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Pishwi
September 2nd, 2014, 04:06 PM
This is just a basic first draft, but any critique is welcome : )


‘There’s something alive in there,’ said Miriam, gesturing towards the door in the corner of the room. ‘Listen’.

Chester propped himself up where he sat, surrounded by neat piles of rubble and plastic waste. He scratched his head, looking for his sister in the early morning gloom, despite the room only being large enough to fit a few broken desks and filing cabinets. It probably used to be an office of some sort.

Tktktk tktktk.

‘Chester! Tell me you heard that.’

‘All right,’ he hissed. ‘Keep your voice down! What if it’s ratmen?’

Tktktk, it went again, barely audible above the din of distant engines. Tktktk.

Miriam moved closer to the door, stepping softly on the rugged carpet. She put her eye to the keyhole, but it was even darker inside. Standing back, she let her eyes adjust to the darkness, noticing a small, worn sign near the top.

‘It can’t be ratmen. This is just a storage cupboard. Besides–‘ she turned back to face Chester’s dark outline –‘There are no ratmen round these parts’.

‘Well then what’s in there?’ asked Chester, but he was probably relieved. He was speaking louder than Miriam now. ‘Do you think it’s the core?’

Tktktk. The muffled noise sounded fiercer.

‘Why would the core make a noise like that?’ She turned and pulled on the handle. ‘I told you, silly. Whatever’s in there is alive’.

With a few tugs the door gave way, groaning as it scraped towards her. It had hardly moved an inch when a tiny beetle-like drone flitted out with irritated wings. Miriam chased it to the window, swiping at it with childish glee as the drone head butted the glass. On the third charge, the small machine passed through in a spray of tiny shards, flying off into the sunrise.

‘Well done,’ said Chester, clapping sarcastically.

‘You didn’t help!’ He was still sat down, surrounded by tall mounds of rubbish like a boy in a cardboard fort. But his gun was out…

What if it’s ratmen?

An ironbug, even a small one, would have enough energy to the light up the district for days. Losing one was something they couldn’t afford to do, especially not now. But it was better than dying at the hands of the ratmen.

Hardly consoling, she thought, especially if we don’t find this power core.

The room was getting lighter. She could see Chester frowning as he looked at her. ‘I’ll check the storage cupboard,’ he said, standing up and brushing the dust off his ragged trousers. ‘You probably want to get that sunrise recorded’.

She sighed. ‘Not today. There’s a tower in the way. The sun probably came up minutes ago.’

‘A few minutes doesn’t matter, surely?’

‘Absolutely. I can’t leave room for mistakes. If my theory’s right…”

She zoned off, looking at her reflection in the glass. Her hair dripped in greasy strands, criss-crossing the wrinkles on her forehead. She pushed them back up, but they would probably fall down again in moments. They always did.

‘And wouldn’t missing off a day jeopardise this “theory” of yours?’ asked Chester, his voice muffled from behind the cupboard.

‘Trust me, Chester. I know what I’m doing.’ The sun had risen to a red semi-circle above the tower. They were wasting time. ‘I just need a good angle’.

‘And where’s that?’

‘Home’.

Gavrushka
September 2nd, 2014, 04:20 PM
This is good writing! :5stars:

Liked the hook 'There's something alive...' never fails to work. :)

Found it a little hard to visualise neat piles of rubble and plastic. - I guess they were swept there, but it made me pause to think, and that's not something I wanted to do in the second paragraph.

It'd be good if you came up with a second name for 'ratmen' as it may get tiring for the reader to see too much 'furry devils' or some other secondary title just to ease its use.

Both characters developed identifiable personalities, and they melded will together in the conversation.

Yeh, it's a first draft and will need tightening, but is a very good start. - I am sure the majority of readers would want to continue onwards.

One other specific I wanted to mention: 'probably relieved' didn't work for me.

But a great start from a talented writer. :)

Pishwi
September 2nd, 2014, 04:29 PM
Aww thanks Gavrushka : )
About the "neat piles of rubbish" thing, one of the themes of the book is an intermingling of order and chaos, so I intended for that to be a small kind of symbol. But I'll probably change it, along with some other things - "probably relieved" being one of them (I wasn't too sure about that either).
But thanks a lot for your kind words, they made my day : )

TKent
September 2nd, 2014, 04:51 PM
I LOVED this...gosh your descriptions are so vivid:


With a few tugs the door gave way, groaning as it scraped towards her. It had hardly moved an inch when a tiny beetle-like drone flitted out with irritated wings. Miriam chased it to the window, swiping at it with childish glee as the drone head butted the glass. On the third charge, the small machine passed through in a spray of tiny shards, flying off into the sunrise.

And love the little glimpse of this world and characters! I would definitely keep reading!

Pishwi
September 3rd, 2014, 04:43 PM
Thanks a lot TKent : ) Your words are greatly appreciated!

CasMerlyn(R)
September 4th, 2014, 11:37 AM
This is just a basic first draft, but any critique is welcome : )


‘There’s something alive in there,’ said Miriam, gesturing towards the door in the corner of the room. ‘Listen’.

Chester propped himself up where he sat, surrounded by neat piles of rubble and plastic waste (waste / rubble is never neat). He scratched his head, looking for his sister in the early morning gloom, despite the room only being large enough to fit a few broken desks and filing cabinets (what does this have to do with anything?). It probably used to be an office of some sort.

Tktktk tktktk.

‘Chester! Tell me you heard that.’

‘All right,’ he hissed. ‘Keep your voice down! What if it’s ratmen?’

Tktktk, it went again, barely audible above the din of distant engines. Tktktk. -

Miriam moved closer to the door, stepping softly on the rugged carpet. She put her eye to the keyhole, but it was even darker inside. Standing back, she let her eyes adjust to the darkness, noticing a small, worn sign near the top. - goes against itself. Is she looking through the keyhole or is the door open. It sounds as if she's looking through the keyhole for absolutely no reason as the second sentence, the door's open. Secondly it usually takes someone a while to adjust to darkness [up to a few minutes] unless diet is high in Vitamin A.

‘It can’t be ratmen. This is just a storage cupboard. Besides–‘ she turned back to face Chester’s dark outline –‘There are no ratmen round these parts’.

‘Well then what’s in there?’ asked Chester, but he was probably relieved. He was speaking louder than Miriam now. ‘Do you think it’s the core?’

Tktktk. The muffled noise sounded fiercer.

‘Why would the core make a noise like that?’ She turned and pulled on the handle. ‘I told you, silly. Whatever’s in there is alive’.

With a few tugs the door gave way, groaning as it scraped towards her. It had hardly moved an inch when a tiny beetle-like drone flitted out with irritated wings. Miriam chased it to the window, swiping at it with childish glee as the drone head butted the glass. On the third charge, the small machine passed through in a spray of tiny shards, flying off into the sunrise.

‘Well done,’ said Chester, clapping sarcastically.

‘You didn’t help!’ He was still sat down, surrounded by tall mounds of rubbish like a boy in a cardboard fort. But his gun was out…

What if it’s ratmen?

An ironbug, even a small one, would have enough energy to the light up the district for days - how is it lighting up the district. By heat or actual light. If it's actual light the closest where it was originally hiding wouldn't have been dark. That needs to be elaborated upon. Losing one was something they couldn’t afford to do, especially not now. But it was better than dying at the hands of the ratmen.

Hardly consoling, she thought, especially if we don’t find this power core - couple paragraphs back you mentioned the distant sound of engines. So what is it? Is there power or is there no power.

The room was getting lighter. She could see Chester frowning as he looked at her. ‘I’ll check the storage cupboard,’ he said, standing up and brushing the dust off his ragged trousers. ‘You probably want to get that sunrise recorded’.

She sighed. ‘Not today. There’s a tower in the way. The sun probably came up minutes ago.’

‘A few minutes doesn’t matter, surely?’

‘Absolutely. I can’t leave room for mistakes. If my theory’s right…”

She zoned off, looking at her reflection in the glass ---- poor. The brother is greatly concerned about "ratmen" and so is she to a degree and she's woolgathering,. Her hair dripped in greasy strands, criss-crossing the wrinkles on her forehead. She pushed them back up, but they would probably fall down again in moments. They always did. ---- you gave no real meaning to this. If the hair is constantly falling in her face she would have brushed it aside with annoyance for example. As it is, it's a dull movement.

‘And wouldn’t missing off a day jeopardise this “theory” of yours?’ asked Chester, his voice muffled from behind the cupboard.

‘Trust me, Chester. I know what I’m doing.’ The sun had risen to a red semi-circle above the tower. They were wasting time. ‘I just need a good angle’.

‘And where’s that?’

‘Home’.

jakegenebarnes
September 6th, 2014, 06:36 PM
Your prose is decent. I don't like the name, "ratmen". It distracted me with its goofiness.

JC.Axe
September 8th, 2014, 01:23 PM
I like the sound of that, I would certainly read the next chapter, but I'd like to know more about the world Miriam and Chester are living in. I don't want it spelling out to me, just give me a description of what their surroundings are like. From the sounds of it, there is litter everywhere, which to me suggests that life is rushed and transient, people do not stay in one place for long, otherwise they'd make use of every resource available, including litter. Alternatively, consumption is still high, and waste is not dealt with at all (probably because the inhabitants are too busy fleeing from the ratmen).

Show me :)

JC Axe

Pishwi
September 8th, 2014, 07:42 PM
Thanks so much for your replies! I'm hugely grateful : ) I'm definitely not keeping the name "ratmen", and now I've realised there's a lot that needs to change. Also JCAxe, I'm planning on revealing more about the world as the novel goes on, but you've got a pretty good idea of how it is : )

altoid967
September 15th, 2014, 01:07 AM
I like how well this scene flows. Each little bit pushes the story forward while not being stilted. Every movement melds almost seamlessly into the next.

Also, I find the small glimpse of setting you've laid out so far to be intriguing. I can't wait to read more!

Fivetide
September 15th, 2014, 01:35 AM
Its a very good piece of work thanks for posting :)

Pishwi
September 15th, 2014, 07:47 PM
Wow : ) Thanks guys, much appreciated. I'm working on the next bit...

Jamboree
September 15th, 2014, 10:03 PM
I think that this is an excellent start to a book. It gives enough small details at the start to get the reader pondering what they were but it didn't overload us with information.
I agree that Ratmen should be changed as I imagined some sort of half rat/half man superhero. Which I'm guessing is not what you wanted as they sound like the bad guys in the book.

If an Ironbug is so crucial that they couldn't afford to let one get away then why did the boy just sit there? That seemed odd to me.
Keep writing this though, I look forward to reading more.

ickmonster73
March 11th, 2015, 06:08 PM
Consider me hooked! I really liked the fact that you take the time to give us some imagery of the characters speaking. (E.x.:The room was getting lighter. She could see Chester frowning as he looked at her. ‘I’ll check the storage cupboard,’ he said, standing up and brushing the dust off his ragged trousers. ‘You probably want to get that sunrise recorded’.) The only critique I really have Is that we have no idea what the characters look like. and while i think it's good to leave a little to the imagination, your readers will be more emotionally connected with characters in you story if they have a vague idea of their appearance. Keep it up!

KJ1001
March 23rd, 2015, 12:56 AM
Makes me want to read more. I feel like I want to scratch the wall just to find out what sort of world these two characters are living in. I can see some hints here and there. I can see that electricity is a limited resource and the world is very polluted, but brim with cutting-edge technologies not accessible by the likes of these two characters.

I am hoping to see a bit more action, however. Such as chasing down that ironbug like their lives depended on it, and THEN losing it. Then the characters could perhaps go home with heavy steps, as if they had just another hard day's work. And then the story moves along... so on and so forth. After all...

An ironbug, even a small one, would have enough energy to the light up the district for days. Losing one was something they couldn’t afford to do, especially not now.
The bug seems very important for their sakes.

My thoughts:

With a few tugs the door gave way, groaning as it scraped towards her. It had hardly moved an inch when a tiny beetle-like drone flitted out with irritated wings. Miriam chased it to the window
The event was... a bit weak for me. The bug comes out and then "Miriam chased it to the window" seems too immediate. Perhaps you could insert something in between, like the reactions of Miriam and Chester to make this bug and the characters' motives more important and dramatic as they see this bug. The descriptions after this quoted sentence is superb though, so keep at it.

Also, about the name "ratmen", I don't really mind if the 2 characters call them that, unless if it has an official name (super scientific name that everyone have trouble pronouncing). If it does, then "common folks" would just nickname them ratmen. If that would be the case, then I don't see any problem of that term.


Overall, this was definitely a hook for me too as others point out.

P.S. I haven't eaten for hours, so I read ratmen as ramen.

Brian A Seals
April 5th, 2015, 04:23 AM
I like it. I'm not quite sure where you're going, with the beetle drone, but I got a C.S. Lewis vibe from this piece. More please! As much as you would like to share,

Narhval
April 5th, 2015, 03:38 PM
A very good start to an interesting story :) You have a great way of capturing the readers attention already from the very first lines, painting vivid pictures along the way. Would love to read more of the story :)

R. Mountebank
April 7th, 2015, 12:20 AM
Nice start. Simple and easy to read. A few minor bugs with the flow but nothing terribly jarring.
I hope more will come.

cheers

Alecc0
April 7th, 2015, 08:03 PM
My kind of story, and great writing style. Keep more coming!

M.Shan
May 2nd, 2015, 06:37 PM
I liked that! I have a lot of questions about ratmen and the 'core', and what's up with the sunrise? The writing was pretty good. I liked this sentence:
‘You didn’t help!’ He was still sat down, surrounded by tall mounds of rubbish like a boy in a cardboard fort. But his gun was out…
It has some grammar issues, but I like the reference of him looking like a boy in a cardboard fort but then he's holding a gun. It's a strong contrast. Even though he's young, he's not a child.
Good job!

Silence
May 13th, 2015, 04:39 AM
Like the opening. Would like to find out what is the deal with the sun and how it plays in with the need to be in a hurry.

3blake7
June 14th, 2015, 11:22 PM
i liked it. the cardboard fort reference was awesome. i think you could go into a little more detail about the surroundings, to make it more immersive.

Bard_Daniel
January 20th, 2016, 01:39 AM
Very interesting. Would read more.

Monaque
January 23rd, 2016, 11:11 AM
Very interesting start, and good writing too. I would have used "brushed" instead of "neat" in piles of rubbish, but I get what you were trying to do there. I also agree with the comment about the bug drone. They obviously knew it was important so that may need working on.
I think what you have done very well is encourage people to keep reading. Most of the comments here involve them wanting to know what comes next, and surely that is the goal of the writer, to ask people to keep reading, to want more.
It`s a glimpse of an interesting world.
Great start.

Daniel Loreand
January 24th, 2016, 07:05 PM
Hi there. I'm going to give my five pence on this but I'm not the best critiquer to be honest so all I can do is really tell me how it made me feel. I liked the overall feel of the story and got a very sort of 'underground resistance' sort of feel but beyond that I fail to see how its dystopian? Will that be sort of eluded to further on in the story? I suppose the references to Ratmen makes me think things have gone to hell and they are sort of a real problem in this world but it makes me wonder what sort of world this is - is it set now, in the future/past/alternate univerise? Also were the names chosen out of respect to works such as 1984 and Brave new world, maybe it's just me since I have not long re-read them?

ShamelessBrute
February 10th, 2016, 08:34 PM
It's leaving me with questions that can only be answered by reading more...please, keep it coming. but somethings should get brought up, soon, like what where those engines they heard? where they generators, Patrol ships, motorized sheep, give me at least a clue as to what their hearing. as for the neat piles of junk maybe go with something like "he piled some rubble and plastic waste into a neat little fort" I think that's what you were trying to describe

SomethingWitty
May 20th, 2016, 02:09 PM
Compelling read! Your pacing felt good to me, your prose was sufficient and not distracting, and your characters felt distinct.

Honestly, I feel I could learn a bit from your writing ability. Thank you for this!