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  1. #1
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    Part of the First Chapter...With Paragraph Breaks!

    Hopefully my last one will be taken down by the moderators since it's pretty much impossible to read...sorry for the repeat!
    Anyway, this is the introduction to two of the main characters in my young adult novel God-Born. Sorry its a bit longer than I intended, but thanks for your patience and your critiques!


    It was misting heavily outside the glimmering walls of the casino, but the gray clouds of moisture didn’t stop the crowds that continued to pour in and out of the Pandora. The casino was a massive monument to luxury, windowed and paneled in brilliant shades of platinum with jet-black accents. Blue and violent lights artistically lit the enormous twenty-story structure and were then reflected in the enormous pools laid around the base. The lights tinged the mist violet and gave the entire night sky outside of the Pandora an almost ethereal aura. In the plaza immediately outside the grand bronze doors was a pedestal upon which was a kneeling statue of Pandora herself opening a chest full of golden poker chips. Playful figures representing Good Fortune, Luck, and Wealth danced out of the chest, grinning at pedestrians with impish smiles.

    Another figure was also sitting on the pedestal, crouched against Pandora. He didn’t share the smiles of the imps or those walking by; in fact, his head was hidden by the hood of his torn and stained sweater. His clothes were dark, but they were so ragged and patched that it was impossible to tell what the original colors actually were. The figure was nearly as still as the statues, although he shifted once in a while to better escape the mist that was lightly drizzling on his head. On one such occasion, a small pool of water that had collected in Pandora’s locks spilled over and poured directly on him. The figure threw off his hood in annoyance, revealing him to be a young boy in his early teens. His dark hair was now matted down with moisture that uncomfortably ran down his face and down the collar of his t-shirt. The pedestrians hurrying past hardly gave him a second glance - it was not uncommon to see the very poor or out-of-luck hanging around the palaces of wealth on the Strip - but a few of those who looked back for a moment were unnerved at how the boy’s staring eyes seemed to reflect the blue-violet lights of the Pandora.

    The boy shifted again and followed the passing crowd with quick glances. He seemed to be content to simply wait, trusting that in time he would receive some reward for his patience. He didnt’ have to wait much longer. His gaze lit upon another figure hurrying through the crowd, carrying a plastic bag under his arm. This boy was much taller and relatively older; he at least had grown a small beard and moved with a grace unusual for someone with his broad shoulders and long legs. He covered the distance across the plaza much more quickly than his casual pace suggested until he was only a few yards from the statue of Pandora. There he stopped, wiped blonde hair out of his eyes, and waited.

    The boy on the statue tried to shake off the water that had collected on his jacket, gave it up as a lost cause, and stood up on the pedestal. He was much thinner than the other boy but hardly lacked energy in his movements. He stretched out his cramped muscles and with one casual step forward dropped from the pedestal and landed crouched on the red-bricked plaza. His eyes were blue now.

    “Took you long enough,” he told his companion.

    The older boy eyed him unsmiling. “You didn’t make things easy. When I said wait by the casino, I didn’t mean on top of the damn statue where anyone could see you. I had to circle the entire block twice to make sure that no one was watching either of us.”

    The younger boy smiled at him. “You mean you actually had to look? Sounds like you’re losing your touch.”

    “Don’t make jokes about this, Joey,” said his companion. “You’re being reckless. Again. We can hardly risk being seen in the open in Vegas, there are so many eyes. And a lot of them are eyes like mine, and you know that makes things even more difficult for me.”

    Joey shook his head. “You worry too much. Your relatives are out there looking for corporate corruption and traitors and creepily watching people they’ve got the hots for take showers. They aren’t watching two bums among the hundreds on the Strip alone. So what did you bring? Steak? Lobster? Or-” he inhaled the smells coming from the plastic bag, “a ham sandwich on rye with cheddar cheese and onions?”

    The older boy sighed and reached into the bag, taking out the exact sandwich that Joey had described. “You cheated,” he accused. Joey smiled and began wolfing the sandwich down. The other boy withdrew an identical sandwich. “You know, this would have been a lot easier if you had just made us food.”

    “You know I can’t cook. I can’t even boil water without burning it,” said Joey.

    “That’s not what I meant, and you know it.”

    For the first time, Joey looked agitated. “So we’re cold and hungry. We’re getting by this way, without any tricks. You know how I feel about that sort of thing. I’d rather not do anything unless we need too. If we were starving, it’d be a different story. But we’re not.” He took another large bite, melted cheese hanging from his mouth.

    His friend looked away. “That’s disgusting.”

    Joey gestured extravegently , talking through his full mouth. “You know Ollie, you are more than welcome to book a reservation at Le Cirque for caviar and cocktails. Let me know how that goes for you.”

    The older boy grimaced and silently gnawed at his sandwich. “Don’t call me Ollie,” he muttered.

    The grin on his young companion grew wider. “Oh, sorry Ol-i-ver,” he said. “St. Patrick, you’ve been eighteen for three days and you’re already severing every tie with childhood. I’m almost ashamed of you.”

    Oliver smiled for the first time. “You’re one to talk, Ptolemy Josephus.”

    Joey’s smile dropped. “Oliver it is then. As long as you never mention that again within hearing distance of another human being.”

    “Fine then. Joey.”

    A great shout echoed from the bronze doors of the Pandora, and more shouts and cheers poured out as even outside on the steps people began to applaud. Someone had apparently won a very big jackpot on the slots or the card tables. Joey glanced up at the massive structure, admiration etched across his face. Oliver mirrored his gaze.

    “Why did you even bring us here?” he asked. “Did you just want to see it? I mean, I know its been all over the news in the past month, even before we...before we left.” He faced Joey directly, forcing the younger boy to look down from the dancing lights and directly at him. “But we can’t go inside. You know that. I came to Vegas with you because I agreed that it was a good place to hide in plain sight. But risking it by coming here, to the heart of everything, was completely reckless.” He eyed the statue of Pandora with distaste. “Can we please leave now? This all makes me sick actually. It reeks of...of...”

    “Of home, yeah,” said Joey. “But no, I didn’t just want to see it. We’re going to live here, until we figure out where we’re headed next.”

    Oliver snorted. “Don’t mess with me.” Joey smiled again and finished his sandwich. He began walking towards the bronze doors.

    Oliver’s face grew stoney. He ran a couple of steps to catch up with his headstrong companion and grabbed his shoulders. Spinning him around he shook him slightly.

    “Stop this now, Joey! Don’t be stupid! We can’t afford to breathe the air in that place, and I will not let you make a scene to get us in. Don’t even try it. We’re turning around and finding a quiet place to bunk. Now.”

    Joey shoved Oliver’s hands from his shoulders. “I never suggested making a scene,” he said. “I intend to pay for our room like a law-abiding citizen.”
    Reaching into his sweater pocket, he pulled out a thick slab of bills.

    Oliver’s eyes grew wide. “Where did you get that?” he asked quietly.

    Joey sneered. “I didn’t make it, if that’s what you’re suggesting.”

    Oliver took Joey’s shoulders again. “I just scrounged for fallen change for three hours to buy us a couple of grocery store sandwiches and now you pull out, what, two grand? You can’t hold out on me like this, Joey. If we’re going to do this, we’re going to have to trust each other.”

    Joey shuffled his feet. “I do trust you, and when you went off to get the sandwiches I didn’t have any of this. I wasn’t on the statue the whole time. I found people in the square who had more cash than they would ever miss and, you know, lifted here and there.

    “You stole it then,” said Oliver.

    Joey’s eyes grew steely gray. “We needed it more than any of them did.”

    “You don’t know that.” Oliver shook his head. “Joey, I know that you were raised to think like this, but I’m trying to get you to understand. If we want to be different than the others, we have to stop acting like them.”

    Joey’s eyes returned to their normal blue. “Okay fine. No more picking pockets if it will make you feel better.” He gestured towards the bronze doors. “Now can we go inside?

    Oliver shook his head. “How do you think it will look when two kids walk into the Pandora and throw down a couple thousand bucks and ask for a room? The Pandora is not the place to pull a stunt like that. You know what it’s like in there.”

    Joey nodded, looking up at the casino again. “Yeah. Security up to the shingles and beyond. Which makes sense, since it is the brainchild of Brandon Nuo, creepy billionaire extraordinare.” He looked back at his companion. “But I didn’t just take us here for kicks, Oliver. The Pandora is the one place in Vegas - the only place - that the GB doesn’t have its fat little fingers stuck in.”

    “How can you possibly know that?” asked Oliver. “This is the one place they’d be dying to have a hand in.”

    “Oh they are,” said Joey. “You said it yourself, everyone was talking about it even before we left. But no joy for the GB in the Pandora. Not yet.”
    Oliver looked doubtful. Joey eyed him.

    “See for yourself. Seriously, take a look. You’ll see what I mean."

    Oliver sighed and closed his eyes. A sudden change came over his formerly casual stance. His muscles locked, his shoulders tensed up. His breathing came in heavy, labored gasps. Even the mist seemed to draw in around him, swirling around his feet and hands. Joey shuddered involuntarily.
    Oliver's eyes snapped open. They were as misted as the dark sky above them.

    Slowly, his shoulders began to relax, followed by the rest of his body. His eyes cleared, revealing nothing of what he might have seen. He looked at Joey. Bemusement was etched on his face.

    “You’re right,” he said. “The GB has got no hold in there. They’ve got spies in there of course, a couple dozen on the staff alone, but they’re all very angry, and desperate. Nuo must have some pretty big connections to be keeping the GB out like this.”

    Joey shrugged. “I doubt Nuo even knows about the GB. His personal assistant, maybe. Rumor has it Nuo is terrified of his own Board of Investors, and he’s taking every precaution to keep them from taking over. Only thing is, he’s hindering the GB while he’s at it.”

    Oliver laughed. “Pretty paranoid for a man who made billions gambling. Good for him I say.”

    Joey nodded. “So here’s the plan, I think. We go in there, hit a blackjack or poker table, make more more of this -” he waved the wad of bills, “then get some decent clothes and food and settle in. Easy, simple, lucrative.”

    “Yes, but I don’t play poker or blackjack,” said Oliver.

    Joey rolled his eyes. “What do you think I did at the palace all day between orders from the Council? Crochet? Mike taught me a few things about cards. And your dad taught me about cheating - which I will of course not do. Unless I am losing.” He moved towards the doors again. “Well, I’m glad we settled this. Now will you come inside?”

    Oliver brushed the water out of his hair. “You’re forgetting one thing, card shark,” he said. “You’re fourteen. You have to be twenty-one to play in the casinos, and there’s no way your going to pass, even with those phony IDs you whipped up.

    “Meh, that’s not a problem here,” said Joey. “At the Pandora, minors can play at the tables or the slots as long as they are accompanied by someone eighteen or above.”

    Oliver’s eyes narrowed. “That’s not a rule,” he said.

    Joey’s grin matched the imps on the statue of Pandora. “It is now.”

    With that, he stuffed his hands in his pockets and trotted towards the warmth and light of the Pandora. He didn’t even look behind to see if his friend was following.

    “I’m going to regret so much about tonight,” muttered Oliver as he hurried after his impetuous friend. Behind him, the golden statue of Pandora seemed to smile even more widely as her eyes reflected the blue-violet lights of the casino.



  2. #2
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    Re: Part of the First Chapter...With Paragraph Breaks!

    ooo! this totaly sounds good plot wise it seems very exiting but I would sugest explaining whats happened to oliver and joey soon so the reader dosn't get bord.
    any ways good story

  3. #3
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    Re: Part of the First Chapter...With Paragraph Breaks!

    Pally, this is ~ 2,300 words. Too much for me. Why not post a smaller excerpt? Like 500-600 words?

  4. #4
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    Re: Part of the First Chapter...With Paragraph Breaks!

    Mostly because I didn't realize exactly how long it was when I posted and then it was too late to edit it. Ah well, guess internet discussion boards are a learning experience like everything else

  5. #5
    Amy Lou
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    Re: Part of the First Chapter...With Paragraph Breaks!

    I'm going to read it as soon as I have some extra time! Tonight after kids are in bed.

  6. #6
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    Re: Part of the First Chapter...With Paragraph Breaks!

    Generally, the accepted limit is approx. 1000 words. Most of us try and keep it to well under that. If you have more, as 1100-1200 words then put the word-count in the title.

    Once I saw how long it was, I didn't read a single word - I don't have the time to read and to then critique. And you'll find neither do most people on here, especially those whose opinions are of the most value. Some of the members on this site are very experienced and also very kind in offering their time. But to firstly read so much and then to go through it, word-by-word to help you. To make changes, suggestions etc., to type and then to post all of that, it is just not possible.

    Secondly, even if there are those that can/will do this. The rest of us cannot then read ALL of that too - it becomes something (in this case) of 4000-5000 words.
    if the wine is sour – throw it out

    SatyricalRaven

  7. #7
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    Re: Part of the First Chapter...With Paragraph Breaks!

    As I told someone else on here I think, I sort of copied and pasted (in a hurry,) and then realized exactly how much I had posted. The next one will be much shorter, and I have learned that haste never pays off...(well, granted if four years of procrastinating on essays in college hadn't taught me that, maybe I'll never learn better.) But thank you for the wise words.

  8. #8
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    Re: Part of the First Chapter...With Paragraph Breaks!

    Oisin,

    As others have noted, your excerpt is far too long for most of us to read and comment on.

    I'll comment on the first paragraph. My thoughts are in CAPS. Not yelling at you, just makin' 'em easy to see.

    It was misting heavily DO YOU MEAN IT'S RAINING? MISTING HEAVILY SEEMS TO THIS READER TO BE A BIT OVER WRITTEN. outside the glimmering walls of the casino, CONSIDER STARTING A NEW SENTENCE HERE. but the gray clouds of moisture GRAY CLOUDS OF MOISTURE? SAME COMMENT AS ABOVE. YOU'RE TRYING TOO HARD. CONSIDER SOMETHING LIKE-- BUT THAT didn’t stop the crowds that continued to pour in and out of the Pandora. The casino was a massive monument to luxury, windowed and paneled in brilliant shades of platinum with jet-black accents. Blue and violent DO YOU MEAN VIOLET? IF NOT, I WANNA KNOW WHAT VIOLENT LIGHTS ARE. lights artistically lit the enormous twenty-story structure TWENTY STORIES IS NOT EXACTLY ENORMOUS UNLESS IT'S ALSO A HALF-MILE LONG. and were then reflected in the enormous WHY WOULD YOU USE ENORMOUS TWICE IN ONE SENTENCE? pools laid around the base. The lights tinged the mist violet and gave the entire night sky outside of the Pandora an almost ethereal aura. In the plaza immediately DELETE IMMEDIATELY. YOUR READER IS SMART ENOUGH TO FIGURE OUT IT'S OUTSIDE THE DOORS. outside the grand GRAND IS KINDA CLICHE, BUT THAT'S A NIT. bronze doors was a pedestal upon which was a kneeling statue of Pandora herself DELETE HERSELF. opening a chest full of golden poker chips. Playful figures representing Good Fortune, Luck, and Wealth danced out of the chest, grinning at pedestrians with impish smiles.

    YOU'VE USED YOUR OPENING PARAGRAPH TO NOT MUCH GOOD EFFECT. I'LL TAKE A LOOK AT THE SECOND PARAGRAPH.

    Another figure was also sitting CONSIDER ALSO SAT INSTEAD OF WAS ALSO SITTING. THAT'S A BIT MORE ACTIVE. on the pedestal, crouched against Pandora. He didn’t share the smiles of the imps or those walking by; in fact, DELETE IN FACT. ASK YOUR SELF WHAT PURPOSE IT SERVES. YOU'RE SOUNDING MORE LIKE A COLLEGE PROFESSOR IN HIS TWEED JACKET THAN A WRITER OF FICTION. his head was hidden by the hood of his torn and stained sweater. His clothes were dark, but they were so ragged and patched that it was impossible to tell what the original colors actually were. WHAT PURPOSE DOES THIS SENTENCE SERVE? YOU ALREADY SAID ENOUGH ABOUT HIS CLOTHES IN THE PREVIOUS SENTENCE. The figure was nearly as still as the statues, although he shifted once in a while to better escape the mist that was lightly DELETE WAS LIGHTLY. DRIZZLING SAYS THE SAME THING, DOESN'T IT? drizzling on his head. On one such occasion, HUH? THIS IS PEDANTIC. DELETE IT. a small pool of water that had collected in Pandora’s locks spilled over and poured directly on him. The figure threw off his hood in annoyance, revealing him to be a young boy in his early teens. His dark hair was now DELETE NOW matted down CONSIDER DELETING DOWN with moisture that uncomfortably DELETE UNCOMFORTABLY. YOU READER IS SMART ENOUGH TO GUESS HE DOESN'T LIKE IT. ran down his face and down the collar of his t-shirt. ONE OF US DOESN'T KNOW WHAT A T-SHIRT IS. THE ONES I KNOW ABOUT DON'T HAVE COLLARS. The pedestrians hurrying past hardly gave him a second glance - it was not uncommon to see the very poor or out-of-luck hanging around the palaces of wealth on the Strip - but a few of those who looked back for a moment DELETE FOR A MOMENT. were unnerved at how the boy’s staring eyes seemed to reflect the blue-violet lights of the Pandora. THE LAST PART OF THIS SENTENCE DOESN'T COMMUNICATE ANYTHING TO THIS READER. WOULD IT WORK BETTER IF IT READS SOMETHING LIKE---WERE UNNERVED AT THE BOY'S STARE?

    CAPS OFF.

    Perhaps your excerpt improves further down. This reader suspects you need to work on basics. It's hard work. Takes time and effort.

    Have you taken writing classes? If not, do so if it's feasible. Read like crazy. Then read some more.

    Hope this is useful. Feel free to ignore my comments.

    Cur

  9. #9
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    Re: Part of the First Chapter...With Paragraph Breaks!

    JUST MY OPINION, FEEL FREE TO IGNORE:

    I read only the first paragraph. I like the richness of your imagery. It's very different from what I generally see posted here.

    You have a poetic touch. But you're talking too much.

    If I were editing your work, this is what your first paragraph would look like as a first edit. Understand that editing is done in layers. The first edit is never the last. You edit, read, edit, read aloud, over and over, and see how the words fall. (I don't know about the rest of your post - it's too long for me to get involved with it.)

    It was raining outside the casino, but that didn’t stop the crowds that poured into the Pandora. The casino was a massive monument to luxury, windowed and paneled in brilliant shades of platinum with jet-black accents. Violet lights lit the twenty-story structure and reflected in the pools around the base. The lights tinged the rain violet and gave the night sky an ethereal aura. In the plaza was a pedestal upon which a kneeling statue of Pandora opened a chest full of golden poker chips. Impish figures representing Good Fortune, Luck, and Wealth danced out of the chest.

    So, that's what I would begin with, and then add from there, being sure that each added word supplied something vivid, not just talk.

    I would encourage you to apply that approach to the entire piece. Don't be afraid to prune. You can always put words back if you miss them. But if the images are strong (and yours are), you don't need to talk so much.

    Best of luck to you.

  10. #10
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    Re: Part of the First Chapter...With Paragraph Breaks!

    Oisin,

    I like Leslee's cut at your first paragraph.

    Another thought came to me a bit ago. Consider beginning with the boy next to the statue. That'll give your reader someone to identify with right out of the blocks. Then work in what is currently your first paragraph.

    Don't hesitate to ignore.

    Cur

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