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An Untitled WIP (1 Viewer)

Galarath

Senior Member
Hi everyone, this is a Work in Progress as the title suggests. My reason for joining the forum was to become better at writing and get some other input on some of my work that I am doing. This is a snippet of one of my pieces and I would appreciate any feedback given. Thanks in advance for taking a look and possibly leaving comments. I really appreciate this and look forward to seeing what people think.
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A frozen landscape covered in thick snow and as dark as a night could be. You could be forgiven for thinking this scene to be that of the Arctic during the months without sunlight, but you would be wrong. This was London, approximately 3 o'clock in the afternoon, one day in July 2021.

James Ement was outside, enduring the bitterly cold temperatures whilst being on high alert. His hands were numb from the sub zero cold, but so far his work had proven successful. The first of which was to stay alive, the second was to keep watch.

After breaking into a store in Knightsbridge, a selection of clothes, various sizes, were quickly stuffed into a bag. Steve and Marshall had entered the store together, unfortunately something sinister was lying in wait within the nearby broken changing rooms.

Steve suddenly appeared at the broken in door. "We have to go!" He exclaimed as he dragged Marshall's lifeless body over the snow laden pavement. James jumped off the RV and rushed to help ferry Marshall.

"What happened?" James asked.
"I will explain later, but we have to go NOW!" Said Steve as his breathing intensified.

Marshall was quickly lifted onto the back seat of the RV as Steve threw the bag of clothes into the footwell.

James had jumped into the driver's seat and started the engine.

Steve took the radio as they sped from the scene.


“Alpha 1 from Recon 3 do you receive? over”

“Alpha 1 receiving, what is your status? ”

“Sir we have 1 fatality and goods recovered, Marshall didn't make it”

“Recon 3, proceed with orders and return to base, we will inform families involved”

“Received Alpha 1, we're on our way home”

They were glad to be going back home. Alpha base was just that, HOME, at least for the next week.
It was not going to be an easy journey back to base. Roads had been littered with smashed up vehicles, debris from buildings was also strewn across pathways and into the streets. It was hard to see some of this due to the thick snow which had covered it.

The sky was clear, revealing the usual constellations. If you carefully looked among the stars, you could see some were moving, though not in the way you would see a satellite. These were not satellites, nor were they stars. Shooting stars also moved in a different way. If you did manage to see one move, shivers were sent through your whole body, but not to be mistaken by the unruly cold temperatures you had to endure.

Having navigated through a roadblock of cars and trucks, managed a swift turn between two fallen trees and driven straight through a gaping hole within an abandoned house, James and Steve had made it onto the last stretch of their journey and were heading to Alpha base.
Still extremely cold from their long stay outside, they were both looking forward to warming up and signing duties over to Recon 1. Visions of Marshall's death was still imprinted in Steve's head, leaving sorrow for his fallen companion.

It had been a harrowing 21 hours, but nothing new to them. They had endured many of these missions, revealing just how tough and stable they could be to survive.


“what do you think you wanna eat when we get back Steve?” James asked

“Honestly......anything that will warm my insides up!” answered Steve, still shivering and frozen.

“I really don't know how much more of this I can take James, he was my best mate!”
"I know buddy....I know I did not know him as well as you, he was a good guy." James said as he focused on the wreckage in the road.


 
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JackKnife

Senior Member
This seems a little jumpy. You don't linger too long in one area to describe the setting or what's going on, so I'm not sure what's happening other than that it's very cold, Marshall died, and these guys are driving back to base now. It almost seems like it would work better adapted into a script, unless you do feel like going into more detail.

If you'd like, I can pick apart the finer details, such as grammar/punctuation/etc, but the above is just the gist I get from the piece.
 

Galarath

Senior Member
Wow that was a quick reply! Thanks too. I appreciate any feedback, so feel free to comment however you want. I know I may need to work more and more on my work, but that is why I am here.

I can work on the setting more. I see what you mean now about it feels more like a script. When I wrote it, I imagined what was happening in live action more than if I was reading a book, so I will work on that. I suppose in a movie, things happen quickly,but in a book, you dont see it and have to imagine it from the explanations.

Thank you and by all means please go ahead and correct anything if you want to. It all helps!
 

JackKnife

Senior Member
A frozen landscape covered in thick snow and as dark as a night could be. You could be forgiven for thinking this scene to be that of the Arctic during the months without sunlight, but you would be wrong.

I'm not sure you want to go with the 'you' approach. You're telling the reader what mistakes they make, how they feel, et cetera. The first sentence is also a fragment; you will want to join the two somehow.

James Ement was outside, enduring the bitterly cold temperatures whilst being on high alert. His hands were numb from the sub zero cold, but so far his work had proven successful. The first of which was to stay alive, the second was to keep watch.

Nix 'whilst'. Hyphenate sub and zero. Join the second and third sentences with either a colon or a dash, like so:

"His hands were numb from the sub-zero cold, but so far, he had been successful in two tasks - the first was to stay alive, and the second was to keep watch."

I rearranged your words a bit too, since as they are, they don't flow very well there.

Steve and Marshall had entered the store together, unfortunately something sinister was lying in wait within the nearby broken changing rooms.

Semi-colon after together instead of a comma.

Steve suddenly appeared at the broken in door. "We have to go!" He exclaimed as he dragged Marshall's lifeless body over the snow laden pavement. James jumped off the RV and rushed to help ferry Marshall.

Broken is used twice very close together. Find a synonym that will help this flow better.

After dialogue, don't capitalize unless the character is performing an action not related to the dialogue. In this case, Steve is exclaiming his dialogue, so that is related, and so it should read:

""We have to go!" he exclaimed as he dragged Marshall's lifeless body over the snow-laden pavement."

Do you think snowy sounds better here than snow-laden?

"I will explain later, but we have to go NOW!" Said Steve as his breathing intensified.
De-capitalize said. Other opinions might differ here, but I think you could benefit from using a more descriptive word than said in this instance. Snapped, maybe? Something else?

Marshall was quickly lifted onto the back seat of the RV as Steve threw the bag of clothes into the footwell.
James had jumped into the driver's seat and started the engine.

Steve took the radio as they sped from the scene.
This is kind of awkward. You have three new line sentences that each begin with a name. It reads in a list-like format. I'd put them all into one paragraph together and be a little more descriptive. I'm sure the guys are probably jumpy. They're likely not ignoring the dead body in the vehicle. Is somebody sitting beside Marshall? Does Marshall stink? Is he bleeding? There's a lot that could be going through their minds that I think you'd benefit from delving into.

“Alpha 1 from Recon 3 do you receive? over”

“Alpha 1 receiving, what is your status? ”

“Sir we have 1 fatality and goods recovered, Marshall didn't make it”

“Recon 3, proceed with orders and return to base, we will inform families involved”

“Received Alpha 1, we're on our way home”
"Alpha 1 from Recon 3, do you receive? Over."

"Alpha 1 receiving - what is your status?"

"Sir, we have one fatality and goods recovered. Marshall didn't make it."

"Recon 3, proceed with orders and return to base. We will inform the family."

"Received, Alpha 1. We're on our way home."

They were glad to be going back home. Alpha base was just that, HOME, at least for the next week.

"They were glad to be going back home; Alpha Base was just that - home - at least for the next week."

Roads had been littered with smashed up vehicles, debris from buildings was also strewn across pathways and into the streets.

"Roads had been littered with smashed vehicles and debris from buildings was strewn across pathways and into the streets."


“what do you think you wanna eat when we get back Steve?” James asked

“Honestly......anything that will warm my insides up!” answered Steve, still shivering and frozen.

“I really don't know how much more of this I can take James, he was my best mate!”
"I know buddy....I know I did not know him as well as you, he was a good guy." James said as he focused on the wreckage in the road.
"What do you think you wanna' eat when we get back, Steve?" James asked.

"Honestly... anything that'll warm my insides up," answered Steve, still shivering from the cold. "I really don't know how much more of this I can take, James - he was my best mate!"

"I know, buddy. I know I didn't know him as well as you, but he was a good guy," James said, focusing on the wreckage in the road.

That's about all I can see. Feel free to ignore anything I've said or change it or disagree with it. :)
 

Sparx

Senior Member
Galarath has pretty much covered most of the grammatical errors but I will try to add my own two cents. You seem to switch perspective after the first sentence. In the first sentence you start off by referring directly to the reader but then you suddenly switch to second person which I did find a bit jarring. I do believe you could use more description in this short segment. I want you to really describe this London frozen landscape to me through the POV of James or Steve. Really try and place the reader in the scene.

I loved the dialogue and I was certainly intrigued to find out more about this Marshall's death. I look forward to reading more.
 

AZzed

Senior Member

A frozen landscape covered in thick snow and as dark as a night could be. You could be forgiven for thinking this scene to be that of the Arctic during the months without sunlight, but you would be wrong. This was London, approximately 3 o'clock in the afternoon, one day in July 2021.

(I would completely get rid of this first paragraph. It's exposition, opening with the weather, directly addressing the reader, questionable POV - at least you didn't start 'It was a dark and stormy night'! Your story starts below. You can weave the fact that your in London and it's 2021 later.)

James Ement was outside, enduring the bitterly cold temperatures whilst being on high alert. His hands were numb from the sub zero cold, but so far his work had proven successful. The first of which was to stay alive, the second was to keep watch.

After breaking into a store in Knightsbridge, a selection of clothes, various sizes, were quickly stuffed into a bag. Steve and Marshall had entered the store together, unfortunately something sinister was lying in wait within the nearby broken changing rooms.

(Did this paragraph happen a while ago, or is it happening now, with James waiting outside? If he's the getaway driver, you could show his thoughts/narration:- 'Steve and Marshall had gone in the store together more than fifteen minutes ago. Something's wrong, James thought. They should be out by now.' etc. Also, if this is James's POV, he can't possibly know that something sinister was waiting in the changing rooms; he's outside!)

Steve suddenly appeared at the broken in door. "We have to go!" He exclaimed as he dragged Marshall's lifeless body over the snow laden pavement. James jumped off the RV and rushed to help ferry Marshall.

"What happened?" James asked. Thoughts? His reactions?
"I will explain later, but we have to go NOW!" said Steve as his breathing intensified.

Marshall was quickly lifted onto the back seat of the RV as Steve threw the bag of clothes into the footwell.

(This sentence is passive because of the word 'was'. Try to avoid using 'was' whenever you can; it hints that your are telling instead of showing. 'They lifted Marshall onto the back seat of the RV...')

James had jumped into the driver's seat and started the engine.

Steve took the radio as they sped from the scene.


“Alpha 1 from Recon 3 do you receive? Over.

“Alpha 1 receiving, what is your status? ”

“Sir we have 1 one fatality and goods recovered. Marshall didn't make itpunctuation

“Recon 3, proceed with orders and return to base, we will inform families involvedpunctuation

“Received Alpha 1, we're on our way homepunctuation

They were glad to be going back home. (Why tell us when you can show us? James can think it, or one of them can say it out loud) Alpha base was just that, HOME, at least for the next week.
It was not going to be an easy journey back to base. Roads had been littered with smashed up vehicles. Debris from buildings was also strewn across pathways and into the streets. It was hard to see some of this due to the thick snow which had covered it.

The sky was clear, revealing the usual constellations. If you carefully looked among the stars, you could see some were moving, though not in the way you would see a satellite. These were not satellites, nor were they stars. Shooting stars also moved in a different way. If you did manage to see one move, shivers were sent through your whole body, but not to be mistaken by the unruly cold temperatures you had to endure.

Having navigated through a roadblock of cars and trucks, managed a swift turn between two fallen trees and driven straight through a gaping hole within an abandoned house, James and Steve had made it onto the last stretch of their journey and were heading to Alpha base.
Still extremely cold from their long stay outside, they were both looking forward to warming up and signing duties over to Recon 1. Visions of Marshall's death was still imprinted in Steve's head, leaving sorrow for his fallen companion. (You've switched to Steve's POV. Naughty! Stick with James's)

It had been a harrowing 21 hours, but nothing new to them. They had endured many of these missions, revealing just how tough and stable they could be to survive.


“what do you think you wanna eat when we get back, Steve?” James asked.

“Honestly......anything that will warm my insides up!” answered Steve, still shivering and frozen. (You could get rid of a dialogue tag: '... my insides up!" Steve shivered and rubbed his arms.')

“I really don't know how much more of this I can take, James, he was my best mate!”
"I know buddy....I know I did not know him as well as you, he was a good guy." James said as he focused on the wreckage in the road.


[/QUOTE]
 

Galarath

Senior Member
I have been reading over the comments and have been very pleased. I have never really had anyone read any of my work before to this extent, but the reactions have been just what I had hoped. I was unsure what to reply to each of your comments, so I read them over and over to be sure what to say.

What has been pointed out from those that made input has opened my eyes to how I really should be writing. I am certainly going to be putting in the effort to correct or change anything that needs to be done. I will also be more descriptive with the setting, actions and from which POV the novel is written. I have really taken note what has been mentioned.

There is also something else I would like to know. I have posted this snippet in the hope that I receive the help and guidence I need to progress, which I have for sure. With this forum, would it be ok to do an edit on this and repost a new thread for people to comment on the edit? I would love to stay with the forum for a long time and see where it gets me.

Thanks so much to everyone for your help so far!
 

Terry D

Retired Supervisor
I would edit and repost the edit within this thread, rather than having the same story spread over multiple threads.
 

Galarath

Senior Member
Thanks for the reply Terry. I will post my edit within this thread. I look forward to seeing what everyone thinks.
 

FleshEater

WF Veterans
I agree with The other comments. This sounds like it is some what of an epic story...I mean, July in London and there is snow? Take your time and really create your scenery. What you wrote here though is a great way to get your idea to paper; write feverishly, but then go back and nitpick the details.

It'll be interesting to see the reasoning for the snow during the summer months.
 

Jeko

WF Veterans
Hi Galarath,

I'll do my usual thing of examining the first few bits.

A frozen landscape covered in thick snow and as dark as a night could be. You could be forgiven for thinking this scene to be that of the Arctic during the months without sunlight, but you would be wrong. This was London, approximately 3 o'clock in the afternoon, one day in July 2021.

You blew me away.

So many people begin with a line that tries to sell something, something that feels to worn or overused or too obvious to have the effect it deserves or the story needs. What you use is something that throws the reader into a whole new world.

Fantastic.

I usually pick apart lines word by word and fiddle and messa round with them until I feel they cna get out the most potential they have, but I can't do that hear. Whatever I can add, it won't do justice to your immediate creative genius.

I hope this goes really well for you.

Cadence.
 

Galarath

Senior Member
@ Flesheater - Thanks, I really do hope that this will become some what an 'epic' novel, in time. Since the comments, after posting this beginning, I have been working hard on the descriptiveness that needs to be done. I do not want to ruin anything just yet either. So many times have I written parts and gone back to re-edit. Sometimes even deleting a complete section or even going straight back to the beginning and starting from scratch! The main thing is that I have the ideas for the story, the problems I have had is making sure they are written well which is why I am here.
The fine, nit-picking of each section is what I am really concentrating on, but of course, still making sure I keep writing the story before I go back to edit.

Thank you for your honesty and I really hope you can come back and see my edit of this section.

@ Cadence - Thank you so much! I really did not expect this sort of reaction from anyone. I really would not have minded if you had picked through each sentence and given any opinion either.
For someone to say this about something I have written really means so much! This does not mean that I will not be editing anything though. I realise everyone will have their own opinion or views on my work and not everyone will like what I have done.

I hope you will enjoy my edits, and once finished, the complete novel.

Thanks again!
 
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Galarath

Senior Member
Here is an edit of most of the first part, I am still working on the next bits, but feel free to tell me what you think.

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A frozen landscape covered in thick snow and as dark as a night could be. The only visible light reflected off the bright full moon and onto the surrounding snow and ice. A breeze whistled through the broken window of a nearby car. Icicles hung dangerously from the entrance sign to the underground station. The surrounding buildings, each with their own unique architectural style, lie dormant and ruined. Vehicles covered most of the street, forming an accidental road block, but leaving a little room for manoeuvre. It was Kensington high street, London 2021.


James Ement, on high alert, was in the street enduring the bitterly cold temperatures. His hands were numb from the sub-zero cold. He squinted at a large shape further down the street but could not make it out. His hand reached up and pulled down some goggles from his helmet. He flicked a small switch at the side turned and them on. As he looked down the street again, the goggles focused. The green glow of the night vision revealed a double decker bus tipped over onto its side. James breathed a sigh of relief.

He was the commanding officer of Recon 3 comprising of himself and two others - Marshall Dann and Steve Groves, who had previously broken into a nearby store opposite the station.


Something was wrong,” James thought. “Six minutes, in and out, that was the plan!”

He looked down into the broken store window his team had entered. As James moved the zoom lever on the goggles, Steve, had slumped out of the store and into view.


"We have to go!" Steve exclaimed as he dragged Marshall's lifeless body over the snow laden pavement. “I don't know how long we have, but we gotta' go NOW!” Steve snapped as his breathing intensified.


James jumped off the RV and rushed to help ferry Marshall. He grabbed Marshall's right arm and hooked it over his shoulder as Steve did the same on the left.

"What happened?" James calmly asked, feeling Marshall's weight as they moved, but Steve said nothing. They quickly lifted Marshall onto the back seat of the R.V and Steve jumped in the back with him. James slammed the door shut and ran to get into the front, almost slipping over on a patch of ice. He looked in the mirror as he started the engine up. Steve was holding Marshall and looking down at his blood-soaked body, still uttering nothing.


The rumble of the engine signified a gear change that James duly noted. He pushed the RV into first gear and accelerated. Snow and ice flew into the wake of the vehicle from the spike covered tyres. James swerved around the broken vehicles cluttering the street and turned left.


As they passed an up-turned police car outside a church Steve reached for the radio.


“Alpha 1 from Recon 3 do you receive? Over.”
“Alpha 1 receiving, what is your status? ”
“Sir we have 1 fatality but no goods recovered, Marshall didn't make it.”
“Recon 3, proceed to base, we will inform families involved.”
“Received Alpha 1, we're on our way home.”
 

FleshEater

WF Veterans
That opening sentence is still reading really rough. You're defining your scenery twice with the first and second sentences. What if you did something like this;

"The once flourishing landscape had now become nothing more than a frozen, barren wasteland. It was the dead of night, the only visible light reflected off the bright, full moon and onto the surrounding snow and ice."

I used frozen to eliminate the use of snow twice...you realize it's cold and frozen but the use of snow in line two allows the reader to visualize the desolate, barren land not only bitterly cold, but also covered in a blanket of snow.

Also, when James asks "What happened?" would he really be that calm? I don't know if this guy is a bad ass like Tarantino's Bear Jew or not, but if he's a normal guy, I think he'd be slightly shaken.

Other than those two things this read very well and much smoother.

Editing always takes you through an unending rollercoaster haha!
 

JackKnife

Senior Member
A frozen landscape covered in thick snow and as dark as a night could be.

Sentence fragment.

The only visible light reflected off the bright full moon and onto the surrounding snow and ice. ...
The surrounding buildings, each with their own unique architectural style, lie dormant and ruined.

Surrounding is used twice in close proximity.

James Ement, on high alert, was in the street enduring the bitterly cold temperatures. His hands were numb from the sub-zero cold. He squinted at a large shape further down the street but could not make it out. His hand reached up and pulled down some goggles from his helmet. He flicked a small switch at the side turned and them on. As he looked down the street again, the goggles focused. The green glow of the night vision revealed a double decker bus tipped over onto its side. James breathed a sigh of relief.
While there's nothing really wrong with this paragraph, it just seems a bit jarring to me. Each sentence within starts with some variation of James. I think the flow of the paragraph would benefit from switching it up a bit.

He was the commanding officer of Recon 3 comprising of himself and two others - Marshall Dann and Steve Groves, who had previously broken into a nearby store opposite the station.

He was the commander of Recon 3, comprised of himself and two others - Marshall Dann and Steve Groves - who had broken into a nearby store opposite the station.

Something was wrong,” James thought. “Six minutes, in and out, that was the plan!”
Would James be thinking in past tense?

As James moved the zoom lever on the goggles, Steve, had slumped out of the store and into view.
Nix 'had'.

"We have to go!" Steve exclaimed as he dragged Marshall's lifeless body over the snow laden pavement. “I don't know how long we have, but we gotta' go NOW!” Steve snapped as his breathing intensified.
Was the decision to italicize dialogue a stylistic choice? I understood it for James' thoughts earlier, as it helped to make the distinction between speech and thought, but when you use it for dialogue as well, it's a bit confusing. I would also nix the entire last part of the sentence; it's already been established that Steve is speaking, so stating it twice feels a little redundant.

Snow and ice flew into the wake of the vehicle from the spike covered tyres.
in the wake*

spike-covered tires*, or just spiked tires.

As they passed an up-turned police car outside a church Steve reached for the radio.

upturned*
 

AZzed

Senior Member
I know Cadence liked your first paragraph, but I promise you that publishers won't read past it for the reasons I mentioned before. When you're already a successful author you can do what you want, but when you're trying to get a debut novel picked up you need to do what publishers want. I also don't know why you think description is your friend? Description is not story. It is an important garnish, but the meat and bones or your story should be nouns and verbs. When you use description, try to show it through the action, rather than tell us the setting in one big ol' info dump.

The first paragraph is an info dump. You can show us it's cold and snowing when you're talking about James. Show us his breath on the air, snow crunching under his boots, rubbing his numb hands together etc.

Well done for getting more of James's thoughts in there, but you don't "quote" thoughts like you do dialogue. Also, get rid of the adverbs in dialogue attribution (he said calmly etc.)
 

Jeko

WF Veterans
I know Cadence liked your first paragraph, but I promise you that publishers won't read past it for the reasons I mentioned before. When you're already a successful author you can do what you want, but when you're trying to get a debut novel picked up you need to do what publishers want.

Honestly, I think the paragraph is exactly what publishers want. It's what publishers are pushing out in regards to debuts - look at Derek Landy, Jonathan Stroud, etc. Their debuts struck a chord in the first paragraph with a punchy, grabbing idea that was well executed and effective.

Derek Landy began with an info dump, as well.
 

AZzed

Senior Member
Yes, you're right, there will always be exceptions, and if your premise and plot outline (which they'll get from the synopsis) is simply breathtaking and causes them to lose sleep with excitement etc. then you can basically do whatever you want. But I think it's better to maximise your chances.
 

Galarath

Senior Member
Ok, it has been nearly a week since the last post and I have not been back to reply. This is because I have been working hard to write more, but also to make any edits. I do not want to post an edit just yet though as I still do not feel right with what I have done.

The problem I am mainly having, is the beginning. I did want to write from a narrative perspective, but seeing the comments, I am not sure what to do. There have been varied opinions. Do I write more of a narrative from the POV of James, an unseen narrator or possibly in a diary/log from the POV of James? I am at a lose end. Either way I do not mind as the story will have the same structure.

The ideas are there, it is just putting them down in the right way that I want to get right.

I don't want to have people arguing with each other about what is right or wrong, but then again, the critique does help with my progress. AZzed and Cadence certainly have a difference of opinion and I value them both, but it is 50/50 to which suggestion is better. Is there anyone else who can shed another perspective or view on this matter?

I just want to progress and not be stuck at the beginning, lol.

Thanks in advance!
 

FleshEater

WF Veterans
Well your story started out in third person and I would probably keep it that way. Your perspective depends solely on how you wish your story to unfold. Would you rather tell it through the eyes of your main character or rather tell it like you were watching a film? A diary approach is a very interesting way to tell I story; I personally find it difficult to write in a diary format since you have to keep track of morning, noon and night so you don't reveal plot occurences too soon.

If your not strapped for time on this I would approach it leisurely. The story you want to write will "click" if you allow...I personally find that forcing the creative process usually leads to a less than desireable outcome.
 
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