Mooncrash: 1031 words, posted for your Critique

Status
Not open for further replies.

Ashleyne

Wishes she was funny
Joined
Apr 19, 2014
Messages
659
This is my first ever post for a critique. I'm a little nervous, but by all means, don't go easy on me. This is the first chapter of my latest muse, which I plan to be a Sci/fi Fantasy head-hopper:



MOONCRASH

Rusty street lamps light the otherwise empty sky as the warmth of rain trickles through The Wizard's ginger hair, trailing past his shoulders and tickling down his vest. He strides through the dirt streets of the crowded city as if inviting the rain to slap his face, as if challenging anyone to stop him, as he always does because he knows, along with everyone else.., they know, that he is the most powerful being in the known world and as he walks, the crowds stand back to give room to the one nicknamed The Wizard.

His eyes forward, staring past and over the splashes on the umbrellas, The Wizard focuses his mind and is unsurprised when the raindrops slow their descent until they're standing still in mid-air, sparkling like a flock of clear pearls. The crowd freeze in tune with the rain, allowing The Wizard to storm past the tall wooden huts at a speed undetectable to the eyes of the pedestrians.

The Wizard turns into a narrow alley, at the end of which stands a cement dead-end wall, sprinkled with a spray-painted, goat's head and the words: 'Hetus woz ere 2T15'.

Without hesitation The Wizard walks through the wall as if it's upright water, into a room which is almost as dark as the night of the city.

The light from a lone candle glimmers upon the carved, triangular patterns of its gold, wall-mounted holder, shining down on the black leather sofa which fills up half the room.

From behind a thin wooden desk, a pair of spectacles flicker as a deep voice drones: "I knew I'd be seeing you some day soon."

The Wizard sneers. "But of course, you know everything."

"And that is why you're here." From behind the desk, the face of a goat smiles from atop a humanoid body. The goat continues in the same deep voice: "I'm afraid I can tell you nothing other than 'that you have already been told by your doctor'. You have a brain tumour, inflicted by natural causes. Using magic to cure a natural illness in the brain can and will make you catatonic."

The Wizard lifts his hands to stare at his palms. "There must be something I-" Through his hands come the goat's horns, aiming at The Wizard's face.

The Wizard clasps the goat around the throat as a bolt of electricity jumps between the goat's horns, just inches away from The Wizard's neck.

The Wizard grabs a horn and snaps it from the goat's head like a twig, causing the goat to blast a high-pitched, stuttering scream whilst placing its shiny, black mitten-like hands over the blood gushing hole where its horn once was.

Without a single tensed muscle, The Wizard glares at the goat and from those glaring eyes, there shines a blast of white, tossing the goat through the splintering desk, then into the wall, landing in a sitting position.

Out of rage, The Wizard shouts "Why did you attack me?"

The goat smiles; then his eyes roll back and his eyelids flutter.

The Wizard notices blood dripping behind the goat's ear, so in haste, he rushes over, kneels down, then places a hand over the goats forehead.

The Wizard speaks within his mind: "Hetus, why did you attack me?"Hetus, 'the goat', closes his eyes and his deep voice echoes a reply inside The Wizard's head:

"You will die soon. And whoever kills you will inherit your power."

The Wizard smiles, smugly. "So, you were after my power."

Hetus shakes his head.

The Wizard speaks aloud: "Then what were you after?"

Hetus whispers "When you die, your power will destroy the Earth, unless there is a killer to inherit that power."

The Wizard takes a few moments to absorb this information. "So.., the world ends unless I let someone kill me...? There's got to be another way."
Hetus sits motionless.

The Wizard slaps Hetus in an attempt to rouse him, but Hetus falls face first to the floor. The Wizard lifts Hetus by the fur on his neck and bellows "There's got to be another way."

A few seconds pass and The Wizard realises the stupidity of trying to converse with a corpse. He drops Hetus to the floor and as he stands up, his breathing becomes sharp, the room begins to sway.

Once upon a time, thought The Wizard, I would've happily destroyed this planet. His heart pangs with guilt, remembering from his younger days, the sensation of tearing another person's flesh with the flesh of his own bare hands. Clenching his eyelids, he remembered the day on which he vowed never to take an innocent life: the day he killed his old daughter...


The Wizard hides underneath the bed, waiting for his target. He knows he can kill his target without sneaking up, nor lifting a finger, but it's against the code of an assassin to be seen and The Wizard aims to be the best assassin ever since the moon crash.

The door of the room creaks open. The Wizard watches from underneath the bed as feminine feet in pink slippers walk across the room. A posh voice talks, loudly,making The Wizard flinch: “Come out from under there, Wizard. I'd like to make a deal with you.”

He remains still and says nothing, trying to quieten his breathing.

“Very well. I'm going to leave this room and if you've got any sense, you'll go home, because my father's hired a group of torturers. And they know where you live”...


With urgent realisation, The Wizard opens his eyes to gawk at Hetus's corpse. Then, he shakes his head with conviction and says "No. It was self defence; he attacked me."

Forbidding himself from wondering whether Hetus had died as a result of excessive force, he turns and leaves the way he came in, through the water-like wall, down the alley, then onto the street. He tries to maintain his usual power walk, but being as he has a tumour on his thoughts, as well as his death causing the possible destruction of a planet filled with innocent beings, his eye keeps twitching and occasionally, his uncharacteristically heavy feet scrape the dirt.
 
Doesn't sound quite right

Do you mean his 'own' or 'old'? or the Goat creature's old daughter?

It's interesting.

I'm rubbish at critiques really, but the character and situation sound interesting.

Yes, I mean own daughter, not old daughter. Thanks for your comments. I'm gonna give some thoughts to 'the warmth of rain".
 
Here are a few things I picked up:

Overal, good imagery (I liked it).

When he first enters the room, you say it's "dark as the night of the city" but the next sentence says "light from a lone candle glimmers...". I may be confused on my interpritation because I don't interprit a candle lit room as dark. But then again dark as the night of he city isn't pitch black either, so maybe I just don't understand the expression.

This may just be me, but other than the brain tumor thing not being curable by magic, I don't see where the sci-fi is. Wizards and Magic = Fantasy (which I like almost a much as sci-fi). For me, I don't like to mix my science and magic (different midsets for each type of story, one has bounds and the other is anything goes). Science that seems magical is another story, it assumes there are bounds that we just haven't been able to overcome. Maybe advertise this as more the fantasy genre.

In general I thought it was a decent peice, but I'm a fairly novice writer myself.
 
When he first enters the room, you say it's "dark as the night of the city" but the next sentence says "light from a lone candle glimmers...". I may be confused on my interpritation because I don't interprit a candle lit room as dark. But then again dark as the night of he city isn't pitch black either, so maybe I just don't understand the expression.

Interesting. I may substitute dark for 'dimly lit'.

This may just be me, but other than the brain tumor thing not being curable by magic, I don't see where the sci-fi is. Wizards and Magic = Fantasy (which I like almost a much as sci-fi). For me, I don't like to mix my science and magic (different midsets for each type of story, one has bounds and the other is anything goes). Science that seems magical is another story, it assumes there are bounds that we just haven't been able to overcome. Maybe advertise this as more the fantasy genre.

I understand where your coming from. I'm gonna keep writing and at some point, I'm gonna decide whether to drop the Sci-fi. I think you may be right, though.
 
Most SciFi is relying on Magic disguised as Technobabble. (Star Trek)

I have no difficulty with explicit "Magic" in an SF setting if a good story.
Crystal Singer and the Pern Series come to mind.
Also C.J. Cheryth

Star Wars 1st film was better than last 3 because it seemed like magic + SF.
 
Hi Ashleyne, congratulations on jumping in!

Overall I got the sense that this is more about telling us what the character is like, and doing, as opposed to showing. I feel it is more like a character study of the wizard for you, rather than a narrative. The first thing that I'd compare this to is your 75 word entries: They are always very tight and have a strong sense of atmosphere that seems to be missing here. I'm not sure if it is the present tense, or the POV but something makes this seem like it wasn't written like your normal stuff.

The opening, with him walking, would be better served IMO as someone watching him do these things; how they perceive his power rather than him perceiving his own greatness. Is there a lesser character in your tale who could watch this scene? A youth in the crowd, perhaps, or... I don't know. If not, then perhaps write it in omniscient.

Also, I'd like you to remove the doubting modifiers and have more confidence in your imagery. For example;

as if inviting the rain to slap his face, as if challenging anyone to stop him,

could be;

inviting the rain to slap his face, challenging anyone to stop him,


When you write;
The Wizard focuses his mind and is unsurprised when the raindrops slow their descent

it is a bit redundant - if he is used to this mind focus working, it would not occur to him to be unsurprised.


"I'm afraid I can tell you nothing other than 'that you have already been told by your doctor'.
Fine, but then the goat does, anyway ;) ; You have a brain tumour, inflicted by natural causes. Using magic to cure a natural illness in the brain can and will make you catatonic." This makes it obvious you're telling us a plot point in quite an obvious way.

Skipping ahead to something else:

Once upon a time, thought The Wizard, I would've happily destroyed this planet. His heart pangs with guilt, remembering from his younger days, the sensation of tearing another person's flesh with the flesh of his own bare hands. Clenching his eyelids, he remembered the day on which he vowed never to take an innocent life: the day he killed his old daughter...


This sounds like an intriguing backstory, and I think you could foreshadow it much longer throughout your story and with more subtlety than telling us the main thrust of his guilt all in one go.

There are some lovely moments of description of the world and particularly like the warmth of the rain btw (I'm an awkward bugger, tho), but we need to see how the wizard interacts with the world rather than just a list of actions etc.

You've clearly got a strong sense of the scene and character's mythology in your head, but I think there's too much too soon. What I'd suggest is you go over it again and cut out a lot of the unnecessary stuff - Give us a taste rather than a banquet - and try to get across the wonderful atmospheres and pacings your 75 word entries have.

Great first crit. Good luck, hope this can help you.

pH
 
You're writing from a distant narrative POV, which I don't tend to see used these days in genre fiction. Even when using an omniscient POV, it helps to get into the characters quickly, and try and engage the reader through a sympathetic reaction to the emotions of the character. It *is* really hard to do well, but definitely worth practising to get closer to character feelings and emotions. Also, do be careful with your semantics and description, and avoid using words just to sound grand.

I think your opening shows a lot of the problems inherent in this piece:

Rusty street lamps light the otherwise empty sky as the warmth of rain trickles through The Wizard's ginger hair, trailing past his shoulders and tickling down his vest.

Rusty street lamps - you've focused on a static image, to show a scene. Nothing wrong with that, but...

light the otherwise empty sky - street lamps light the street - they do not light the sky, as otherwise the sky would become bright. Low cloud over a large settlement can reflect a lot of the light, making them seem to "glow" a little. But that's not what you're describing here.

as the warmth of rain - you just said that the sky was empty. That brings to mind an image of a clear sky. But now you're saying that it's raining, which means the sky must be cloudy - which doesn't sound very empty.

trickles through The Wizard's ginger hair - rain trickling through someone's hair is a very strange image - it looks like an excuse to give hair colour. But that keeps the reader distant. We don't want to be looking at a character's head, we want to be inside it. And by calling him The Wizard all you've done is told rather than shown us what he is - and unnecessary since we're about to see what he can do.

trailing past his shoulders and tickling down his vest - I do like the last bit - you almost put the reader in the character experience. The only problem is do we really need to know so much about this person's hair? Even then, the image isn't clear - how does hair tickle "down his vest"? Surely it's wet and limp from the rain?

Also, note that your opening sentence has no less than 4 verbs in it, all struggling to retain attention:

street lamps light
rain trickles
hair trails
hair trickles

It's best not to have too many verbs in a sentence, so as to keep it focused. Otherwise, the individual actions start to crash into each other, and the sentence becomes less clear.
 
Thanks for your critique, Brian.

I've edited it based on everyone's comments. I'm gonna give it some more thought and post a revised version at some point. :)
 
With a kind of thick drizzle or certain rain the street lights light the whole sky. But then only see reflected light a short distance above the lamps and you can't see the sky at all. Of course I'm very familiar such weather.

It's eerie seeing the city from 8km away on higher ground in the countryside as it becomes an amorphous glow, the street layout vanishes.
 
Lots of good parts, but the POV makes it tougher to write, and to read. Poisanally I won't usually read past the first bit if it's in whatever this is, present/distant something or other tense. There's a reason most stuff is written in past, and I bet someone could tell you wot it is. Very simple to change it tho, just replace esses with 'ed' and Bob's yer Uncle. Not bad at all for a first go.
 
I've edited my piece using the above critiques.

J Riff, I understand where you're coming, but I'm gonna keep writing in present tense and I can always change into something less contemporary if need be.

I'm wondering whether to remove the flashback, but it may be important later in the story.

I'm gonna leave it like this and return to it once I've written more of the story. Any other comments are welcome. I've written a second chapter and I'm gonna post it for critique, but I'm gonna wait a few days first.



MOONCRASH: CHAPTER 1

Rusty street lamps emit a faint glow, creating a misty, orange cloud across the wooden rooftops of the city. A man named Owlem holds his head high as the warmth of rain tickles past his ear, trailing past his shoulder and soaking to his chest.

Although the eyes of the city people make his self-conscious heart hammer in his throat, he strides through the muddy streets of the crowded city as if inviting the rain to slap his face, as if challenging anyone to stop him. As he walks, the crowd clear a path for him; he can't quite tell whether they're scattering to avoid any contact with him or whether they're standing back to give him space as a sign of respect.

His eyes forward, staring past and over the splashes on the umbrellas, Owlem focuses his mind and the raindrops slow their descent until they're standing still in mid-air, sparkling like a flock of clear pearls. The crowd freeze in tune with the rain, allowing him to weave between the pedestrians faster than they can detect.

Owlem turns into a narrow alley, at the end of which he sees a cement dead-end wall, sprinkled with a spray-painted, goat's head and the words: 'Hetus woz ere 2T15'. He sighs in relief, happy to be away from the prying eyes and the gossiping mouths.

Owlem loosens his stiff shoulders, then walks through the wall as if it's upright water, tingling his skin and sending a buzz through his ears. He steps, or lands rather, into a room which is as dimly-lit as the night of the city.

The light from a lone candle glimmers upon the triangular patterns carved into the gold of its wall-mounted holder.

Filling up half the room, there's a black leather sofa, reflecting the candle, inviting Owlem to lay down and vent his woes; however, he remains standing, defiant of relinquishing any control.

Owlem's eyes are caught by a pair of spectacles, flickering from behind a thin wooden desk. A deep voice drones: "I knew I'd be seeing you some day soon."

Owlem sneers. "But of course, you know everything."

"And that is why you're here." From behind the desk, the face of a goat smiles. The goat's face and head rest atop a humanoid body. The goat, who Owlem knows as Hetus, opens his mouth and from it comes the deep voice: "I'm afraid I can tell you nothing other than 'that you have already been told by your doctor'. I'm sorry. There's nothing you can do."

Owlem lifts his hands to stare, desperately at his palms. "There must be something I-" Through his hands come the Hetus's horns, aiming at Owlem's face.

Owlem clasps Hetus around the throat. A bolt of electricity jumps between Hetus's horns, just inches away from the heartbeat in Owlem's neck.

Owlem grabs a horn and snaps it from the goat's head like a twig.

Hetus springs his mouth open to blast a high-pitched, stuttering scream whilst placing his shiny, black mitten-like hands over the blood gushing hole where his horn once was.

His shoulders tensed, Owlem glares at Hetus and from those glaring eyes, he blasts a shine of white, tossing Hetus through the splintering desk, then into the wall. Hetus lands sitting down.

Through gritted teeth, Owlem shouts "Why did you attack me?"

Hetus smiles; then his eyes roll back and his eyelids flutter.

Owlem notices blood dripping behind the goat's ear, so in haste, he rushes over, kneels down, then places a hand over Hetus's forehead.

Owlem speaks within his mind: "Hetus, why did you attack me?"Hetus closes his eyes and his deep voice echoes a reply inside Owlen's head:

"You will die soon. And whoever kills you will inherit your power."

Owlem smiles, smugly. "So, you were after my power."

Hetus shakes his head.

Owlem speaks aloud: "Then what were you after?"

Hetus whispers "When you die, your power will destroy the Earth, unless there is a killer to inherit that power."

Owlem takes a few moments to absorb this information. He can feel his eyes trembling in despair. "…. There's got to be another way."

Hetus sits motionless.

Feeling the sensation of panic jumping from his toes to his head, Owlem slaps Hetus in an attempt to rouse him, but Hetus falls face first to the floor. The Wizard lifts Hetus by the fur on his neck and bellows "There's got to be another way."

A few seconds pass and Owlem realises the stupidity of trying to converse with a corpse. He descends into a sulk and he drops Hetus to the floor. As he stands up, his breathing becomes wheezy, the room begins to sway. He tries to clear his dizziness by running his fingers through his hair, to no effect.

Once upon a time, thought Owlem, I would've happily destroyed this planet. His heart pangs with guilt, remembering from his younger days, the sensation of tearing another person's flesh with the flesh of his own bare hands. Clenching his eyelids, he remembers the day on which he vowed never to take an innocent life:


Owlem hides underneath the bed, waiting for his target. The door of the room creaks open. He watches from underneath the bed as feminine feet walk across the room. A posh voice talks, loudly,making Owlem flinch: “Come out from under there, Wizard. I'd like to make a deal with you.”

He tenses his body in fear at the sound of his nickname: Wizard. He remains still and says nothing, trying to control his shaky breaths.

“Very well. I'm going to leave this room and if you've got any sense, you'll go home. My father's hired a group of torturers. And they know where you live”...


With urgent realisation, Owlem jerks to his senses. He rubs his temples, then gawks at Hetus's corpse, with a sickened cringe. Then, he shakes his head with conviction and says, in a low drawl, "No. It was self defence; he attacked me."

Trying to ignore the knot of dread in his throat, Owlem turns and leaves the way he came in, through the wall, his ears buzzing. He stumbles as his feet hit the floor of the alley, then makes his way onto the street.

From across the road, Owlem sees a small boy, staring at him opened-mouthed.

Feeling disrespected, Owlem scowls at the boy. He can feel the eyes of the pedestrians staring at him. His jaw clenched in annoyance, he tries to establish his usual power walk as he makes his way through the crowd, but being as he has a tumour on his thoughts, as well as his death causing the possible destruction of a planet filled with innocent beings, his eye keeps twitching and occasionally, his uncharacteristically heavy feet scrape the dirt.
 
Last edited:
Hi, be warned I come with teeth. For me, this is too distant from the character. I'm not sure if it's delberate - you start in omni and that may be what you want, but it's a much harder sell in omni.

Also, I wouldn't worry about crossing sf with fantasy - there's a market for it. Check out somewhere like Crossed Genres.

MOONCRASH: CHAPTER 1

Rusty street lamps emit a faint glow, creating a misty, orange cloud across the wooden rooftops of the city. A man named Owlem this line sets it as omni - to be close it would just be Owlem holds... holds his head high as the warmth of rain tickles past his ear, trailing past his shoulder and soaking to remove to - here it's acting as a filter which keeps us distant. his chest.

Although the eyes of the city people make his self-consciousvery telling and I have no idea what it means heart hammer in his throat, he strides through the muddy streets of the crowded city as if inviting the rain to slap his face, as if i agree with Phyre biut the as ifs, much stronger without. challenging anyone to stop him. As he walks, the crowd clear a path for him; he can't quite tell whether they're scattering to avoid any contact with him or whether they're drop whether they're - the words aren't needed and slow things for youstanding back to give him space as a sign of respect.

His eyes forward, staring past and over the splashes on the umbrellas, Owlem focuses his mind and the raindrops slow their descent until they're standing still in mid-air, sparkling like a flock of clear pearls. Nice showThe crowd freeze in tune with the rain, allowing him to weave between the pedestrians faster than they can detect.

Owlemhe - we know who we're following turns into a narrow alley, at the end of which he sees a cement dead-end wall, sprinkled with a spray-painted,drop comma goat's head and the words: 'Hetus woz ere 2T15'. He sighs in relief, happy to be away from the prying eyes and the gossiping mouths.

Owlem loosens his stiff shoulders, then walks through the wall as if it's upright water, tingling his skin and sending a buzz through his ears. He steps, or lands rather, into a room which is as dimly-lit as the night of the city.

The light from a lone candle glimmers upon the triangular patterns carved into the gold of its wall-mounted holder.

Filling up half the room, there's a black leather sofa, reflecting the candle, inviting Owlem to lay down and vent his woes; however, he remains standing, defiant of relinquishing any control.

Owlem's eyes are caught by a pair of spectacles, awkward ;) flickering from behind a thin wooden desk. A deep voice drones: "I knew I'd be seeing you some day soon."

Owlem sneers. "But of course, you know everything."

"And that is why you're here." From behind the desk, the face of a goat smiles. The goat's face and head rest atop a humanoid body. The goat, who Owlem knows as Hetusagain, this is distancing - if he knows him as Hestus, he'd think from behind the desk, Hetus smiles...., opens his mouth and from it comes the deep voice: "I'm afraid I can tell you nothing other than 'that you have already been told by your doctor'. I'm sorry. There's nothing you can do."

Owlem lifts his hands to stare, desperately at his palms. "There must be something I-" Through his hands come the Hetus's horns, aiming at Owlem's face.

Owlem clasps Hetus around the throat. A bolt of electricity jumps between Hetus's horns, just inches away from the heartbeat in Owlem's neck.

Owlem grabs a horn and snaps it from the goat's head like a twig.here is where I'm having real trouble. Is he feeling anything? Thinking anything? This is a series of actions without character context and, as such, it doesn't work for me.

Hetus springs his mouth open to blast a high-pitched, stuttering scream whilst placing his shiny, black mitten-like hands over the blood -gushing hole where his horn once was.

His shoulders tensed, Owlem glares at Hetus and from those glaring eyes, he blasts a shine of white, tossing Hetus through the splintering desk, then into the wall. Hetus lands sitting down.

Through gritted teeth, Owlem shouts "Why did you attack me?"

The goat smiles; then his eyes roll back and his eyelids flutter.

Owlem notices blood dripping behind the goat's ear, so in haste, he rushes over, kneels down, then places a hand over Hetus's forehead.

Owlem speaks within his mind: "Hetus, why did you attack me?"Hetus closes his eyes and his deep voice echoes a reply inside Owlen's head:

"You will die soon. And whoever kills you will inherit your power."

Owlem smiles, smugly. "So, you were after my power."

Hetus shakes his head.

Owlem speaks aloud: "Then what were you after?"

Hetus whispers "When you die, your power will destroy the Earth, unless there is a killer to inherit that power."

Owlem takes a few moments to absorb this information. He can feel his eyes trembling in despair. "…. There's got to be another way."

Hetus sits motionless.

Feeling the sensation of panic jumping from his toes to his head, okay, this is an absolute tell - what does his panic feel like? Tingling? Fear? Sweating? Breath catching? Room closing in? Show brings us into the scene Owlem slaps Hetus in an attempt to rouse him, but Hetus falls face first to the floor. The Wizard lifts Hetus by the fur on his neck and bellows comma"There's got to be another way."

A few seconds pass and Owlem realises the stupidity of trying to converse with a corpse. He descends into a sulk and he drops Hetus to the floor. As he stands up, his breathing becomes wheezy, the room begins to sway. He tries to clear his dizziness by running his fingers through his hair, to no effect.

Once upon a time, thought Owlem, I would've happily destroyed this planet. His heart pangs with guilt, remembering from his younger days, the sensation of tearing another person's flesh with the flesh of his own bare hands. Clenching his eyelids, he remembers the day on which he vowed never to take an innocent life:good, we're learning something of him

But bah, it came to nothing....



Owlem hides underneath the bed, waiting for his target. The door of the room creaks open. He watches from underneath the bed as feminine feet walk across the room. A posh voice talks, loudly,making Owlem flinch: “Come out from under there, Wizard. I'd like to make a deal with you.”

He tenses his body in fear at the sound of his nickname: Wizard. He remains still and says nothing, trying to control his shaky breaths.

“Very well. I'm going to leave this room and if you've got any sense, you'll go home. My father's hired a group of torturers. And they know where you live”....... Inside the speech marks


With urgent realisation, Owlem jerks to his senses. He rubs his temples, then gawks at Hetus's corpse, with a sickened cringe. Then, he shakes his head with conviction and says, in a low drawl, "No. It was self defence; he attacked me."

Trying to ignore the knot of dread in his throat, Owlem turns and leaves the way he came in, through the wall, his ears buzzing. He stumbles as his feet hit the floor of the alley, then makes his way onto the street.

From across the road, Owlem sees a small boy, staring at him opened-mouthed.

Feeling disrespected, Owlem scowls at the boy, then looks around to find that everyone's staring at him. His jaw clenched in annoyance, he tries to establish his usual power walk as he makes his way through the crowd, but being as he has a tumour on his thoughtseh?, as well as his death causing the possible destruction of a planet filled with innocent beings, his eye keeps twitching and occasionally, his uncharacteristically heavy feet scrape the dirt.

Okay, I liked the set up and would have no problem if this evolves into a sf story, but it would need to quite quickly. I have a prologue where, after it, people tend to go, wow, there's spaceships....

My problem, as you'll see above is the lack of character exposition and, where we do get it, from a distant narrator. This makes it very listy to read and does little to pull me in. Sorry.
 
Rusty street lamps emit a faint glow, creating a misty, orange cloud across the wooden rooftops of the city. A man named Owlem holds his head high as the warmth of rain tickles past his ear, trailing past his shoulder and soaking to his chest.

It's better, but I think you can still tighten the writing to be much stronger. For example, in the above sentence, if you switch the two sentences around, and cut down a little on what isn't necessary, you could have a better opening.

I try to avoid rewriting anything in a Critique - it's up to every writer to find their own personal voice - and my apologies for doing so, but see if this is a little more illustrative:

Owlem hold his head high against the warm rain. Rusty street lamps create an orange glow on the clouds, above the wooden rooftops of the city.

Reasoning - make Owlem the subject, and we're closer to the character already. We don't need all the detail of rain trickling past his ear, his shoulder, or chest, as that simply repeats that it's raining, and tells us that he has an ear, a shoulder, and a chest. The original opening sentence is simply cut down on unnecessary words.

Think about the character experience to really draw us in. Let the narrative roll naturally, and do not try to be writerly! Speak it aloud, then write it down, and every time you stop to think you should insert something, just continue.

This is all simply personal opinion, and personal style, and what works for me. If anything I've said helps, then that is a good thing. But it's all about your own voice, though, not mine. :)
 
Thanks for your critique, Springs. I've re-editted based on your advise and I've tried to make it less distant to the character.

Thanks for your advice, Brian. I've tried to keep things tighter.


MOONCRASH: CHAPTER 1


Owlem holds his head high as the warm rain descends. Rusty street lamps light his way, casting a dull orange glow on the crowded city. He feels the eyes of the city people staring as he walks by. As he strides, the crowd clear a path for him; he can't quite tell whether they're scattering to avoid any contact with him or standing back to give him space as a sign of respect.

He stares forward, focussing his mind and the raindrops slow their descent until they're standing still in mid-air, sparkling like a flock of clear pearls. The crowd freeze in tune with the rain, allowing him to weave between the pedestrians faster than they can detect.

He turns into a narrow alley, at the end of which he sees a cement dead-end wall, spray-painted with a goat's head and the words: 'Hetus woz ere 2T15'.

He places a hand over the back of his head. He can almost feel the cancer growing on his brain, weighing on his mind. He walks towards the wall, hoping that on the other-side, he was about to hear those words he longed to hear: You're not going to die; I know how to cure your tumour.

Owlem loosens his shoulders, takes a deep breath, then walks through the wall as if it's upright water, tingling his skin and sending a buzz through his ears. He steps, or lands rather, into a room which is as dimly-lit as the night of the city.

In-front of Owlen, there glimmers a candle from its wall-mounted holder. He notices, filling up half the room, a black leather sofa, reflecting the candle, inviting him to lay down and vent his woes; however, he remains standing.

Owlem is drawn to a pair of spectacles, flickering from behind a thin wooden desk. He recognises the deep drone of a man named Hetus: "I knew I'd be seeing you some day soon."

Owlem sneers. "But of course, you know everything."

"And that is why you're here." From behind the desk, the face of a goat smiles atop a humanoid body. Hetus, 'the goat', opens his mouth and from it comes the deep voice: "I'm afraid I can tell you nothing other than 'that you have already been told by your doctor'. I'm sorry. There's nothing you can do."

The words hit Owlem like a bullet in the chest, draining away his hope. He lifts his hands to stare, desperately at his palms. "There must be something I-" Through his hands come Hetus's horns, aiming at Owlem's face.

Owlem gasps, his heart skipping a beat. On instinct he grabs Hetus around the throat and squeezes as tight as he can. Owlem's inhibitions are blown away by rage. His only thought is: How dare he attack me?

A bolt of electricity jumps between Hetus's horns, inches away from the heartbeat in Owlem's neck.

Owlem grabs a horn and snaps it from the Hetus's head like a twig. Owlem bulges his muscles, feeling like he hasn't quite made his point yet: How dare he? He grinds the horn between his hands, into dust, trying to hold back a satisfied smirk.

Hetus springs his mouth open to blast a high-pitched, stuttering scream. He places his mitten-like hands over the blood gushing hole where his horn once was.

Owlem tenses his shoulders as Hetus's screams pierces his ears. In an attempt to shut him up, he glares at Hetus and from those glaring eyes, he blasts a shine of white, tossing Hetus through the desk, into the wall, where he lands on his arse.

Through clenched teeth, Owlem shouts "Why did you attack me?"

Hetus smiles; then his eyes roll back and his eyelids flutter.

Owlem notices blood dripping behind the Hetus's ear, so in haste, he rushes over, kneels down, then places a hand over Hetus's forehead.

Owlem speaks within his mind: "Hetus, why did you attack me?" Hetus closes his eyes and his deep voice echoes a reply inside Owlen's head: "You will die soon. And whoever kills you will inherit your power.”

Owlem smiles, smugly. "So, you were after my power."

Hetus shakes his head.

Owlem speaks aloud: "Then what were you after?"

Hetus whispers "When you die, your power will destroy the Earth, unless there is a killer to inherit that power."

Owlem's eyes tremble in despair. "…. There's got to be another way."

Hetus sits motionless.

Owlem slides his shaking hands across the sweat on his face. He slaps Hetus in an attempt to rouse him, but Hetus falls face first to the floor. Owlem lifts Hetus by the fur on his neck, then shakes him whilst bellowing: “There's got to be another way."

A few seconds pass and Owlem's lets his face drop into a sulk. He drops Hetus to the floor. As he stands up, his breathing becomes wheezy, the room begins to sway. He tries to clear his dizziness by running his fingers through his hair.

Once upon a time, thought Owlem, I would've happily destroyed this planet. His heart pangs with guilt, remembering from his younger days, the sensation of tearing another person's flesh with the flesh of his own bare hands. Clenching his eyelids, he remembers the day on which he vowed never to take another innocent life: the day he held his daughter's lifeless body and sobbed, refusing to let go. On that day, he'd felt the pain of losing a piece of his heart, the same pain which his actions had caused other fathers to suffer and everyday since then, he promises to never let himself cause this pain again.

Funny, he thought, how my heart works better now that it's in pieces.

Owlem jerks to his senses. He rubs his temples, then gawks at Hetus's corpse, with a sickened cringe. Then, he shakes his head with conviction and says, in a low drawl, "No. It was self defence; he attacked me."

Trying to ignore the knot of dread in his throat, Owlem turns and leaves the way he came in, through the wall, his ears buzzing. He stumbles as his feet hit the floor of the alley, then makes his way onto the street.

From across the road, Owlem sees a small boy, staring at him opened-mouthed.

Feeling disrespected, Owlem scowls at the boy. Once again, he can feel the eyes of the pedestrians staring at him. His jaw clenched in annoyance, he tries to establish his usual power walk as he makes his way through the crowd, but being as he had a tumour on his thoughts, as well as the added possibility of his death causing the destruction of a planet filled with innocent beings, his eye keeps twitching and occasionally, his uncharacteristically heavy feet scrape the dirt as he tries to control his anger.
 
I think that's a little closer but (there's always a but) there's little likeable about Owlem, or intriguing enough to make me want to follow his story. If I were you I'd park this scene and write on until you know him better - then you might make him more sympathetic? Good luck!
 
Thanks for your comments, Springs. I'm officially parking this scene, but I am trying to write Owlem as a self-centered anti-hero who turns crazy and starts killing people (I should've probably mentioned that). Probably not your kind of character, but I plan on using him sparingly.
 
Thanks for your comments, Springs. I'm officially parking this scene, but I am trying to write Owlem as a self-centered anti-hero who turns crazy and starts killing people (I should've probably mentioned that). Probably not your kind of character, but I plan on using him sparingly.

It might surprise you the characters I like (and write...)

Be aware, it's a risk starting with a character like that, though,especially if he's not in it very much. But that sort of consideration can easily be left to the point where you have a draft in place. :)
 
I think this piece is definitely better. It could be made stronger, perhaps but until your novel first draft is complete, you don't need to worry about that - and all the revisions and redrafting and edits come after that, anyway. :)

One quick point - rain as like pearls? I don't think the metaphor works, as rain drops are clear and see-through, pearls are opaque and white.
 
Status
Not open for further replies.
Thread starter Similar threads Forum Replies Date
O SFF Lounge 5

Similar threads


Back
Top