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Author Topic: The Methuselah Complex - 13 (Rev)
philocinemas
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Thanks to those of you who commented earlier. I took a few days off from writing and explored this site some more (whew! - is my head spinning). I am now making some changes and advancing my story at the same time, but I had a few questions:

1 - Prologues/Introductions - short, poetic info-dump (pros/cons - send to publisher/don't send)?
2 - Tense changes (I'm having trouble regulating tense in a few exposition paragraphs) Is this ever acceptable?
3 - Would anyone like to read a couple of chapters and give me some feedback (no hurry)?

Here's my revised 13:

Dr. Cain Alexander peered down into the hollow darkness, his consciousness plummeting in a visceral descent, deep into the bowels of creation. In his journey he had sought to unearth secrets beyond the scope of mortal eyes. Now, as his quest was finally coming to fruition, he was on the verge of forever changing this magnificent garden at lifeís girded core.

With the single touch of his finger, light rose up through the long, dark tunnel of knowledge, and, as the illumination increased, he beheld truths once only known by God. The inhabitants were moving about with rhythm and grace as though they were all participating in some eloquent ballroom dance. Another touch and the world seemed to be completely altered. However, it was only his eyes peering deeper, beyond the clouds and murky waters that obstruct

[This message has been edited by philocinemas (edited August 06, 2008).]


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MrsBrown
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I still don't care about your character. Who is Cain, in his real life? What has this quest cost him? This opening is simply too esoteric and distant for my personal preference.

I'd be more interested in seeing what your first 13 in the next section/chapter/etc. looks like.

[This message has been edited by MrsBrown (edited August 06, 2008).]


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kings_falcon
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The questions:

1) Prologue - only if you absolutely have to. A prologue should be essentially a short or "flash" sized scene or story that is, generally, out of time sequence with the main story line but ABSOLUTELY necessary to understanding the main line. It should not be an info-dump and it should conform to all the other writing "rules" unless you are intentionally breaking a rule for a specific reason. Generally, I've been finding I can work the necessary info from my prologue into the text without it becoming an info-dump.

2) Sometimes there will be a tense shift because it's dialog or a flash back or forward but generally if the story is set third person past tense, it should stay that way. Try to keep a tight handle on focus.

3)Sorry, but I have too much on my plate and I'm not hooked enough. Here's why (about the hook):

My take:

a)You are hitting my first pet peeve - you are withholding something the POv knows. Cain knows what his quest is and because he's thinking about it, so should I. Either tell me or change the opening by starting someplace else.

b) by withholding to create suspense, you've created, for me, confusion.

c) IMHO, the purple prose is getting in the way of the story.

quote:
Dr. Cain Alexander peered down into the hollow darkness Where? , his consciousness Hu? plummeting I think of rocks and heavy things as plummeting not consciousness which should be light in a visceral Visceral has the wrong connotations for me. Visceral is all about bodies and glands and such, but a consciousness doesn't have that. I'm spending too much time wondering what's going on and haven't made it past the first line yet. descent, deep into the bowels of creation hu? . In his journey he had sought to unearth secrets what secrets? beyond the scope of mortal eyes why? Are they so small we don't have microscopes that strong or in a wavelength we can't see? After all, it can't be beyond the scope of mortal eyes if he's about to see it and is, presumably, mortal . Now, as his quest WHAT QUEST?? was finally coming to fruition, he was on the verge of forever changing this magnificent garden what garden? at lifeís girded core hu? .

With the single touch of his finger how is his finger touching anything when its his consciousness that's moving? , light rose up through the long, dark tunnel of knowledge is this the hollow darkness? If so the tunnel wasn't dark, just unlit , and, as the illumination increased, he beheld truths once only known by God WHAT TRUTHS! . The inhabitants okay, now I'm totally frustrated. This is total withholding. Are they rats, humanoids, ERMs (evil robot monkeys)? Cain knows and so should I. I'd definately stop here if I hadn't already were moving about with rhythm and grace as though they were all participating in some eloquent ballroom dance. Another touch of what and the world What world seemed to be seemed to be or was? completely altered Good grief, I haven't even been told what this world is and it's changed? . However, it was only his eyes eyes again were peering deeper, beyond the clouds and murky waters where did clouds and water come from? Weren't we in a tunnel? that obstruct


Take some time and set the scene. Slow down and show me what Cain is seeing. If he's finally reaching the end of his quest, why aren't I feeling his excitement? Why don't I know what the quest is? Or, just as important, where it is? It sounds like he's using CGI but then he's touching things and using his eyes. What's going on?


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philocinemas
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I have a tendency to narrate the first 3-4 paragraphs of each chapter (I am reevaluating this) even though the majority of the story is dialogue. Therefore, giving you the 1st 13 of the next chapter wouldn't help.

I think I'll take a break from this novel for a while and possibly come back to it later with a new perspective. I have some ideas for some short stories and I have an easier time establishing characters and starting dialogue with these for some reason.


I made one more revision to this, so I figured I'd just throw it out there:


Dr. Cain Alexander peered down into the hollow darkness of his microscope. With the single touch of his finger, light rose up through the long, dark tunnel of knowledge. Simultaneously, his essence seemed to plummet with a weightless descent, deep into the fathoms of this world. The inhabitants were moving about with rhythm and grace as though they were all participating in some eloquent ballroom dance. Another touch and the world seemed to be completely altered. However, it was only his eyes peering deeper, beyond the clouds and murky waters that obstruct a lesser godís view, and at last plunging him into lifeís primordial garden.

He had not wished to disclaim any testament of faith. However, equally, he had not considered this quest for immortality to be futile. His faith was in science. He believed with

[This message has been edited by philocinemas (edited August 07, 2008).]


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satate
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This is my response as a reader. After reading it through once I wasn't quite getting what was going on. Everything is a little vague and abstract, especially for it being my first introduction into a new world.

1. What is this hollow darkness? Is it all in his head, is he looking through a door, a mirror. Where is he, the gates of hell, the afterlife, sitting alone in his office?

And then "with a single touch of his finger" What did he touch? It's all a little vague and hard to understand.

That being said, I would be willing to read more. Would you like to swap chapters?


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RobertB
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Well, OK, a microscope is hollow, and painted black inside. But you don't see darkness, just a circle of light, and in it, whatever's on the stage.
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philocinemas
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It's actually a nuclear microscope (similar to an electron microscope) that uses artificial light - thus he has to touch something to activate it. I very briefly explain that a few paragraphs later.


Satate, I would really appreciate that. I'm propably going to put this novel on a back burner and work on some short stories that I hope will be more crowd-pleasers, but I would love to get some feedback on this chapter as a whole. I would also love to see some of your writing. Do I need to say some magic word or do I just shoot it over to you in an email?


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satate
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Just send me an e-mail. That would be great!
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MrsBrown
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The second version is closer to something tangible. Its an improvement, but the purple prose still makes me want to put it down. I do like the descriptions of what Cain sees in his microscope, how he might think the organisms look. And I like the sense of going deeper.

My take [suggested cuts in square brackets]:

quote:
Dr. Cain Alexander peered down into the hollow darkness of his microscope. With a [the single] touch of his finger, light rose up through the long[, dark] tunnel [of knowledge]. [Simultaneously, his essence seemed to plummet with a weightless descent, deep] He felt like a god, gazing into the fathoms of this {adjective} world. The inhabitants were moving about with rhythm and grace as though they were all participating in some eloquent ballroom dance. Another touch and the world seemed to be completely altered. However, it was only his eyes peering deeper, beyond the clouds and murky waters hu? that obstruct a lesser godís view hu?, and at last plunging him into lifeís primordial garden this phrase works well, assuming it will be explained very soon.

He had not wished to disclaim any testament of faith. However, equally, now Iím really confused he had not considered this quest for immortality to be futile. His faith was in science. this is clear

I can picture the dark tunnel of the microscope, and how when the light comes on it would suddenly look like a world (planet) floating in the void of space. That does not match the light rising up the tube; that draws me back toward Cain. And I do not like the change in tense in the second paragraph; can it continue in past tense?

I hope my suggested additions are not presumptuous.

[This message has been edited by MrsBrown (edited August 08, 2008).]


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KoDe Nichols
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Honestly, I don't think I would change a thing. Who is Dr Cain? I don't care! Dr. Cain doesn't even care. The story here doesn not seem to be about cain or his journey, but about the discovery. I wouldn't go on this story too long without going into a bit of background about what he had done and why and how he started or whatnot, but not EVERY story needs to start with the backstory. This story shows picture of wonder and awe that makes you CARE and WANT to know whats going on.
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SolarStone
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I'm sensing a flashback, or worse yet, a series of them on the way in this book. IMHO, flashbacks and prologues ought to be avoided at all costs. If youíre flashbacking itís because you probably started your story in the wrong place, and I am pretty sure you have by the look of it.
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philocinemas
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SolarStone

What precognitive abilities you must have.
I am putting this novel on hold for a while, because I am not sure what I'm going to do about the beginning.

It does have a prologue and it is very "complex." I use 7 paragraphs of poetic prose to develop an extended metaphor that runs throughout the novel. I know that most everyone here sees this as a pointless and detrimental endeavor. However, I have invested a great deal of thought and effort into this, and I am having a difficult time giving it up. Some of the later narration depends on this prologue.

I have two flashbacks in the entire novel consisting of a character thinking back to a few years earlier - both consisting of two to three paragraphs, all in the first chapter. I have been thinking of ways to eliminate these, and I have some good possibilities.

I have had a few people read a chapter or two of it, and everyone has said it really opens up when the dialogue begins - most have liked my narration as well.

For now, I am going to try to write some short stories and participate in some writing challenges to hone my skills.

Thanks for the input (everyone)!


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