Author Topic: A book I've been working on....  (Read 3353 times)

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Cobra Commando

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A book I've been working on....
« on: January 12, 2011, 01:37:09 PM »
Afternoon everybody,

So this post will just have some brief explanations of a few things. The following post will actually have the serious content.

Anyways, I've been working on a book for sometime. It seems to be my most promising one. In my following post I'm going to put up an excerpt from the first chapter. I was wondering if everyone could give me feed back on it. What they like/ didn't like and why, recomendations on how they think it could be better improved, etc... Many thanks! I can put up more of the chapter if people ask me to. Just let me know.

This particular book is a love/fantasy book. There is no dirty language or graphic material with the exception of the word hell being used quite often. If that is offensive, I can remove it from the post. Apologies in advance.
Please excuse any grammatical/spelling errors!
The story follows the life of he protaginist Jesse Hunter, an 18-year old who just entered college, as he learns to cope with his tragic past and things like drama at school, friends, love, etc....  

And I'm putting this in Off-Topic because this book has nothing to do with Star Wars. I don't want to cause trouble with the Moderators or anything else, given this is a Star Wars website. If, for whatever reason Moderators decided to lock this thread due to the material, posts, etc... I apologize in advance.
I post it up here because many people on Brothers-All write a lot of Fanfiction, and it's nice to get some outside perspective from both writers and readers alike.

Again, many thanks! I look forward to hearing from everyone.

Best Wishes,
Cobra Commando

« Last Edit: January 12, 2011, 01:45:29 PM by Cobra Commando »

Cobra Commando

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Re: A book I've been working on....
« Reply #1 on: January 12, 2011, 01:38:07 PM »
-2010 by ObsidianEmerald Books

Verdigris: The Hunter Tragedy
 
Chapter 1
Part One: Sunday, September 12th, Year One
   
   "Today is a day of great sorrow," the Pastor spoke.
    It was sunny today, and there was a slight ocean breeze, causing my black suit to rumple slightly. Yet the weather was at a total contrast of what was going on today. It would've been more appropriate if it was raining hard and thunder light up the sky... Would've been appropriate if the world was going to hell...
    "Today we bid farewell to the beloved couple of James and Elizabeth Hunter," the Pastor continued. I couldn't help but wonder how many funeral rites this aged pastor had done. How did he endure?
    In the background people could be sobbing hard. Most of the men here wore military uniforms, the patches on their uniforms indicated that they were special forces, and despite the fact that these men were as tough as nails, had seen horrors the movie producers could only guess at, they sobbed like children. I had no idea who they were, and I probably would never know either.
    "On September 10th, while returning to Verdigris city, their Cessna air plane crashed due to unknown reasons," the Pastor said his next part. Did he prepare these speeches in advance, or did he just make it up as he went along?
    Unknown reasons? Try engine failure. We'd gone to Tipica island to celebrate my 18th birthday on September 8th, and had been flying back on the 10th to the air port. Then the engine started to smoke...
    "Yet despite this great tragedy, God was merciful. Their only son, Jesse Hunter, is here amongst the living," everyone's eyes turned to me. What did they expect? Me to say something?
    I stared with a detached air at the two stone graves, and then to the dog beside me. My pet German Shepherd, Wraith, sitting besides my right foot, also staring at the graves. There were no coffins, the Cessna had never been found, and neither had my parents body's. I'd woken up in the hospital on the 11th, and found out that a police officer, some person named Samantha Lauren or something like that, had found my body on the beach unconscious and had driven me to the hospital. I'd have to get around to thanking her eventually.
    "My friends, I tell you do not fear death, for death means unification with the Almighty. James and Elizabeth are in Heaven, and they watch us now, they watch their son, Jesse, forever by his side. So do not grieve, rather, rejoice," the Pastor finished, his voice was walking that icy edge of sorrow and confidence when he spoke. He knew he couldn't break down in sobs, if he did, so would everyone else. He was a leader here, a symbol. And what good was a symbol if it had no strength?
    Rejoice? What a load of bull. My parents were dead, and I was alone now. Who rejoices at death? Was this pastor a head case? And who the hell were all these people here anyways? I'd never met any of them before. And yet...and yet it was nice to know so many cared...
    "Do you have any words of parting?" the Pastor spoke to me in a soft voice. I stared at his warm and concerned eyes, and looked away. "It's okay son, grieve, I am here if you need to speak with me and need guidance of the soul," he put an arm around me. I would've brushes it away, but I found not the strength to move a muscle.
    I wanted to sob, I wanted to let loose a waterfall of tears, I wanted to give a grand speech of farewell, but nothing would come. My voice was dry, and my eyes were cold and empty. In this time of great pain, I expressed as much emotion as granite. I was lost and adrift in a sea of overwhelming emotions. I didn't know what to do or think or say. It was just too much for me.
    Slowly people began to walk away from the grave, and yet I stood there, staring at it silently. And yet as they dispersed, the sun did not leave, the birds did not go anywhere, nature was the same. In this life, the death of a person meant relatively little to Mother Nature. The world would not stop spinning, life would continue. I guess that's where I found my answer: I would continue pressing on. It was all I could do.
    "Your parents left you their will," the pastor spoke suddenly, breaking the heavy silence, and handed me the sheet of paper. I couldn't bring myself to read it.
    "What's it say?" I finally spoke for the first time today after giving it back to him, he gestured for me to keep it.
    "They've left the entire Hunter Estate to you," he said gesturing to the area where we were, "And all their personal effects as well. Your Father also made a request that you take over the family business of being a fisher," he explained, looked at me for a long moment contemplating what to do, and then left after seeing I had nothing to say.
    A few soldiers walked up to the graves, and took a place beside me as I stood there. Finally one of them took a step forward towards me, he was a middle age man, with buzzed cut hair. His heavy set muscles and clean shaven face covered in scars, combined with that straight as a pole posture, told me that even if he was in blue jeans a t-shirt, anyone would identify him for a soldier. His eyes were pained but kind, and I knew I was looking at a man who'd seen countless friends die in the horrors of war.
    "I knew your father in the service," he said in a heavy voice, "We all did," he indicated to the men around him, "We were all part of his unit. Your father was a true hero. Let me tell you, he was loved by all. There was a time I got wounded, and your father picked me up, even with all my gear and his, as if I weighed nothing. He hauled me through the combat area, bullets flying mere inches from us. Bombs going off, sending shrapnel so close you could make out the finest of details. Took me to the chopper and the medic told me I was lucky to be alive. I would've been dead if not for him," he told me of his personal memory, and his eyes started to go wet. He wiped them, and then, with the rest of the men, saluted the grave, and then marched off without another word.
    Father had never mentioned in his time in the military. Whenever I asked him about it, he would dismiss the question immediately. The only thing he ever discussed was the training he'd received and how it could benefit me. Never mentioned the missions, the medals, any of it. As far as I could guess, all his effects from the time in service were in a few boxes somewhere. And every so often I'd find him in the middle of the night sitting in his chair by the huge fire place, drinking his favorite scotch, weeping silently. He'd look up at me with a weak smile, and say he was just remembering old friends. Then he'd wave me off to bed, and the next morning it was like nothing had ever happened.
    As time wore on, everyone gradually began to slip away, until finally only I was standing there with Wraith at my side. He let out a low howl, then nudged at my leg and looked to the house.
    "You're right boy, we should leave now," I spoke to my dog silently, and walked to the house.
    I entered it, and knew I had some work to do. I would erase my parents existence from this home, any photos of them, anything that might make me as so much as think about them. I never wanted to remember today again, it was too much for me. I had to cut all ties to the past. When I woke up tomorrow, I would be something new. Something different. And the old Jesse Hunter would be nothing more than a distant memory of a long forgotten life.

Anecdote

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Re: A book I've been working on....
« Reply #2 on: January 12, 2011, 06:54:14 PM »
if you can handle constructive criticism, I can go into detail on your strengths/weaknesses? I'm not going to hold back though, which is why I'm asking first.
"Blame for error always lies with those who act; those who do nothing, what do they have to be wrong about?"

Cobra Commando

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Re: A book I've been working on....
« Reply #3 on: January 12, 2011, 08:24:38 PM »
By all means. Fire away. =D

Anecdote

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Re: A book I've been working on....
« Reply #4 on: January 13, 2011, 01:13:25 AM »
okay, well... technical critiques first:

a few things I've noticed that you should address is your tendency to move back and forth in tense. present tense is a controversial writing style, generally due to its nature of immediacy, so unless you feel it's absolutely necessary in order to keep the pacing and story moving, you might want to stick to past tense. either way, you're having some trouble keeping to one or the other, and it pulls the reader out of immersion.

second thing I noticed is that you do a lot of "tell" and not "show." despite what a lot of sources say, good writing is a combination of both. try to work on eliminating is/was and practice creative ways to illustrate a setting/action. describe the weather instead of stating it. how does the air feel? the sunlight? describe the sounds, can the narrator hear the people sobbing, or the murmur in the crowd? things like that.

question: are you SURE you want to do first person POV? this is not to get you to change, but I want you to think about it, really think about it. there are a lot of restrictions in working in first person, it can be hard sometimes depending on what's happening outside of the narrator's field of vision. be sure it's the way you want to write for the long haul.
-example: "he explained, looked at me for a long moment contemplating what to do, and then left after seeing I had nothing to say."  in first person POV, explaining the pastor's internal/mental intentions have to be done slightly differently. instead of saying 'looked at me for a long moment contemplating what to do,' describe the expression on his face and his posture. what are his hands doing? does he look upset? intense? is he slouched, or looks as though he's about to speak but stops? that kind of thing.

avoid "..." if you can. try to phrase what you're saying so the emphasis is in the words.

also, less is more, sometimes. try to read for wordiness? some descriptions sound better without the added explanation.
-ex. "I was lost and adrift in a sea of overwhelming emotions."  doesn't have the same impact as "I was lost and adrift at sea." you've already stated emotions running a  muck in a previous sentence, so it's already implied.
-another ex. "And yet as they dispersed, the sun did not leave, the birds did not go anywhere, nature was the same."  you could end the sentence at 'anywhere.' the sentence implies that nature did not change.

personal critiques: I would avoid saying that people sobbed like children. it leaves a very... immature? sort of image, like an unnecessary/excessive bawling. try to describe the noise or the facial expression or even the actions. sobs are very noisy, very loud, very messy. keep word choice in mind.

are you sure you want to keep "Wraith" as the name of the dog? it's somewhat unusual... however, if you have a specific reason of using it that will come into play later on, or will be mentioned/referred to, then keep it.

did you choose the dates on purpose? I can't imagine not doing so, but... what are your reasons behind it? is that date really necessary for the story, or would any other day have made no difference?

I'm not sure about the pastor having the parent's will, I thought that was usually handled by the family's lawyer? I think you may want to look into that or ask someone who would know more about it.

you have a few spelling and grammatical errors here and there, but they're probably easily fixed with a few re-reads.

===

all that being said, I'm interested. there's an interesting beginning to a story here. I'm curious to see where you take this. also, the narrator has a personality, a unique voice, which is sometimes hard to do in first person... but you've got to work at it, make sure that he's consistent as the story progresses. first person seems to work for you, so try to have some fun with it. develop the character a little more, describe the dog and their relationship. you have the ability to write a story, so do it!
« Last Edit: January 13, 2011, 01:24:34 AM by Anecdote »
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RC-1191

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Re: A book I've been working on....
« Reply #5 on: January 13, 2011, 01:30:22 AM »
Anecdote did a good job covering, so there is not much else to say...but I like the first person perspective, for now. It gives me a Pendragon-esque feel, and I have to tell you, I really loved those books.

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Re: A book I've been working on....
« Reply #6 on: January 13, 2011, 04:07:18 AM »
Anecdote did a good job covering, so there is not much else to say...but I like the first person perspective, for now.

I'm not sure if this is really allowed or not, but I know that in the Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan, he is constantly changing what the POV is. Usually it's a character but I'm not sure if it's his book or other authors' books that they change between first person and a sort of out of body...narrator. I guess. anyway, it helps when you need to be more omnipotent.

I read alot, but I don't critic very often.

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Re: A book I've been working on....
« Reply #7 on: January 13, 2011, 04:30:57 AM »
I'm not sure if this is really allowed or not, but I know that in the Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan, he is constantly changing what the POV is. Usually it's a character but I'm not sure if it's his book or other authors' books that they change between first person and a sort of out of body...narrator. I guess. anyway, it helps when you need to be more omnipotent.

I read alot, but I don't critic very often.


There is a subtle difference there...

Jordan and many other writers tell the story from different character perspectives...  For a few chapters Perrin will be the main character...for a few chapters Matt will be the main character.  It's from their perspective, but it's still a narrator telling you the story about what they did and what happened to them.

In none of the Wheel of Time books, that I have read, does Jordan ever write as if HE was one of the characters, as in: "Then I channeled the One Power, and I killed a hundred trollocs.  I was quite pleased with myself.  I saw that the rest were coming right for me so I..."



Anecdote

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Re: A book I've been working on....
« Reply #8 on: January 13, 2011, 03:16:23 PM »
it is totally viable to have switching perspectives in a novel, but it has to be done very carefully. it's also a lot more difficult to do, and even when done well can put off some readers. however, I've read some books that had prologues described in 3rd, and the rest in 1st. there are also books that have 1st person alternating between characters for each chapter (ie. chpt 1 char A, chpt 2 char B, chpt 3 char A again, and so on).

it's a lot more difficult due to the nature of 1st person. it can jolt the reader right out of the story if it's done mid chapter, and if not jolt then cause a good deal of confusion further down the line... and even if it's done chapter by chapter it has to have some sort of announcement that a new character is speaking.

which is why I asked if cobra wants to stick to 1st person POV.  3rd person POV allows for perspective to switch and change between many characters as the story progresses, even making dramatic leaps across continents (or planets) without confusing the reader (as long as the characters are/had/have been properly introduced to the reader beforehand).


edit: personally, I don't like writing in 3rd person POV, but I never would have found out that my strengths were in 1st person if I never took the leap and experimented with it. writing takes a lot of practice to do, and it also means leaving your comfort zone on a regular basis to see what works for you, and understanding that even if something doesn't come out right the first time, it's still something achieved.
« Last Edit: January 13, 2011, 03:23:56 PM by Anecdote »
"Blame for error always lies with those who act; those who do nothing, what do they have to be wrong about?"

Cobra Commando

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Re: A book I've been working on....
« Reply #9 on: January 13, 2011, 07:56:23 PM »
First of all Ancedote, I can not possibly thank you enough for your critque. Seriously, thank you very much. I got more from you in that one paragraph than I would've anyone else except my English teacher. So many thanks.

To answer a few of your questions:

Tenses: I've always had problems with this. I've been improving, but as you kindly pointed out, I still have room to do better.

Tell/Show: That's interesting. I've never had someone say that to me, so I'll get to work on that. I've been working on improving things like that, looks like I still have a ways to go. Good call.

First Person: Personally I prefer to do first person. It's the style I've been writing in for the last 5-years, and while I understand the limitations, I enjoy it. And for this particular book, I want to make it first person to tell the story through this character's eyes and his alone.

"...": I use these when the character's voice just kind of dies. Like he's lost the words or there's a heavy atmosphere. I'll take your advice though.

Less=More: I've been told that before from several other people. I understand what you're saying, and I do try to work on that. It's just a personality quirk I guess you can say, I have a thing for over-explaining a concept.

Personal Critique: I was aiming for the uncontrolled sobbs, but you raise a good point.

Dog name: Two reasons for that 1. The name is plot related, won't be explained until much later though. 2. That name shows up in some form or fashion in most of my writing. I kind of have an obsession with the word. It's weird. XD

Dates: If you mean the month, yes. I chose September for a reason. For the actual days, that too has a reason. In life, when you have a lot going on, life goes by a bit slower than when your days are just kind of bland (at least it is for me). I'm trying to depict this in the book.A lot happens to the character in a short span of time early on in the book, so it starts off going day by day, however as the book progresses, the time will speed up by weeks, even months, as some days become bland, and others plot filled.

Will: Something I'll have to look into.

Plans for the book: If you'd like, I can answer that question. Or if you'd prefer, I could just send you a copy or something when I finish it.

In all honesty, I've never writen a book like this, it's completely different from my usual military sci-fi/fantasy stuff. So a lot of this is trial and error for me. But thus far it's been a lot of fun to work on, and is probably my favorite of all my projects.

Thanks for all the advice!

RC-1191

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Re: A book I've been working on....
« Reply #10 on: January 13, 2011, 09:44:24 PM »
Good luck with it! I like where it is headed.

Cobra Commando

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Re: A book I've been working on....
« Reply #11 on: January 14, 2011, 01:13:12 PM »
Good luck with it! I like where it is headed.
Thanks, I appreciate it!

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Re: A book I've been working on....
« Reply #12 on: January 14, 2011, 08:51:41 PM »
Would you mind if I moved this to another forum? Like the fiction forums.
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Cobra Commando

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Re: A book I've been working on....
« Reply #13 on: January 15, 2011, 05:26:20 PM »
Would you mind if I moved this to another forum? Like the fiction forums.
Yeah of course, by all means.