is that it's completely exposition. As a prologue, that's probably the point you're going for, to set up the main character and this apocalyptic world. However, I feel you'd be better off doing away with the prologue altogether and working pretty much everything touched on into the story itself bit by bit. In fact, going over it again, if you really wanted to keep some of the exposition to open the story, I'd start with "Ever hear of the Solar Max? Yeah, neither had I" and ignore everything before it. The first paragraph comes off as unnecessary to me. It's just telling the reader how the world is, which seems rather boring, because it's the world we live in, we know how it is.


But nothing could have stopped what happened. Not even the brightest minds in the world could prepare us for the series of events that unfolded.
This seems like an attempt to hook, but it only reminds me of those infomercials at night that ask you to stay tuned in and eventually they'll tell us the secret to success. Especially when you then jump to the MC (main character) and his profession instead of telling us what happened. Don't use these kinds of cheap delays to create your hook. The Solar Max is your hook. That's what's exciting and interesting, and wants me reading more.

Regarding the MC, again the exposition feels unnecessary. Is it absolutely essential that we know his profession and how good he is with a rifle before the story starts? Couldn't that all be introduced in a more captivating manner within the story itself? Perhaps you already have with the next chapter, who knows?

The bulk of my post seems pretty negative because I'm pointing out what doesn't work for me, but please don't take it as such. I think you have an interesting concept here that can be better displayed by jumping right into the story of Ryan P. Jackson and his new life in this scorched Earth. In fact, you hadn't given any clue to what this world is like now that the flares had stopped. Sure society had fallen, billions dead, governments overthrown, but how's the planet? Are there some places people can't go because of what happened, or is the worst danger now what society has become? Ryan called himself a U.S Marine, instead of was. Does this mean he still fights for American sovereignty, or perhaps he's a mercenary, or does he now only use his skills for personal survival?

So many interesting things to wonder about I'm sure you answer within the story itself, so you should drop us in the middle of it right off the bat. That's my only real suggestion (which is again only my opinion).

Happy writing!

Edit: Ahh, when I started this reply I was the first one. Thank goodness popsprocket appeared to better articulate what I was trying to say. And in less words.

Tbird0000
November 19th, 2013, 02:27 PM
Thank you for the comments. This is the very first story I have written since high school. That was about 10 years ago. Now that I re read it I can see some of the points being made. Opening with the solar max seems a lot better than what I have. Yes the story does get more in depth. This was just an attempt to capture the reader. Seems with a few tweaks I can get the effect I'm going for. The more chapters I have written the better my writing has gotten IMO. What say you to chapter 1 then? I can upload it when I get up in the morning. The story is progressing better than I hoped it would.and honestly its still suspenseful even to me after reading it a million times.

Tbird0000
November 19th, 2013, 02:41 PM
Refer to Post #1 for Chapter 1 and 2.

Tbird0000
November 20th, 2013, 06:58 AM
Updated the Prologue a bit and took out a whole paragraph.

paco
December 2nd, 2013, 10:26 AM
I'm also a novice writer, so feel free to disregard anything I say! Congrats on actually getting a piece up and out there, you're doing better than me. Overall I found the start a bit shaky, but by the time I got to the end I was looking for the link to the next part of it so I could read more! Not bad at all.

Here are a few things I noticed while reading it:


I trained day in and day out to be this war machine, this person with a body of steel.

This pulled me out of the story. Sounded really arrogant and made me dislike the character. Also felt a bit too direct - I felt like you the writer was talking, not the character. Maybe you could imply it via something like "at least all those years of military training weren't wasted."


Jackson had seen them tear people to scraps in a matter of minutes.

I really liked that! It had a really visceral quality about it and pulled me in.


Up on top of the door was a bell for entering customers. Attention to detail. One of the best personality traits the marines had taught him. One minute detail was the difference between a silent ambush or a bloody shootout.

I really liked that bit too. Felt like I learn't something and it wasn't immediately obvious.


He slung his rifle back and went to grab his combat knife sheathed on his chest for a stealthier kill. Bullets were hard to come by and were used only in the direst of moments.

Also a nice detail. Not sure about "direst" but hey, it's still nice.

I agree with the other comments about the prologue. Overall I found chapter 2 really good and strong, but it was let down a bit by the beginning. The idea of trapping the hunters has also been done a million times, so reading it was a bit like going through the motions for me.

Tbird0000
December 2nd, 2013, 11:54 AM
Yeah I found that writing in the beginning was hard as I didn't know what style to use. Now that I'm 16 chapters in. My writing has kind of blossomed. The first few chapters were the hurdle to be honest. I will upload chapter 3 and 4 in the morning.

glenn84
December 10th, 2013, 10:59 PM
I like the idea. But as others have already mentioned there is an excessive amount of uneccessary wordage in the first chapter. Which is normal for a first draft. My advice would be to finish the entire thing first before coming back to it. I find that taking some time away from the the first chapter and focusing on writing helps the creative juices flow. Ideas that you never thought about in the beginning sometimes come much later, and they can definitely help when you finally decide to write your 2nd draft.

Tbird0000
December 11th, 2013, 03:41 AM
Yes I have agreed on the coming back and rewriting the first few chapters. I was still kind of discovering a style of writing and I only really found it after 10 chapters in. So yes, a rewrite is in order. I think I can actually have the story wrapped up in a month netting close to 65k words.

stew1426
December 11th, 2013, 04:07 AM
I'm a big fan of post-apocalyptic stories. And the method of the downfall of man isn't what gets me excited. It's how the characters react when society is turned on its head, when our concept of basic morality is challenged on a daily basis. I agree with some others here that the prologue feels a bit clunky. I also think it takes away some opportunities for great story telling later on. I don't need to see the earth fall as a result of the solar flare (that would be a book in itself), but I would like to see (through dialogue or memories or the protagonist flashing back or whatever device works best), some of the mass hysteria and the carnage and its effects on the characters. I feel that bluntly declaring the "earth scorched, people flipped out" glosses over some interesting stuff. Maybe start with a focused scene of the protagonist scrambling to take refuge as the sun flares, he looks out the window and sees some people incinerated, then flash forward?

Some technical stuff - hiding in the house while the rest of the world burns doesn't seem believable. The house would definitely burn down. Maybe have some kind of underground bunker or something, lined with asbestos. I don't know if that works any better.

And the point of view shift from first person to third person was jarring.

Tbird0000
December 11th, 2013, 04:15 AM
Thank you stew1426. Oddly enough, I have already written that chapter into the story pretty much exactly as you explained it. Sitting at 20 chapters and 3 of them are direct flashbacks to when everything happened. One when Jackson comes home from deployment, one for the blackout, and one (IMO needs tighter writing) for the scorching. I can upload 2 more chapters if everyone feels like it would be a good read. Not a probs at all :)