Eyeballs Needed Part 1 - Prologue

Mike Donoghue

Active Member
Joined
Sep 5, 2017
Messages
43
#1
Hello and thank you for taking time to review my work. I am asking to have the opening of my WIP critiqued so I can gauge my current skill and learn where I am deficient or satisfactory. The opening is a short prologue followed by the first chapter. I have re-read and edited both several times, but I am at the point where I can no longer make it sound better by my ear alone. I am 20% through this story and this is the first time I am seeking feedback on it, but’s that okay because I want to make sure that—to put it bluntly—I am not creating garbage before I proceed in any further. The prologue will be posted first in full, followed by the two halves of chapter one a few days later (note: chapter one is 1900 words, the prologue 900).

Any feedback is deeply appreciated. Thank you and I hope you enjoy!

*************************

Somewhere in the universe,
on a planet like our own…

-------------------
“Good evening, everybody! Welcome to tonight’s show! We have a special—yes, I know, I know, I love you too, you’re all too kind. We have a special guest tonight. It’s taken us a long time to get him; he is a retired five star admiral, he is the former Secretary of the Navy for the Cytheran Republic, please give a warm round of applause to Admiral Kyper Velos!”

“Thanks for having me.”

“So, Admiral, let’s jump right in. You know that I have been a loud critic of the government’s spending on the military. It was under your leadership that we saw the military’s budget skyrocket to unprecedented heights.”

“Correct.”

“This year nearly one trillion dollars—that’s trillion with a ‘t’, people—is going to the Navy just for building ships; ships thousands of feet in length, weighing millions of tons, carrying hundreds of, I mean, these figures just seem laughable-“

“Not to our enemies they aren’t.”

“How does the government justify building these giant ships? Isn’t it enough that we already have the largest military on the planet and enough nuclear weapons to blow away half of the civilized world?”

“Quite simply, it isn’t. Civil defense programs today are quite effective. Combine that with hardened bunkers and modern anti-missile defenses and our ability to destroy an opponent in any kind of war is in serious doubt. You can’t have ‘mutually assured destruction’ if you can’t assure destruction, can you? This has allowed a number of smaller nations to have a disproportionate amount of influence on the world stage. These ‘giant ships’, as you put it, allow us to guarantee the destruction of those nations, so that it is our will which is imposed.”

“Smaller nations such as the those of the Nudipods?”

“Such as those of the Nudipods, yes.”

--------------------------------------
“… Not just once, but twice! Just try to imagine the odds: the miracle of intelligent life evolving not just once, but twice on the same planet! But it is that very special set of circumstances that is the cause of our troubles. We are independent species, genetically distinct from and incompatible with one another. We can never mix the way races can. We will always be two separate species, vying for the resources of a shared world…"

—Professor Erika Alexiou
Department of Human-Nudipod Relations,
University of Daedalon
-------------------
“It seems, Admiral, that among us Humans, peace has been pretty well figured out; there hasn’t been a major war in over two hundred years, resources are abundant, historical adversaries are even working together—"

“Against us.”

“Haha, yes, against us, but a little competition is good for an economy. Between Humans and Nudipods, however, the most recent war was only three years ago and things seem to be getting worse.”

“That is because no one has been able to come up with any sort of lasting peace agreement with them. I’m sure you can imagine how exceedingly difficult it is negotiating with a bipedal gastropod of a vastly different biology than ours, with a massive inferiority complex and a declared hatred of anything human. Once you get past the fight over resources, over territory and the like, war is the inevitable result when diplomacy fails, when one side cannot tolerate the existence of the other…”

--------------------------------------
“… For this blatant act of treachery, that we have at last come to recognize as endemic to your kind, the Empire of the Protected withdraws from all weapons treaties it holds with Human governments, and may all of you know this, that from this day onward, any use of nuclear weapons against Nudipod forces will be answered with a massive retaliatory strike!”

—Emperor Kaahanui of the Nudipod Empire
Excerpt from speech given to the League of Ambassadors,
Six months following the Satellite War armistice
--------------------

“Last question, Admiral. This is one a great deal of the country has been wanting to hear your take. It’s concerning women in the military. Last month, your successor formally announced that the Navy is, and I quote, ‘going to do whatever it takes’, end quote, to increase the percentage of women in its ranks to forty-five percent up from its historical, and current, average of twenty. They plan to do accomplish this by the end of the decade. Why?”

“Yes, well, it is certainly the case that there have been enough of the requisite changes in society to have enable other historically male-oriented fields to achieve parity, or close to it, so it stands to reason that it is about time the Navy catches up, but it’s really about more than that, isn’t it?”

“You tell me.”

“See, we currently find ourselves in the position where vast swaths of our country’s vital infrastructure, its institutions, its leadership, will be wiped out in an all-out nuclear war and literally the only authorities left to fill the void will be the military in its various forms, and in a large part, the Navy. Faced with this grim reality, we have to ask ourselves, who is it that we want in that Navy of the post-war world? It’s not just women who we need more of on our ships.

“Now, we can take any sufficiently motivated individual and turn them into the sailor we need, there’s no question, but we don’t need a force made solely of our most military-minded individuals, or the best of those who are simply willing to join. We need a Navy made of people who represent who we are as a nation, as a people, as Cytherans, who can carry on that legacy when all else is lost. Because these sailors, they are not just the soldiers manning the guns in time of war, these are the men and women who will be sailing through the fires of Armageddon…

“… And survive.”

---End of prologue---
 
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Penny

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 22, 2018
Messages
169
#3
Writing Dialog
I had trouble figuring out who is talking. It's large slabs of talking text divided up with quotes. This makes it difficult to follow.

They both talk the same way, I like to try and throw a little bit of difference in for the ways, words and styles each character would be written when they speak dialogue.
so. one character might say "yeah", a second would say "yes", another might say "right" by doing that you can help to differentiate the different people, otherwise I feel that characters seem to... sound all like the one person talking.

I think a tv commentator would use lot's more exaggeration and emotive expressions, while a military man would probably make more deadpan responses.

So I think possibly some more focus on how you can make your characters speak differently to each other, use different phrases, words and so on. also some descriptive on what way someone is speaking

Structure
I am not sure putting quotes inside what is essentially also a quote works, I mean it's done in a radio broadcast format so, like... slap a date, show name. on it and turn it into the quote it's self.
littering it with other quote's.... just makes it hard to read, It might work on a visual media to bring up newspaper clippings while a radio announcement speaks in the background but I don't feel it works in a book.
Trying to give too much information from different sources in the one place here I think.
Strip the quotes and just go with it, you may as well do it well if you're going to go the radio broadcast route. leave the quotes to like the start of chapters, that way you can feed a little info at a time.

Naaame!
also.... nudipod... just made me think of strange nude people... so... yeah, just my opinion mind you but yeah, first thing that came to mind.

Just my opinion, I hope it helps, love the idea of two species warring over one planet, could see it going somewhere interesting. especially if a 3rd party turned up.
 

Brian G Turner

Fantasist & Futurist
Staff member
Joined
Nov 23, 2002
Messages
20,988
Location
Highlands
#5
I am 20% through this story
It's probably a bit too early for feedback, as when you've finished it you'll probably make changes of your own anyway. :)

As for what you've posted - it's simply an exchange of dialogue, like found in a screenplay but without even director's notes. While unusual, it's not without precedent - Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card also begins with a short exchange of dialogue.

So while I do actually find your approach potentially fresh and interesting, this section seems to exist only to provide background information for the reader. In that regard, it's not really the start of a story, but just background notes that you're trying to make entertaining.

I would suggest - after you've finished your piece - that you look again at your text and have a think on where the story actually does begin.
 

The Judge

Truth. Order. Moderation.
Staff member
Joined
Nov 10, 2008
Messages
9,451
Location
nearly the New Forest
#6
Thanks for the fix! You should know that the guidelines in the stickied thread say Verdana size 2!! I wondered about that, lol.
Well done for reading the rules and discovering the deliberate error... *cough cough* :rolleyes: (Our best guess is the rule was right when it was posted, but subsequent changes to the forum have mucked things up!)

Anyhow, as I'm here...

Firstly, be aware that agents apparently don't like prologues, especially ones which are just scene setting. Ideally, you should be able to bring all the necessary information we need to follow the story into the body of the novel itself. Obviously, I don't know how this beginning fits with the novel, but as you've chosen a TV show for giving this information, it might well be possible for you to incorporate it later and avoid having a prologue at all eg have one or two of your characters watching the programme and giving their own thoughts on it/throwing things at the Admiral/cursing him or whatever.

As far as the format is concerned I had no difficulty working out who was speaking at any one time, but frankly it does read as rather an extended info-dump, and however you deal with it, I think it needs to be trimmed a good bit. I'd especially think hard about that last section about getting more women joining, which really didn't work for me. There is a big difference between getting people into the military and having a nucleus of survivors who can breed a new humanity, and even if the powers-that-be are preparing for the latter, I can't see it being admitted by this Admiral, nor that he'd want his precious navy taken up with people who might not respond easily to naval discipline. Fertile men and women are going to be needed, not necessarily intelligent ones. I can't actually follow his argument anyway. How are the military, and sailors in particular, more likely to survive than eg a community well away from large centres of population? I'd have thought the military are going to be prime targets in a way odd villages won't be. In any event, if things are this bad, why aren't they looking to conscription instead of what looks to be a somewhat nebulous appeal to non-military-minded women to join up? (If this is a blind, and they want the women for ulterior purposes, not the navy, it's a rather dangerous tactic I'd have thought when there is clearly some freedom of the press.)

If you're keeping this as a prologue, then I'd advise dropping the quotes from the other sources as while they help to break up the lengthy discussion, I don't think they quite work here. You can still have them, but at the beginning of a chapter or section of the book, or even as a stand alone in place of the prologue itself.

Re the nudipods, yep, made me think BareFoots, which isn't doing the story any favours to be honest. Presumably the slug-creatures have their own word for themselves in their own language? Might be best perhaps to use that instead.

As for the writing itself, that's very good. You write well and clearly, you've got all your grammar, punctuation and spelling sorted out, so no worries there at all! I don't know that I can read a whole book dealing with slug-people (lots of salt water is my advice!) but I'm looking forward to seeing chapter one and how the story really begins.
 

Mike Donoghue

Active Member
Joined
Sep 5, 2017
Messages
43
#7
Thanks for the feedback so far, everybody!

@Penny;
I'm interested what you'll think of the first chapter where qualifiers and different characters should be speaking more distinctly. Good stuff.

@Judge;

Woo-hoo! I edited the editors! \o/

As for the reference of getting more women into the navy in that final paragraph, my intended meaning was actually as the admiral explained and not a reference to fertility or reproduction. In fact, that never crossed my mind when developing that discussion. I'm glad you commented on that part because I had been wondering how others would read that it can be, well, a topic of many opinions. I can see why someone might immediately interpret it as you did. That's useful to know.

"BareFoots", lol, yes, the name is the combination of the greek roots nudi (naked) and pod (foot, or leg). It is a play on the term nudibranch. I'm on the fence about the name actually, but I figure names can ultimately be changed. For now, it's a fun placeholder. They do have a name they call themselves. One way to think about the name is that it would be like referring to a human as a hominid instead of human.

Good to know you found the writing clear. We'll see how it holds up in the first chapter.
 

Penny

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 22, 2018
Messages
169
#8
If the two species are at war then there would be a speciest derogatory term for nudipods. Slug's possibly?, there is actually a webpage where you can look up words in many languages for an english one Do You Know How to Say Naked in Different Languages? <---- a valuable resource to mine.

But yeah, it probably works fine after the first couple of readings, but you might find something you like more in there.
 

sozme

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 24, 2013
Messages
195
#9
It's probably a bit too early for feedback, as when you've finished it you'll probably make changes of your own anyway. :)

As for what you've posted - it's simply an exchange of dialogue, like found in a screenplay but without even director's notes. While unusual, it's not without precedent - Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card also begins with a short exchange of dialogue.

So while I do actually find your approach potentially fresh and interesting, this section seems to exist only to provide background information for the reader. In that regard, it's not really the start of a story, but just background notes that you're trying to make entertaining.

I would suggest - after you've finished your piece - that you look again at your text and have a think on where the story actually does begin.
I agree with the honorable Mr. Turner and everything he said above.
 

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