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My novel.


too-open-minded
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So if any of you remember correctly I posted about a year ago on my book. I cringe thinking about my old writing style... I really intended to write a whole book from a robotic mockumentary point of view. Anyways here is the beginning of the first chapter. Right under 1,000 words so please read :). My story is flawlessly original and awesome, I just want to know if my writing style captivates your interest at all enough to want to continue reading. Thankyou!

 

Somewhere unbeknownst, to the rest of the world. Sat thirty-five scientists in seven rows, blindfolded, and restrained to cold metal chairs. Footsteps were heard entering the room. “Welcome,” a mans voice, a deep but charming one rang through the room. It was a big empty room given away by the voices echo. “You're all here today because your intellectual assets have much opportunity to benefit humanity. The United Nations, the National Center for Biotechnology Information, The International Council for Science, and the U.S government has selected you thirty-five individuals out of all the other well credited researchers and educators in America. You've every right to feel proud, and you should be.” The voice took a breath. “Now, the first of two contracts have been signed. You're all well aware that the location of this meeting is confidential, which is what the blindfolds are for. I must apologize as I'm sure not being able to see since you boarded the plane has been somewhat frustrating. The handcuffs that have just been applied to your wrist and the chair, are to help keep the location private. As with this conversation, you either listen to what I have to say and sign the second contract. Or you don't sign the second contract, and go back home speaking nothing of this. This meeting is highly confidential and any mention of it will jeopardize all your freedoms. To break the first contract and speak of this meeting, will be considered an act of treason. Punishable by death. If you sign the second contract, you'll be trusted with classified knowledge, in charge of keeping world peace, helping to establish an internationally unified government, and over all increasing the survivability of the human race. Outliving this hot ball of rock floating aimlessly around a star is actually one of our top projects.” The voice cleared his throat. “You must understand that signing the second contract will give you less social freedoms. Family and friends can't know where you're going, how long you'll be gone, or what you're doing. Sometimes you won't even know where you're going. We can call upon you at a moments notice to be gone for months at a time. The pay is well, however you won't have all the time to spend it.” Footsteps echoed as they paced back and fourth for a good ten seconds. “I'm giving you all thirty minutes, your decisions” he deepened the voice and put heavy emphasis on his next word “WILL be final by then." Footsteps were heard exiting the room, a door shut which ensued to silence. The scientists stayed still with an eerie feeling in the air. A shiver ran down ones back. “Sign my life away without even knowing exactly what the hell it's for? Count me out!” Squawked a female scientist with an annoyed tone. “I want to know the classified knowledge, what if aliens are real or think of all the technology unreleased to the public, I'm signing.” Optimistically proclaimed a younger male scientist. Murmers, mumbles, and a few long drawn out boring opinions on the matter cluttered around the room. An old raspy voice, one that radiated experience, confidence, and wisdom was heard loudly above all the others. His first few words louder to get everyone’s attention, “We're all researchers here, our job is to unravel the mysteries of life and use them to serve humanities cause of bettering our species. If you call yourself a scientists, sign with me.” The room got quiet. Another few minutes of silence passed until the doors opened and multiple footsteps walked through the room. “I assume you have all made the decisions.” The voice stated with anticipation. Simultaneously the blindfolds were removed by an armed person for every scientist. Everyone except for the front row watched the armed guards tie a blindfold to a chair. “Why the fuck are there guns?” Ecstatically a now visually capable man yelled out. “I signed a contract with the United Nations, not a damn military. “Now,” Row by row they saw the man whose voice they've heard as he walked up to the front of the empty chrome room. He was a tall black man around 6'2, maybe weighed about 225 in good physical condition. Looked to be in his early 40's, clad in a fancy suit. Each guard laid down a clipboard on the scientists laps. “Who do you think is going to protect you that is? As of right now these highly trained, special operations, soldiers are here to protect me. I'm rather important to this quote quote underground research. They'll also be here for your protection if you sign the second contract and stay.” The now visual voice clasped his hands together and opened his mouth but paused before saying. “If the second contract is signed you'll all be brought to your quarters for this trips stay and be debriefed on the current project. If you don't sign, we'll have you escorted home immediately. So please, time is up. Sign now and your decision is final.” The sound of thirty five hands fighting against a chain connecting their wrist to seat rattled around the room. The important suited voice strolled down every isle, looking for signatures or blank papers. As he got to the end of the back isle he stopped, turned to the guards and said. “Please escort Scientists seventeen and one out.” The guards grabbed a scientist from the front and the fourth row, applied the blindfold, and took them out of the room.

Edited by too-open-minded
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It is an intriguing opening. But I find the many little errors distracting (many others will not - although a publisher/agent would too!)

 

For example:

 

Somewhere unbeknownst, to the rest of the world. Sat thirty-five scientists in seven rows, blindfolded, and restrained to cold metal chairs.

 

Unbeknownst is a bit obscure, maybe just "unknown"

I think the punctuation should be: "Somewhere, unbeknownst to the rest of the world, sat thirty-five scientists..."

 

 

Footsteps were heard entering the room.

 

While I have nothing against the passive voice in general, this does make me wonder who heard the footsteps. Maybe just "They heard footsteps..."

 

Missing apostrophes in the next two sentences: man's and voice's.

 

If you want to get quality feedback from other writers then I can recommend http://www.scribophile.com/

 

Anyway, good luck with your writing!

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I was unable to complete more than a third of the text because of the plethora of schoolboy errors. Strange has already identified some of these, both grammatical and stylistic. Here are some more.

 

....... blindfolded, and restrained to cold metal chairs.

No comma after blindfolded.

 

“Welcome,” a mans voice, a deep but charming one rang through the room.

 

Clumsy. This would be an improvement: "Welcome". A man's voice, deep but charming, rang through the room."

 

“You're all here today because your intellectual assets have much opportunity to benefit humanity."

Really? Their intellectual assets have such an opportunity, or they have such an opportunity? Sloppy and distracting.

The United Nations, the National Center for Biotechnology Information, The International Council for Science, and the U.S government has selected you thirty-five individuals out of all the other well credited researchers and educators in America.

Effective fiction writing is said to depend upon "the willing suspension of disbelief". I cannot believe that you could get the United Nations, who are anything but united, into bed with three American national institutions. You either have to do some very elegant justification very soon, or you need to have a multi-national selection of scientists. (The latter would also be key to have a chance of establishing good sales outside the US.)

 

The handcuffs that have just been applied to your wrist and the chair, are to help keep the location private.

 

Plot objection: I have no idea how handcuffs will keep their location private. (Actually I have several, but I really think the author, not the reader, should do that part of the creative work.) Also, I am reasonably sure that you meant secret, not private. If you expect readers to shell out money for your story, be aware they have a right to expect that you will use vocabulary correctly.

As with this conversation, you either listen to what I have to say and sign the second contract. Or you don't sign the second contract, and go back home speaking nothing of this.

That is the second occasion, within half a dozen lines, that you have shown you do not understand what determines the end of a sentence. That is worrying.

 

Strange said "intriguing opening". I say, it could have been, but the sloppy writing so distracted me that I was unable to get into it.

 

You are showcasing your talent in this extract. I would have expected you to subject it to vigorous editing and extensive checking. Clearly you did not so. Why? If you care that little for your readers, why should they care for you?

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I needed to hear that, thankyou Ophiolate.

 

I'm just not very knowledgeable in English and Grammar. From what I've seen whenever you send your project into review for a publishing company like Penguin, they have an editor go through it for you. So long as the manuscript and required amount of materiel to read is pleasing to them. If I do something like Amazon instant publishing, then I'll really have to take my editing more seriously. Still though, even if I take the route of seeking a publisher. It would look better if my novel doesn't need to be proof read.

 

Thankyou though, I honestly had no idea my English was that bad lol. I think I'll stick to the plot, as it is science fiction. The cuffs in my opinion seem more relevant along with the collection of American scientists as the story unravels.

Edited by too-open-minded
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I enjoyed it,

I can see what Ophiolite and Strange have said about grammar and style, Put another chapter up, Let them correct it, You will soon see where you can improve, By the 3rd 4th chapter they will be begging to see what happens next :) .

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That's only my first 1,000 words, the first chapter is about 3,000. I've ran it through an editing software but that hasn't really corrected my run on sentences and improper use of commas/lack of. So basically.... EEEEK.

 

I highly doubt Ophiolite or any other SF member want's to proof read and fix all the errors in my novel. Shooting for somewhere between 100,000-150,000 words. I'm about 3/4 through the story and at about 80,000 words. If you need something done the best way is to do it yourself. I'm sure if I just put the effort I didn't administer in gradeschool, into teaching myself English. I'll learn.

 

I really appreciate it guys, didn't think my English was that bad but I needed to know this. You guys rock.

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From what I've seen whenever you send your project into review for a publishing company like Penguin, they have an editor go through it for you.

This is true, but the editor will be picking out errors such as the ones in my post #4: the ones that are generally only spotted by English majors and pedants. Can you see the errors in my post? (I can't - that's why I would need an editor.)

 

An editor is not there to make corrections in almost every sentence.

 

 

I've ran it through an editing software but that hasn't really corrected my run on sentences and improper use of commas/lack of.

I am no fan of Microsoft, but I ran your opening paragraphs through Word and it turned up seventeen errors. Whatever editing software you are using, you need to change it.

 

It also yielded a Flesch-Kincaid reading level of 6.8, which means, while most people will be able to read it with no difficulty, you will not be winning literary awards from intellectuals. On a very positive note you had only 5% of passive sentences. That is excellent. Many novice writers struggle to use active rather than passive voice. I routinely checked for that in my own writing and, as a consequence, virtually eliminated it from my style. (Passive voice has a place, but not when writing technical documents or action stories.)

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Passive voice has a place, but not when writing technical documents or action stories

 

I'm not sure.

 

Well, not in technical documents maybe. Last time I had this discussion I checked through the (several thousand word) document I was working on and found no use the passive. So maybe there is little need for it. On the other hand, when documenting user interfaces it can be appropriate (arguably). For example (made up on the spur of the moment):

 

"When you click the Add button, a dialog will be displayed where you can enter the name and serial number of the new component"

 

Now, that could be replaced with "WidgetMagic 2.0 will display a dialog" but I'm not convinced that either is significantly better/worse. I am told (but have no direct experience) that the passive mood can make life harder for translators into some languages.

 

Regarding action, there are places where passive mood can focus the reader on the right thing, e.g. when revealing surprising information:

 

"As the getaway car sped away round the corner, he saw it was being driven by his wife"

 

The active alternatve ("As the getaway car sped away round the corner, he saw hat his wife was driving it") is just a bit ... flat.

Edited by Strange
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In general the passive voice weighs a sentence down while the active voice has much more impact. The active voice emphasises the subject of the verb (which is usually what you want when writing fiction) The passive voice becomes useful however when you want to emphasise the object of the verb. E.g. 'The car hit him' is weaker than 'He was hit by a car' because the latter emphasises the victim rather than the car, and we care more about the person than the car in this case.

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I'm using Libre Office. Word is what 10$ a year or something? I should probably look into that. However if I spend a few days on Wikipedia, should be able to get a better grasp on my English. Might not end up needing word.

 

I'm not too keen on winning a literary award, my vocabulary is rather inadequate anyways. Above all, I'm having fun with this. I have really enjoyed weaving this story together, foreshadowing events, and reflecting upon humanity. The writing has been some work and not all play. I am having fun with this though, writing it for myself, and hoping to appeal to others.

 

Btw after some thought, I think I'll drop the handcuffs. The blindfold does it's job of showing the security and secrecy. It was a little too over the top. However the American scientists is going to stay, I think you'll really enjoy their role in the book, along with other researchers. Theirs different countries, alliances, factions, government, secrect societies,conspiracy type stuff with some who're aware of whats going on and others left in the dark. Can't give away too much, but you'll see why it's strictly talking about American scientists in the intro.

 

Anyways I'm going to sharpen my English and grammar. I'll return with my fully edited first chapter, not just the initial attention grabber. I think ya'll will like it :)

Thanks for all the criticism, it's helped me tremendously.

Edited by too-open-minded
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  • 4 weeks later...

Hi too-open-minded... So TOM, where are your paragraphs?

 

I am concerned about the way you portrait 'scientists'. Scientists are not heroes nor special agents (nor invariably noble persons). For example, a typical scientist would cry if heavily pushed by police officers (like any of us). In the seting you described most scientist would just want to go home.... Also the word 'scientists' today means nothing (if it ever ment anything). It is a buzzword...

 

But if you intentionaly make a cliche story then forget about those objections. Cliche stories also have readers and are loved as an easy entertainment.... That reminds me: What are your target readers?

 

I did not understand why those 35 guys have to be blindfolded in this room for so long (the blindfold was removed eventually and nothing bad happened). Why chairs must be cold and metalic? Is there a reason we don't know if they are prisoners or volunteers - I hope you explained this quickly in subsequent text. Scientists act as volunteers, but are treated as prisoners.

 

I don't care about pasive voice, unless this realy is a cliche story (In this case use simpler lanuage and active voice as much as possible).

 

And thanks for posting TOM, it was fun.

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  • 1 year later...

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