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  1. #1
    Brandon Cleveland
    Guest

    Would appreciate critiques for my prologue (800 wds)

    Hey all. I'm working on my final draft (4th) of my novel, and decided to make the first part of the first chapter my prologue, as it felt more appropriate.

    Your opinions would be appreciated, and things I can improve on.

    Prologue – The Welcome Home

    “Welcome, Citizen,” the beautiful woman in the window of the train says.

    You know, I don’t know if they all just say ‘citizen’ for an all engrossing word, or if it’s because that’s my name. My dad was super obsessed over the movie Citizen Kane, some five hundred-year-old flick – a classic in his mind; a stupid ****ing name in mine. But I suppose that is his way of making me remember him; it had been almost twenty years since he offed himself.

    I suppose I’m drifting, thinking about things that have no bearing on anything; anyway, for a two-dimensional artificial intelligence representation, and after the type of tail I’ve had no choice but to get used to in the Outback, she is most certainly a sight for sore eyes.

    The cab begins emptying out and I watch as people push each other in a frenzy to make it off the train first, as if some marvelous prize awaits them upon their exit; there isn’t. These folks can’t be anything other than tourists who came to Philadelphia to go sight-seeing, take memory stills of what are certain to be forgettable moments, and depending on where they’re from, try some original extra-terrestrial cuisine. Just looking at them, they are all so excited, laughing with one another, discussing what landmarks they plan to visit first and what drugs they plan to experiment with while doing so. Little do they know that once they get a taste of the real Philadelphia – not that bull**** they advertise on the feeds – they'll be beating the doors trying to get back on and go home to wherever the @!#$ they came from.

    I hang back until the train’s cleared out. Though I’ve been away from home for close to six weeks, I’m in no rush to brave the twenty-four hour rush of the city streets, despite my need for a stiff drink. The brews of the Outback’s nomadic tribes are no replacement for finely aged bourbon.

    As the last of the passengers find their way out into the street, the smells of the city replace the smell of human. Being away for so long, the scent is intoxicating; a harsh airborne cleaning agent of bleach, ammonia and iodine. For a place that smells so clean, the city is a dirty, dirty place.

    But then again: there's no place like home.

    With just me left on the train, it is my turn to exit. I’m well aware of how congested this place can be, but nothing can prepare me for the twenty-odd million folks going about their business on the seventy-sixth floor of Philadelphia’s Reagan n-Build, one of twelve massive structures that make up the city itself. The mile-wide walkways are littered in electronic advertisements everywhere, some audible, many of them offensive; abstract music plays from all directions and Tuesday night in the Reagan is in full swing.

    Had it not been six weeks since my last shower, I’d be right here in the mix with the millions of others, laughing and smoking and drinking. I admittedly look like @!#$: my beard’s a tangled mess and I haven’t shaved since I was last in my flat on the Reagan’s 302nd floor. Not only do I look like @!#$, I smell like it. I’ve had no access to mouth-cleaning bacteria since my stash ran out weeks ago, and it feels as if mold has grown on my tongue and teeth. No one looks twice.

    Everyone from the train appears to have scattered off within the dense crowd, off to their sight-seeing and memory snapping and what have you. Just as I’m off to disappear in to the crowd myself, I do catch someone I recognize from the ride: a younger guy who sat across from me, bragging to anyone who would listen about how he had left a city out west – San Francisco, I think – to make his way in Philadelphia’s underworld. I’ve heard smaller talk from better men, and could only smile as he kept going on and on about how he couldn’t wait to get his feet wet.

    It’s that same kid who breaks through the mass of people, naked as the day he was pulled from his birthing chamber. He runs – faster than anyone should have to – right past me and up the platform leading to the train’s entrance, which he beats furiously at, tears streaming down his face, pleading to be let back on. Barely five minutes in town and he’s already been jacked for the clothes off his back, and this is the tourist part of town – he’s lucky he didn’t make it to the Reagan’s sub-sections or else he’d be dressed down in lipstick, a blouse and high heels trying to make his nightly quota for any number of six-year-old pimps infesting that rat hole.

    Already satisfied with the night’s entertainment, I fire up the last of my harsh hand-rolled cigarettes and I’m gone into the sea of people as the boy’s cries are eventually drowned out.



  2. #2
    Gravity Fades
    Guest

    Re: Would appreciate critiques for my prologue (800 wds)

    Sorry, it didn't work for me. Unless you're going for steam-punk, the 21st century language doesn't jell with what's obviously a 26th century world. Plus I hate present-tense fiction. But that's just me.

  3. #3
    Smiling Curmudgeon
    Guest

    Re: Would appreciate critiques for my prologue (800 wds)

    Brandon,

    I usually agree with Grav, but I kinda liked this.

    Side note to you and Grav---I don't know what steam-punk is. That may be good reason to dismiss my comments.

    I don't think you're on your last edit. "Engrossing" isn't the word you want. Perhaps you meant "encompassing."

    I think "Suppose that is" wants to be "suppose that was."

    Why do you wander off in the next paragraph into things "that have no bearing?" I kinda see what you're doing but it's hard to follow. What's a "two-dimensional artificial intelligence representation"? Is you protag a "two-dimensional...?"

    In the same para you refer to "the type of tail..." I took that to mean someone had been following him when he was in the Outback. Drew that conclusion because the way you set up the woman led me to believe she knew him or of him. After reading a few times, I realized you meant "tail" in a 20th century way.

    Again, I don't think this is bad. I do think it needs work.

    Hope this helps.

    Cur

    I have other minor issues too.

  4. #4
    Brandon Cleveland
    Guest

    Re: Would appreciate critiques for my prologue (800 wds)

    yes, after re-reading my draft, it does need some work and it seems wordy in some parts.

    Smiley - I would appreciate if you could tell me some of the other issues you have

  5. #5
    leslee
    Guest

    Re: Would appreciate critiques for my prologue (800 wds)

    “Welcome, Citizen,” the beautiful woman in the window of the train says.

    "Welcome, Citizen," says the beautiful woman in the window of the train.

    "You know, I don’t know"

    Not good.

    "if they all just say ‘citizen’ for an all engrossing

    all just say / an all engrossing

    "word, or if it’s because that’s my name. My dad was super obsessed over"

    obsessed with

    "the movie Citizen Kane, some five hundred-year-old flick – a classic in his mind; a stupid ****ing name in mine. But I suppose that is his way of making me remember him; it had been almost twenty years since he offed himself.

    He knows it's isn't five hundred years old. I know you're trying to make it exaggerated, but this doesn't work.

    I'm going to stop now. In my opinion, the entire piece needs a serious edit.

  6. #6
    Smiling Curmudgeon
    Guest

    Re: Would appreciate critiques for my prologue (800 wds)

    Here's a few other thoughts.

    In the para beginning "the cab..." delete "first." Delete "there isn't."

    Betcha a nickel sightseeing isn't hyphenated.

    Delete "with one another."

    Consider deleting "while doing so."

    "Finely aged bourbon" doesn't seem quite right. Do you mean fine bourbon, aged bourbon?

    I only printed out the first page. It didn't include all of your prologue. But I recall being bumped when the nude guy gets spit out of the crowd. I suspect that needs a little more set up or explanation. Not a lot. A little.

    Cur

  7. #7
    Cathy C
    Guest

    Re: Would appreciate critiques for my prologue (800 wds)

    Cur:

    <http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-steampunk-science-fiction.htm>

  8. #8
    John Oberon
    Guest

    Re: Would appreciate critiques for my prologue (800 wds)

    It's very difficult to write first person present tense fiction without becoming entangled in a lot of narcissistic irrelevancy, which is what I see here. I'd switch to past tense; it enables you to more easily separate the story from the personality of the narrator.

  9. #9
    Brian W
    Guest

    Re: Would appreciate critiques for my prologue (800 wds)

    "the scent is intoxicating"

    I love that line. I wonder how your opening would change if you started with that line.

    Sounds like you're writing in the genre of William Gibson and Niel Stephenson.

    I think "Wired" magazine said a while back that cyberpunk is dead. How does your book react to that article? How do you bring freshness to an old genre?

  10. #10
    Brandon Cleveland
    Guest

    Re: Would appreciate critiques for my prologue (800 wds)

    many of you have given me a lot to think about.

    I'm thinking 500 years in the future is way too far out. Maybe 200 years would be a bit more appropriate ...

    I appreciate the critiques, and i'm thinking about things i wouldn't have fathomed before.

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