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Glyax
April 17th, 2018, 01:38 AM
Hey all, been gone for a rather long time. Revived an old story I had been working on in the past, currently rewriting the whole story, and hoping to finish it this time. Figured I would share with ya'll, and see what you think! Here is the rough draft of the first chapter!

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It was the same dream Nick always had. He was floating through the darkness, the glow of distant stars illuminating the empty abyss of space. Though he should have been scared, panicked perhaps, he felt calm, accepting what was to come. He knew this darkness…and he knew what would come.

As if on cue, a small light began to glow before him, and the space around it began to warp. Nick watched, still fascinated at an occurrence he had dreamt for over a month.

The light was ghostly, and didn’t maintain a single color for long, but Nick knew its shape like he knew his own mind. It was the size of a small child, floating just as he was in the weightless dark, and now he saw it looked at him with eyes that shone with intelligence. The light had taken its shape.

Two ghostly wings stretched from a reptilian back, and a long tail swished behind it, as if it could not be kept still. Its face was snakelike, and when it opened its mouth, he could see dangerous looking teeth, though Nick wondered how effective they would be given the ethereal nature of the creature before him.

“Nick,” a voice whispered in his head. It was the creature.

“Nick” it said again, more urgently this time.

He moved his arms, trying to draw closer to the creature, curious as to what it wanted.

“Nick!” A female voice rang out, pulling him from his dream, the creature’s image fading away, leaving only a sense of longing.

“Ugh, what Becca?” He asked his sister, keeping his eyes closed as he knew she was bound to turn his rooms light.

“Mom told me to wake you, she wants you up and ready for today.” Her response was curt, and while Nick had his eyes closed, he knew exactly how what she was doing.

She was standing by his door, blonde hair tied in a ponytail, blue eyes creased with amusement. One hand on her hip, the other supporting her as she leaned into the doorway, foot preparing to tap impatiently if Nick didn’t begin to move. This was not the first time his sister had been asked to wake him up.

“I’m up, I’m up, leave me alone so I can get dressed.” It was a lame excuse and he knew it. The truth was, he had actually fallen asleep in his clothes during the night, a habit he had developed given his tendency to stay up long through the night.

“Fine, but mom won’t be happy if you don’t hurry.” Becca replied.

“And mom won’t be happy if I tell her you were the reason I couldn’t hurry up.” He retorted, knowing that would wipe the smile off his twin’s face.

He waited a few moments for the sound of the door sliding shut to signal her exit, and then sat up, rubbing the final moments of sleep from his eyes as he did.

“System, what is today’s date?” He asked the rooms monitor. Its plasma face read 0800.

“Today is Thursday, August 17th, 3352.” A metallic female voice replied. Nick’s sense of urgency increased as he remembered just how important this day was.

August 17th was the day of the colony wide exam for all teenagers who turned 17th during the year. The test would determine the future of each and every person who took it. If someone did poorly on the exam, they would be sent away from the colony, to work in the labor camps on various colonized planets. The Combined Coalition for the Unified People, or CCUP for short, had no need for those who could not help mankind progress.

If someone did well on the exam though, they would be accepted into the Academy, and upon graduation from the Academy, would be granted full citizenship with the CCUP. The only problem was, no one knew what was tested during the exam, so Nick had no way to prepare in advance.

“Nick!” Becca’s voice penetrated the walls of his room, and he knew he needed to hurry. He quickly pressed down the wrinkles on his clothes, and gave himself a once over in the mirror. His face was still caught between the transition of a boy to man, and his blonde hair seemed pale in the artificial light of his room. His blue eyes starred back him, lacking the intelligence he saw in his sister’s eyes, but holding instead a hint of mischief. A trait his mother said he inherited from his father.

The thought of his father gave him pause. He was the reason Nick’s family had been able to live on the Space Colony for the past 17 years. He had been a member of the Deep Reconnaissance and Eradication Department Corps, also known as the DRED Corps. They were responsible for the continued scouting of deep space for new habitable planets, as well as the defense of all human colonies throughout the galaxy.

The CCUP and DRED Corps had been originally formed in the 26th century, when mankind discovered the hard way they were not alone. A hostile alien race discovered humanity in the Milky Way system, and mankind lost Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto in the ensuing war before they finally defeated the aggressive alien forces. Since that time, the CCUP, and its military arm, the DRED Corps, had kept mankind safe.

The DRED Corps selected only the top recruits from the Academy, and Nick’s father was said to have been the best. However, even the best are mortal. Seven years ago, his father never returned from a strike against an invading alien fleet. It was said his father had given his life to ensure the fleet was destroyed, and his squad was safe.

While his mother and sister took the news hard, Nick resoled himself at that moment to become even better than his father. Even though he lacked his sister’s intelligence, he engrossed himself in his studies. He also excelled at combative training, and pushed his body to the limit with martial arts and strict training. Nick also spent everything he had on combative training games, and spent hours playing them. He was going to ensure he was selected for the DRED Corps.

“Nicholas James Stryder!” His mother’s voice this time, impatient and shrill. Nick cursed himself for getting lost in thought and hurried through the automatic door into the hallway.

His mother stood by the living area door, dressed conservatively as always, brown hair tied in a braid. He and his sister got their hair from their father, but Nick always felt his sister had a striking resemblance otherwise to their mother. Both had eyes that sparkled with intelligence, and a shared mannerism that seemed to imply they were the smartest person in any given room.

Nick couldn’t help but shake his head as he walked into the room, because as much as he loved his family, their arrogant nature grated on him. He wondered for a second how his father ever managed to put up with Nick’s mother for so long.

“You should know better than to keep me waiting, Nicholas.”

“I’m sorry mother, I’m just nervous about the exam.” He was really nervous, but he hated admitting that fact. However, the truth softened his mother’s demeanor, a change that almost made him miss his sister’s snide smirk…..almost.

“Everything will be fine Nicholas. I am sure the both of you will pass with flying colors. Once you reach the Academy, your life will change, and you two will have opportunities you could never have dreamed of.” Her eyes seemed to get lost in a distant memory for a moment as she spoke.

Nick smiled at the idea, already seeing himself as a member of the DRED Corps, until his sister’s voice pushed the image away.

“I don’t doubt I will be accepted, but do you really think Nicholas has a chance? The Academy is for the best, and Nick is….well Nick.”

Only years of training kept Nick from lashing out at his twin.

“Intelligence isn’t the only thing tested during the exam, Rebecca, it is irrational of you to have thought such.” His mother did try to be fair to her children.

“Now then, enough of this, you both have a long day ahead of you, and we need to leave now to avoid the risk of being late.”

They fell in line behind their mother as the door from their living unit slid open. Their mother looked back once, then stepped forward, leading Nick and his sister deeper into the Space Colony towards the testing zone, and their future.

bdcharles
April 18th, 2018, 10:38 AM
Hi,

Your writing is decent enough, with nothing too spaggy or antigrammarian. Your sentence structure is quite well-varied without too many fronted adverbials and other go-to styles. The premise is great - futuristic dystopia. And I like the relationship between Nick and his sister, which you capture well particularly with this line:

“I don’t doubt I will be accepted, but do you really think Nicholas has a chance? The Academy is for the best, and Nick is….well Nick.”

Got a smile out of me, that did. :) It also makes this world very accessible.

One thing to watch out for though is what some people call "filtering". That's where you present the story as something someone actively perceives; eg:

he felt calm,
Nick watched
Nick knew its shape
...before him,
he saw it looked at him
Nick wondered how effective...
he knew she was bound to turn his rooms light.


And so on. Readers won't see the things Nick sees here. They will see him, face busily contorned in various modes of perceiving - feeling, wondering, remembering, noticing, knowing. A few of these are okay but watch out that they don't become the norm for your writing because they can get in the way of identifying with a character. Much better to get us close in, make us be Nick, and present the things as-is; eg:


It was the same dream Nick always had. He was floating through the darkness, the glow of distant stars illuminating the empty abyss of space. Though he should have been scared, panicked perhaps, he felt calm, accepting what was to come. He knew this darkness…and he knew what would come.

As if on cue, a small light began to glow before him, and the space around it began to warp. Nick watched, still fascinated at an occurrence he had dreamt for over a month.

I'll strip out the filters, repetitions, easy phrases like "as if on cue", line break tweaks. Let's see what happens:


It was always the same dream. Nick was floating among the glow of distant stars that illuminated the empty abyss of space. Yet he felt strangely calm; he knew this darkness, and accepted what was to come.

Then from immeasurable light-years away, a tiny light began to glow, and the space around it buckled and warped. He watched, fascinated, waiting for what was coming.

Nick had dreamed this every night for over a month.


I do also think you might want to consider where you start your story. We are waking up. It's okay but perhaps not the most original start, and publishers tend to groan and roll their eyes when the character wakes up at the beginning of a story (dramatic weather has the same effect). From a reader's perspective, I understand, because I am being presented with a scenario that is then taken away and replaced with something that threatens to be mundane. But you need to foreshadow, I understand that, and it can work. What are the main events and hooks here? Nick's strange dream, and his exam, and the futuristic dystopia. As it is, I feel you focus a little too much on the ho-hum event of his sister waking up. Its purpose can be, say, a cut-scene from dream to waking, via the voice and the "distant light" being basically his bedroom light, but not much more. Maybe expand on the dream weirdness. Maybe work in some exam worries to the dream. Or have him be awaye in the middle of the night, remembering the dream (though again, filtering) and having all these worries assail him in real time. Basically try not to have a story start and then taper off into the workaday.

There seems a fair whack of backstory about the DRED corps and the world Nick lives in. It's fine but why not have those things present in real time. Otherwise it's like "I have this fascinating story to tell you, but before we do that, we need to go years back through history and the mists of time etc etc". Maybe depict the DRED corps and their doings, and other aspects of this future world, in the context of what Nick wants or can see there and then, rather than this lengthy infodump where we lose our character. A little info dumping is okay but too much stalls the flow and can make for rather generic writing.

Lastly, also watch for correct punctuation in dialogue. Ending dialogue with a full-stop but then adding a tag (said X, Y asked, thought Z) is not quite correct. Anyway, hope this helps. Ignore what doesn't work for you or your story. Good luck :) Thanks for the read.

Glyax
April 18th, 2018, 04:35 PM
I love this forum. I posted to another one this chapter as well, and got essentially trash for feedback. Any who, I digress.

I really appreciate your feedback, and agree the whole waking from a dream feels a bit tired and cliché, I promise it works for the story though! (Or at least, my biased mind tells me it does haha). My target audience is YA and up, not sure if that may adjust how the piece itself is viewed?

That being said, I really liked your suggested rewrite. I am in the rough draft stages right now, but will be making a mental note to return to this post to try and apply your advice throughout!

One last thing (and thanks again for your response!) any chance you would be willing to check out the first few chapters and offer your thoughts/critiques? Could really use some more constructive criticism!

bdcharles
April 19th, 2018, 09:10 AM
One last thing (and thanks again for your response!) any chance you would be willing to check out the first few chapters and offer your thoughts/critiques? Could really use some more constructive criticism!

Yep sure. Just tidy them up as best you can, put 'em in a direct message, whizz them over, and I'll take a look. I'll look at grammar, structure, style, voice, whatever I can really.

Glyax
April 19th, 2018, 03:35 PM
Roger that! I'll have to wait to get home to my actual computer to get em all tidy and nice. If formatting in direct message is a bit off, I've been hanging the rough draft on Wattpad, if that works better for you? I understand there are mixed feelings related to Wattpad though....

Jack of all trades
April 19th, 2018, 03:40 PM
I really like your conversational style. It reminds me of the first Harry Potter book. You take us inside the mind of your main character, so we can experience the happenings along with him. This is different from the third person omniscient view so many use. I think it works well in YA.

There are some SPaG issues. Extra words and a new paragraph where there shouldn't be one. I'll post my comments about that when I get a chance.

One more thing. This section counts as published, as it is visible to guests and searches. You may want to use the prose workshop section in the future. This has publishing potential, so I'd hate for you to have rights issues.

Jack of all trades
April 19th, 2018, 04:38 PM
It was the same dream Nick always had. He was floating through the darkness, (semi colon, I think) the glow of distant stars illuminating the empty abyss of space. Though he should have been scared, panicked perhaps, he felt calm, accepting what was to come. He knew this darkness…and he knew what would come.

As if on cue, a small light began to glow before him, and the space around it began to warp. Nick watched, still fascinated (comma) at an occurrence he had dreamt for over a month.

The light was ghostly, and didn’t maintain a single color for long, but Nick knew its shape like he knew his own mind. It was the size of a small child, floating (comma) just as he was (comma) in the weightless dark, (You might want to give the next bit, the new part of the dream, more emphasis by making it a new sentence, ending this one here.) and now he saw it looked at him with eyes that shone with intelligence. The light had taken its shape.

Two ghostly wings stretched from a reptilian back, and a long tail swished behind it, as if it could not be kept still. Its face was snakelike, and when it opened its mouth, he could see dangerous looking teeth, though Nick wondered how effective they would be given the ethereal nature of the creature before him.

“Nick,” a voice whispered in his head. It was the creature.
(same paragraph, as the same character is speaking)
“Nick” it said again, more urgently this time.

He moved his arms, trying to draw ("Move" might be better. "Draw" is what you say when you stay stationary and bring something to yourself. But Nick is clearly trying to do the moving. However, you already use "move" in this sentence. Maybe "swim"?) closer to the creature, curious as to (Sounds a bit stuffy to me, and seems out of place with the rest.) what it wanted.

“Nick!” A female voice rang out, (You might want to make the rest a new paragraph, and focus more on Nick.) pulling him from his dream, the creature’s image fading away, leaving only a sense of longing.

(Would he be able to answer so quickly? Or would he need time? Maybe add a little to the preceding paragraph to convey that time.) “Ugh, what Becca?” He asked his sister, keeping his eyes closed as he knew she was bound to turn on his room (apostrophe) s light.

“Mom told me to wake you, (semi colon or period) she wants you up and ready for today.” Her response was curt, and while Nick had his eyes closed, he knew exactly how what (how or what, not both) she was doing.

She was standing by his door, blonde hair tied in a ponytail, blue eyes creased with amusement. One hand on her hip, the other supporting her as she leaned into the doorway, foot preparing to tap impatiently if Nick didn’t begin to move. This was not the first time his sister had been asked to wake him up ("up" is not really necessary) .

“I’m up, I’m up, leave me alone so I can get dressed.” (The commas should be either semi colons or periods. I would choose periods.) It was a lame excuse and he knew it. The truth was, he had actually fallen asleep in his clothes during the night, a habit he had developed given his tendency to stay up long through the night.

“Fine, but mom ("Mom" is being used as a proper noun here, so it should be capitalized.) won’t be happy if you don’t hurry. (comma) ” Becca replied.

“And mom Mom won’t be happy if I tell her you were the reason I couldn’t hurry up.” (comma and lower case "h" for "he") He retorted, knowing that would wipe the smile off his twin’s face.

He waited a few moments for the sound of the door sliding shut to signal her exit, and then sat up, rubbing the final moments of sleep from his eyes as he did.
(No need to start a new paragraph, but it's not exactly wrong, either.)
“System, what is today’s date?” He asked the rooms (apostrophe) monitor. Its plasma face read 0800. (Technically, numbers are not supposed to be used. But I kinda like it in this case.)

“Today is Thursday, August 17th, (seventeenth) 3352 (thirty-three, fifty-two, or however it's said) .” (comma instead of the period, and a lower case "a") A metallic female voice replied. Nick’s sense of urgency increased as he remembered just how important this day was.

August 17th (seventeenth) was the day of the colony wide exam for all teenagers who turned 17th (seventeen -- the "th" is extraneous) during the year. The test would determine the future of each and every person who took it. If someone did poorly on the exam, they he would be sent away from the colony, (no comma) to work in the labor camps on various colonized planets. The Combined Coalition for the Unified People, or CCUP for short, had no need for those who could not help mankind progress. (Wow! Not a day to be having a bad day!)

If someone did well on the exam though, they would be accepted into the Academy, and upon graduation from the Academy, would be granted full citizenship with the CCUP. The only problem was, no one knew what was tested during the exam, so Nick had no way to prepare in advance.

“Nick!” Becca’s voice penetrated the walls of his room, and he knew he needed to hurry. He quickly pressed down the wrinkles on his clothes, and gave himself a once over in the mirror. His face was still caught between the transition of a boy to man, and his blonde hair seemed pale in the artificial light of his room. His blue eyes starred stared (one "r") back him, lacking the intelligence he saw in his sister’s eyes, but holding instead a hint of mischief. A trait his mother said he inherited from his father.

The thought of his father gave him pause. He was the reason Nick’s family had been able to live on the Space Colony for the past 17 seventeen years. He had been a member of the Deep Reconnaissance and Eradication Department Corps, also known as the DRED Corps. They were responsible for the continued scouting of deep space for new habitable planets, as well as the defense of all human colonies throughout the galaxy.

The CCUP and DRED Corps had been originally formed in the 26th twenty-sixth century, when mankind discovered the hard way they were not alone. A hostile alien race discovered humanity in the Milky Way system, and mankind lost Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto in the ensuing war before they finally defeated the aggressive alien forces. Since that time, the CCUP, and its military arm, the DRED Corps, had kept mankind safe.

The DRED Corps selected only the top recruits from the Academy, and Nick’s father was said to have been the best. However, even the best are mortal. Seven years ago, his father never returned from a strike against an invading alien fleet. It was said his father had given his life to ensure the fleet was destroyed, and his squad was safe.

While his mother and sister took the news hard, Nick resoled resolved (you're missing a "v") himself at that moment to become even better than his father. Even though he lacked his sister’s intelligence, he engrossed himself in his studies. He also excelled at combative training, and pushed his body to the limit with martial arts and strict training. Nick also spent everything he had on combative training games, and spent hours playing them. He was going to ensure he was selected for the DRED Corps.

“Nicholas James Stryder!” (This time it works, having the dialog "tag" as a separate sentence. It's more his thought than a dialog tag.) His mother’s voice this time, impatient and shrill. Nick cursed himself for getting lost in thought and hurried through the automatic door into the hallway.

His mother stood by the living area door, dressed conservatively as always, brown hair tied in a braid. He and his sister got their hair from their father, but Nick always felt his sister had a striking resemblance otherwise to their mother. Both had eyes that sparkled with intelligence, and a shared mannerism that seemed to imply they were the smartest person in any given room.

Nick couldn’t help but shake his head as he walked into the room, because as much as he loved his family, their arrogant nature grated on him. He wondered for a second how his father ever managed to put up with Nick’s mother for so long.

“You should know better than to keep me waiting, Nicholas.”

“I’m sorry mother, (period, or possibly semi colon) I’m just nervous about the exam.” He was really nervous, but he hated admitting that fact. However, the truth softened his mother’s demeanor, a change that almost made him miss his sister’s snide smirk…..almost.

“Everything will be fine (comma) Nicholas. I am sure the both of you will pass with flying colors. Once you reach the Academy, your life will change, and you two will have opportunities you could never have dreamed of.” Her eyes seemed to get lost in a distant memory for a moment as she spoke.

Nick smiled at the idea, already seeing himself as a member of the DRED Corps, until his sister’s voice pushed the image away.

“I don’t doubt I will be accepted, but do you really think Nicholas has a chance? The Academy is for the best, and Nick is….well Nick.”

Only years of training kept Nick from lashing out at his twin. (Consider expanding on this a bit. Show the war inside Nick. Just don't dwell on it.)

“Intelligence isn’t the only thing tested during the exam, Rebecca, (period) it is irrational of you to have thought such.” His mother did try to be fair to her children.
(same speaker, so continue the paragraph)
“Now then, enough of this, (period) you both have a long day ahead of you, and we need to leave now to avoid the risk of being late.”

They fell in line behind their mother as the door from their living unit slid open. Their mother looked back once, then stepped forward, leading Nick and his sister deeper into the Space Colony towards the testing zone, and their future.

I'd like to know a few things. Did Nick change before going to sleep, or is he wearing yesterday's clothes? Doesn't he eat anything? I would think fueling his brain and body on such an important day would be key! Certainly, I think, his mother would believe that.

You have a tendency to use commas instead of periods within quotes. There can be multiple sentences within quotes, so use periods as you would if it were not within quotes.

I guess that's it. So far, so good.

Glyax
April 19th, 2018, 06:18 PM
I really like your conversational style. It reminds me of the first Harry Potter book. You take us inside the mind of your main character, so we can experience the happenings along with him. This is different from the third person omniscient view so many use. I think it works well in YA.

There are some SPaG issues. Extra words and a new paragraph where there shouldn't be one. I'll post my comments about that when I get a chance.

One more thing. This section counts as published, as it is visible to guests and searches. You may want to use the prose workshop section in the future. This has publishing potential, so I'd hate for you to have rights issues.

I’m replying to both your posts with this one, just for the heads up. First off, I’m ecstatic you think my story would have publishing potential based off of this chapter. As for where to post it…I’ll keep that in mind, but not gonna lie…the first like 1/3rd of this story is up as a rough draft on Wattpad…. Soooo not too sure how that will work publishing wise bwahaha.

Onto the second part, I really appreciate you taking the time to comb through and offer your thoughts and suggestions. I definitely can use all the help I can get when it comes to fine tuning my writing! Also a bit frustrated at myself for missing some of the more common issues (missed letters, or two words where there should only be one.) Thanks for those catches, and I will definitely do my best to try and touch everything up as I move to the editing for the story out of its rough draft state!
You also bring up a few important questions, I believe I address at least one in the next chapter, though my memory on that detail is abit fuzzy lol. (I’m working on chapter20 right now…huzzah short chapters lol).

Sync
April 19th, 2018, 06:58 PM
You begin your story with a dream and than him waking up. It didn't hook me.

Why did you stop writing to edit?

Glyax
April 19th, 2018, 08:00 PM
Ahh, I was actively writing the story up until about 2015/early 2016. Got about 2/3rds of the way through the story, maybe a little more. Then life got really busy and I hit a bit of a down slump. Because of that, I stopped writing entirely. Middle of last year, I got some advice on how to change my writing style, and I liked those suggestions. I finally got around now to trying to apply these new suggestions to my writing overall, and as such used it to kick start the revision of this story. I've gotten about 24k words rewritten in the story so far

Sync
April 19th, 2018, 08:42 PM
Always great to write. I think we all have a few old ones we'd like to revive. It does need to be a re-write not a revise, so I'm glad to see you doing that. I do suggest to write through without editing at all. A writer's style should remain constant throughout a story/novel.

Well done for changing your writing. It takes years for me to set it in.

As for the piece, since you posted it here. I believe you could summarize this. Since the dream happens 30 times before without fail, I should see that wear on him. It didn't help that near the end you even have the character not worrying about what was going on in the dream, because they knew, and it would happen again.

So for me, it was a lot of words. I wanted the story instead.

This is only a draft, so I imagine it will smooth over.

Sync

Glyax
April 20th, 2018, 01:20 AM
Thanks! Yeah, I'm slowly plugging away at rewriting the chapters. The only editing I've been doing so far, is if someone points out something blatantly obvious to me that I let slip through, i'll go back and fix it real quick. Otherwise I'm just saving notes/suggestions, to go back once it's finished and fine tune.

As for changing my writing style...when you get advice from an author you really respect....it tends to spur you to make the suggested changes haha.

And yeah, I understand the dream sequences/opening up are hit or miss. The people that like em, like em, but for others, it seems wordy, unnecessary, and not in the story quick enough. My goal was to try and get readers to give the first 3 chapters a try, and after that, hopefully they were hooked. Combined the first three chapters are 4577 words, so not a crazy amount to slog through. Trying to keep my chapters between 1000-1500 words, nice and quick chapters, that can keep a YA audience pulled in and engaged.