Newbie writer hoping for review and suggestions

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Newbie writer hoping for review and suggestions

Postby Syntaer » Mon Jan 02, 2017 7:02 pm

Hi there, I'm in the middle of a fiction with a very interesting setting, but I'm a newbie writer myself and in dire need of advise and suggestions. 8-)

The theme is adventure/fantasy/science fiction.
The time is in the far far future.
The place is in a galaxy far away from here.

The world has evolved and different species from different galaxies have met, fought conquered, and merged with each other, prospered, and some gradually declined away.

I will post the first chapter of the book here, hoping for criticism, advice or suggestions, on writing style, theme or anything else. :)

So here it goes:

Starburst

Magnificent!

No other word can describe it better.

I cannot take my eyes off the magnificent sight, mesmerized and terrified at the same time.

The entire sky is filled with a firework of luminous spores exploding out of their holding pods and gliding down the towering trees like glowing clouds.

The sky behind it all is deep purple, but at the horizon it’s turning to fiery red because of the imminent dawn.

The spores are gradually spreading and descending toward me and suddenly I’m jolted out of my trance! What am I waiting for?

I have to reach the village before the spores surround it and the village is not in sight, but I know my way around here. It was my childhood playground.

Running toward the village, instinctively watching my steps, I remember playing with other kids on the top of these huge intertwisted branches, learning to avoid accidents.

I remember how I tried to mingle with my playmates, but I was different and this fact was always a big barrier between us.

I do not even know my real name. Here I’m called “Duvainor” which in ancient local dialect means god-send.

I was a celebrity from the cradle because I am the only local Druvvak as far as I know, and the Druvvak race is like royalty for the native Ezollaid race.

I have paler skin and leaner body with long supple limbs and slim fingers. I am more graceful in my actions, expressions and speech, and I have keener senses of sight and smell and a more logical mind, as I have found out.

I’m told that I have a darker skin with more muscle and strength than a regular Druvvak, no doubt because of my upbringing, and I am probably less graceful.

The spores are almost half way down from the tree tops! Why did I wander so far?

Tonight I was too excited to sleep so I stepped out of the temple, aimlessly wandering around, thinking about the upcoming grand celebration and my own initiation.

Every few years, the spore pods growing on top of the tallest Mberthorne trees would become ripe for discharge, and one night when the sky is lighting up by the imminent dawn, they suddenly and almost simultaneously burst open releasing their content, generating one of the most beautiful scenes in the star system.

The villagers call this phenomenon “Starburst” and have developed ways to capture most of the spores that engulf their village for later usage, and during that event, they gather together for a grand celebration, which would last for a few days until all the spores are gathered.

The initiation rite happens right after any festive event in the village whenever some of the village kids have reached the brink of adulthood and this time I will attend it as one of the Cuivales and will officially become an adult Druvvak.

After that, I will be able to have my very first body enhancement which I already own. It was with me when they first found me in my floating cradle zooming toward the village from the direction of the highlands.

The cradle was charged with nine hundred galactic credits and a message, offering the credits to anyone who would raise me to adulthood and after my initiation, enhance my head with the accompanying Mutacell.

There was some additional data stored in the cradle, which should be something important. I have already stored the data in my internal data banks, but I cannot access it until after my initiation.

Ah yes, I can see the village’s outer shacks now! This is a beautiful village, “Fremacryn”, built over the branches of the colossal Mberthorne trees in the dark woods of Kledyss, located on Vaerun, the second moon of Atapalurin, the fifth planet of Gamma.Pi.Uzarra system.

The trees have layered branches and thick leaves that can grow larger than two men alongside. The leaves turn hard as they grow until they become fixed in the place, and supported by the branches below them, they can tolerate village shacks over them with no problem, but sometimes the villagers carve their homes inside the tree trunks for more safety.

The village shacks are built over different branch layers at different heights, but all of this is called the first layer and this village is a first layer village, which means that we can see the sky clearly overhead and there is no major layer of branches over our heads.

Toward the north I can see a towering wall of brown cliffs not too far away, full of holes and caverns of different sizes at different heights. The dull brown stone is sprinkled with tiny veins of colorful minerals from shiny orange to deep blue.

The villagers call that jagged plateau “Foramundo” and have cleared the nearby caverns of any threat, to a distance, and have dug intertwisted mine shafts in the stone wall, mostly abandoned.

From time to time, dangerous critters might approach the village from the deep down branches of the caverns, so traps are laid and guards are stationed at strategic chambers in the stone wall.

Finally! This is the central hub of the village, around the biggest spore tree in the area.

Carved inside the central trunk, there are several official chambers, like the Galae chambers where the ceremonies take place, Harmandor chambers where they gather to make big decisions about the village and the villagers, and also the mysterious Olvaendo chamber which I do not know about, more than the name.

The village temple, where I live with mother diviner is built on top of the central chambers, and has two doorways for entrance.

The main doorway is on the level of most village shacks and the other doorway opens much higher, near the height of the highest shacks, and from there I can watch the entire valley in front of me without much obstacles in the way. It is a great view!

Vaalya! People are cheering. The spores have already reached the top shacks of the village and my head has begun to throb because of the smell.

I have to retreat to my private chamber, before I choke on this nasty scent, which seems to make the native folk light headed and merry, but its only effect on me is a prolonged unconsciousness which I am falling into right now.
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Re: Newbie writer hoping for review and suggestions

Postby crit19292 » Wed Jan 04, 2017 11:27 pm

Well, it does seem to have a well developed setting. I was also glad to notice that you did work to describe the character, although it would help to state male or female. Those are good points.

I am not in favor of the broken style of narration. I enjoy settling with a story and allowing the events to flow through my mind. What you have I find jarring and not something I would tolerate for long. Of course, that is just me.

For a novel I would also suggest some type of tease as to what the plot will be. While the character and setting seem interesting, I am not one to enjoy simply living someone else's life. I want a plot that will motivate me to learn about the character and setting in order to fully appreciate the predicaments that need to be figured out.

Okay, I hope that was a help. Thanks for posting.
I will not deny myself having my opinions.
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Re: Newbie writer hoping for review and suggestions

Postby crit33888 » Sun Oct 15, 2017 7:08 pm

I agree with Roby that you want to get to some kind of action or conflict more quickly. To me, this almost reads as notes for a novel, because it's so focused on setting and character and seems to temporarily lose focus on storytelling. This is full of good details, but these details should be revealed organically as the character moves through the world and story, not just spit out in huge chunks as an intro. Just my two cents. Hope this helps.
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Re: Newbie writer hoping for review and suggestions

Postby crit34653 » Tue Jun 05, 2018 8:30 pm

There's one piece of advice that I read, which has always stuck in my mind. Not sure, but I think it was from Orson Scott Card. Anyway, it went something like this "your story should begin when the situation which your POV is in becomes so intolerable that he must act".

Obviously, this won't work for every story, but I like to use it as a yardstick to judge whether I'm starting my book at the right point of my character's story, and also to remind me that my story needs to start with my character *doing* something. If I read a story which is just telling me about a person and that person isn't actually doing anything except existing, the story loses me.

I need to know what is opposing the character, and what he is trying to achieve. Maybe he's a slave and he wants his freedom. Maybe he's alone and he wants friends. Maybe he's a drug addict and he needs a fix. I need to see where the POV is headed to know whether the story is taking me there, and if it isn't, or if I can't see that (s)he is going anywhere, I'll put a book down.

I went back over your writing, and maybe I'm missing it, but I can't see where he does anything except wander "aimlessly" and think about things. And fall unconscious, which doesn't really seem like an action to me. This is something I find to be a real story killer for me. I'm a very conflict based reader; if a story has a strong conflict I'll probably like it. For me, a POV needs to be active, not passive. Passive characters observe, and react, but do not act. My definition of character action is when we can see that a character has choices to make, and chooses to do one of those choices, in order to accomplish something. I find out who the character is, not by the environment that acts upon him, but by how he acts upon his environment. I'm less interested in what happens to him than I am in what he chooses to do about it.

I'm sure that you have things planned for later, and that your character will not remain passive forever, but you would already have lost me as a reader because I just don't want to wait that long. To keep me as a reader, a writer needs to answer one question in the first two or three paragraphs; who is this person and why should I care what happens to him/her? It doesn't need to be a big thing, just one intriguing tidbit that promises that the story is going to get interesting. Something that makes me say "I want to find out what happens" or "I want to find out what this is".

Look for choices that your character can make. In the beginning, he is jolted out of a trance. This seems passive. He had no choice, it was just something that happened to him. What if he had a choice? Why did he choose to come out of his trance now? Why not earlier? What does he expect to accomplish by coming out of the trance? What does it cost him? What is worth that price?

I'm guessing the trance was just a stylistic thing, and that you meant only that he was daydreaming, but hopefully you see what I mean. As a reader I would ask that you tell me, in the first few paragraphs, where this story is going to take me if I keep reading.

I can tell from your description that you have spent a lot of time creating the world; the flora and fauna, the culture, the history, the geography. It was well done, but it felt almost like a documentary; I could almost hear the voice-over "As I moved between the trees, I noticed the colossal leaves of the Mberthorne trees, characteristic of..."

Imagine turning on a movie, expecting an action-adventure and getting a documentary. For me the story is almost never to be found in the passive descriptions of the environment. Don't get me wrong, I love a well developed world, but I want to watch it rushing by as the POV character pushes his way toward his goal.
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