Totally Rewritten Time Crystal Chapter 1

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Phil Brown

Writes as Wyken Seagrave
Joined
Feb 25, 2007
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More chapters and background at http://www.timecry
Following incredibly useful feedback from this network I've completely revised the opening of Time Crystal.
Hope it's better this time!
1494 Words
===========
“Look at all this paperwork, Sam,” Brigit said.
“He can’t look, Mother,” Catriona said using her ironic sing-song voice. “He’s driving.”
“Well you look then and tell him, Catriona,” Brigit said.
Catriona sighed and turned round. Brigit had spread piles of paper over each of the limo’s four rear seats as if she was dealing out playing cards.
Sam stopped in a queue at some traffic lights and flipped the rear-view mirror so he could see into the back. “Looks like you need a good secretary, Bee,” he said.
“I’ve got a good P.A. Sam,” Brigit said, “but it’s not just the paperwork. Do you have any idea what it’s like to go to a banquet all by yourself?”
Catriona had to smile. Mother was ridiculous sometimes.
“All the other Ambassadors are sitting there with their neat little wives,” Brigit said, “and there am I trying to make conversation on me own.”
Catriona snorted and turned to glance at Sam. He was trying to keep a straight face and gave her one of his just say nothing looks as the traffic began to move. Serves you right, Mother, Catriona thought, turning to look along the road. Your ambition’s got you into this mess so don’t whinge about it.
Sam drove over the brow of a hill into a little green valley. Blocks of flats and industrial estates stood around the edges of the fields as if trying to decide whether to march forward and smother them. A range of mountains stretched right across the horizon, their snow-capped peaks peeping out from beneath a froth of high spring cloud. Although she didn’t particularly like Switzerland Catriona had to admit that the mountains were beautiful, perhaps even more beautiful than any in Ireland. But why did they have to spoil it by building all over the low land? On the far side of the valley, amidst an industrial estate of concrete buildings and electricity pylons, steaming chimneys and glass offices, there arose a huge dark round dome that stuck up high into the watery sky like a half-inflated balloon.
“What’s that?” Catriona asked pointing.
“It must be CERN,” Sam said.
“This job is killing me, Sam,” Brigit said, her voice almost breaking, “just killing me.”
Great performance, Mother, Catriona thought, grinning at Sam but he wasn’t smiling. Instead there was a look of concern on his face. What’s going on here? Catriona wondered. She’s leading up to something. The landscape suddenly seemed to vanish from her sight and the quiet purring of the limo’s engine seemed to grow louder as she waited for her mother’s next words. It was then that Brigit dropped her bombshell. Looking back on it afterwards Catriona realised that, compared to the catastrophic events later in the day this event was trivial but at the time it seemed devastating, utterly blowing her life apart.
“It looks bad, Sam,” Brigit said. “I need you here. You’ve just got to stay here and support me.”
“Stay here Mother?” Catriona said, turning and staring at her. “You’re not serious?” But she could see the answer in her mother’s hard, frowning eyes and her drooping mouth as she dialed her mobile. Catriona turned and glared at Sam. “Did you know about this?” He shrugged and looked sheepish, which meant “I guessed”. Catriona slapped her hands on her knees, making them sting. “Grungh! I should have known she didn’t invite us over just for a holiday!”
# # # #
Ten expert scientists sat in the long ATLAS Control Room monitoring the first run of the season, the first ever run with krypton. Ninety-seven minutes into the experiment things were going well. But ATLAS shift leader Dr. Seline Soubise was finding it hard to concentrate. She had just read the same line of code three times without understanding what it meant. She had taken over from Danny Kissov an hour ago but he was still hanging around, staring at the shift leader’s computer screens as if he was waiting for something terrible to happen, making her nervous. “Go home Danny,” she said. “Don’t worry, I’ll look after ATLAS for you until this evening.” If ATLAS was a woman he would have married it instead of that Altsbach girl, she thought.
“Sorry,” Danny said and walked over to the windows behind her desk. “I’m waiting for a call from Maria. She’s having her weekly check-up this morning.”
Seline turned and looked at him. There were dark rings under his eyes as if he hadn’t slept for days. He was staring through the opaque blue glass windows at the huge bulge of the Globe where Maria worked. She could just make out its shape, sticking up into the sky like a pregnant belly. “How is she?” Seline asked but not really wanting to know. She couldn’t understand why Danny had married Maria. She wasn’t his type.
“I’m a bit worried about her, actually.”
“Something wrong?”
“I’m not sure. She hasn’t said anything but I know she’s not happy about something. That’s why I’m waiting around. She’s late.”
“If we’d swapped shifts you could have gone with her.”
“No. I had to be here during the start-up sequence.”
“Nobody’s indispensable, Danny,” Seline said.
“True, but I always like to be here for the first run every season and anyway I think running with krypton might be tricky.”
Normally the experiment ran with protons but once a year it ran with heavy particles, usually with lead. This was the first year they had ever run with krypton.
“What time are you expecting her to arrive?”
“She’s supposed to open the Globe at 9:30.”
Seline checked the clock on the far wall. 9:37. “She’s probably over there already.”
“Yes, perhaps I’ll go over and see if she’s arrived,” he said walking over to take his jacket off the back of the shift leader’s chair. Then he stood there, his eyes lingering on her screens.
He just can’t tear himself away. “See you tomorrow,” Seline said.
“Oh yes. See you.”
She watched him drift slowly down the long room, his eyes inspecting the monitors on every scientist’s desk he passed. He had reached the door and was staring at the large screens fixed to the long wall opposite the window when the alarm sounded.
# # # #
“Hello?” Brigit shouted into her mobile. “Is that the Centre for European Nuclear Research? Can I speak to Professor Francisco Romani?”
“And what do I do about my leaving cert?” Catriona asked Sam. “I’m due to begin revising as soon as I get back. Surely she doesn’t want me to leave school right now, just before--” “Those exams mean nothing outside Ireland,” Brigit snapped then shouted, “It’s Ambassador Fitzpatrick,” into her mobile. “I was due to visit with him at nine but I’m running a bit late. Thank you.” Then she said “You can take whatever exams they do here next year, Catriona. I mean take this visit today, Sam. I met Francisco Romani at a U.N. reception last week and he invited me over. Apparently something important’s happening here today but I know I’m not going to understand--Hello?” She started shouting again. “Well can you give him a message then? Tell him I’ll be there in five minutes.” She hung up the phone. “Thank God you’re here, Sam. It’s impossible to do this job without your support. You will stay, won’t you dear?”
“I suppose I could phone the school and tell them I’d broken a leg skiing,” Sam said, driving across the road at the bottom of the valley and up the other side.
“Oh thank you, lovey,” Brigit said.
Catriona could feel her temper begin to unravel like the sleeve of an old knitted jumper. He was just giving in to her as usual. What would Aislyn say when she found out? She’d been green when she heard Catriona was coming to Geneva for the Easter holiday. “Wonder if you’ll be going skiing?” Aislyn had said, as if skiing was some sort of punishment. Really green she was. She’d be laughing now if she knew what a disaster it was turning out to be. Catriona suddenly realised she might never see Aislyn again and the thought made her boil. Two hot tears welled up in her eyes and sizzled down her cheeks. She pretended to look out of the window so Sam wouldn’t see them, drawing justification and strength from their wetness. How could Mother do this to her? Stay here, don’t go back to Dublin, tear yourself up by the roots, throw away your friends and your education just because she needs support. Over my dead body.
 

Phil Brown

Writes as Wyken Seagrave
Joined
Feb 25, 2007
Messages
75
Location
More chapters and background at http://www.timecry
This is a work in progress and I've added a new opening since the post earlier today. It now reads as follows
===========

Some people called it Crystal Day, others Chronoclast Day, but nobody who survived Wednesday April 4, 2012 would ever call it unimportant. The events which occurred at 9:37 on that terrible morning would change the course of history not just for the beautiful mountainous country of Switzerland where it all started and not even just for the whole world. The events of that morning threatened nothing less than the existence of the very universe itself.
But as she sat in the front of her mother’s limousine and her step-father drove them up the long straight Route de Meyrin out of Geneva young Catriona O’Brien had another worry on her mind. Looking back on it afterwards Catriona realised that, compared to the catastrophic events later in the morning, her mother’s news was trivial but at the time it seemed devastating, utterly blowing her life apart. It began quietly enough, however.
# # # #​
“Look at all this paperwork, Sam,” Brigit said from the back of the limo.“He can’t look, Mother,” Catriona said using her ironic sing-song voice. “He’s driving.”
“Well you look then and tell him, Catriona,” Brigit said.
Catriona sighed and turned round. Brigit had spread piles of paper over each of the limo’s four rear seats as if she was dealing out playing cards.
Sam stopped in a queue at some traffic lights and flipped the rear-view mirror so he could see into the back. “Looks like you need a good secretary, Bee,” he said.
“I’ve got a good P.A. Sam,” Brigit said, “but it’s not just the paperwork. Do you have any idea what it’s like to go to a banquet all by yourself?”
Catriona had to smile. Mother was ridiculous sometimes.
“All the other Ambassadors are sitting there with their neat little wives,” Brigit said, “and there am I trying to make conversation on me own.”
Catriona snorted and turned to glance at Sam. He was trying to keep a straight face and gave her one of his just say nothing looks as the traffic began to move. Serves you right, Mother, Catriona thought, turning to look along the road. Your ambition’s got you into this mess so don’t whinge about it.
Sam drove over the brow of a hill into a little green valley. Blocks of flats and industrial estates stood around the edges of the fields as if trying to decide whether to march forward and smother them. A range of mountains stretched right across the horizon, their snow-capped peaks peeping out from beneath a froth of high spring cloud. Although she didn’t particularly like Switzerland Catriona had to admit that the mountains were beautiful, perhaps even more beautiful than any in Ireland. But why did they have to spoil it by building all over the low land? On the far side of the valley, amidst an industrial estate of concrete buildings and electricity pylons, steaming chimneys and glass offices, there arose a huge dark round dome that stuck up high into the watery sky like a half-inflated balloon.
“What’s that?” Catriona asked pointing.
“It must be CERN,” Sam said.
“This job is killing me, Sam,” Brigit said, her voice almost breaking, “just killing me.”
Great performance, Mother, Catriona thought, grinning at Sam but he wasn’t smiling. Instead there was a look of concern on his face. What’s going on here? Catriona wondered. She’s leading up to something. The landscape suddenly seemed to vanish from her sight and the quiet purring of the limo’s engine seemed to grow louder as she waited for her mother’s next words. It was then that Brigit dropped her bombshell.
“It looks bad, Sam,” Brigit said. “I need you here. You’ve just got to stay here and support me.”
“Stay here Mother?” Catriona said, turning and staring at her. “You’re not serious?” But she could see the answer in her mother’s hard, frowning eyes and her drooping mouth as she dialed her mobile. Catriona turned and glared at Sam. “Did you know about this?” He shrugged and looked sheepish, which meant “I guessed”. Catriona slapped her hands on her knees, making them sting. “Grungh! I should have known she didn’t invite us over just for a holiday!”
# # # #
Ten expert scientists sat in the long ATLAS Control Room monitoring the first run of the season, the first ever run with krypton. Ninety-seven minutes into the experiment things were going well. But ATLAS shift leader Dr. Seline Soubise was finding it hard to concentrate. She had just read the same line of code three times without understanding what it meant. She had taken over from Danny Kissov an hour ago but he was still hanging around, staring at the shift leader’s computer screens as if he was waiting for something terrible to happen, making her nervous. “Go home Danny,” she said. “Don’t worry, I’ll look after ATLAS for you until this evening.” If ATLAS was a woman he would have married it instead of that Altsbach girl, she thought.
“Sorry,” Danny said and walked over to the windows behind her desk. “I’m waiting for a call from Maria. She’s having her weekly check-up this morning.”
Seline turned and looked at him. There were dark rings under his eyes as if he hadn’t slept for days. He was staring through the opaque blue glass windows at the huge bulge of the Globe where Maria worked. She could just make out its shape, sticking up into the sky like a pregnant belly. “How is she?” Seline asked but not really wanting to know. She couldn’t understand why Danny had married Maria. She wasn’t his type.
“I’m a bit worried about her, actually.”
“Something wrong?”
“I’m not sure. She hasn’t said anything but I know she’s not happy about something. That’s why I’m waiting around. She’s late.”
“If we’d swapped shifts you could have gone with her.”
“No. I had to be here during the start-up sequence.”
“Nobody’s indispensable, Danny,” Seline said.
“True, but I always like to be here for the first run every season and anyway I think running with krypton might be tricky.”
Normally the experiment ran with protons but once a year it ran with heavy particles, usually with lead. This was the first year they had ever run with krypton.
“What time are you expecting her to arrive?”
“She’s supposed to open the Globe at 9:30.”
Seline checked the clock on the far wall. 9:37. “She’s probably over there already.”
“Yes, perhaps I’ll go over and see if she’s arrived,” he said walking over to take his jacket off the back of the shift leader’s chair. Then he stood there, his eyes lingering on her screens.
He just can’t tear himself away. “See you tomorrow,” Seline said.
“Oh yes. See you.”
She watched him drift slowly down the long room, his eyes inspecting the monitors on every scientist’s desk he passed. He had reached the door and was staring at the large screens fixed to the long wall opposite the window when the alarm sounded.
# # # #
“Hello?” Brigit shouted into her mobile. “Is that the Centre for European Nuclear Research? Can I speak to Professor Francisco Romani?”
“And what do I do about my leaving cert?” Catriona asked Sam. “I’m due to begin revising as soon as I get back. Surely she doesn’t want me to leave school right now, just before--”
“Those exams mean nothing outside Ireland,” Brigit snapped then shouted, “It’s Ambassador Fitzpatrick,” into her mobile. “I was due to visit with him at nine but I’m running a bit late. Thank you.” Then she said “You can take whatever exams they do here next year, Catriona. I mean take this visit today, Sam. I met Francisco Romani at a U.N. reception last week and he invited me over. Apparently something important’s happening here today but I know I’m not going to understand--Hello?” She started shouting again. “Well can you give him a message then? Tell him I’ll be there in five minutes.” She hung up the phone. “Thank God you’re here, Sam. It’s impossible to do this job without your support. You will stay, won’t you dear?”
“I suppose I could phone the school and tell them I’d broken a leg skiing,” Sam said, driving across the road at the bottom of the valley and up the other side.
“Oh thank you, lovey,” Brigit said.
Catriona could feel her temper begin to unravel like the sleeve of an old knitted jumper. He was just giving in to her as usual. What would Aislyn say when she found out? She’d been green when she heard Catriona was coming to Geneva for the Easter holiday. “Wonder if you’ll be going skiing?” Aislyn had said, as if skiing was some sort of punishment. Really green she was. She’d be laughing now if she knew what a disaster it was turning out to be. Catriona suddenly realised she might never see Aislyn again and the thought made her boil. Two hot tears welled up in her eyes and sizzled down her cheeks. She pretended to look out of the window so Sam wouldn’t see them, drawing justification and strength from their wetness. How could Mother do this to her? Stay here, don’t go back to Dublin, tear yourself up by the roots, throw away your friends and your education just because she needs support. Over my dead body.
 
Last edited:

Keri

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 15, 2006
Messages
108
Some people called it Crystal Day, others Chronoclast Day, but nobody who survived Wednesday April 4, 2012 would ever call it unimportant. The events which occurred at 9:37 on that terrible morning would change the course of history not just for the beautiful mountainous country of Switzerland where it all started and not even just for the whole world. The events of that morning threatened nothing less than the existence of the very universe itself.

This is told from a more Omni POV and rest of paragraph here is Catriona's POV, that is jarring and it slows down a dramatic intro. Honestly I would omit this and start telling the day all from present frame of mind and not elude to events that havent happened yet for character in the timeframe that your story is taking place.
If however you do feel that this is essential to have the reader be forward in time then bring them back I would do it in a different manner.
You could do this any number of ways. A reporter, historian digging through records, teacher telling a class, Catriona telling a descendant or someone else. Just I would try to make it personal and seemingly in the now then treat the rest as more of a flashback sequence if you must. It isn't working for me though that your character knows of future events during current events. Unless she is some sort of Seer or Vision of the future.
But as she sat in the front of her mother’s limousine and her step-father drove them up the long straight Route de Meyrin out of Geneva young Catriona O’Brien had another worry on her mind.
It is unusual that if they have a limousine they don't have a driver. That the step-father is driving is out of place if they are rich enough to have a limo.
For this piece to work, I really suggest to stay in the same timeframe. Don't jump around in a paragraph, don't make your character know more then she should at the given moment. It will help your flow immensely, it isn't creating tension in me knowing that something important is going to happen. You need to create tension within the current sequence and if you can't create a conflict that draws a reader in with the current information you have to seriously consider how important this mild annoyance of a daughter being miffed with her mother over something juvenilely inconsequential to my mind, is to your storyline. Sorry not meaning to be harsh but that is how she comes across to me. Will explain more where appropriate.

Looking back on it afterwards Catriona realised that, compared to the catastrophic events later in the morning, her mother’s news was trivial but at the time it seemed devastating, utterly blowing her life apart. It began quietly enough, however.
This paragraph is just another repetition of how important the events of the rest of the day are and Catriona's future state of mind. I'd seriously consider omitting it.
# # # #​
“Look at all this paperwork, Sam,” Brigit said from the back of the limo.“He can’t look, Mother,” Catriona said using her ironic sing-song voice. “He’s driving.”
“Well you look then and tell him, Catriona,” Brigit said.
Dialogue seems a little stiff to me and not entirely realistic. Why doesnt the mother just tell us herself what is in the notes.
Let me show you one of the ways I might write this:

Catriona put a hand to her head, as her mother's shrill voice came from the backseat again.
"Sam, I need you to look at this paperwork!"
"It does appear that Sam is driving at the moment Mother, perhaps it would be a little more convenient later. Personally I'd not like to end up in the ditch this morning"
"Don't take that tone with me young lady! I want his input but since I can't have it apparently yours will have to suffice"

Catriona sighed and turned round. Brigit had spread piles of paper over each of the limo’s four rear seats as if she was dealing out playing cards.
Sam stopped in a queue at some traffic lights and flipped the rear-view mirror so he could see into the back. “Looks like you need a good secretary, Bee,” he said.
I like the imagery here but this is Cat's POV would she refer to her mother as Brigit? What role is Sam in this? Does he try to mediate between the mother and daughter who obviously may not get along well or does he just ignore the situation? Does he really overlook the byplay between them and just make an observation in response?

“I’ve got a good P.A. Sam,” Brigit said, “but it’s not just the paperwork. Do you have any idea what it’s like to go to a banquet all by yourself?”
Catriona had to smile. Mother was ridiculous sometimes.
“All the other Ambassadors are sitting there with their neat little wives,” Brigit said, “and there am I trying to make conversation on me own.”

P.A. stands for? I know you want to make Brigit seem out of line but maybe have it be a Rant about how Sam never wants to help and never goes to functions. I need more of a transition so she just doesnt come off as rambling and flighty. Then again it depends on how strong a character she actually is and if she really isnt qualified for her position as ambassador.
An Ambassador to me earns their position by being quick of wit and speech, for her to seem so flighty seems unnatural to me unless this is some odd quirk she has with her family. You could make her seem more strong and reasonable speech yet still keep the intent of this paragraph and amuse her family with her demands.

Catriona snorted and turned to glance at Sam. He was trying to keep a straight face and gave her one of his just say nothing looks as the traffic began to move. Serves you right, Mother, Catriona thought, turning to look along the road. Your ambition’s got you into this mess so don’t whinge about it.
\
Like this paragraph, think it could be touched up a little in latter half to simplify flow but overall enjoyed it.
I'd mention language difference between Brits and Americans but I don't want to whine.

Sam drove over the brow of a hill into a little green valley. Blocks of flats and industrial estates stood around the edges of the fields as if trying to decide whether to march forward and smother them. A range of mountains stretched right across the horizon, their snow-capped peaks peeping out from beneath a froth of high spring cloud.

Lovely description yet I would suggest: "They" instead of Sam
Although she didn’t particularly like Switzerland Catriona had to admit that the mountains were beautiful, perhaps even more beautiful than any in Ireland. But why did they have to spoil it by building all over the low land? On the far side of the valley, amidst an industrial estate of concrete buildings and electricity pylons, steaming chimneys and glass offices, there arose a huge dark round dome that stuck up high into the watery sky like a half-inflated balloon.

I dislike the double use of the word beautiful early on. Think it could be reworded to greater effect. Don't start a sentence with "But" just omit it sentence reads nicely without it. Great descriptions.

“What’s that?” Catriona asked pointing.
“It must be CERN,” Sam said.

What exactly is she pointing at? Is there a reason for all capitals does C.E.R.N. stand for something?

“This job is killing me, Sam,” Brigit said, her voice almost breaking, “just killing me.”
Great performance, Mother, Catriona thought, grinning at Sam but he wasn’t smiling. Instead there was a look of concern on his face. What’s going on here? Catriona wondered. She’s leading up to something.
We know in a little bit that she's going to be appealing to Catriona for help, so her complaining and performing for Sam is out of place. She should be directing her dramatics to the one they are focused for.
The landscape suddenly seemed to vanish from her sight and the quiet purring of the limo’s engine seemed to grow louder as she waited for her mother’s next words. It was then that Brigit dropped her bombshell.
“It looks bad, Sam,” Brigit said. “I need you here. You’ve just got to stay here and support me.”
Is she really asking for support from Sam here? Because later you make it seem like it is Catriona. Is she so young that she can't live on her own? The wording of how Brigit asks is unnatural and plain bad english that isnt in keeping with her position. Possible rewording:
The situation looks bad, I need you both to live here not just visit, without your support....
"Stay here Mother?” Catriona said, turning and staring at her. “You’re not serious?” But she could see the answer in her mother’s hard, frowning eyes and her drooping mouth as she dialed her mobile. Catriona turned and glared at Sam. “Did you know about this?” He shrugged and looked sheepish, which meant “I guessed”. Catriona slapped her hands on her knees, making them sting. “Grungh! I should have known she didn’t invite us over just for a holiday!”
Why would her mother be stern and frowning if she was pleading with them for a favor. I think Catriona is responding selfishly, shock surprise but to ask if she is serious is to not be very supportive. If my mom asked me to uproot myself yes I'd be surprised and shocked but the first thing I'd ask is why she thought it was necessary because above all I love my mother and if she truly felt it was important then I'd ask her to explain and then assess it based on my judgment as well as hers and respond appropriately from there.
Or are you going for the extremely juvenile response?


The rest I wouldnt throw in the scientist piece in middle. Unless it is a complete new chapter. Finish with action in car first is my opinion. Overall yes I believe it to be an improvement but it still needs a little tweaking
 

Phil Brown

Writes as Wyken Seagrave
Joined
Feb 25, 2007
Messages
75
Location
More chapters and background at http://www.timecry
Hi Keri,
Once again your critique is valuable and very thought provoking.
May I respond to your points?
This is told from a more Omni POV and rest of paragraph here is Catriona's POV, that is jarring and it slows down a dramatic intro. Honestly I would omit this and start telling the day all from present frame of mind and not elude to events that havent happened yet for character in the timeframe that your story is taking place.
If however you do feel that this is essential to have the reader be forward in time then bring them back I would do it in a different manner.
You could do this any number of ways. A reporter, historian digging through records, teacher telling a class, Catriona telling a descendant or someone else. Just I would try to make it personal and seemingly in the now then treat the rest as more of a flashback sequence if you must. It isn't working for me though that your character knows of future events during current events. Unless she is some sort of Seer or Vision of the future.
The style of this story is to have several short scenes in different locations mixed together. I hope that this will create tension and movement. The effect is supposed to be like a soap opera. Each scene will belong to one characters POV.
There is also a narrator's POV. He will set the scene, describe the events etc. So this chapter has three scenes belonging to Narrator, Catriona and Seline.
This switching of scene might seem jarring at first but it is something the reader will (I hope) get used to as the story moves forward, although it might take a bit of getting used to. I think it gives the story a distinctive style and voice.
The idea of the initial paragraph is to hook the reader and show what is at stake. This is a big story, one in which the very existence of the universe itself is at stake. It is vital that we show this to the reader somehow. I use one of techniques you suggest but I somehow think they would get in the way. The story is already complex. I don't want to add another layer of abstraction. I think that a friendly omniscient narrator who can help to explain what is going on will be useful.
It is unusual that if they have a limousine they don't have a driver. That the step-father is driving is out of place if they are rich enough to have a limo.
I agree they should have a driver but (as the later parts of the story will show) Brigit is trying to save money and this is one reason she wants Sam to stay in Geneva.
For this piece to work, I really suggest to stay in the same timeframe. Don't jump around in a paragraph, don't make your character know more then she should at the given moment. It will help your flow immensely,
I think that's a good point.
it isn't creating tension in me knowing that something important is going to happen. You need to create tension within the current sequence and if you can't create a conflict that draws a reader in with the current information you have to seriously consider how important this mild annoyance of a daughter being miffed with her mother over something juvenilely inconsequential to my mind, is to your storyline. Sorry not meaning to be harsh but that is how she comes across to me. Will explain more where appropriate.
It's important for the reader to know that there is something very important at stake here, namely the future of the universe. We're not really trying to create a lot of tension here, merely to introduce the characters and, as you say, show how juvenile Catty is at the start. She has a very long way to go in this story and we will be watching her grow into a woman, hopefully more mature than she starts. Not everything has to be utterly dramatic. If it was you couldn't build into a climax. We're trying to show the ordinary world the characters inhabit before they are catapulted by a disaster into an incredible adventure.
This paragraph is just another repetition of how important the events of the rest of the day are and Catriona's future state of mind. I'd seriously consider omitting it.
You could be right.
Dialogue seems a little stiff to me and not entirely realistic. Why doesnt the mother just tell us herself what is in the notes.
Let me show you one of the ways I might write this:
Catriona put a hand to her head, as her mother's shrill voice came from the backseat again.
"Sam, I need you to look at this paperwork!"
"It does appear that Sam is driving at the moment Mother, perhaps it would be a little more convenient later. Personally I'd not like to end up in the ditch this morning"
"Don't take that tone with me young lady! I want his input but since I can't have it apparently yours will have to suffice"
Thanks for the comment and the suggestion. There's obviously a transatlantic issue with the word 'paperwork'. All Brigit means is paper. She doesn't expect Sam to read it.
I like the imagery here but this is Cat's POV would she refer to her mother as Brigit? What role is Sam in this? Does he try to mediate between the mother and daughter who obviously may not get along well or does he just ignore the situation? Does he really overlook the byplay between them and just make an observation in response?
I originally stuck strictly to Catty's POV and referred to Brigit as Mother. I used that approach in every scene and I thought it became confusing. The same character was being given different names in different scenes. So I decided to try to be consistent and just use one name for each character no matter whose POV it was. The exception is when a character's thoughts are given.
P.A. stands for?
P.A. is UK for personnal assistant.
I know you want to make Brigit seem out of line but maybe have it be a Rant about how Sam never wants to help and never goes to functions. I need more of a transition so she just doesnt come off as rambling and flighty. Then again it depends on how strong a character she actually is and if she really isnt qualified for her position as ambassador.
As you'll see later, Sam doesn't actually live in Geneva. He and Catty have come over for a holiday. Brigit's trying to persuade him to stay. Rambling and flighty is quite a good description of her. She is totally unqualified for the Ambassador's job, as emerges later in the story.
An Ambassador to me earns their position by being quick of wit and speech, for her to seem so flighty seems unnatural to me unless this is some odd quirk she has with her family. You could make her seem more strong and reasonable speech yet still keep the intent of this paragraph and amuse her family with her demands.
She is totally unsuited to the role of ambassador, but she is extremely ambitious and ruthless.
Like this paragraph, think it could be touched up a little in latter half to simplify flow but overall enjoyed it.
I'd mention language difference between Brits and Americans but I don't want to whine.
So should I use whine instead of whinge?
Lovely description yet I would suggest: "They" instead of Sam
Ok, I've changed it to They.
I dislike the double use of the word beautiful early on. Think it could be reworded to greater effect. Don't start a sentence with "But" just omit it sentence reads nicely without it. Great descriptions.
Removed second beautiful and the But.
What exactly is she pointing at? Is there a reason for all capitals does C.E.R.N. stand for something?
She's pointing at the dome. I've added that. And yes, CERN stands for something.
We know in a little bit that she's going to be appealing to Catriona for help, so her complaining and performing for Sam is out of place. She should be directing her dramatics to the one they are focused for.
Is she really asking for support from Sam here? Because later you make it seem like it is Catriona. Is she so young that she can't live on her own? The wording of how Brigit asks is unnatural and plain bad english that isnt in keeping with her position. Possible rewording:
But it's Sam she wants to stay. In fact she couldn't really care less if her daughter stays or not. Her English IS bad! She is not fit for the job.
Why would her mother be stern and frowning if she was pleading with them for a favor. I think Catriona is responding selfishly, shock surprise but to ask if she is serious is to not be very supportive. If my mom asked me to uproot myself yes I'd be surprised and shocked but the first thing I'd ask is why she thought it was necessary because above all I love my mother and if she truly felt it was important then I'd ask her to explain and then assess it based on my judgment as well as hers and respond appropriately from there.
Or are you going for the extremely juvenile response?
She doesn't care whether Catriona stays or not. She is looking for a servant. Yes, Catriona is selfish. With a mother like hers, what else could she be? You are responding like a sensible person. Catriona is responding like a selfish person. She blames her mother for being selfish without realising she herself is selfish too.
The rest I wouldnt throw in the scientist piece in middle. Unless it is a complete new chapter. Finish with action in car first is my opinion. Overall yes I believe it to be an improvement but it still needs a little tweaking
As I said above, that's part of the style of the story.
Thanks once again for your comments.
Love Phil
 

Keri

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Phil I do know an author that changes POV very often and uses it as part of her style but she is a romantic author and that is Nora Roberts.

I think it can be incorporated in a style and now that you mention it is done intentionally I'd work on the flow between the styles. The transition isn't smooth for me, make sure you do start a new paragraph at the very least when you change pov.

Love
keri
 

Phil Brown

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Phil I do know an author that changes POV very often and uses it as part of her style but she is a romantic author and that is Nora Roberts.

I think it can be incorporated in a style and now that you mention it is done intentionally I'd work on the flow between the styles. The transition isn't smooth for me, make sure you do start a new paragraph at the very least when you change pov.

I'm thinking of putting a bit more narrator's voice in the transition between Catty's scene in the car and Seline's scene in the ATLAS control room. There was a blank line in there to mark the paragraph but it might have got lost in this forum. As I say, I think the reader will get used to these transitions. They don't need to be smooth. The sudden change helps to add to the tension (I hope).

One thing I'm not sure of, though, is how many readers will get bored during the initial scene, since it doesn't have a really strong dramatic bite. I'll tighten up the dialog, remove the paperwork reference and remove PA but I wonder whether the whole scene works. If you remember I originally started with the characters going down a red-hot tunnel and falling through the air. That scene came from the middle of the story, when the action had really got going, then went into a long flashback of almost 80,000 words.
I've cut all that out and I'm trying to start at the beginning, but the real drama, the disaster that puts the universe in peril, still doesn't happen until after 50,000 words. I'm finding it hard to grip the reader so she won't slip away until the real action starts, and I'm trying to use character to engage her, and also carry her through some of the technical stuff (such as in the Seline scene).

You might wonder why I bother to put all this introduction in. It's so that the reader will believe the story is factual. I've taken a lot of trouble to research it and make the early parts as accurate as possible so that when we enter the fantasy part after the disaster the reader will be able to suspend her disbelief and keep living in the story.

Thanks again for your interest, Keri.
Love Phil
 

Keri

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I'm thinking of putting a bit more narrator's voice in the transition between Catty's scene in the car and Seline's scene in the ATLAS control room. There was a blank line in there to mark the paragraph but it might have got lost in this forum. As I say, I think the reader will get used to these transitions. They don't need to be smooth. The sudden change helps to add to the tension (I hope).
I disagree to a point in that they don't need to be smooth. You need to at least bring one area to a climax in disaster. If you really want to build the tension I'd do that. Then give us some of the resolution when you revisit their part of the story again. That will make the reader a little bitter that they have to wait to see what is going on but if you quickly involve them in the next scene they should be able to wait for it.

I'd really try to avoid Narrators voice in the manner you did it. What about making them very short and just enough information to tease and then saying it is from some book in the future. That way you elude to what is going to happen but you don't give it all away also.
One thing I'm not sure of, though, is how many readers will get bored during the initial scene, since it doesn't have a really strong dramatic bite. I'll tighten up the dialog, remove the paperwork reference and remove PA but I wonder whether the whole scene works.

You don't have to necessarily remove it but you can spice it up alot just by having more conflict and showing some of the true nature behind the characters. It is best to have a really strong hook in your opening scene but you can create that with what you have I think. There are so many different options here that I could probably talk for several hours on different things I think you might do. It is reading a little dryly at moment but that is because you aren't in my opinion making your characters very strong at the moment. We're only seeing very brief glimses with not alot of motivation behind it.

If you remember I originally started with the characters going down a red-hot tunnel and falling through the air. That scene came from the middle of the story, when the action had really got going, then went into a long flashback of almost 80,000 words.
I've cut all that out and I'm trying to start at the beginning, but the real drama, the disaster that puts the universe in peril, still doesn't happen until after 50,000 words. I'm finding it hard to grip the reader so she won't slip away until the real action starts, and I'm trying to use character to engage her, and also carry her through some of the technical stuff (such as in the Seline scene).
yes and I did enjoy that, you need to start at a point that feels natural to you. You can make any point of a story work but you have to let us view that portion from the character who has the most to lose or the most to gain. What if we find out she's up to her ears in hot water because she's inadvertantly helped set it all in motion, through blind ambition.
Simply by giving some hint that Brigit may be up to no good could be enough.

Like I said there are a thousand ways to do it but you have to figure out what your conflict is and then make it as interesting as possible. If you are enthusiastic about it then it will show, if you find yourself bored by your own prose then definately consider revising. I'd set it aside for a little while though and look at it afresh.

You might wonder why I bother to put all this introduction in. It's so that the reader will believe the story is factual. I've taken a lot of trouble to research it and make the early parts as accurate as possible so that when we enter the fantasy part after the disaster the reader will be able to suspend her disbelief and keep living in the story.

For this type of question I always think of movies and how they sold their points. Take the Matrix for example, it starts out innocent enough hackers, computers, and takes a semi generic subject and builds the tension until we can believe anything can take place in the Matrix.

Or Superman we get the great intro of how his home planet was destroyed and he was sent to Earth and why he has the powers that he does.

Neither intro is spectacularly dramatic like later scenes but they both have enough tension and drama that they draw you in.

I have faith that you'll find a way to make it all work cohesively.
 

chrispenycate

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Oh, you're bringing her out from the airport along route de Meyrin - it's not really all that built up (particularly towards Satigny) From your first description I'd assumed you were coming in from Fort de l'écluse, when you crested a hill, and saw the "Palais de l'équilibre" (that's the wooden golf ball thing - the Centre European pour Recherche Nucliaire picked it up cheap after the expo '02) with mountains (which, incidentally, are not in Switzerland) behind it; but in fact, your dome's against the Jura.
Oops, sorry, I'll go back to correcting punctuation where I belong.
 

Phil Brown

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Following Keri's comments, here's another version.
(God, I hope she likes this one...)

“I can’t cope with this job any more, Sam,” Brigit said, flinging a pile of paper over the limo’s front seats so it scattered across the windscreen and into Catriona’s lap. “I’m gonna hand in me resignation as soon as I get back to the Embassy and come back to Ireland with you two.”
Sam tried to calm his wife down, which wasn’t easy while as driving, and Catriona scooped the official-looking papers together. Her mother had been building up to this since they arrived in Geneva yesterday, complaining how tired and overworked she was, how much help she needed. She’d already got Sam driving the limo and Catriona cooking her meals, but she was obviously angling for more.
Sam stopped the limo in a queue at some traffic lights and glanced at Brigit in the rear-view mirror. “You don’t want to resign, Bee,” he said. “You’re just a bit stressed out at the moment. Why don’t you have the rest of the week off and--”
“You’ve got to be kidding,” she said as if he’d suggested she take up sky-diving. “Me diary is packed every day and every evening for the next two months, Sam.”
“Sounds like you need help, Bee,” he said. “What about if I stay here and lend a hand?”
“Would you? Really? Oh thank you, dear, thank you,” Brigit said and she took the papers off Catriona and began to thumb through them, humming to herself.
Catriona was appalled. He’d fallen for her antics again. Mother only had to snap her fingers and he would give up his teaching job, a job he loved, to come here and be her unpaid driver. She’d got herself into this mess, giving up the top slot at the T.V. studio and coming over here to take on this high-powered diplomatic post without any experience and against everyone’s advice, and now she was going to make everyone else suffer for it.
Catriona was in a state of shock as they drove over the brow of a hill into a little green valley. A range of mountains stretched right across the horizon, their snow-capped peaks peeping out from beneath a froth of high spring cloud.
“Aren’t the mountains lovely, Catty?” Sam asked, glancing at her. Although he wasn’t her father he could read her like a book, having brought her up since she was eight while Brigit was busy with her T.V. career. “I think they’re better than anything we have in Ireland, don’t you?”
“But why did they have to spoil it by building all over the low land?” Catriona said, staring at the blocks of flats and industrial estates which stood around the edges of the fields as if trying to decide whether to march forward and smother them. On the far side of the valley, amidst an industrial estate of concrete buildings and electricity pylons, steaming chimneys and glass offices, a huge dark round dome rose high into the watery sky like a half-inflated balloon trying to escape from the squalor around it.
Brigit’s head poked between their seats. “Is that CERN?” she asked cheerfully.
“I suppose it must be,” Sam said.
Miraculous recovery, Catriona thought. “Are you expecting me to stay here too?” she asked.
“I’d prefer it if you did, Catty,” Sam said.
“Yes, you can stay too,” Brigit said offhandedly as if she was giving her daughter permission to buy a cup of coffee. She began to dial her mobile phone.
“And what do I do about my leaving cert?” Catriona asked. “I’m due to begin revising as soon as I get back. Surely you don’t want me to leave school right now, just before--”
“Those exams mean nothing outside Ireland,” Brigit snapped then shouted “Hello?” into her mobile. “Is that the Centre for European Nuclear Research? It’s Ambassador Fitzpatrick. Can I speak to Professor Francisco Romani? I was due to visit with him at nine but I’m running a bit late. Thank you.” Then she said: “You can take whatever exams they do here next year, Catriona. I mean take this visit today, Sam. I met Francisco Romani at a U.N. reception last week and he invited me over. Apparently something important’s happening here today but I know I’m not going to understand--Hello?” She started shouting again. “Well can you give him a message then? Tell him I’ll be there in five minutes.” She hung up the phone. “Thank God you’re here, Sam. It’s impossible to do this job without your support. You will stay, won’t you dear?”
“I suppose I could phone the school and tell them I’d broken a leg skiing,” Sam said, driving across the road at the bottom of the valley and up the other side.
Catriona could feel her temper begin to unravel like the sleeve of an old knitted jumper. He was just giving in to her as usual. What would Aislyn say when she found out? She’d been green when she heard Catriona was coming to Geneva for the Easter holiday. “Wonder if you’ll be going skiing?” Aislyn had said, as if skiing was some sort of punishment. Really green she was. She’d be laughing now if she knew what a disaster it was turning out to be. Catriona suddenly realised she might never see Aislyn again and the thought made her boil. Two hot tears welled up in her eyes and sizzled down her cheeks. She pretended to look out of the window so Sam wouldn’t see them, wallowing in her anticipated grief. How could Mother do this to her? Selfish, that’s what she was. Stay here, don’t go back to Dublin, tear yourself up by the roots, throw away your friends and your education just because she needs support. Over my dead body.
 

Phil Brown

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Oh, you're bringing her out from the airport along route de Meyrin - it's not really all that built up (particularly towards Satigny) From your first description I'd assumed you were coming in from Fort de l'écluse, when you crested a hill, and saw the "Palais de l'équilibre" (that's the wooden golf ball thing - the Centre European pour Recherche Nucliaire picked it up cheap after the expo '02) with mountains (which, incidentally, are not in Switzerland) behind it; but in fact, your dome's against the Jura.
Oops, sorry, I'll go back to correcting punctuation where I belong.

Hi Chris(?),

Crystal Day is Wednesday April 4 2012 and it just so happens that April 4 falls on a Wednesday this year too so I'll be over in Geneva (Switzerland) doing some research. I'd be happy to meet up with any of you good folks and have a coffee or something, if anyone's interested. I'm due to go on a tour of CERN on Wednesday but I've got nothing booked for the Thursday. Any suggestions of a good place to meet in town? We could have an author's party!
 

Keri

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Following Keri's comments, here's another version.
(God, I hope she likes this one...)
Phil, I've liked all your versions, I'm just critiquing not asking you to change everything, though I do try to point out how I think it could be improved that is my impression and please always take it with a grain of salt, since it is your piece. If you agree with it then change it, if you totally love it look at critique objectively and think how you can improve in your style. Though personally I do like this version of the current incarnation much better, though the flying version was immensely fun barring a few points.
“I can’t cope with this job any more, Sam,” Brigit said, flinging a pile of paper over the limo’s front seats so it scattered across the windscreen and into Catriona’s lap.
I think the papers would scatter across her lap and then the windscreen... switch order perhaps.
“I’m gonna hand in me resignation as soon as I get back to the Embassy and come back to Ireland with you two.”
I assume "me" instead of my is an irish accent. :)

Sam tried to calm his wife down, which wasn’t easy while as driving,
while he was driving.
and Catriona scooped the official-looking papers together. Her mother had been building up to this since they arrived in Geneva yesterday, complaining how tired and overworked she was, how much help she needed. She’d already got Sam driving the limo and Catriona cooking her meals, but she was obviously angling for more.

Like it.

Sam stopped the limo in a queue at some traffic lights and glanced at Brigit in the rear-view mirror. “You don’t want to resign, Bee,” he said. “You’re just a bit stressed out at the moment. Why don’t you have the rest of the week off and--”

Wasn't aware traffic lights had a queue.
“You’ve got to be kidding,” she said as if he’d suggested she take up sky-diving. “Me diary is packed every day and every evening for the next two months, Sam.”
Diary for American is more of a personal journal instead of a scheduler organizer. Of course if they are commonly used british terms by all means keep them if you are going for that audience.
“Sounds like you need help, Bee,” he said. “What about if I stay here and lend a hand?”
“Would you? Really? Oh thank you, dear, thank you,” Brigit said and she took the papers off Catriona and began to thumb through them, humming to herself
.Love this sequence but how easy would it be for her to reach over from back of limo, it depends of course on type of limo I'm sure and obviously the window between driver and backseat must be down.
Catriona was appalled. He’d fallen for her antics again. Mother only had to snap her fingers and he would give up his teaching job, a job he loved, to come here and be her unpaid driver.
Only one suggestion omit first job to avoid redundancy of speech.
She’d got herself into this mess, giving up the top slot at the T.V. studio and coming over here to take on this high-powered diplomatic post without any experience and against everyone’s advice, and now she was going to make everyone else suffer for it.
Catriona was in a state of shock as they drove over the brow of a hill into a little green valley. A range of mountains stretched right across the horizon, their snow-capped peaks peeping out from beneath a froth of high spring cloud.
“Aren’t the mountains lovely, Catty?” Sam asked, glancing at her. Although he wasn’t her father he could read her like a book, having brought her up since she was eight while Brigit was busy with her T.V. career. “I think they’re better than anything we have in Ireland, don’t you?”
“But why did they have to spoil it by building all over the low land?” Catriona said, staring at the blocks of flats and industrial estates which stood around the edges of the fields as if trying to decide whether to march forward and smother them. On the far side of the valley, amidst an industrial estate of concrete buildings and electricity pylons, steaming chimneys and glass offices, a huge dark round dome rose high into the watery sky like a half-inflated balloon trying to escape from the squalor around it.
Brigit’s head poked between their seats. “Is that CERN?” she asked cheerfully.
“I suppose it must be,” Sam said.
Miraculous recovery, Catriona thought. “Are you expecting me to stay here too?” she asked.
“I’d prefer it if you did, Catty,” Sam said.
“Yes, you can stay too,” Brigit said offhandedly as if she was giving her daughter permission to buy a cup of coffee. She began to dial her mobile phone.
“And what do I do about my leaving cert?” Catriona asked. “I’m due to begin revising as soon as I get back. Surely you don’t want me to leave school right now, just before--”
“Those exams mean nothing outside Ireland,” Brigit snapped then shouted “Hello?” into her mobile. “Is that the Centre for European Nuclear Research? It’s Ambassador Fitzpatrick. Can I speak to Professor Francisco Romani? I was due to visit with him at nine but I’m running a bit late. Thank you.” Then she said: “You can take whatever exams they do here next year, Catriona. I mean take this visit today, Sam. I met Francisco Romani at a U.N. reception last week and he invited me over. Apparently something important’s happening here today but I know I’m not going to understand--Hello?” She started shouting again. “Well can you give him a message then? Tell him I’ll be there in five minutes.” She hung up the phone. “Thank God you’re here, Sam. It’s impossible to do this job without your support. You will stay, won’t you dear?”
“I suppose I could phone the school and tell them I’d broken a leg skiing,” Sam said, driving across the road at the bottom of the valley and up the other side.
Catriona could feel her temper begin to unravel like the sleeve of an old knitted jumper. He was just giving in to her as usual.
This sequence is great. Only change I would make is at the end. Catriona is selfish at moment and she has already pointed out that she is disgusted with Sam, instead of revisiting that why don't make it so it includes both of them. They were suppose to give up their lives again for her!

Ciao

Keri
 
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