See if the above poster hooked you:

Total posts: [360]
1 ... 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15

Every time someone doesn't read the first part of this post, Rick Santorum eats a kitten and your post may be frowned upon.

Idea stolen from Critique Circle.

The writer will post no more than the first 500-1000 words of their work (unless you desperately need to finish a sentence, I guess). If it's a script, the first four pages should suffice, since 1000 words is about four pages in most books.

The reader is pretending to be an editor going through the slush pile, and will stop reading the excerpt if they lose interest. The reader will post to say if they stopped reading, why/ why not, and offer suggestions. The critique doesn't have to be detailed, but please at least offer some advice.

Every time someone doesn't follow the second part, Rick Santorum eats five kittens and your post has a 90% chance of being ignored.

FRIENDLY REMINDER: As the title of the thread implies, if someone posted an excerpt before you, please critique it before posting your own. If you skip someone, you lose the right to whine if someone skips over you. People that have been skipped, feel free to post a polite reminder if you're getting concerned. Reading 1000 words and leaving a few comments shouldn't take too long. And look at it this way: if you critique it yourself, you don't risk waiting forever for someone else to do it for you (this thread takes occasional naps) and you don't have to hope the critiquer doesn't have an excerpt of their own to post right after.

A SHORT NOTE: By hook we mean the first thing the reader sees of the story, not necessarily some sort of inciting incident. Your beginning can be slow and steady, but it still counts as the hook because readers can still be interested by something that moves slowly as long as something is there that gives the reader a reason to keep going. So if you have a prologue that meets or surpasses the word limit, don't stick your first chapter underneath it.

DISCLAIMER: This isn't a hardcore critique thread, so don't try to milk a detailed critique for your first chapter. That's why we have the word limits. Just think of this as a preliminary screening process for serious problems so you can get started on making your first impressions sparkly and awesome.

edited 20th Aug '12 7:46:48 PM by SnowyFoxes

226 SnowyFoxes27th Jul 2012 08:07:42 AM from Club Room , Relationship Status: I know
Drummer Boy
^^^ Probably? You're certainly the first person who feels the need to say so.

edited 27th Jul '12 10:58:44 AM by SnowyFoxes

The last battle's curtains will open on stage!
227 Masterofchaos27th Jul 2012 10:56:47 AM from the void , Relationship Status: In Lesbians with you
sophie! from mwdh

Uh...I think so. :/

edited 27th Jul '12 10:58:15 AM by Masterofchaos

228 nrjxll27th Jul 2012 12:30:04 PM , Relationship Status: Not war
[up][up][up]Thing is, I'm not sure I really agree with the idea of 'hooks', at least not ones this short.
229 SnowyFoxes27th Jul 2012 12:49:08 PM from Club Room , Relationship Status: I know
Drummer Boy
Would you mind explaining? What you're saying is pretty counterintuitive, unless you're proposing a minimum word count as well as a maximum word count. I dunno.

edited 27th Jul '12 12:49:31 PM by SnowyFoxes

The last battle's curtains will open on stage!
230 nrjxll27th Jul 2012 12:58:39 PM , Relationship Status: Not war
When people on this forum talk about 'hooks', it seems to be from the standpoint that Readers Are Goldfish - if you don't get them "hooked" in the first two or three paragraphs, you're doomed. I admittedly can't speak for anyone else, but my idea of a book's 'trial period' is more like the first chapter or so. I'm not going to put something down just because the very first page didn't immediately grab me.

I've got a similar problem with the Constructive Criticism thread. The recent review of Kyle Jacobs' webcomic is - I think - the first time in the entire thread where someone has actually critiqued an entire in-progress work rather then just a small excerpt.

edited 27th Jul '12 1:02:19 PM by nrjxll

231 SnowyFoxes27th Jul 2012 01:13:50 PM from Club Room , Relationship Status: I know
Drummer Boy
How many people on the Internet have the time or motivation to critique anything longer than, say, two thousand words? The fact that it took this long for Kyle Jacobs to get any feedback says something.

Besides, one thousand words (usually) isn't the "first two or three paragraphs." In some cases, it's half a chapter.

The maximum is in place to keep people from sneaking in to get a detailed first chapter critique. It's the writer's choice whether or not to post one thousand words. If they think the hook is in the first paragraph, they might just post a few paragraphs. If they think they need the one thousand words, so be it.

edited 27th Jul '12 1:15:51 PM by SnowyFoxes

The last battle's curtains will open on stage!
232 nrjxll27th Jul 2012 01:21:54 PM , Relationship Status: Not war
I'm just saying, this is not a good way to get meaningful criticism either way.
233 SnowyFoxes27th Jul 2012 01:29:16 PM from Club Room , Relationship Status: I know
Drummer Boy
This thread exists to answer the question "Would you keep reading?"

No more, no less.

And I think that's an important question, no matter how many words anyone else thinks the writer can use before there's no chance.

And because that's the thread's only purpose, I can't imagine why anyone would assume any critique here would be very comprehensive. It might point out a few problems that could be all over the rest of the work. At least it gives you something to think about.

I realize I probably sound flustered, but I'm not in the best of moods right now.

edited 27th Jul '12 1:34:10 PM by SnowyFoxes

The last battle's curtains will open on stage!
234 Collen27th Jul 2012 01:48:52 PM from it is a mystery
the cutest lizard
The problem is that for some of us 1,000 words isn't even a quarter of a chapter. My chapters usually range from 5,000 to 7,500 words. I'd hope that people wouldn't decide whether or not to continue reading my book at 1,000 words, because at that point barely anything has happened other than a little bit of character establishment, description of the setting, and a little bit of foreshadowing. At the 1,000 word mark, not one line of dialog has been said.

The point here is that not all of us have our hooks within 1,000 words.
Gave them our reactions, our explosions, all that was ours
For graphs of passion and charts of stars...
235 SnowyFoxes27th Jul 2012 02:12:26 PM from Club Room , Relationship Status: I know
Drummer Boy
I have 1000 as the limit because that's what Critique Circle did. I saw no reason to change it because I happened to agree. Looking back at the site, it seems that the reason for that apparently godawfully short limit was for the sake of pretending to be a cranky editor. Which is probably different from being someone in a bookstore, who has more time and might be more forgiving.

Then again, I keep my chapters 2-3.5k words, so yay bias? I'll give this more thought, but I think anything more than 2.5k would suck the life out of the thread.

Also, I'm amused that this has never been brought up until now.

edited 27th Jul '12 9:34:17 PM by SnowyFoxes

The last battle's curtains will open on stage!
236 Aqueos27th Jul 2012 09:36:07 PM from Orange County California , Relationship Status: Californicating
[up][up]Sure it may not even be a quarter of a chapter, but if it didn't hook and I don't care and I put the book down?

It's all the same in the end.

I'd say 1000 words is a fairly nice estimate for the time you have before the reader ragequits.

Hell if the first PARAGRAPH pisses me off I might just put it down.

edited 27th Jul '12 9:37:27 PM by Aqueos

Bet you didn't see that coming
237 JHM28th Jul 2012 01:52:59 AM from Neither Here Nor There , Relationship Status: Showing feelings of an almost human nature
Thunder, Perfect Mind
I'm pretty tolerant of slow openings.If something takes a chapter or two to get going, I'm generally fine with that. And really, a good "hook" is no indication of the success of a work, nor is it even always at the beginning.
238 nrjxll28th Jul 2012 02:05:38 AM , Relationship Status: Not war
[up]Once again, I'm deeply disturbed by how you seem to see fiction in a way all-but-identical to how I do.
239 Wolf106628th Jul 2012 02:30:23 AM from New Zealand , Relationship Status: In my bunk
Typin' strangely
When looking at a book from an author I don't know, I read the blurb at the back to see if, in general, it's the sort of story I'd be interested in. If it is, I open the book to the first chapter (or prologue in some cases) and read. If the story does not grab me in the first page, I put the book back and they lose out on a sale.

Part of the craft of a writer is to grab the attention of the reader and then hold it. Failure to do so can, and does, adversely influence prospective purchasers. Why the Hell would I bother reading a book where the author can't even achieve the task of engaging my interest within the first page when there are so many books out there where the author manages to do so within the first sentence?

I fully understand the purpose of this thread and see its merit - simply see if what's been written makes people - and hopefully not just people who are into that particular genre - want to keep reading. Nothing further is expected or required.
Dangerously Genre Savvy since ages ago...
240 SnowyFoxes28th Jul 2012 07:34:36 AM from Club Room , Relationship Status: I know
Drummer Boy
Maybe the problem is the implications of the word "hook" as being action.

For the purposes of this thread, can we just assume the hook is the very first thing the reader sees inside the book?

Chapter length is irrelevant to me. If your chapter is five thousand words long and I run out of patience for your narrator at two thousand words, I'm not going to check how much of the chapter is left. Then we might say that this thread is merely a screening process for egregious errors.
The last battle's curtains will open on stage!
241 JHM28th Jul 2012 07:47:42 AM from Neither Here Nor There , Relationship Status: Showing feelings of an almost human nature
Thunder, Perfect Mind
Then we might say that this thread is merely a screening process for egregious errors.

That seems fair.
242 Elfhunter28th Jul 2012 07:49:48 AM from India , Relationship Status: My elf kissing days are over
Ok, I have nothing to add in the above discussion, so I'll just do a critique. I'm not exactly good at it though (I might even have made the very same mistakes I'm pointing out). So...take it with a grain of salt.

@Slendid Suit: The first line...I don't know. Maybe it's because i've been watching too much 30Rock, so I find the "{Off-handed statement describing a weird situation} again" sentences kind of off-putting. Maybe change the structure of the sentence? Also, there is a lack of detail at some places. Like when the hit connects with Cyrus, he gets thrown across the room, he hits a pillar, monster howls and...he starts eating him. How did the monster cover the distance? Are its tentacles that long? Did it crawl across the room? Why didn't Cyrus do anything in the meanwhile? Basically, that's a gap that just got skipped over. And (this is basically a nitpick) Cyrus counting the monster's mouths while thinking over a plan is weird. Both are conscious actions, and unless the former was somehow important to do the latter, he wouldn't be doing them together. Try combining the latter with some unconscious action instead (like tapping his hands on his thighs, or shaking his leg, or something). As for whether it hooked me...I think I would, if only to find out why Cyrus is forced into situations where he has to fight monsters, and who the hell is summoning them. But besides that I can't find reason to stick around.

Here's the first scene of the first chapter of my story. I had posted this before, took some suggestions and edited it. Let's see if it's better.

Even though the door had been opened for him, Daniel didn’t immediately enter. He stood staring through the doorway, confused by his own feelings. He could feel his heart was beating a little faster and his whole body was trembling slightly. But the reason for his anxiety he could not fathom. Sure, he was going to be given a weapon today, but it wasn’t going to be his first.

The man holding the door open motioned for Daniel to enter. It was the first time Daniel had met him. The latter was a balding man who looked about sixty. He was shorter than Daniel, though that could be because he was standing with a hunch. He had a pudgy face, with eyes that looked like they were perpetually squinting. After his quick study of the old man, Daniel quickly nodded in response to the latter’s invitation.

The door opened into a small and scarcely furnished room. Apart from the old man, six others were seated in the room. They looked up as Daniel entered but returned to conversing among themselves when the old man closed the door and signaled for Daniel to follow him.

The two of them entered the adjoining room, whose contents were the only indication that they were in an armory. The room was constructed entirely of stone with a pillar at the centre. Numerous weapons lay propped against the walls, while some were hung on hooks or placed on shelves. Daniel surveyed the room, his eyes moving from one weapon to the other. One in particular caught his attention. It had been kept separate from the rest, alone on a shelf. Daniel moved over to get a closer look.

Daniel lifted the weapon in question from the shelf and studied it carefully. It was a straight-edged sword, which was contained in a black sheath with grey stripes. It had a straight cross-guard which curved downward, giving the appearance of a claw, at each end and a conical pommel. After a moment of consideration, he placed his hand on the grip and unsheathed the sword sharply.

A sudden flash of light caused Daniel to blink. He slowly opened his eyes, which first rested on his hands. Empty. “God damn it,” he said, slapping his forehead, “not this again.” He looked up and, sure enough, there was the gateway and the flight of stairs behind it. They were the only visible landmarks in the otherwise empty whiteness that surrounded Daniel as far as he could see.

“You…sen to…ield…” a voice broke through from above. A deep, harsh, inhuman voice, as it had been all the times before this.

“Look, I’m all with the mystic atmosphere you’re going for here but,” Daniel said with a frown and, looking up, continued, “how about a bit more clarity?”

For what seemed like half a minute, there was silence. Daniel strained to see the source of the sound, who he had guessed was at the top of the stairs, but with no luck. He had altogether stopped considering the idea of climbing up the stairs, as four nights of trying to merely reach them had only served to show that this particular flight had managed to master ambulation.

The voice broke through again, “Ho…much lo…I wai…” Suddenly, the whiteness around Daniel grew more intense, blinding him.

“Yeah, well, screw you too,” he yelled, though he knew he shouldn’t have wasted the air. He tried to breathe in, but he was unable to. It was as if his lungs failed to work like his mind was telling it to. His chest began to burn and before long the feeling spread to the rest of his body.

Daniel woke up with a gasp. He sat up coughing and, clutching his sword tightly, nervously surveyed his surroundings. He had been lying on a patch of grass in the middle of the woods. There was the sound of flowing water coming from somewhere nearby. At the edge of the clearing, a large metal box lay near a patch of ground that had been dug up. He took a sigh of relief as he finally realized that he was at his training ground. Having calmed down, he lay back down on the grass.

He remembered now what had happened. Alden wasn’t there when he had arrived today. It was six forty five then. He hastily drew out his pocket watch and lifted the cover. Seven thirty. It looked like Alden had decided to blow him off.

Daniel cursed himself for having decided to lie down back then. He should have known his lack of sleep would catch up to him. The same dream had been keeping him up for four nights after all. But this time, there was something new. What was it now? Something about an armory and being issued a weapon…some people here and there…a sword…

He strained to remember more, but after a few seconds, he gave up on it. There was nothing else there to help make sense of any of this. If only Master Zachariah were here, he’d know what was going on. He turned his head to look at the broadsword in his hand. He raised it up, blocking the sun behind it. Master Zachariah. Daniel wondered where he was right now. It had been over a year now since he’d left, but he’d failed to send any word since then. Not one letter. Daniel wondered whether he had been forgotten so quickly.

Daniel heaved himself up with some effort, still feeling fatigued, and moved to the metal box. There wasn’t much time now. He opened it to reveal some clean clothes, a bunch of books, a towel and a bottle of perfume. He wasn’t going to need the latter two today. He sheathed his sword and started undressing, all the while lost in thought. He knew he had to get to the bottom of the dream business. There was no way he could continue his training if this kept up.

edited 28th Jul '12 8:00:18 AM by Elfhunter

"What are you going to do, stab me?" - said the stab victim.
243 Polarity18th Aug 2012 02:50:59 PM from Caracas, Venezuela , Relationship Status: I wanna know about these strangers like me
So, uh, hi. I guess I need help with the prologue and the first chapter. Yeah yeah, it is 2000 words long, sorry.

I wanna know if both the content and formatting are right. Or, failing that, just critque whatever you want. I hope I am posting this in the right way:

Book One:



He walked aimlessly through the corridors. The light that came through the windows was faint at best. He didn’t know why, but he knew that he had to be on the move, or else he’d be dead. The setting was unfamiliar to him. He ignored how he had ended up in there, or what was his purpose, but the feeling of dread was all too familiar for him.

Suddenly, he heard footsteps. Where they coming from behind him, or were they approaching him from the front? He couldn’t tell. The only viable choice was to run.

Because you know you’re clearly the prey here. Running is all you have left.

It was hard to make out the correct way for him to go. All of the corridor’s walls were colored black, and so were the floors. The footsteps were coming closer, and he still couldn’t tell whether they were chasing him, or if he was just running towards them. It was like that story that his father used to tell him. It was an old urban legend, probably made to scare kids who liked to hang out in the streets at night. According to the legend, an old man had sold his soul to the devil, so that he could be truly undetectable. His father had omitted the reason for which the old man needed to be undetectable, but it could be inferred.

The old man had then been cursed to wander the streets of the city, kidnapping children. The children’s parents couldn’t do anything about it, and the police weren’t much help either, his father used to say. The rumors said that the man could change shapes, so that he could pretend to be an old friend or a relative. They also said that no one could ever tell when he was near, since he was unable to make a noise, though some people said that whenever a cold breeze was blowing in the night, it meant the old man was near.

So stay indoors when it gets dark, sonny, because if you think that’s scary, well, you haven’t seen what he does to the little kids after he gets them.

That’s what the old folks used to tell their kids to scare them, but his father focused on another thing entirely. Old Jonathan Beckett had plenty of ways to ensure that his son stayed indoors, some of them fun, some of them terrifying. He didn’t need an old tale to do the work for him. No, the reason why he told the tale was to teach his son another lesson. That you could never be sure of other people’s intentions. You could never be quite certain that no person in the world meant you any harm, not even if they were family. Hell, according to his father, you couldn’t even trust yourself completely to do things right. One moment you think that you know how things are going to play out, and the next, you end up walking into a trap brought by your own hubris.

So listen to me, Max. Don’t you ever trust someone completely. Especially your loved ones. You might get some nasty surprises. You will never have all the answers in the world either, and that’s fine. Only a fool thinks that he’s got the bull by the horns.

For some reason, he found himself thinking of this as he ran from the approaching footsteps.

As he accelerated his pace, he started to hear the whispers. He had heard them before, but he didn’t remember. He couldn’t hear what they were saying. For all he knew, they could be speaking in arcane tongues, some Mandarin or Cantonese, Latin, or worse, Portuguese. Try as he might, however, they kept getting louder, like they were in his head. He knew by the intonation that they were asking him questions. They sure seemed to be some important questions, since they sounded angry, and only got more aggressive as time went on. He needed to get out of here, he needed to escape the footsteps, before this madness continue—

… And then he saw it. Standing against a window, there was that dark figure. It was tall, yes, but it looked… Imposing. It seemed to notice him too, but instead of running towards him, it walked slowly, taking it’s time. In other circumstances, he would have run, just like he told himself after watching too many horror movies where the characters were incapable of running when they saw the monster (but they sure were good at screaming and tripping). However, try as he might, he was physically incapable of moving his legs. Was his mind frozen? Or was the creature somehow keeping him locked in place?

As the creature grew closer, he could make out some of its features. The red eyes, almost like looking for blood, and that face. It looked so familiar, but at the same time so alien to him! There surely was something that didn’t fit, even among this madness. But he couldn’t waste time on the details now. The creature was itching closer and closer…

He realized fortunately that this had to be a dream. But how could he exit the dream? He had to awaken somehow, but he was at a loss on how to achieve it. Sleep had been his sanctuary many times in the past. He had never learned how to escape in those rare moments where his sanctuary became a prison instead.

It was only after the creature laid his hands on him, after he felt an excruciating pain like no other person had ever felt, that he woke up, still feeling the phantom pain in his chest.

Chapter One

Pelham Street, Umbra City 11: 57 P.M.

As expected, he was still in his apartment. He took a moment to ponder on what had just happened. As the blurry images came to his mind, he started remembering. He realized he was lying on the couch, probably after he sat down to watch some T.V.

The whole apartment was dark, except for the light of the television, of course. He decided to sit up, and try to at least get some sleep on his own bed, since there was a bad day ahead of him. His whole back ached, probably due to the awful position. It didn’t just ache, it stung; most likely to a nerve or something like that. He made a mental note to remind himself to get a massage tomorrow.

Yeah, and how do you plan to afford that? Hm?

It didn’t matter, he would take care of that tomorrow. He looked at the table in front of him. The dirty remains of his dinner (Chinese food) lay there. He felt tempted to just leave it there and clean it tomorrow, but he knew very well that, even in his shithole of an apartment, roaches and mice would not be welcome. He reached out to grab the discarded food when something caught his eye: he had received a new message on his phone. He reached out to look at it. He did not recognize the number, but it definitely seemed directed at him. The Message read:

“You will find her in Aeterna High School, Max. Go there, now. If not, you, and everyone else, will be dead.”

Since it was obviously directed at him, or someone named like him, it could not be a simple coincidence. The message had been sent a few minutes ago, apparently. Aeterna High School had been the same one he had attended, but he didn’t know who the hell was “her”, or “everyone else” for that matter.

Max finished cleaning up the mess in the living room, which had not taken him long. He looked at his phone again. It was an old model, one of those phones that served also as a wristwatch. He had never quite liked the newer models, anyway, and he hadn’t been planning on doing the surgery to install the “phone program” in his head. Not because he thought that companies were out to make killer cyborgs, but because the technology was still brand new, and he wanted to wait a while. Well, that, and having a phone in his head wasn’t exactly what an anonymous life needed. Heck, even if he wanted those things, he didn’t have the money to buy them, so he didn’t have any choice in the matter anyway.

The message seemed urgent. He had answered anonymous messages and calls in the past, with varying results. He looked outside the window of his apartment. The streets were empty, and the area where his school was had always been empty, since it was a particularly isolated one. The message was clearly a death threat, and if they knew his number, they probably knew his address.

“So there’s your plan, Max”, he thought to himself. “Go out, in the middle of the night, to a location somebody with intentions to kill you told you to go. Not to mention, it’s your creepy High School, an isolated area where you can’t call for help. Not to mention, what kind of help would you expect? Cops are out of the question. Shit, if you go, you have a high chance of fucking the whole operation you worked so hard for.”

He brushed aside those thoughts. The “operation”, if it could even be called that, had been going nowhere. This person clearly knew who he was, despite being as careful as possible. Not to mention, he wasn’t the only one who had been threatened. Those other people…

They could mean his family, or old friends. It could mean anybody, and their lives depended upon him to go there. He had to make sure that this wasn’t a prank, or if the person who sent the message knew anything about him. He called the number.

No one answered.

“Great”, he thought bitterly. Maybe it was the late hour paranoia that always seemed to set in at night (living alone does so many wonders for the mind), but the message was unnerving him, more than it should have. There were so many ways this could go wrong. But, at the same time, so many things that could happen if he didn’t go to the school.

He sighed. “I know I’m going to regret having ever done this.”

This could be a prank, idiot. Some fucker trying to mess with you.

“Nobody with intentions to ‘mess with me’ has my number. The few people who have it know about my situation. Not to mention, they’re mostly family.” He went to his room. It was messy, to say the least, with crumpled clothes all over the floor. Among them, he recognized his favorite blue jacket. He took it, figuring that it might help him blend in, thanks to the darkness outside. From his old desk, he took that old flashlight he never used.

However, he knew he needed something else. The streets at this hour weren’t secure, especially if one planned to be moving among them by foot. He searched among his old trunk, hoping to find that switchblade his father had given him when he was fifteen. Unfortunately, luck wasn’t on his side. He had probably lost it when he had moved.

He stood up, thinking. Even with all the planning, he had never had the idea to pack a weapon, or at least something to defend himself with. Sure, he wasn’t the best of fighters, but surely he must have had something to fight with in case of an emergency…

“Wait”, he thought to himself. “Of course. The bracers. I can’t even remember where my goddamn stuff is in my own house. Pretty swell, Max, pretty damn swell.”

He searched inside his closet, where he found a small black box. Opening it, he found what he was looking for: a pair of Knuckle Bracers. He had bought them probably three years ago, when he was still practicing boxing. Sure, he hadn’t continued his practices, but he knew the essentials. If someone came at him with gun, though, he would probably end up dead or without money.

With all that taken care of, he opened the door of his apartment in the Triage Building. Maybe if he hurried up, he could still find a bus that could take him closer to the Aeterna High School.

Max Beckett went out into the streets. There was a cold breeze blowing.

EDIT: Shoot, forgot that italics don't work the same way in here. Fixing that, right now.

EDIT 2: Done, now it should be readable. Sorry.

edited 21st Aug '12 12:18:26 AM by Polarity

Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off the goal.
244 SnowyFoxes18th Aug 2012 03:08:27 PM from Club Room , Relationship Status: I know
Drummer Boy
I'm not kidding.

Does the OP really need kitten pictures?
The last battle's curtains will open on stage!
Seeking for Light
It probably wouldn't hurt, at least. tongue
246 SnowyFoxes18th Aug 2012 05:04:07 PM from Club Room , Relationship Status: I know
Drummer Boy
Okay, it's not a kitten, but... uh... it gets your attention?

I think I'm trying too hard now.
The last battle's curtains will open on stage!
Words In The Heart Can Not Be Taken

I really liked the sudden change of direction in par. 6, but the second time that happens, when we realise Daniel's asleep, I was just annoyed. Bear in mind that dreams are a dangerous cliché. Suggestion: make part one (pars. 1-5) more dream-like, so the revelation that Daniel's asleep isn't so jarring. Maybe add some subtle inconsistencies (change the sheath from striped to chequered), excessively vague descriptions (in dreams a person might consist entirely of a nose, the rest of their identity only a blur), unexplained jumps from scene to scene, etc.

“Look, I’m all with the mystic atmosphere you’re going for here but, ” Daniel said with a frown and, looking up, continued, “how about a bit more clarity?”

"...Daniel didn't immediately enter. He stood staring through the door, confused by his own feelings. [...] But the reason for his anxiety he could not fathom...."
The bolded sentence just repeats things you've said elsewhere. Deleting would make the paragraph much snappier.

Alden wasn't there when he had arrived today.
I think "Alden hadn't been there" is more correct.

Overall, forgetting my issue with "it was a dream", I'm interested. Sounds like there's a story in the offing.

Would posting fanfic be OK? Kind of ashamed, tbh. I'd like to know whether the opening is interesting enough regardless of whether you're from the fandom or not.

edited 20th Aug '12 8:17:02 AM by LongLiveHumour

Sanity is quieter, but madness is more interesting.

My tumblr
248 SnowyFoxes20th Aug 2012 09:04:45 AM from Club Room , Relationship Status: I know
Drummer Boy
Fanfic is allowed.
The last battle's curtains will open on stage!
249 Elfhunter20th Aug 2012 09:49:53 AM from India , Relationship Status: My elf kissing days are over
[up][up] Thanks for giving your opinion on my piece, really appreciate it grin. Made most of the changes you told me. About the dream thing though, since the dream is basically sort of a vision of where the sword is kept, I thought I'd go a different direction by starting off with minimum detail and slowly increasing it the closer he got to the sword. But I guess I didn't do a good enough job on it. Oh well, I'll need to work on that.
"What are you going to do, stab me?" - said the stab victim.
250 Collen20th Aug 2012 01:02:27 PM from it is a mystery
the cutest lizard
I'm assuming it's okay to post my first 1000~ words here, since the last excerpt posted has already been commented on, and there's nothing I can say that doesn't echo the points already made, other than I liked the piece.

So, here is the first four pages of my novel, The Hidden Passage:

Sunlight flooded Red Tree Road, painting the land below with a warming sort of light. Buses rumbled down the streets occasionally, letting out hordes of happy children and teenagers celebrating the fact that summer vacation had arrived and no longer they had to sit bored out of their minds in endless classes listening to teachers drone on about things that only few of them cared about.

At this particular moment, Vern Felfrie was slowly walking down the sidewalk, not in any hurry. Why should he be? He had plenty of time before the meeting.

Vern thought that if people took their time to notice things around them, they'd open plenty of new paths to take, new ways to shape the future.

Vern liked opportunity – anyone who knew him could tell you that. He liked having no limits on what he could do, relished having adventure right around the corner. And so Vern watched, noticed, explored.

In his mind he had mapped out Ibean Township, the place where he lived. Vern knew about a large majority of the roads and quite a few hidden pathways and dusty alleyways. He also knew of roads that were less physical – roads concerning the future, and the freedom of shaping it.

Of course, not every one of these paths were found by him, not every potential futures were realized by him. Vern had help from his friends.

Vern checked the silver watch wrapped around his hand. It was tightly fastened – after all, he could not lose it. It was an antique, a family heirloom; not something to be careless with.

The elegant watch hands pointed to 4:23, and for that, Vern let out a sight of relief. He still had time to enjoy his surroundings before the half-hour mark was hit and he'd have to hurry over to the painstakingly-constructed tree house of his friend, Melvin Morris.

As he walked past a bench sitting right by a trashcan, somebody ran past Vern and knocked him to the side. The runner mumbled, “Sorry!” and got away before Vern could say anything.

The person was certainly in a hurry – but what could warrant that speed? What was so important that they couldn't even apologize properly before running off again?

He could have been in some sort of club, Vern reasoned. I don't think anybody wants to hold their friends up. I don't, anyway.

There was no point in wondering what the runner had stopped for. After all, Vern had things to attend to. He continued on his way, his step a little faster than before.

It was 4:26 now. Four more minutes, not a big deal. Melvin's house was just a little ways farther.

Vern's thoughts panned back to recent events. It seemed like things had become so complicated recently at school. Normally, Vern stayed away from the drama of real life. He found that there was no point in involving himself in another's personal business.

Yet, just about a week ago, Vern became wrapped into a near stranger's problem. When Vern thought back, he couldn't quite remember how it happened – only that it had.

The 'stranger' wasn't exactly a stranger - Vern had seen her around school before, had even been paired with her for a science project once. He even knew her name – Ena. However, they'd never really spoke much, unless you counted scientific babble that they didn't exactly understand, but pretended they did.

The line between 'acquaintance' and 'friend' was skewed when a precious family heirloom of Ena's – a necklace with an actual scale hanging from it – had gone missing. It hadn't just been misplaced, she repeatedly told Vern. One day she'd put it in her locker, and when she returned to it after the final bell rang, it had vanished. “Like it'd never been there,” was her exact wording.

Ena had never moved it during the day. In fact, she'd left it in her backpack the entire time. The disappearance could only mean that someone had broken into the locker and stolen it while classes were being taught.

Of course, Ena told the principal all about the theft and he looked thoroughly into it – or so he said. One week later school had ended and it was still missing.

The day after the theft, the girl had come up to Vern and asked him for his help. She'd heard all about how Vern knew his way all around town and thought that he'd be able to sneak around and find the necklace. When Vern laid down the reasons why he wouldn't help her – “Breaking into people's houses seems a little extreme just to find a piece of jewelery.” – the girl retorted, “It's not just a piece of jewelery. It's extremely important. And more than that, it's not mine. It's my father's, and it's a valuable family treasure. You have to find it. They're not doing enough to search for it.”

Still not entirely comfortable with what Ena wanted him to do, Vern told her to meet him and his friends at the tree-house next to Melvin's house in six days at the half of the fourth afternoon hour.

Vern looked at his watch once more. 4:28. He increased the speed of his step. He couldn't be late, not after the importance the girl had made the meeting out to be.

The house came into view, towering over him at two stories high, the roof haint blue – Melvin said his grandfather had chosen that color – and the bricks pale orange, cracked and dry from the midsummer heat.

Adorning the front of the house – and in contrast to the old bricks – was a nice-looking porch with two chairs and a table standing upon it.

Vern didn't bother looking at the house – instead, he focused on the wooden tree house that lay in-between two great oaks, supported by numerous branches and nails. A metal ladder was propped up against the trees, going all the way up to the tree house. Vern couldn't help but think that, in a lightning storm, it would be a tragedy waiting to happen.

Vern hurried over and climbed up the hot metal steps into the tree house, only to be met with the annoyed faces of his friends.

Vern took another look at his watch, already dreading what he'd see. The minute hand was pointing to thirty-four. Which meant...

“You're late,” said Ena, most sternly. “We're not going to get anything done if you move that slowly.”
Gave them our reactions, our explosions, all that was ours
For graphs of passion and charts of stars...

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