My First Sci-Fi Foray - Rough Draft Prologue

Status
Not open for further replies.

JDawg2.0

Active Member
Joined
Nov 9, 2007
Messages
31
OK...bear in mind that this is a rough draft. I just knocked this out tonight, and figured I'd share with you guys and gals!

Critique and advice would be MUCH appreciated!



Milvian gazed out of the lounge’s long window. Beyond the vessel’s starboard wing was a pitch canvas of space, interspersed with pinpricks of winking yellow, white, and blue. As a young farm girl, Milvian spent her days sweating beneath the humid rural sun, but spent her hard-won nights in the fields, watching the stars. Now, as a young woman, she spends her long sojourns between worlds the same way.

Behind her, world leaders shed their cumbersome ranks, and shared jokes while they drank wine. They laughed heartily, telling stories of their youths, and poking fun at the caricatures the political process had made of them. Milvian enjoyed the warm atmosphere but did not join in the party. For Milvian, the fun was in watching the goings-on beyond the thick pane of glass separating her from the Universe..

Just below her view, a column of V-shaped fighters escorted them. Occasionally, one of the sleek black battle machines would bob briefly into view.

“Milvian,” A rough voice rose from behind.

She turned, and saw Tio Pilanch smiling at her. “Yes?”

“It’s a beautiful view from Jenyaran space,” He said. “Just beautiful.”

“It is. I wish I could come here more often.”

Milvian quickly looked back at Tio, the Head Council of her homeworld’s Unified Government. Her cheeks flushed red. “Under different circumstances, I mean, of course.”

Tio smiled. “Of course.”

Their eyes returned to the window. In the distance, a fist-sized globe came slowly into view, like a grey sunrise.

“Jenyar,” Tio sighed. In his voice, Milvian heard the longing for this world, its pristine shores and fantastic cities. In his time as a soldier in the Obinarian Army, Tio did a tour of duty there during the first Jenyaran Conflict. Later, upon his inaugural speech as Head of Council, he would tell the story of his first sunset there.

Milvian studied the planet, for the first time with her own eyes. The population inhabited the large, singular landmass that made but a small percentage of Jenyar’s surface. From the center-out the sprawling cities thinned into greener plains and, finally, into the white sand shores that the planet was famous for. In the light of day, the surface of Jenyar appeared stone-grey, with a jagged ring of green and white beautifully terminating into the deep blue of the enormous ocean.

The view from the window shifted slightly as the ship made its final turn into Jenyar’s orbit. They would stay onboard for the remainder of the day, landing in a quiet ceremony the following morning.
Milvian glanced over her shoulder to see the rest of the dignitaries huddled around the tall single window. They all knew of Jenyar, and most had been there, but the sight of the majestic world was never a tired one.

The Captain’s voice rang softly through the ceiling speakers to inform them of their arrival.

“Shame what they’re doing with the place,” Someone said. A few more agreed with him.

Milvian looked expectantly at Tio. He said nothing.

“Rotten dictators, all of them. This one is no different.” Another said. More agreed. Tio still said nothing.

“They never should have let them in the Alliance. I’ll never understand why they did.”

The planet grew close quickly, giving those who watched from this view a sensation of falling. Most of the men turned and made their way back to the bar, but Milvian and Tio remained. He reached for her hand, and she accepted.

“Can I tell you something in confidence, Milvian?” He whispered.

“Of course.” Her eyes met him, but he did not look at her. Instead, he watched the approach.

“This is my last trip here,”

“What? Why?”

He finally met her worried look. “I’m retiring at year’s end.”

Milvian took a deep breath, exhaled slowly. Jenyar was now the length and breadth of the window.

“I haven’t told anyone yet. Well, my wife, of course. But even then, I’ve never been definitive...seeing this now makes me sure.”

They watched then in silence. Tio felt the weight of his decision lifted, while Mlivian felt it land on her shoulders. Jenyar glowed before them.

One of the fighter escorts bobbed into view, then burst toward the planet at breakneck speed. Another followed, then another, before their multicolored view exploded into an ugly, opaque green hue. Milvian gasped, and Tio hollered to the rest of them.

“Why are the damned shields up? What’s going on?”

The minutes seemed to be in a vacuum, slowly and completely void of sound. All seemed to hold their breath.

A moment too long passed before the lounge doors spread to allow four guards entrance. Heavy iron in their grip, the guards waved the group to follow.

“What’s going on?” Tio asked, his tone demanding an answer.

“We’re heading to the CQ, sir.” One of the young armed men offered, guiding Tio with a palm on the back.

“What for? What’s going on out there?”

“Nothing our friendly escorts can’t handle, sir.”

“I hope you’re right,” Tio said, taking Milvian by the hand.

They traveled the narrow halls quickly, guards leading and following. The Common Quarters, or CQ, were a minute’s walk from the lounge, but as Milvian rushed through the ship’s winding belly, it felt like hours.

The CQ’s heavy steel door was in sight just as the hull shook violently, sending bodies old and young banging against the walls, tumbling to the floor. The guards hurried to help them, but another violent rumble knocked the rest of the standing to their backs. A siren blared through the speakers.

To Milvian, the sound was muted, distant. The scrambling guards looked slow, almost comical in their efforts to get to their feet. Most of the leaders were crawling, confused, while their younger aids tried their best to stand. Tio leaned against the wall beside her. A long streak of blood ran down the side of his brow.

She reached for him, perhaps to wipe the blood away, but she lurched, lifted, her feet dangled above the floor. She couldn’t breathe. A black-sleeved arm was wrapped tightly around her waist, expelling her wind.

She screamed. Her own voice was dull, so far away. She fought, but she was rushed away from him. Tio looked up at her, his eyes glossy. The hull shook again, and the force jerked Tio down the hall, and out of her sight. Milvian screamed again, but nothing could be heard over the rumbling, the sound of steel buckling and bulging. The ship itself seemed to scream. Before the CQ’s door closed, she saw the hall collapse on itself.

Her senses came back to her suddenly. The guard dumped her on the carpet, but she was quickly on her feet. She scanned the room with darting eyes, and saw no one but the guard that dragged her in.

“What happened? Get the others!” She screamed.

“They’re gone!” He snapped. He rushed to the back wall, and started pushing buttons on a small panel. Milvian smelled burning wires.

The guard cursed, kept punching buttons. As if wielding magic, the last button he punched made the room hiss, and the smell of steam overtook the smell of electrical fire. At the center of the room, the carpet split and the floor opened. A cylindrical object sprang up with another loud hiss, and spread open.

There were two seats in it.

The young guard grabbed her by the hand and pulled her into the cylinder. Inside, he pushed another series of buttons on a panel, shutting them in the escape vessel. The whole ship shook again, and a creaking sound deafened them. The guard pushed Milvian into one of the seats, secured her harness before doing the same for himself.

The pod trembled, and so did Milvian. The ship shook as whatever brutal attack brought hell upon it, while Milvian shook at the unbelievable loss of her leader.. Tio Pilanch had appointed her as a Council Aid two years prior, and had befriended her in the time since. A father figure since the death of her own father, Tio had been everything to her, and now she could not escape the image of him being thrown like a child’s doll, being crushed under the weight of the broken hull. Queitly, she sobbed in her seat.

A final lurch, and the pod sped out of its shoot. What awaited them beyond that moment afforded neither of them fear; their trial of fire in the narrow halls of the Alliance’s flagship had burned their nerves, and whatever would come next could not break the callouses left.
 

Peter Graham

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 10, 2007
Messages
1,616
Hello JDawg,

The piece does look rather like it was knocked up quickly. Not bad output for a night's work, but you've got a fair bit of editing to do. Tense changes, typing errors and other grammatical howlers abound. I'll not identify any specific examples now, but I'd be happy to look again once you've had time to tidy it up.

Otherwise, it reminds me very strongly of the opening scenes of the first Star Wars film. Farm-hands, an Alliance, a strong bad guy dressed in black, Y-shaped fighters, a political coup almost certainly about to arise. It's all there!

Regards,

Peter
 

Ash

Strong Silent Typist
Joined
Aug 12, 2005
Messages
160
Location
Manchester, UK
I think it's an interesting setup. I'd keep reading if there were more.

As has been pointed out it needs a bit of tidying up. I'm going to stick my oar in with some general advice about things I think don't work too well.

Milvian gazed... Milvian spent ...she spends
I liked the opening but there is a tense issue here. I think the last one should be "spent" again.

telling stories of their youths, and poking fun at the caricatures the political process had made of them.
Should be "youth". The second half doesn't work for me here, hard to put my finger on why. Sounds a bit specific and matter-of-fact.

one of the sleek black battle machines would bob briefly into view.
Too alliterative and ends up sounding a little silly!

Milvian studied the planet, for the first time with her own eyes. The population inhabited...
This sounds a little odd as that's not something she'd know from studying the planet with her own eyes. The run-on description would work better as a purely visual one... then move into other information.

The planet grew close quickly, giving those who watched from this view a sensation of falling.
I don't see how looking outwards towards a planet growing closer would give the sensation of falling If you were standing up :D


The minutes seemed to be in a vacuum
A moment too long
a minute’s walk
it felt like hours
There was a short passage with a few too many references to time for me. I found it a little confusing with regards to pace and what was going on.


A black-sleeved arm was wrapped tightly around her waist, expelling her wind.
Expelled wind conjures a very specific image. Probably not the one you were aiming for :p

their trial of fire in the narrow halls of the Alliance’s flagship had burned their nerves, and whatever would come next could not break the callouses left.
Too many metaphors that don't work well together.

That'll do! Not bad for a start I think. One thing that occurred to me is that assuming the rest of the story revolves around the politics of what's going on on that planet and why they are heading there this scene, prior to the attack would be an opportunity to get in a little more subtle exposition and set things up. You did a little bit of this, but there would be room for more.
 

JDawg2.0

Active Member
Joined
Nov 9, 2007
Messages
31
Peter, while I appreciate you reading my story, please don't reply if you don't plan on critiquing it. Dropping the vague "here and there" stuff on me is no help. Thanks.

Ash, thank you so much for reading and critiquing!

I liked the opening but there is a tense issue here. I think the last one should be "spent" again.


I, for some reason, have a real problem with that. A terrible, annoying problem.

Too alliterative and ends up sounding a little silly!

I know I'm not the best writer, but you're absolutely right.

This sounds a little odd as that's not something she'd know from studying the planet with her own eyes. The run-on description would work better as a purely visual one... then move into other information.


Gotcha. Did you think the visual description was OK, though?

I don't see how looking outwards towards a planet growing closer would give the sensation of falling If you were standing up :D

I knew I was making that mistake while I was writing it, actually. I tend to avoid stopping at all costs. I'm derailed quite easily, which is why you see many of the errors on the page. So yes, I know what you mean. I'll find something better for that one!

There was a short passage with a few too many references to time for me. I found it a little confusing with regards to pace and what was going on.

I really labored through that one, for some reason. I knew it wasn't going to be great. Sometimes I wonder if I should just stop for a moment and think...maybe it would help if I did...:D

Expelled wind conjures a very specific image. Probably not the one you were aiming fo

This was literally my train of thought during that passage: "Expellend wind...wait...uh...ah, maybe they'll miss it!"

:D

One thing that occurred to me is that assuming the rest of the story revolves around the politics of what's going on on that planet and why they are heading there this scene, prior to the attack would be an opportunity to get in a little more subtle exposition and set things up. You did a little bit of this, but there would be room for more.

You're absolutely right. Someone else I mentioned this to me upon reading it. It's just a matter of getting it on the page at this point.

Ash, again, thank you so much for the advice. I really appreciate it. One thing before I go...how was the overall pace?
 

chrispenycate

resident pedantissimo
Staff member
Supporter
Joined
Aug 10, 2005
Messages
7,449
Location
West Sussex
[/quote]
OK...bear in mind that this is a rough draft. I just knocked this out tonight, and figured I'd share with you guys and gals!

Critique and advice would be MUCH appreciated!



Milvian gazed out of the lounge’s long window. Beyond the vessel’s starboard wing was a pitch canvas
I know you're using "pitch" as in "pitch black" but the word has so many meanings this is not immediately obvious. Perhaps another of the many words for black? (I thought "sable")
of space, interspersed with pinpricks of winking yellow, white, and blue. As a young farm girl, Milvian
"had spent" - pluperfect as it is further into the past than the period in which the story is taking place
spent her days sweating beneath the humid rural sun, but spent her hard-won nights in the fields, watching the stars. Now, as a young woman, she spends
spent
her long sojourns between worlds the same way.

Behind her, world leaders shed their cumbersome ranks, and shared jokes while they drank wine. They laughed heartily, telling stories of their youths, and poking fun at the caricatures the political process had made of them. Milvian enjoyed the warm atmosphere but did not join in the party. For Milvian, the fun was in watching the goings-on beyond the thick pane of glass separating her from the Universe..
Four repetitions of her name in the first two paragraphs is a little dense
Just below her view, a column of V-shaped fighters escorted them. Occasionally, one of the sleek black battle machines would bob briefly into view.
repetition of "view"
“Milvian,” A rough voice rose from behind.

She turned, and saw Tio Pilanch smiling at her. “Yes?”

“It’s a beautiful view from Jenyaran space,” He said. “Just beautiful.”

“It is. I wish I could come here more often.”

Milvian quickly looked back at Tio, the Head Council
here you say "Head Council", later "Head of Council"
of her homeworld’s Unified Government. Her cheeks flushed red. “Under different circumstances, I mean, of course.”

Tio smiled. “Of course.”

Their eyes returned to the window. In the distance, a fist-sized globe came slowly into view, like a grey sunrise.
Grey? any Earth-like planet, let alone one with as great a percentage of ocean cover, is going to give a blue impression from a distance,(atmospheric scattering) or possibly white from high altitude cloud.
“Jenyar,” Tio sighed. In his voice, Milvian heard the longing for this world, its pristine shores and fantastic cities. In his time as a soldier in the Obinarian Army, Tio did
had done
a tour of duty there during the first Jenyaran Conflict. Later, upon his inaugural speech as Head of Council, he would tell
had told, I think. Possibly "would have told", but since it has already happened, it's not very conditional
the story of his first sunset there.

Milvian studied the planet, for the first time with her own eyes. The population inhabited the large, singular
the landmass may well be singular in some way, but I suspect this should be "the single large landmass"
landmass that made but a small percentage of Jenyar’s surface. From the center-out the sprawling cities thinned into greener plains and, finally, into the white sand shores that the planet was famous for. In the light of day, the surface of Jenyar appeared stone-grey, with a jagged ring of green and white beautifully
do you really need that "beautifully"?
terminating into the deep blue of the enormous ocean.

The view from the window shifted slightly as the ship made its final turn into Jenyar’s orbit.
"Jenyar’s orbit" is the path the planet traces around its primary. "into Orbit aroun Jenya" or "Jenya orbit" is more accurate
They would stay onboard for the remainder of the day, landing in a quiet ceremony the following morning.
Milvian glanced over her shoulder to see the rest of the dignitaries huddled around the tall single window. They all knew of Jenyar, and most had been there, but the sight of the majestic world was never a tired one.
The sight of the world "never tired one" or Was never a tiring one"?
The Captain’s voice rang softly through the ceiling speakers to inform them of their arrival.

“Shame what they’re doing with the place,” Someone said. A few more agreed with him.

Milvian looked expectantly at Tio. He said nothing.

“Rotten dictators, all of them. This one is no different.” Another said. More agreed. Tio still said nothing.

“They never should have let them in the Alliance. I’ll never understand why they did.”

The planet grew close quickly, giving those who watched from this view a sensation of falling. Most of the men turned and made their way back to the bar, but Milvian and Tio remained. He reached for her hand, and she accepted.

“Can I tell you something in confidence, Milvian?” He whispered.

“Of course.” Her eyes met him, but he did not look at her. Instead, he watched the approach.

“This is my last trip here,”

“What? Why?”

He finally met her worried look. “I’m retiring at year’s end.”

Milvian took a deep breath, exhaled slowly. Jenyar was now the length and breadth of the window.
If the window is specified earlier as "tall", and the planet is (presumably) spherical, how can it match length and breadth of the space?
'

“I haven’t told anyone yet. Well, my wife, of course. But even then, I’ve never been definitive
I suspect this is "definite", rather than "definitive"
...seeing this now makes me sure.”

They watched then in silence. Tio felt the weight of his decision lifted, while Mlivian felt it land on her shoulders. Jenyar glowed before them.

One of the fighter escorts bobbed into view, then burst toward the planet at breakneck speed. Another followed, then another, before their multicolored view exploded into an ugly, opaque green hue. Milvian gasped, and Tio hollered to the rest of them.

“Why are the damned shields up? What’s going on?”

The minutes seemed to be in a vacuum, slowly and completely void of sound. All seemed to hold their breath.

A moment too long passed before the lounge doors spread to allow four guards entrance. Heavy iron in their grip, the guards waved the group to follow.

“What’s going on?” Tio asked, his tone demanding an answer.

“We’re heading to the CQ, sir.” One of the young armed men offered, guiding Tio with a palm on the back.

“What for? What’s going on out there?”

“Nothing our friendly escorts can’t handle, sir.”

“I hope you’re right,” Tio said, taking Milvian by the hand.

They traveled the narrow halls quickly, guards leading and following. The Common Quarters, or CQ, were a minute’s walk from the lounge, but as Milvian rushed through the ship’s winding belly, it felt like hours.

The CQ’s heavy steel door was
came in sight?
in sight just as the hull shook violently, sending bodies old and young banging against the walls, tumbling to the floor. The guards hurried to help them, but another violent rumble knocked the rest of
"those still standing" rather than "the rest of"?
the standing to their backs. A siren blared through the speakers.

To Milvian, the sound was muted, distant. The scrambling guards looked slow, almost comical in their efforts to get to their feet. Most of the leaders were crawling, confused, while their younger aids tried their best to stand. Tio leaned against the wall beside her. A long streak of blood ran down the side of his brow.

She reached for him, perhaps to wipe the blood away, but she lurched, lifted, her feet dangled above the floor. She couldn’t breathe. A black-sleeved arm was wrapped tightly around her waist, expelling her wind.

She screamed. Her own voice was dull, so far away. She fought, but she was rushed away from him. Tio looked up at her, his eyes glossy. The hull shook again, and the force jerked Tio down the hall, and out of her sight. Milvian screamed again, but nothing could be heard over the rumbling, the sound of steel buckling and bulging. The ship itself seemed to scream. Before the CQ’s door closed,
no comma
she saw the hall collapse on itself.

Her senses came back to her suddenly. The guard dumped her on the carpet, but she was quickly on her feet. She scanned the room with darting eyes, and saw no one but the guard that
who had?
dragged her in.

“What happened? Get the others!” She screamed.

“They’re gone!” He snapped. He rushed to the back wall, and started pushing buttons on a small panel. Milvian smelled burning wires.

The guard cursed, kept punching buttons. As if wielding magic, the last button he punched made the room hiss, and the smell of steam overtook the smell of electrical fire. At the center of the room, the carpet split and the floor opened. A cylindrical object sprang up with another loud hiss, and spread open.

There were two seats in it.

The young guard grabbed her by the hand and pulled her into the cylinder. Inside, he pushed another series of buttons on a panel, shutting them in the escape vessel. The whole ship shook again, and a creaking sound deafened them. The guard pushed Milvian into one of the seats, secured her harness before doing the same for himself.

The pod trembled, and so did Milvian. The ship shook as whatever brutal attack brought hell upon it, while Milvian shook at the unbelievable loss of her leader.. Tio Pilanch had appointed her as a Council Aid two years prior, and had befriended her in the time since. A father figure since the death of her own father, Tio had been everything to her, and now she could not escape the image of him being thrown like a child’s doll, being crushed under the weight of the broken hull. Queitly, she sobbed in her seat.

A final lurch, and the pod sped out of its shoot.
chute - although
What awaited them beyond that moment afforded neither of them fear; their trial of fire in the narrow halls of the Alliance’s flagship had burned their nerves, and whatever would come next could not break the callouses left.
 

Ash

Strong Silent Typist
Joined
Aug 12, 2005
Messages
160
Location
Manchester, UK
One thing before I go...how was the overall pace?

To be blunt. Too fast!

Way too much happens too quickly. I get that it's supposed to be tense and action-orientated, but you're not allowing enough time to tell the story. I think part of the problem is it doesn't really work as a prologue with the more sedate back-story stuff and then the action.

As soon as you hit me with back-story I want that to be fleshed out more.
 

JDawg2.0

Active Member
Joined
Nov 9, 2007
Messages
31
Guys, thank you ALL for the help! I really appreciate it. I mean it.

Anyway, I'm working on a revision of the prologue! I'll get it up as soon as I'm done.
 

Culhwch

Lost Boy
Joined
Feb 4, 2005
Messages
7,588
Location
Brisbane, Australia
Peter, while I appreciate you reading my story, please don't reply if you don't plan on critiquing it. Dropping the vague "here and there" stuff on me is no help. Thanks.

Mate, I think that's a bit rough. He took the time to read your piece, and then gave you his thoughts, identifying areas that you needed to look at, and offering to look at it when you'd tidied up what really are fundamental mistakes a beginning writer needs to identify him or herself. Sometimes you learn more discovering where you went wrong for yourself, rather than having everything spelt out. Just remember that if you put your stuff up here, you're going get a range of responses, from 'It's good!', to detailed line-by-lines like Chris'. People are doing you a favour - don't forget that.

I'd agree with what both Ash and Chris outlined. The only further point I'd make (I don't think either of them pointed this out, but if they did and I missed it, sorry for the repetition) is concerning attribution:

“Shame what they’re doing with the place,” Someone said. A few more agreed with him.

“Rotten dictators, all of them. This one is no different.” Another said. More agreed. Tio still said nothing.


No capitalisation after the quotes close...

“Shame what they’re doing with the place,” someone said. A few more agreed with him.

“Rotten dictators, all of them. This one is no different,” another said. More agreed. Tio still said nothing.
 

JDawg2.0

Active Member
Joined
Nov 9, 2007
Messages
31
Mate, I think that's a bit rough. He took the time to read your piece, and then gave you his thoughts, identifying areas that you needed to look at, and offering to look at it when you'd tidied up what really are fundamental mistakes a beginning writer needs to identify him or herself. Sometimes you learn more discovering where you went wrong for yourself, rather than having everything spelt out. Just remember that if you put your stuff up here, you're going get a range of responses, from 'It's good!', to detailed line-by-lines like Chris'. People are doing you a favour - don't forget that.

Maybe so, but I also provided him a piece to read. It's not like this is a one-sided relationship here. Not saying my piece was great, just saying that I contributed, as did he. My problem with his post is that it seemed sort of smug, and didn't real help me any. But I apologize if I'm mistaken.

No capitalisation after the quotes close...

Thanks for reading it, dude. And thank you very much for the info!
 

Peter Graham

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 10, 2007
Messages
1,616
JDawg,

Peter, while I appreciate you reading my story, please don't reply if you don't plan on critiquing it. Dropping the vague "here and there" stuff on me is no help. Thanks.

My problem with his post is that it seemed sort of smug, and didn't real help me any.

Steady on, old boy.

I am sorry if my comments were of no help to you, but as Culhwch very decently said, I took time to read and comment on your post and your rather snotty response did annoy me somewhat. Having said that, I have no wish to fall out with you, so let's forget about it and move on in that spirit of camaraderie which is such a splendid characteristic of this forum.

Perhaps I should expand on my origninal comments. Star Wars is the finest (and perhaps even the first) blockbuster example of the crossover between traditional fantasy and sci-fi. It takes some of the strong fantasy staples - the poor farm lad, the Dark Lord, the special sword, the battle between authoritarian Evil and individualistic Good, magic - and transfers them to a futuristic setting. Best of both worlds. The down side is that it worked so well for George Lucas that anything that contains any number of the same themes is going to be compared to the original, in much the same way that trilogies based around quests are usually compared to Tolkien.

I felt that your piece contained a number of these themes. It reminded me very strongly of Star Wars. If I am right, I think you need to put a twist on your work in order to provide the hook for you reader. We need to know we are not setting out on a well worn path. This is not to say that you cannot or should not use those themes, but it does mean that you shoud explore and resolve them in a different way. If I am wrong about the proposed themes to your work, then a bit of gentle re-writing to remove the more obvious similarities is really all that you need.

Regards,

Peter
 

The Bloated One

Well-Known Member
Joined
May 10, 2007
Messages
505
Location
Life challenged and crazy
JDawg.20,

I think you need to stand back and take stock. Peter is trying to help, but he won't - and I respect him for this - he won't give of his considerable help until you do the best you can.

From my experience on Chron there are smug people around, but it's not Peter, and even the smug ones have good points worth listening to.

Keep writing, it'll come.

The Bloated One

NOTE: Written Before Peter's Post Above
 
Status
Not open for further replies.

Similar threads


Top