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InS_ght
January 14th, 2014, 09:20 AM
Hello, this is my first post of personal work and I am looking for any feedback regarding my style or pace. Also would you consider this a powerful introduction to a long story? I've started slow by posting my shortest chapter just to get my feet wet, thank you for stopping by.






OPENING Life Underground


A strong manís blood could feed a family of wolves,
but cornered men become wolves when their spirits are broken.
-Undercity Proverb



The nutrient rich floodlights high above the city were starting to dim, suggesting to the underground citizens that dusk was falling. Amber colored streetlights began to flicker to life, painting the streets in a thick layer of ambient light. Undercity, just half a mile under the surface, was starting to sleep. The lazy weather from the surface had ceased the circulation of fresh air into the urban caves, resulting in the backup ventilation pumps slowly humming themselves to life. All throughout the city a dull vibrating hum could be felt as rusty fans pumped the stale air out. Soon the scent of the surface wafted its way into the cityís core, smells of evening dew and moisture. The large fans gave a comforting feeling to citizens of Undercity, like the steady breath and heartbeat of a newborns mother as it rests its head on her chest Ė a white noise that lulled many to sleep this night.

However as tranquil as the city would appear from afar, Undercity is far from a peaceful place. Perhaps it is the lack of real sunlight that turns people into nocturnal creatures, or the segregation from the rest of the world that drives people a little mad. Perhaps most men simply arenít made for underground life, the thousands of tons of stone above them making them feel weighted down. Many could speculate why Undercity became a den of perverted souls, home of thugs and mercenaries, but at the end of the day most would simply say that itís the way things are. Bleeding hearts may think that corrupted men need sympathy, that Undercity is simply where they rest their head. A broken man may feel that the corruption breeds more corruption, and that the gambling, violence and drug cartels of Undercity are simply an infection upon the face of mankind. Perhaps the city is the parasite of society that festers underground and out of sight.

Regardless of what a broken man might say, despite the feelings of the bleeding hearts, there are men who thrive in the darkness of Undercity. The corruption must be fueled by those who revel in it, the greedy men, the violent delinquents. Those who gamble with their life, because they have nothing left to lose. Those who extort from the weak or kill just because they can. Most of these men have a reason, but some donít even need a cause. This story will be populated by such people, and those who live among them Ė seeking family and humanity among the anarchy of violent men.

Gargh
January 14th, 2014, 12:21 PM
A strong man’s blood could feed a family of wolves,
but cornered men become wolves when their spirits are broken.
-Undercity Proverb



Creating proverbs is tough. I'm not sure yours is quite clear enough yet on first reading. It doesn't yet have that feeling of having been passed around generations of lips that have edited it over and over to become as concise as it possibly can be.


The nutrient-rich floodlights high above the city were starting to dim, suggesting to the underground citizens that dusk was falling. Amber colored streetlights began to flicker to life instead, painting the streets in with a thick layer of ambient light. Undercity, just half a mile under beneath the surface, was starting to sleep. The lazy surface weather from the surface had ceased stilled the circulation of fresh air into through the urban caves, resulting in the backup ventilation pumps slowly humming stirring themselves to life. All throughout the city a dull vibrating hum [I would choose one] could be felt as rusty fans pumped the stale air out. Soon the scent of the surface wafted its way into the city’s core, smells of evening dew and moisture. The large fans gave a comforting feeling to the citizens of Undercity, like the steady breath and heartbeat of a newborn's mother as it rests its head on her chest – a white noise that lulled many to sleep this night.


Most of the changes I've made here are because you say the same thing twice or more: that undercity is under, that a hum produces humming. A slight variation in which adjectives you use and when can help improve the flow of your writing. Also, you can be selective about choosing your prepositions to encourage a feeling of movement that I think would be beneficial.

You transition between passive/active voice after this paragraph though, from past to present narrative POV. I'm not sure it works as it is. I think possibly the best thing to do would be to change the opening paragraph to is, not was. So, the first half of the first line would change to
The nutrient-rich floodlights high above the city were started to dim and so on.

Overall, I think choosing to open with this sleepy city scene, contrasted against its violent nature is wonderful. You need to think about how you can build on that imagery fairly quickly though to show, rather than tell, us the true nature of Undercity. Perhaps an immediate piece of action, violence or amoral behaviour, contrasting against the sleepy city portrayal would say more?


And kudos on getting your feet wet, it's not always an easy thing to do :).

thepancreas11
January 14th, 2014, 05:01 PM
Every story needs two things: style and content. A good author learns to write with balance. You have plenty of content here, which is important: you've got a unique world, and we, the readers, are going to need some serious help imagining it. However, the amount of description here takes away from the style of the piece. It's a common mistake of young writers; I know that when I first started writing, I had the same problem. In addition to Gargh's advice, you should take a step back from the story and try to determine what it is that you want to convey. What sound do you want? Do you want a dull hum or a vibrating hum? Do you want ambient light, or do you want amber light? Why are your lights "nutrient-rich"? Does this mean that vitamins or minerals or something are flowing out of the lamps? This doesn't make much sense. Put yourself in that world. What is the first thing you hear? What is the first thing you see? What is it that you smell? Are these elements important to understanding the plot? Yes, then include them. No, then don't.

The second step is to be more direct. Phrases like "suggesting to the citizens" or "resulting in" really chop up your rhythm. Try being more assertive when you speak. The first sentence might look better like this: "The rich beams of the overhead floodlights were starting to dim. For those that lived underground, it meant that night was about to set in." For that second piece, try, "The ground began to vibrate. The nightly ritual had begun. Pump the stale air out, pump new air in." It's not my story, so I'm not really sure how to write those sentences, but it builds the same picture without so many words, right? It even gives you a voice, makes you sound like a narrator. This helps the reader associate with the writing.

For a new writer, I always give the same advice. Read your piece aloud. If it sounds human, if it sounds like you speaking, then you're on the right track. If you stumble a lot, or if there are awkward bits that just don't sound right, you've got to change it.

InS_ght
January 14th, 2014, 08:52 PM
Wow, you guys are awesome. Thank you so much for the tips, I'll keep this all in mind and re-vamp my story. Cheers!