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  1. #1
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    Hidden Elements Chapter 1 REVISED

    Hi everyone, I've finished reading through the first 3 books in Hidden Elements, and did a lot of editing/omitting, in favor of increasing the pacing of the books. Here is the revised first chapter. Hope you enjoy, and feedback always welcome. Thank you!

    https://hiddenelementsblog.wordpress...-ch-1-revised/



  2. #2
    Rogue Mutt
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    No one had the slightest inclination as to what spurred the terrible incident, but one thing was evident; something was wrong
    That should be a regular colon, not a semicolon.

    I'm not sure destroying the Earth has ever been this boring before. All the alien guys standing around talking makes me think of those 50s sci-fi movies like The Day the Earth Stood Still or Plan 9 From Outer Space; I can see the cardboard sets and spaceship on strings! All you need is to add a clanking automoton made out of a refrigerator box with some lights attached.

    If you want anyone to give a crap, you need to get some boots on the ground. Instead of just saying it was a horrible car wreck, write it from the perspective of someone who was there. That's what they mean by showing instead of telling.

  3. #3
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    If this is a rewrite, you fooled me. It doesn't seem to have changed from your earlier version, in that it still opens with pages of world building.

    Give us a character (and not some all-powerful wizardly Gandalf clone). Put him up a tree and throw rocks at him.

  4. #4
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    Jayce- I reworked the first chapter twice. I omitted the backstory with Kendra the reporter and opened with a short sequence of her questioning the victim of the car crash about what he saw. She seeks answers about what the photo could represent from a church pastor, and it essentially then leads to Ontego's point of destroying the planet. This time I completely cut the character of Kendra and didn't give a lot of exposition right at the beginning, aiming to give the reader some perspective behind Ontego's frustration with his followers. I'm not sure where this "happy medium" lies with my writing, either I'm giving too much or not enough. I wanted to give at least some hint as to the lord's world beyond earth without taking multiple pages to describe the overall nature of his atmosphere. This sort of leads into what Rogue was saying about being boring. The purpose of leaving out the unnecessary backstory was to get to one of the story's main points, Ontego's philosophy on why he needs to start anew.

    If I had added more sequences from other peoples' perspectives during earth's eradication, it wouldn't have helped progress the story; they'd just be "non-characters" with no real purpose in the story. I don't feel as though I'm being given much constructive criticism, just borderline insulting commentary.

  5. #5
    Rogue Mutt
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    Quote Originally Posted by KarmaExists View Post
    Jayce- I reworked the first chapter twice. I omitted the backstory with Kendra the reporter and opened with a short sequence of her questioning the victim of the car crash about what he saw. She seeks answers about what the photo could represent from a church pastor, and it essentially then leads to Ontego's point of destroying the planet. This time I completely cut the character of Kendra and didn't give a lot of exposition right at the beginning, aiming to give the reader some perspective behind Ontego's frustration with his followers. I'm not sure where this "happy medium" lies with my writing, either I'm giving too much or not enough. I wanted to give at least some hint as to the lord's world beyond earth without taking multiple pages to describe the overall nature of his atmosphere. This sort of leads into what Rogue was saying about being boring. The purpose of leaving out the unnecessary backstory was to get to one of the story's main points, Ontego's philosophy on why he needs to start anew.

    If I had added more sequences from other peoples' perspectives during earth's eradication, it wouldn't have helped progress the story; they'd just be "non-characters" with no real purpose in the story. I don't feel as though I'm being given much constructive criticism, just borderline insulting commentary.
    Jayce (and to a lesser extent me) is telling you to write about a human character, not some alien wizard warlord guy. There's a reason why Independence Day didn't focus on the invading aliens or the crummy Michael Bay Transformers movies always have to have human characters to focus on: people want someone to identify with, which isn't alien wizard warlord guy for obvious reasons. I know it sucks to hear, but start over from the ground up.

  6. #6
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    I'll show some dialogue between the two main characters when Niko is introduced. It's after Ontego's passing, and the books revolve around his adventures. I can omit even Ontego's backstory (which I don't want to have to resort to), but if there's anything here as far as chemistry/dynamic between them then maybe I can keep working:


    “May we eat, Nikolai?” He gestured to the table. He watched his father sit down, apparently ignoring his refutation. He ran his hands through his hair and joined him. “Dad, Nikolai? I told you, I like ‘Niko’ better.”
    “If you ever listened to me I wouldn’t need to call you that,” Tarik said.

    Niko leaned his arm onto the table with his head pressed against his hand.
    “Center cut, my boy? Or your usual hindquarter?” He sliced into the well-cooked flesh.
    “Eh, you pick, Pop. Surprise me.”
    He handed him a heaping plate of meat, potatoes, and greens. “Eat hearty, boy, this one’s a winner.”
    Niko huffed, and bit into the brick-like hunk of beef. Its brown juice trickled down his chin. A series of contented humming noises came from him while he savagely devoured his meal. His father smiled. “Hungry tonight, son?”
    Niko shrugged as he took a drink. “Eh, little bit.”
    “Ah I almost forgot, did you get the herbs I sent you for?”
    Niko reached around his backside. Tucked between his white sash was a cluster of thick green leaves tied together. “Right here, Pop.” He tossed them over to him.
    “Wow, nice work. You have a hard time finding them?”
    “It was a little hairy gettin’ em.”
    “Do tell,” Tarik said.
    Niko swallowed a lump of potatoes. “They ain’t all that easy to get to. They grow so high up it’s like tryna climb a straight wall.”

    “Wait, so how’d you get them?”
    “You mean, how? I climbed up the mountain.”
    “Son, there’s a trail that takes you through the woods to the top. Didn’t you see the signs?”
    “Eh, that woulda taken forever. Faster just to climb straight up.”
    Tarik tried not to laugh at the boy’s dense, dull-witted nature. “Sure it would’ve taken longer but you don’t risk dying on the mountain trail, dummy.”
    “Hey you said get ‘em, you din’t say how,” the boy said with a snort.
    “Well, can’t argue with you there. Be more careful next time, huh?”
    “What’s so special ‘bout those herbs anyway?”
    Tarik grinned at the boy. “Nothin’ really. Just wanted to see if you could actually get ‘em.”

  7. #7
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    I looked. From start to finish you, the author, are telling the story as if you're performing it for an audience.

    Like a storyteller you set the scene with an info-dump of backstory—in essence, a history lesson. That works in person, and it's necessary, because you're alone of stage and have no visual aids. But were this a film there would be no narrator because the characters can live the scene as the viewer watches. You have that same advantage on the page, but you're not using it. And you must, because telling a story, personally, as you're doing, is a performance art. When you speak that history lesson you fill your voice with emotion, to emphasize points and make the telling entertaining. Tone matters, as does cadence, intensity, and all the other tricks of verbal storytelling. But how much of that makes it to the words on the page? None. Not a trace. It's explainiong, not entertaining. On the page you can tell the reader that a character shouts a line, or whispers, or... But you cannot tell the reader how you spoke that block of history. Nor can you make the reader know what your expression would have been, or how you visually punctuated with gesture.

    In short: You cannot, cannot, cannot tell a story on the page because the medium doesn't support it.

    What the reader gets is a dispassionately told external overview of events, focused on what the storyteller deems important, but what the protagonist is probably ignoring.

    Bottom line: Fiction has its own set of tricks and techniques. They're not even mentioned in our school days because only people in the profession need them. And, those tricks are no more visible to those outside the profession than are the secrets of any other profession.

    That's absolutely lousy news, I know, but you can't rearrange the story into success.

    There's a lot about writing fiction for the page that's not obvious till it's pointed out. Definitions change. A scene on the stage has to do with changes in scenery. A scene on the page is a unit of tension. So unless you know what the differences are, and why they're necessary, you can't write a scene a publisher would see as one.

    It's not all that hard to learn, though it does take time to make the techniques work for you as intuitively as the nonfiction tricks we were taught in our school days. But that's true of any profession, so it's no big deal. And in the end, if we don't spend either time or money on acquiring a professional education, can we say we're serious about writing?

    So keep writing, of course. But at the same time, do some research into the things the pros feel are necessary skills. You can always choose not to use a trick, but you can't use one you don't know exists. The local library system's fiction writing section can be a huge resource—a place to get a variety of views.

    One article I usually recommend, because it's on a really powerful way to place the reader into the protagonist's viewpoint, is here. If it works for you, you might think about picking up a copy of the book the article is based on.

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