Opening to my latest effort (SF space opera)

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richrock

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Be nice, please. I've never let any of my writing be open to criticism. I am aware that there may be errors, or the fact that this opening may read as incomplete, however, my main thing is I'm looking to see if it intrigues you to want to know more.
I couldn't think of a SF way of describing cryostasis without being cliched either. Hyposleep sounded cool at the time... :(

Here's the opening lines :


Far from the safety of the Coalition or any of the Outliers planets, the Yao-Chi drifted, powerless. The inertial motion which had set the craft in motion carried it further toward the Inokt nebula. With nothing to halt its progress, the Yao-Chi faced certain obliteration from the asteroids that lurked within the thick gases of the nebula, deep in a sector of space not mapped by the Coalition.
Inside the ship, all the crew were deep in hyposleep, with the exception of captain Sergoryn Kova. He was sat at the control console, monitoring life support systems and viewing the impending approach of the nebula. As he looked, he gave a fierce sneer, treating the view with contempt. It was only a matter of time, he thought to himself, and looked back at the life support console.
Only a matter of time.”






 
Opening your writing up to the criticism of others can be a daunting step, here's hoping it helps you improve.

As for the story. It doesn't quite hook me as it already seems certain of the fate, and the captain sounds resound to accept it. I think something which gives a glimmer of hope would help the opening.
 
Hi richrock and welcome to the chrons.

I agree with Glich it needs some work though it's certainly not hopeless. OK it is a bit 'familiar', but this can easily be overcome.

Be nice, please. I've never let any of my writing be open to criticism. I am aware that there may be errors, or the fact that this opening may read as incomplete, however, my main thing is I'm looking to see if it intrigues you to want to know more.
I couldn't think of a SF way of describing cryostasis without being cliched either. Hyposleep sounded cool at the time... :(

Suggestions hyber stasis, stasis, sleeptime, heliostate,grundownstate - You are allowed to make up your own as long as there are clues or explanations of what is meant.

Here's the opening lines :


Far from the safety of the Coalition or any of the Outliers planets, the Yao-Chi drifted, powerless. The inertial motion which had set the craft in motion carried it further toward the Inokt nebula. With nothing to halt its progress, the Yao-Chi faced certain obliteration from the asteroids that lurked within the thick gases of the nebula, deep in a sector of space not mapped by the Coalition.
Inside the ship, all the crew were deep in hyposleep, with the exception of captain Sergoryn Kova. He was sat at the control console, monitoring life support systems and viewing the impending approach of the nebula. As he looked, he gave a fierce sneer, treating the view with contempt. It was only a matter of time, he thought to himself, and looked back at the life support console.
Only a matter of time.”

You seem to have taken a long time setting up this feeling of depression and hopelessness. However I think it would grip people more if this was the opening line. You then have the joy of explaining how bad things are and can give the glimmer of hope that people will need if you want them to read the next paragraph.


Lets face it unless this is a derelict ship to be, they are going to get out of it so you may as well start with just how bad it is and then have things improve - the blinking light on the console that gives the captain hope. (or whatever).

Also in my opinion, things weren't bad enough. Some of the crew need to be dead - it doesn't matter how many, they wont figure in the plot, but lets have it looking really bad. Holes in the hull are good for this which would also explain the lack of drive. He could be staring at the dead body in front of his window that is matching speed with the ship. You could have some real fun with this situation and yes it has potential IMO
 
I must admit that, were I testing a book to make a decision on whether to read it, I'd want to read more than this to make my mind up. That said, what I've seen so far wouldn't make me put it down (it'd have to be pretty damn bad to manage that in two paragraphs), so you've at least roped me into reading another page.

I quite like the term hyposleep. It's quite obvious what it means when you use it and... well, I just like it.

However, I do agree with Glitch in part. Although I'm happy to read so far, within a couple of pages I want something more than imminent death. Some development has to come soon to show me I'm not just watching a guy die. I can only assume this happens next. If so, it might be helpful to post a continuation from this to give us a bit more to work on. Very small excerpts such as this can be hard to judge.
 
Thanks guys. :) I feel encouraged by what was said. When I used to write many years ago, my friends/family were very critical - didn't understand this, that doesn't make sense...

I wrote over 1600 words last night, pretty much making up the first four opening pages. I then went back to re-edit the start. The original lines I posted are still there, but they and the next couple of paragraphs will be worked up a little to help describe the mess that they are in better - hopefully a page excerpt would generate a more accurate crtitical response.

Still, it's given me ideas, and I'll continue with it tonight. :D
 

Far from the safety of the Coalition or any of the Outliers planets, the Yao-Chi drifted, powerless. The inertial motion which had set the craft in motion carried it further toward the Inokt nebula. With nothing to halt its progress, the Yao-Chi faced certain obliteration from the asteroids that lurked within the thick gases of the nebula, deep in a sector of space not mapped by the Coalition.

Inside the ship, all the crew were deep in hyposleep, with the exception of captain Sergoryn Kova. He was sat at the control console, monitoring life support systems and viewing the impending approach of the nebula. As he looked, he gave a fierce sneer, treating the view with contempt. It was only a matter of time, he thought to himself, and looked back at the life support console.

Only a matter of time.”

Lose first para, start with second by using Captain POV. Go through his thoughts and emotions as he monitors the systems. When the asteroid strucks, use it as a surprise and momentum to propel the story forward.

PS. Can you explain what you mean with term "be nice", does it mean you don't want criticism?
 
Hmm - when I said be nice, I didn't want anyone slamming it or shooting me in flames for writing drivel (in their opinion). Glad to have had the response I got, it's good to have constructive criticism, and feel more comfortable knowing that I'm going to get more of that here.

As for you comments, great! As for the plot, indicating where they are initially I feel is quite important, as (spoiler) they do get rescued at the last minute by an unlikely source. Setting it up for complete hopelessness is part of the deception.

I'll post the full opening once I've gone over it and and happy with the outcome of this particular bit. Maybe tonight, but probably tomorrow...
 
Hello there

I agree with the others that this has potential, but it might be better to drop the first para and start a little more dramatically with a few bodies.

I'm one of the nit-picky critiquers, so the following are relatively minor points (inasmuch as any grammatical errors are minor!!):

'the Outliers planets' - I'm not sure if 'Outliers' is a place (the capital seems to suggest it), rather than a description (ie something away from the main body/system). If the latter, lose the capital and the 's' at the end. If the former, frankly I'd recommend either another name or drop the word 'planets' - try saying that sentence out loud and you'll see how it snags something terrible with the combination of the three syllables and the final 's' of 'Outliers'.

'The inertial motion which had set the craft in motion'
- the close repetition of 'motion' is very ungainly. There are also 3 uses of 'nebula' within 4 sentences which is too much, I think.

'Inside the ship, all the crew were deep in hyposleep' - try reading sentences out loud - it will help you avoid clumsy alliterations and repetitions of sounds. Here the 'deep'/'sleep' rhyme is very jarring, not helped by the mutliple 'p's in only 10 words.

'captain Sergoryn Kova'
- capital 'C' for 'Captain' here.

'He was sat at the control console'
- tut, tut. 'He was sitting' or 'He sat' not a ******* combination of the two - the former is preferable to avoid the 'sat'/'at' rhyme.

'the impending approach' - I'm not sure an 'approach' (which is a continuous getting nearer) can be 'impending' (which refers to something that is about to happen). A collision can be impending, or the approach could be fast if you feel the need for an adjective.

'he gave a fierce sneer, treating the view with contempt'
- I have problems with 'fierce sneer' - both for the clumsy half-rhyme and for the image. How can a 'sneer' (a contemptuous or mocking expression) be 'fierce' (violent or intense)? And for myself I don't think this attitude in the Captain seems realistic. There are many emotions that a man might experience as he faces certain death, but I'm not sure that this kind of contempt is one of them, especially when his crew is also about to be wiped out. If he was sneering at a person that might be possible - but at a nebula? And 'treating the view' also needs work in my opinion.

'looked back at the life support console'
- repetition again - of 'looked' in succeeding sentences; of 'life support' and of 'console' in close proximity. And it was a control console before, not a life support one - which is it?

' “Only a matter of time.” ' - this kind of repetition is very useful at the end of a section or chapter (I call it The Archers' Ending since you'll hear it a lot if you ever listen to the Archers on the radio) but in the middle of a scene it's ungainly. As TEiN said, this might be better as an opening line in any event.

Please don't let any of this put you off. I happen to be someone acutely conscious of words and rhythm etc so I perhaps see things that others don't. If you equate telling stories with making a wooden bowl, the others here can help you shape the bowl and get it looking good; I come along with the very fine sandpaper at the end to make sure it feels smooth!

If you are thinking of posting more, try not to post too much. A couple of paragraphs is perhaps too little, but the whole 1600 words will probably be over-kill. And watch your formatting - go to the stickies at the top of critiques and check out the guidelines for size of font and para breaks.

Hope this helps.

J
 
Phew! That was comprehensive! Thanks judge - I've made notes on your suggestions, as well as all others, and some of your comments about rhyme and rhythm are now in my mind when I write.
Not a bad start for someone who hasn't written fiction since college days really (15 years ago :( )
 
Just a quick note, that might not be of concern. It all depends on how hard of SF you are looking for.

thick gases of the nebula

A nebula only has thick gas in relative terms. The gas in a nebula is going to be at least fourteen orders of magnitude less dense than sea level atmosphere. It you are in it, you wouldn't be able to tell except through instrumentation.

monitoring life support systems and viewing the impending approach of the nebula.

As related to above, a nebula isn't something you can see unless you are a long ways from it. If you aren't moving toward it at relativistic speed, it will take many lifetimes to get to it if you are far enough away to see it.





 
When you post your re-write you should do so as a new thread and mark it as such.

If the hope is to be rescued by an unlikely source perhaps you could hint at it. Is there a mining colony in the nebula that could help once the ship gets close enough, maybe they are isolationist and would be reluctant to help.
 
I have a few bits of advice on how to create a better opening. Start with a deeper POV. The captain.
Start with a hook and not information. From this here, I'd open with the first bit of dialogue, but even that might no quite be what you're looking for.
Far from the safety of the Coalition or any of the Outliers planets, the Yao-Chi drifted, powerless. The inertial motion which had set the craft in motion carried it further toward the Inokt nebula. With nothing to halt its progress, the Yao-Chi faced certain obliteration from the asteroids that lurked within the thick gases of the nebula, deep in a sector of space not mapped by the Coalition.
Inside the ship, all the crew were deep in hyposleep, with the exception of captain Sergoryn Kova. He was sat at the control console, monitoring life support systems and viewing the impending approach of the nebula. As he looked, he gave a fierce sneer, treating the view with contempt. It was only a matter of time, he thought to himself, and looked back at the life support console.
Only a matter of time.”

Make the purple your first line. Bump the highlighted blue part up and rework the sentences to make them flow better and have that come next. This would give you the real hook you're looking for. The whole first paragraph can be deleted or moved out of your 1st page, if at all possible. It's an info dump, those should be reserved for later.

This way we know, there's something seriously wrong. Does the captain want to cut they life support? You're hooked now because you want to know what he's going to do.

Not a bad hook, it just needs a bit of work. You have all the elements you just needed to put them in the right order. :)
 
I'm still working this, the whole intro now runs to around 6 pages, and now provides more mystery - "how did the ship get in this position?" etc. The comments of dialogue at the start are noted, I've been trying to put more dialogue into it, which I think is a personal weakness.
 
Well why not just add more personnel :)

Sorry couldn't resist - I'll go and stand in the corner now.:eek:
 
I was going to comment, but it would just be a repeat of what the Judge said.
 
Be nice, please. I've never let any of my writing be open to criticism. I am aware that there may be errors, or the fact that this opening may read as incomplete, however, my main thing is I'm looking to see if it intrigues you to want to know more.
I couldn't think of a SF way of describing cryostasis without being cliched either. Hyposleep sounded cool at the time... :(

Here's the opening lines :


Far from the safety of the Coalition or any of the Outliers planets, the Yao-Chi drifted, powerless. The inertial motion which had set the craft in motion carried it further toward the Inokt nebula. With nothing to halt its progress, the Yao-Chi faced certain obliteration from the asteroids that lurked within the thick gases of the nebula, deep in a sector of space not mapped by the Coalition.
Inside the ship, all the crew were deep in hyposleep, with the exception of captain Sergoryn Kova. He was sat at the control console, monitoring life support systems and viewing the impending approach of the nebula. As he looked, he gave a fierce sneer, treating the view with contempt. It was only a matter of time, he thought to himself, and looked back at the life support console.
Only a matter of time.”
OK, I'm unclear. Is your character saying it's only a matter of time before the ship hits an asteroid or is it only a matter of time before the ship runs out of life support?
 
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