I'd like some advice, if I may, about the beginning of my story. It is a sci-fi taking place in the year 2112; the people have been shoved back, technologically, to almost the industrial revolution period. The pre-chapter section will include a horrific nightmare that is referred to in the first 13.
=====Truth and Dissent - first 13===== Shivering in cold sweat Daelan Carwyn woke from the terrible nightmare. He used the corner of a pillow to wipe the streams of tears from his face then held it in comfort. For the last two weeks, these corresponding nightmares continued to repeat. Each had been from the view of someone who meets a homicidal end. In most of the nightmares he was the person they were after; this time he was just someone in the wrong place. There were ordinary dreams, the kind every one has, just random memories put together with little sense at all; then, there were dreams like this. These nightmares were so real he still felt the fear and resolution of death. His thoughts in this last dream haunted him; clear, real, but something not quite right. “This is just a nightmare!” Daelan tried vocally to gain control of his thoughts. ======================================
I have started with the protagonist waking, and am concerned that may be a bad thing due to some of the things I have read here. This is my first novel and I am still writing the first chapter; about 2500 words so far. I have the beginning the ending and much of the basic outline done.
A one line pitch would go something like this: Plagued with terrible nightmares Daelan becomes aware through growing dissent that fantastic abilities, not just technology have been suppressed.
I will say again, I have never written a novel before and am sure I have a lot to learn.
Let me know what you think please. Thanks, Mike
=====Truth and Dissent - revised===== Shivering in cold sweat, Daelan Carwyn stood at his open bedroom window trying to dry off. He angrily wiped at the tears blurring his view of the sunrise. For the last two weeks, these corresponding nightmares continued to repeat. Each had been from the view of someone who meets a homicidal end. In most of these dreams he was the person they were after; this time he was just someone in the wrong place. These nightmares were so real he still felt the fear and resolution of death. His thoughts in this last dream haunted him; clear, real, but something not quite right. “This is just a nightmare!” Daelan tried vocally to gain control, yet the inner struggle seemed to tear at his mind. His contemplation was interrupted by his father’s voice. ======================================
=====Truth and Dissent - Revision II===== Shivering in cold sweat, Daelan Carwyn stood at his open bedroom window trying to dry off. He angrily wiped at the tears blurring his view of the sunrise. For the last two weeks, these corresponding nightmares continued to repeat. In some of the dreams he was the person 'they' were after; this time he was a bystander murdered as a witness to another killing, but in each dream he was killed. It was so real he still felt the fear and embrace of death. His thoughts in the dream haunted him; clear, real, but something...different, not quite himself. “This is just a nightmare!” Daelan tried vocally to gain control, yet the inner struggle seemed to tear at his mind. His contemplation was interrupted by his father’s voice. ======================================
[This message has been edited by macmicool (edited June 11, 2010).]
[This message has been edited by macmicool (edited June 13, 2010).]
Mike, My first suggestion is to get away from the waking cliche. It's not the end of the world if you use it, but it's good practice not to. It could be as simple as: At two a.m., Daelan Carwyn stood drying the sweat from his body under the ceiling fan in his bedroom.
This isn't a great sentence, or a very rhythmic one, but it covers a lot of ground. It establishes that it's the middle of the night. Sweat from his body could be assumed to be a dream, or maybe he's an exercise nut, but your third sentence above, left the way it is, quickly proves it's a nightmare. It shows us he's fully awake.(stood) Also that he wants the sweat to dry quickly,(fan) almost like this has happened before. (which we soon learn it has.) Lastly it shows he's in his bedroom. (setting)
Now, maybe others won't gather this much info from that sentence, but if you can write it just right, then you can give setting and action at the same time. It's hard to do, but works beautifully when you can.
Next advice is explain less. I think you can sum up a lot of the types of dreams with a lot less words. In fact, you may have the words there already, just need to trim them down to less sentences, and remove the part telling us about what kinds of dreams everyone has - just tell us about HIS dreams.
Lastly, I thought it was well written. I mean technically. It has a nice flow to it. Definitely keep going - and don't stay married to your ending, the story may surprise you along the way... let it flow and be flexible with the end. It may fit just the way you intended, or be better than you imagined.
I really like the second attempt. A few nits:
"who met a homicidal end" seems too fancy for "who were killed".
"he was just someone in the wrong place." Not clear if this means he witnessed a killing or was himself accidentally killed.
And I think I'm unclear on what "resolution of death" means. Why would he be upset if he was feeling resolution, coming to terms with death? It's more like he hadn't made it to resolution.
" These nightmares were so real he still felt the fear and resolution of death" but you were just talking about the most recent nightmare. this jumps back to generality. then the next sentence is the last nightmare again. Maybe stay with the last one?
"but something not quite right." This is the first time that you hint at something sinister at work; that these are not just the real nightmares of a kid. Too subtle. Need to make it just a little stronger to hook me into finding out who/what is doing this to him.
I am macmicool, this is the first 13 from the first chapter. Since I have changed my name everything in the future will be posted under my real name. Thanks everyone for all the help so far. I look forward to working with everyone here. Mike
Posts: 154 | Registered: Jun 2010
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Hi Mike! Interesting premise, as far as I can tell so far. I’m curious to see how it will unfold. I am far from an expert; take my comments as a novice hobbyist and avid reader.
Look for formal language and extra wordiness. Examples: “For the last two weeks, these corresponding nightmares continued to repeat.” This sounds pretty formal. “Nightmares had plagued his sleep for the last two weeks” is more direct. “In some of the dreams” could be summed up as “Sometimes”.
Is “this time” referring back to the dream in the prologue? If not, that’s okay (as long as the prologue dream ties in eventually). “bystander murdered as a witness to another killing” makes me think too hard. Would “unfortunate bystander” do, with the follow-up that he is always killed? (Not sure.) Something about the punctuation bothers me: In some dreams he was X; this time he was Y, but in each dream he was Z. Maybe it needs a semicolon “…he was Y; but…” Or maybe “…he was Y. In every dream, he was Z”. That might give it a bit more punch.
I loved “It was so real he still felt the fear and embrace of death.” Yes! (Does he fear death itself? If yes, maybe “still feared the embrace”. But if fear and death are two separate feelings, maybe “and the embrace”.)
“not quite himself” – does this mean he does not realize that it is not him in the dreams? Hadn’t thought of that yet. Hmm… Might I suggest that either he thinks it IS him (at first), or else that he very clearly knows he is someone else in each dream? But then I don’t know where you’re going, so please ignore if it doesn’t apply!
“This is just a nightmare” struck me as a half-funny play on words. (I might refer to any negative experience as a nightmare, like being stuck in traffic or throwing up at my own wedding.) But I don’t think he meant it that way; I think he’s saying it’s just a dream, so chill out.
Words that didn’t work for me: vocally, seemed, contemplation. We know it’s vocal since he spoke (does his speech need to start a new paragraph? I’m not sure). Seemed, sort of, like: water things down (“the struggle tore”). Contemplation is (to my mind) what you do sitting cross-legged by a quiet pond.
I’ll say again, tweaking and re-tweaking the beginning held me back from churning out my story. As you can see, I’m a relentless tweaker! Tweak later