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  1. #1
    Junior Member CryingCicada's Avatar
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    First scene - comments?

    2 Posts because length -_-
    Leon groaned as his eyes drifted open, the scorching pain in the back of them telling him that they didn’t take kindly to the searing brightness of the halogen bulbs. Everything felt hazy, he could feel his face slapped repeatedly but in a kind of detached way. Eventually, whoever was trying to wake him decided that enough was enough and grabbed him by the hair and lifted. His eyes snapped open fully as he winced in pain, while he may be used to such pain, it in no way made it any more pleasant.

    “Wha’ d’you want now” he slurred, still slightly out of it from the after effects of the pain meds. The tall lab-coated man made no response other than a vaguely satisfied sounding hum and proceeded to drag him from the room by his hair; Leon winced again. “Ah! You bastard! I can walk myself you know!” He straightened himself, trying to salvage what little of his dignity was left after the three years he’d spent in this hell-hole, and walked towards the single door, remarkable only for breaking the sheer white uniformity of the room’s walls. He spared a moment to look around the room that had been where he’d spent the majority of his time in those three years, when he hadn't been carted off to the canteen, or to one of those sessions. Repressing a shudder at the direction his thoughts were taking him, he stopped in front of the metal door.

    The knowledge that it was two inch thick plate metal and that there were two burly guards stationed outside the door deterring any thought of escape, for now, that didn’t stop him from looking, and planning for the moment they screwed up. He waited patiently, as patiently as someone could when they knew that whatever was coming next was most likely going to be painful and certainly unpleasant. The scientist moved slowly to the same door, unholy glee flickering in his eyes at the small signs of discomfort that were making themselves known in Leon. He reached the door and stooped slightly, putting his eye to the iris scanner and placing his thumb on a gel scanner, newly installed. Apparently one of the others had decided, in a desperate bid for freedom, to try and… acquire is probably the best term, an eye and open the door.

    “Poor bastard.” Thought Leon reflectively, they wouldn’t let them die of course; every test subject was valuable after all. But the knowing that relief in the cold embrace of death wouldn’t be coming to you probably made the things done to them seem even worse. The scanner was another measure, but unknown to the inmates, there was a tiny camera embedded in the device so the door was now manually opened from outside, cruelly crushing any hope that they had had of escape, making the already small chance ridiculously so.
    The door hissed open and Leon flinched again, away from the grating sound.

    “Gods, I must look like a right moron, flinching at every little thing… although, I suppose I have reason to by now.” He thought dispassionately to himself. He must have stood at the open door too long because hands appeared through it to manhandle him out of the room into a featureless white corridor, broken periodically by more of the same doors. The two guards marched him along, one at either side, hands on stun guns should he make a break for freedom, unlikely now he knew what ten thousand volts across the back felt like, not an experience he was willing to repeat any time soon.

    Leon tried to keep track of how many of the doors they went past, but after a while, they all just blurred into a continuous stream. Until they came to another featureless corridor of a slightly different shade, with no doors along the sides, just a singular door at the end of it.

    Leon knew this corridor and tried to brace himself for the inevitable pain that would soon make itself known. The scientist chortled under his breath when he saw Leon’s shoulders stiffen. The scientist lent down again and opened the door, the two guards stationed themselves outside it and they went in. There was the door directly ahead, Leon didn’t want to go there, not again.

    Someone up there must have been listening to Leon that day because he found himself being tugged towards a door that he had never been through before. He knew what was behind the door of course, he’d seen it through the other room, where the scientists stood or sat and watched what was done to him with cold faces, occasionally turning their head to one of the others to murmur some observation. Confusion now replaced most of the fear but couldn’t banish all of the persistent undercurrent of fear churning away in his stomach. The door was opened, inside the pseudo air lock, the doors were perfectly normal wooden doors, no three inch thick metal here; there was no chance of escape anyway, so even though they had money to burn, they didn’t actually waste it. After being pulled through, he nearly stumbled over a step that he hadn’t noticed. The scientist gestured to a chair, sitting in the middle of the room, the benches that were normally there had been moved to the back of the room, leaving the solitary chair facing a large window set into the wall. He slowly approached the chair, wary of any tricks. To his knowledge, none of the experiments had actually been carried out in the room, but he didn’t really want to take any chances; he snorted, realising that he was thinking he’d actually have any chance of it not happening once they had decided, people who had thought and tried to act on that had ended up very badly in the past, being made an example of so no one would think to emulate them.



  2. #2
    Junior Member CryingCicada's Avatar
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    He sat gingerly in the seat, eyes flickering around him until he glanced through the window, seeing the cold metal slab that he knew intimately, having been strapped to it several times for them to poke around inside. At least generally they gave anaesthetic, although that didn’t seem to be a concern this time, given the lack of the associated paraphernalia. But the lack of equipment wasn’t what drew Leon’s eyes. No, what drew his eyes was the small form of someone he knew very well, strapped the the slab. Surely they wouldn’t, he swallowed, make him watch? Almost unwillingly, his eyes found the scientist’s, looking for a denial that this wasn’t exactly what he thought it was, all he received was a dark smirk slowly spreading across the man’s face. Abby…

  3. #3
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    hello Crying,

    I understand that you put a lot of hard work into this, now polish it. There's some things that stood out to me.

    Overall: (6)
    It feels unfinished. It's like you're unsure of which direction you're going with the story and patching together as you go along. You have a lot of the strong ideas, and the beginning of themes, but they don't always come across in your writing. The entire thing feels a little haphazard to me. Good indications are sentences such as:

    in a kind of detached way.
    or
    tall lab-coated man
    or
    Confusion now replaced most of the fear but couldn’t banish all of the persistent undercurrent of fear churning away in his stomach.
    To me, that says that you as a writer have the mental image of a room with blinding white lights, beeping electronics, and strange men in lab coats but aren't sure how to convey that image on paper. You have to practice and also read more fiction.


    Story: (7 out of 10)

    Characterization (1): I don't know if we get enough of a strong feel for who Leon is. I get some indication, but overall I walk away from this story indifferent to his cause. Don't misunderstand me, it's not exactly a poor job it's just two dimensional. He feels like a he-man stereotype rather than a real person. I don't care if he escapes or rots in Jail because you haven't made me care. Does he have a wife? Why is he being held? Why must he get out? Even if those questions are answered later in the book, through your writing, you can query a desire for their answers earlier on.

    Setting: (3)

    The concept of experimentation always has premise, but the problem is that you haven't connected us to the sights or sounds. Premise alone doesn't guarantee the reader's attention. Is there blood in the hallways? Is he the only prisoner? Have you described the setting powerfully enough to put us there? I get that Leon is at a disadvantage, but the problem is I don't feel the sway of his legs giving way to a drug induced fall as he staggers to his feet.

    Themes: (1)
    It's really important to be think about the messages you want to portray. So far, one theme I can see is helplessness.

    POV:
    If you're using third person limited watch your tenses. I noticed you changed it once during the story. Third person limited allows you to be in the mind of one person and doesn't necessarily allow for you to become acquainted with the character as intimately as say first person.

    so even though they had money to burn
    – How does he know this?

    Grammar(6 out of 10 )

    Work on sentence construction, especially the pronoun that, which is used 17 times.

    Here's a few I picked up on:

    eyes flickering around him
    the scorching pain in the back of them
    hands appeared
    and they went in
    That's my opinion, plus it's past midnight here, and I'm tired, so feel free to ignore.
    Last edited by Author Pendragin; 03-09-2012 at 12:53 AM.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Herman Munster's Avatar
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    Leon groaned as his eyes drifted open,

    Eyes don't drift

    the scorching pain in the back of them telling him that they didn’t take kindly to the searing brightness of the halogen bulbs.

    POV thingy. I am assuming this is God POV. I write exclusively 1st person shooter, and I don't know how to do that properly.
    You KNOW he has pain, you KNOW where it is and what it feels like. Then it is a 'him', not a me. So you are telling me that you, God, KNOW his internal feelings intimately without him conveying them and he is clearly a 'him' and not a 'me'. Just saying that out loud in case you change things later on. I haven't read it yet. Your sixth word got to me!

    Everything felt hazy, he could feel his face slapped repeatedly but in a kind of detached way. Eventually, whoever was trying to wake him decided that enough was enough and grabbed him by the hair and lifted. His eyes snapped open fully as he winced in pain,

    I thought they drifted open, refer word six.

    while he may be used to such pain, it in no way made it any more pleasant.

    “Wha’ d’you want now” he slurred, still slightly out of it from the after effects of the pain meds.
    PARAGRAPH BREAK> The tall lab-coated man made no response other than a vaguely satisfied sounding hum and proceeded to drag him from the room by his hair; Leon winced again.
    PARAGRAPH BREAK> “Ah! You bastard! I can walk myself you know!”
    PARAGRAPH BREAK> He straightened himself, trying to salvage what little of his dignity was left after the three years he’d spent in this hell-hole, and walked towards the single door, remarkable only for breaking the sheer white uniformity of the room’s walls. He spared a moment to look around the room that had been where he’d spent the majority of his time in those three years, when he hadn't been carted off to the canteen, or to one of those sessions. Repressing a shudder at the direction his thoughts were taking him, he stopped in front of the metal door.

    The knowledge that it was two inch thick plate metal and that there were two burly guards stationed outside the door deterring [DETERRED?] any thought of escape, for now, that didn’t stop him from looking, and planning for the moment they screwed up. He waited patiently, as patiently as someone could when they knew that whatever was coming next was most likely going to be painful and certainly unpleasant. The scientist moved slowly to the same door, unholy glee flickering in his eyes at the small signs of discomfort that were making themselves known in Leon.
    The scientist can 'see' glee that is 'known' within? AND from behind?
    He reached the door and stooped slightly, putting his eye to the iris scanner and placing his thumb on a gel scanner, newly installed. Apparently one of the others had decided, in a desperate bid for freedom, to try and… acquire is probably the best term, an eye and open the door.
    I have to guess here. 'He' is in fact the scientist since the prisoner shouldn't have iris and thumb recognition for locked doors? I took all that time to type this because I wasn't sure and couldn't automatically move on.

    “Poor bastard.” Thought Leon reflectively, they wouldn’t let them die of course; every test subject was valuable after all.
    God POV we KNOW what Leon is thought'ing. I am worried about the 'they' and the 'them'. I won't mention it yet in case it is explained soon. Thoughts in italics.
    PARAGRAPH BREAK> But the knowing that relief in the cold embrace of death wouldn’t be coming to you probably made the things done to them seem even worse.
    Right here I want to mention that I feel your sentences are too long. You suffer from my painful disease. Keep typing with another qualification when, perhaps, you should close it and start a new one.

    The scanner was another measure, but unknown to the inmates,

    “ putting his eye to the iris scanner”
    I think it is very difficult to mask the iris scanning. Unless Leon is intellectually challenged, he should have seen enough representations of these scanners on TV, like we all have, to recognise the adjusted body position, they are all 5'6” off the floor

    there was a tiny camera embedded in the device so the door was now manually opened from outside, cruelly crushing any hope that they had had of escape, making the already small chance ridiculously so.
    The door hissed open and Leon flinched again, away from the grating sound.

    “Gods, I must look like a right moron, flinching at every little thing… although, I suppose I have reason to by now.” He thought dispassionately to himself.

    Thoughts are normally italicised and still speech quoted to distinguish them from speech.

    PARAGRAPH BREAK> He must have stood at the open door too long because hands appeared through it to manhandle him out of the room into a featureless white corridor, broken periodically by more of the same doors. The two guards marched him along, one at either side, hands on stun guns should he make a break for freedom, unlikely now he knew what ten thousand volts across the back felt like, not an experience he was willing to repeat any time soon.

    Leon tried to keep track of how many of the doors they went past, but after a while, they all just blurred into a continuous stream. Until they came to another featureless corridor of a slightly different shade,
    Different shade? Of what? White?
    Also, what about losing count of the number of doors at 20, 30, 50, 99? Just a thort.
    with no doors along the sides, just a singular
    Maybe 'single'?
    door at the end of it.

    Leon knew this corridor and tried to brace himself for the inevitable pain that would soon make itself known.
    Not comfortable here, maybe; 'that he knew was coming' Your crediting the 'pain' with more intellect than it has, I believe. Besides, it is invariably the device that induces pain, pain is not an independent entity. He should know that evil device he will meet yet again?
    The scientist chortled under his breath when he saw Leon’s shoulders stiffen. The scientist lent down again and opened the door, the two guards stationed themselves outside it and they went in.
    Issue, issue, with the 'they'. It implies to me the guards again.
    There was the door directly ahead, Leon didn’t want to go there, not again.

    Someone up there must have been listening to Leon that day because he found himself being tugged towards a door that he had never been through before. He knew what was behind the door of course, he’d seen it through the other room, where the scientists stood or sat and watched what was done to him with cold faces, occasionally turning their head to one of the others to murmur some observation. Confusion now replaced most of the fear but couldn’t banish all of the persistent undercurrent of fear churning away in his stomach. The door was opened, inside the pseudo air lock, the doors were perfectly normal wooden doors, no three inch thick metal here;
    It was two inch metal b4.
    “ it was two inch thick plate metal” Good non use of steel. I assume we understand later.
    there was no chance of escape anyway, so even though they had money to burn, they didn’t actually waste it.

    How is 'money' relevant here? There is nothing mentioned so far that indicates he knows of their wealth or not. I mean the sheer size and technology of what he has seen so far described does indicate a large facility with a significant budget tho.

    After being pulled through, he nearly stumbled over a step that he hadn’t noticed. The scientist gestured to a chair, sitting in the middle of the room, the benches that were normally there had been moved to the back of the room, leaving the solitary chair facing a large window set into the wall.
    It would be bloody funny if it were not! Roof, flooor, door, yeah, I know! <GRIN>

    He slowly approached the chair, wary of any tricks. To his knowledge, none of the experiments had actually been carried out in the room, but he didn’t really want to take any chances; he snorted, realising that he was thinking he’d actually have any chance of it not happening once they had decided, people who had thought and tried to act on that had ended up very badly in the past, being made an example of so no one would think to emulate them.

    Context. This suggests other prisoners and some community contact, even if late at night through cracks in the doors. There is no evidence of other prisoners at this time. Noise, smell, grunts, groans, moans, all that good stuff patients and prisoners do.

    He sat gingerly in the seat, eyes flickering around him until he glanced through the window, seeing the cold metal slab that he knew intimately, having been strapped to it several times for them to poke around inside.
    [him]?
    At least generally they gave anaesthetic, although that didn’t seem to be a concern this time, given the lack of the associated paraphernalia. But the lack of equipment wasn’t what drew Leon’s eyes. No, what drew his eyes was the small form of someone he knew very well, strapped the the slab. Surely they wouldn’t, he swallowed, make him watch? Almost unwillingly, his eyes found the scientist’s, looking for a denial that this wasn’t exactly what he thought it was,

    Context again., Or some flash gramatical term I have no knowledge of. I know it is Leon who exactly thort, but it implies it was the scientist.

    all he received was a dark smirk slowly spreading across the man’s face. Abby…

    Again, the he doesn't tell me if it is Leon or the scientist.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Herman Munster's Avatar
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    Good climax, Abby.
    Overall, top marks. A good story that is clearly going somewhere.
    I do like your style, it is the closest to my own personal way of doing things I have seen. I think they call them 'run on' sentences. I know when I do it I should stop but there is just one more qualifier I want to put in there, and then another, ad infinitum. I believe you need to be told what I was, toss in a full stop more often. Separate the ideas and be very careful with all the 'he' and 'they' etc. These things allow the reader to get picky, see what I did to you?

    My word of the month for 90 days is 'compartmentalise'. It took me that long to write it. I don't know what it means but I suggest you use it for your ideas. When they are separated they are emphasised.
    One thing I tried when I was doing fight scenes was very short, sharp, one sentence per lhalf ine, style. Like a jab, it is quickfire, short and sharp. The next thing you know, you have another one coming at you.

    You say 'First scene' so I am taking it that there is nothing coming b4hand. Duh! What I am getting at here is that quite a few things you have going tell me there are things I should already know about which I don't. Perhaps the name and size and purpose of the evil conglomorate that has Leon prisoner and is actively torturing him. Normally it is the IRS, but I sense it may not be them this time. It is good to focus on the action, keep the tension ramped up and us in the dark to a certain extent but even knowing his age, sex, hair colour, shoe size, make him a little more personal. I am not referring to the dreaded infodumps I put in all the time, I just mean flesh out the character, aspects of the story.
    There are even times where I put in a fair bit of detail just to blind the reader. It is there, seems to be relevant and leading somewhere but doesn't. Again you have the scientist stooping at the first scan, leaning at the second iris scan. Is he abnormally tall, skinny, have mad white hair like Christopher Lloyd? He comes across a bit like a mad scientist but you don't spell it out.

    My suggestion is to increase the word count by 25% and add some color or colour. You have 1131 words and plenty of story, substance, stuff, but I feel a little more fleshing out of the details might please you greatly. But I enjoyed it and if this indicative of the whole, I would be keen to see the whole.

    If all else fails, read the instructions!

  6. #6
    Junior Member CryingCicada's Avatar
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    Thanks all for the comments, I can't read them all properly yet (damn school), but they look like they'll all be helpful. One comment that I saw, sorry if it wasn't clear, Abby isn't my name, it was part of the story... oops
    -Ross (in case any of you want to call me that)

  7. #7
    Junior Member CryingCicada's Avatar
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    @Author Pendragin
    Okay, I can see exactly where you're coming from with most of that and I'd agree with most of your analysis of me not being sure how to get what's in my head onto the screen.
    I think, seeing it from an objective point of view, I'll be getting rid of the money part, it just seemed to flow when I was in my caffeine induced haze

    When you said about the POV I was using, it sounded as if you had something against it, how would you suggest I improve it? Use a different one? Or is there a way I can improve it with what I've got.

    With the backstory and characterisation of Leon, would maybe adding in a scene before this one, possibly directly before he is knocked out where I can explain some of the things you mentioned be an idea?
    Thanks for your advice, I think it'll really help with my writing as a whole.

    @Herman Munster
    I personally have always liked the metaphor of eyes drifting open, perhaps I should have added the word partially after that to show that they weren't open fully (in relation to your point about the snapping fully open)

    Thank you for pointing out the paragraph breaks, it's one of the things I've always struggled slightly with.

    The scientist can't exactly see glee, it's his emotion and it's on his face, just the part of the face where emotions like that generally show is in the eyes, so "Unholy glee flickered in his eyes." sounded right to me.

    I'll make sure to make the point of which person I'm talking about at any particular time more obvious.

    Right, must definitely make my sentences shorter, it's my curse!

    The scanner itself isn't what's unknown, what's unknown is the fact there's a camera and the iris scanner itself doesn't open the door, the guards behind do when they see the scientist is un-coerced.

    The thoughts themselves were italicised but I just copy and pasted from my editor, which stripped all the formatting, I'm not really familiar with forum formatting tags so I forgot to change it.

    Maybe stopping at a number with counting the doors would indeed have been a good idea, it might go into my next draft, and single is probably a better word choice.

    With my changing from 2 inch to 3 inch, that was an honest mistake on my part.

    as in my reply to Pendragin, yeah, I'll probably get rid of the money reference.

    2nd post: no there's nothing beforehand yet, I'm thinking of adding maybe another scene in before this. Nope, no IRS here (not sure what that is actually to be honest) something different *evil laugh*

    Okay, more detail, about him especially would be a good idea.


    I think using all these helpful pieces of advice, I'll end up having more than 25% extra.
    Woah, just realised I wrote a wall of text again. Thanks for your time in reading the original and I’d be glad to hear what you think of the comments I’ve made in response.
    sorry about double posting again, but I can't find an edit button anywhere -.-
    -Ross

  8. #8
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    I like the eyes drifting open.

  9. #9
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    I have to rewrite a paragraph for myself before I can figure out a critique. This is what I wrote...

    Leon jerked. Light seared his eye; a hard slap forced it open before it snapped shut again. Where am I… He heard the sound before he felt the pain. “SLAP” and then a searing redness across the side of his face. “OW” he shouted… except he didn’t shout. His tongue wouldn’t work. His face seemed frozen. He wanted to say something, tell them to stop, but nothing worked. A gray fog lay across everything with flashes of red when the slaps came. Over and over - “Slap” flash, “red” flash, “gray” red “flash, flash.”
    I don't get a sense of immediacy or danger out of you opening paragraph. We need to be immersed in his experience in order to care about him. I need to feel what he feels and see what he sees.

    I also think good storytelling is crisp and pointed. Much of your writing meanders in a roundabout way. For example you say, "He straightened himself, trying to salvage what little of his dignity was left after the three years he’d spent in this hell-hole, and walked towards the single door, remarkable only for breaking the sheer white uniformity of the room’s walls." You start with a good, clear statement followed by half a dozen passive, inward-directed, state-of-being phrases.

    He straightened himself - good
    trying to salvage what little of his dignity was left - an okay statement that could be better
    after the three years he had spent in this hell-hole - another uninspiring, passive statement
    and walked toward the the single door - action again, this is passable
    remarkable only for breaking the sheer white uniformity - another unmemorable statement.

    The sentence is okay but no better than okay.

    I'd do it more like this.

    He pulled his arm from the orderly. “I can do it”

    Three years of this - men in white clutching his arm to guide him through featureless black doorways that provided the only color in the featureless white walls.
    Instead of telling us that he was trying to salvage his dignity, we see it for ourselves. To me this paints more of a picture that I can focus my imagination on. When I read your sentence, I didn't feel any punch in the gut. I wanted to smell the place. I wanted to see the action for myself. I wanted to feel the fear he was feeling. Almost all of your sentences suffer this same lack of clarity and immediate impact.

    My best advice is to write as if you are watching a play. Let us see how he feels rather than telling us. Use action verbs instead of "was" or "had been." Eliminate add on sentences composed of one prepositional phrase piled on top of another.

    Here's another example. Instead of showing us the two inch thick metal plate, you have your protagonist think about the two inch metal plate. Show it to us. He may be familiar with his surroundings but this is our first time seeing it. Thinking about it simply removes us from the immediacy of the surroundings.

    immediate - we see it for ourselves.
    one step removed - the protagonist describes it to us
    two steps removed - he thinks about it inside of his head.
    three steps removed - we overhear someone mention it from our perch on top of a distant mountain two miles away.

    It does no good to move us two steps away from the action. Okay, enough said.

    I hope this is helpful. I am by no means the best writer here, so take my advice for what it's worth.

  10. #10
    Junior Member CryingCicada's Avatar
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    That is very helpful. The way you've re-written it does make it seem better, but it doesn't quite seem like it's 'mine' if you know what I mean. I think I'm definitely going to find a way to incorporate your ideas, but in my own writing. speaking of re-writing, what do you people think, is it better to go over the things I've already done or to re-write entirely from scratch?
    Sleep: a wholly inadequate substitute for caffeine.

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