View Full Version : VOVIN: CHAPTER 1/ 861 WORDS

December 30th, 2016, 04:52 PM
Okay, so i'm a beginner. I've finally decided to stop being so afraid to start it and just let the words flow. This is just a beginning piece to the first chapter (which i'm not done with by the way). I think i just need some feed back. It may be a little early to start asking but i thought it couldn't hurt (I've got thick skin). I've written more than what is below but i'd thought i would just pick a piece of it and serve it to the masses. So chew it up and let me have it. Thank you in advance!

“In, the beginning, they say, there was nothing; but I don’t believe that. I think, we just weren’t born yet.”

She was running. The flowers around the city glistened from the rain the night before. She darted down the alley ways to avoid the morning rush. The city of Ba’al wasn’t the largest of the floating fortress, but it was the center hub for all Angelics. Whizzing thru the crowds, a shade of black caught her attention. She slowed, coming to a stop in front of a large ornate fountain. ‘Pristine as usual.’ She had always thought the center fountain was beautifully crafted. Her eyes scanned around till she finally saw what had caught her eye. Head tilted in curiosity, she watched as this large group of black birds danced around each other. She had never seen the like of them before; black as coal. Even their eyes seemed like an empty abyss. Staring, she hardly noticed a woman on looking as well.

”You know, they say those birds come from a different world.” Alexial looked up, her gaze met by a soft, green eyed stare. She raised her eyebrows in question and the woman gave a small chuckle in response.

“How’d they get here then?”

“They use a means of teleportation.” The woman replied. Alexial was confused.

“Are they even that smart?” The woman lightly shrugged her shoulders, as she continued spectating.

“Maybe they are, maybe they aren’t. Either way, I’m sure that’s how they get here. Damn crows.”

“Crows-?” The word barely left Alexial’s lips before she was interrupted by the noon toll. Momentarily distracted, she turned back to see that the woman had disappeared. Scanning the area lightly, she decided to take off once more.

Alexial turned down a narrow alleyway, coming upon a blue colored house. In the windows were flower boxes with extravagantly colored flowers. She loved the different smells and that they were the closest she’d ever been to dirt. She wasn’t allowed on the surface, because of her age and the rioting. Alexial gently pressed her nose against the flowers, inhaling deeply. ‘So sweet. Mrs. Reyes always picks the best’ Alexial peered up into the window, being all too nosey.

“Xander! Are you in there?”

A young brown-haired boy came pacing in. Darting around the furniture, he halted in front of Alexial, slamming his hands on top of hers. His brown eyes squinted as he flashed a bright smile.

“Hey Lex, you’re here earlier than usual.”

“We have to go get Gabriel. I’ll tell you the plans once we’re all together.” Alexial’s cheeks lifted slowly as her smile curled mischievously. The sound of steps made them look up to see Mrs. Reyes, standing there. She smiled sweetly at them before giving a slight nod. They all smiled at each other for a moment before the two of them bolted out and down the alley.

Alexial and Xander dashed thru the crowded market, bumping anyone unlucky enough to find themselves in their path. From across the way she could see the center fountain again and paused. ‘I wonder why she left so quickly.’ Her trailing eyes met the sun dial in front of the temple. She took off running again, catching up to Xander, who, didn’t notice her lag. She grabbed him by the hand, nearly dragging, and forcing him into a sprint.

“Lex, why are you running so fast?” Xander tried to raise his voice above the crowds but she ignored him. Alexial had always been the more athletic one, so it didn’t surprise him that he could barely keep up. ‘Has she always been this fast?’-----

Alexial, not having the breath to answer questions, kept the pace. She squeezed Xander’s hand tightly, making sure he didn’t slow them down. They finally make it thru the thicket of people and hurried between a small cluster of homes.
It seemed they reached their destination as Alexial came to an abrupt stop. Xander had little time to slow himself, before he collided with her back, shoving them forward and crashing to the ground. Neither expecting the fall, they burst out in laughter, helping each other up. Xander patted his pants and tried to dust the debris off his cloaked, white, and golden-laced shirt.

“Why’d you stop so fast? Are we here?” Xander looked around curiously, but didn’t recognize the neighborhood.

“Yes, we’re here, why else.” She retorted as she wiped the dirt off her shirt and pants. ‘Why must everything we wear be white? Such a stupid law.’ She mumbled incoherent things as she angrily rubbed at the new stains.

Xander looked around, still confused. Alexial could tell. She turned to look at a large white house with an intricately decorated fence. She scoffed. ‘Your fancy fence doesn’t make your house any more different than the other clones. I don’t understand how everything looking the same is equal. Especially if you don’t want to be the same.’ She lost herself in thought.

“You think he’s in trouble” Xander pointed to the gate, “I’ve never seen General ZilÚvo close it before.”

Alexial was jolted to reality. She surveyed the area quickly. ’Xander's right. Something is off.’

December 31st, 2016, 01:14 AM
Hi, and congratulations on submitting it!

My opinion is that this piece defintely has legs. The imagined world and the content are very vivid - by the time we get to the notion of birds from another world that arrive by some mysterious teleportation, in principle, I am invested. Also you've supported it - done it justice - with some evocative phrasing: "The word barely left Alexial’s lips before she was interrupted by the noon toll", for instance, was a standout one, for me, really lovely because it invokes the senses - namely hearing - in a new and creative way. "The city of Ba’al wasn’t the largest of the floating fortress, but it was the center hub for all Angelics." a close second.

However, many of the early sentences are quite choppy and short, so try and experiment with alternate sentence structures:

She was running. The flowers around the city glistened from the rain the night before. She darted down the alley ways to avoid the morning rush. The city [repeated]of Ba’al wasn’t the largest of the floating fortress[es], but it was the center hub for all Angelics.[<- this is great but it stops the movement; we are running, then a quick history lesson; then we're off again] Whizzing thru[<- through] the crowds, a shade of black caught her attention. She slowed, coming to a stop in front of a large ornate fountain. ‘Pristine as usual.’ She had always thought the center fountain [repeated]was beautifully crafted. Her eyes scanned around till she finally saw what had caught her eye [repeated, and just too much "looking", catching of the eye, scanning. Just have the stuff "be" rather that have her "see" stuff "be"]. Head tilted in curiosity, she watched as this A large group of black birds danced around each other; she had never seen the like of them before; black as coal, and even their eyes seemed like an empty abyss. Staring, she hardly noticed[<- you are describing someone not seeing someone; better to describe the unseen person, using secret language] a woman on looking as well.

Look for things like repeated motions (running/darted/whizzed are all the same thing), filtering the world too much through a character (X saw a thing, sticking her head between her legs, A perceived a B.), repeated words (in orange), too many sentences saying "X was Y", sudden changes in pace - oh, and please, "thru" is barely a word ;)

For an example, the first 4 sentences could potentially be made less choppy, more sensory and real:

She was running; past flowers that glistened from the rain the night before, down slick alleyways to avoid Ba'al's morning rush. The city wasn’t the largest of the floating fortresses, but it was the center hub for all Angelics, through crowds of which she now darted.

Was that a shade of black? Her boots skidded to a stop in the runoff from an ornate fountain, its granite-and-metal grotesqueries belching forth grey streetwater.

Just some food for thought hopefully, showing how you can build a world in the context of a character doing interesting stuff to/past/near that world, and make it just the way you want it (I've gone for a slightly damp, urban, ghoulish vibe but you may differ). I'm also not sure why your dialogue is in bold and your internal thoughts are italicised and in single quotes, but I suppose that is a stylistic issue.

So in summary I would say the things to work on most are repetitions and excess filtering through a character, and when you cut out those filters (if you do), replace them with active and vivid descriptors that evoke mood, character and so on. Hope this helps!

Jay Greenstein
December 31st, 2016, 05:09 AM
She was running. The flowers around the city glistened from the rain the night before.Look at this as a reader, who knows nothing about the story, the protagonist, or the situation must.

Why not begin with her name? If she's to be our avatar shouldn't we be on a first name basis?

You give a weather report of conditions before the story began. Why do we care? You placed her in the story running, and we assume she's the protagonist. But then, while the reader is wondering why she's running, you abandon her, and as yourself, comment on the flowers around the city. Given that we don't know what city, what century, where she's headed and coming from, and why, who cares that the flowers she's not looking at have dew on them? Isn't the dew on the paving of more interest to her, because it makes the surface slippery?

Every line in the story must relate to moving the plot, developing character, or setting the scene, meaningfully. In this, the reader, on hearing this, will assume she's running in a place where there is a noteworthy amount of flowers displayed. But given that you next mention alleys, people will visualize a modern city center, where service alleys run behind the buildings.

My point is that when you read this you begin with the knowledge of who she is, where she is, and what's going on. So unlike our poor reader, who just arrived, you have context for why she's hurrying and where she's bound, making the words meaningful. Moreover, you can hear the voice of the narrator because it's your voice, and filled with the emotion appropriate to the telling. But your reader lacks that. They can't hear your voice, see your winning smile, or do anything but take the meaning the words suggest to them. And making that job harder, they don't know what a given line will say until after it's read, when it's too late to apply the proper tone and intensity.

In short, as I'm certain you've already guessed, the story you're telling is not the one the reader is "hearing." But that's not your fault, and it's not a matter of good or bad writing, or even talent. It's that, having summoned the courage to release your words into the world, you're learning something that almost no one learns until after we begin telling our stories: we didn't learn to write in school—at least not as a publisher views that act.

Remember how many reports you wrote there? How many essays? How few stories? There's a reason, which is that we're being prepared to be self supporting adults, with skills employers require. And since employers primarily need nonfiction writing skills....

So we pretty much all come to writing fiction well equipped to write nonfiction. As we've been trained, we work hard to inform our reader of the story details, in a style that's author-centric and fact based. So surprise, surprise, it reads like a report or history. But who's to tell us the secret, that fiction is supposed to entertain, and that it's written in a way that's character-centric and emotion-based.? The people who sat with us learning the nonfiction skills and believing that writing is writing? Our teachers, who learned to write in the same classrooms?

So as I said, you have a lot of company. And having posted, and gotten responses, you now know more about writing fiction than does 95% of the population. So it's a great start, even though it might feel like being hit over the head with a 2x4. :unconscious:

Writing for the page is very different from screenwriting, for example. On stage and film our senses are parallel. In an eyeblink we know the setting, the ambiance, the dress and age/gender/mood, and more, about the characters. Added to that there's the soundscape doing the same sort of thing. And aiding in that are the actors, who have trained for years in how to present emotion via a hundred different ways. But on the page everything happens serially, which means that to keep the story to a reasonable length, and make it move, smartly, we have to pick and choose what we present, and be careful of how we present it. Remove 10% of the words, without changing the meaning and the story "happens" 10% faster for the reader.

With that in mind, several suggestions:

1. Because it's her story, and she's our avatar, think about bringing the reader on board, early. Perhaps if she checks the time and realizes she's late, she has a reason to run. If you want the reader to know the city has many flowers, and that it's morning, have her notice the sparkle, and react to it. You might place the reader early, by having her note something that gives context to our being on a different world, and interests rather than explains to the reader.

2. Find every spot where you, the author, explain things to the reader, and think about giving her a reason to notice, and react, instead. Don't tell the reader what she can see. Tell them what she's about to react to, and make the reader know why, and what her choices and resources are (make the reader know her viewpoint). Do that and the reader will both speculate on what she should do (a hook) and have context for when she does act. Done right we'll shout advice to the character, and worry about them. In short, we'll care.

3. Remove everything unrelated to the plot, the setting or her character. You have her note that the fountain, and comment on it being pristine as usual. But if it is, it's expected, so she wouldn't react. She'd only react to the unusual. In other words, never have her do or say something as a means to inform the reader. It must read as happening based on her and the situation, and be meaningful to the story.

4. Keep in mind that every time you, someone not in the story or on the scene, say anything, you destroy realism and kill the scene's momentum. The idea isn't to make the reader know what happens, but to live in the moment she calls now.

5. In line with that, save overviews and info-dumping for time-breaks. Story takes place in the moment she calls now. Stay in that moment and the future is uncertain, and therefore interesting. Present it in overview and the events are history, immutable, with no uncertainty.

Hang in there, and keep on writing.

January 2nd, 2017, 12:01 PM
I like this too and yes, as bdc said, it has legs but whatever you do, don't lose that opening line.

Such a provocative, no, pulling/tugging oh i don't know but such an amazing statement. It is quite irresistible and i, for one, wasn't disappointed as i read on.

I shall leave the critiquing to the more qualified.

Nice one Rairice, well done.

January 3rd, 2017, 02:57 PM
I'm so geeked that you all responded! Thank you so much for all the input. I know i sound over excited, but i really am thrilled to actually start typing it down.
Forgive me. i seem to be having issues with quoting this morning.

To bdcharles: I opened this up, thinking, there was going to be TONS of corrections. I was a little shocked to learn you kinda liked it. I definitely see your point about the choppy sentences. Now that I've read them aloud, and thanks to your critic, i'll go back and try to make them sound more fluid. I almost died laughing at you catching the "thru" as it is a horrible suggestion made by my computer to replace the correct version by my constant use of it on facebook. As for the over use of some words....oversight and will be adjusted. Thanks again!

To Jay Greenstein: I really appreciate your input, because i know i'm a novice. I know i have lots to learn. I had no clue how to begin a story that's been in my head for years(silly, yeah). You definitely gave me some food for thought and i will try to apply this knowledge the best way i can (probably by winging it and throwing it out there again, lol). I'm gonna try and try again, until I've got something worth reading. I will hang in there. An ever optimistic attitude.

To dither: THANK YOU! I tried and continue to. lmao

January 10th, 2017, 09:36 PM
I agree with what the others have said, but.......overall I think this is an excellent start to a story. I don't typically read fantasy, but this really grabbed me and pulled me in. Great work!