Kepler Bb story Chapter 1

caters

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#1
Here is the first chapter of my Kepler Bb story which involves the death of Robin's parents:

Robin was born to a happy mother and father. He didn't know what was coming. When he was 5 years old something drastic happened. Evelyn, his mom, and Nelson, his dad were both severely ill. Robin helped them feel better as much as he could but ultimately they died.

Robin ran away from home when they died and cried too much to say anything. He just knew he had to go somewhere else away from his dead parents. A few hours later he ended up at Grandma and Grandpa's home.

Robin sobbed “Grandma, Grandpa, my parents died. I was feeling scared until I came here.”

Grandma said “Oh no, our daughter is gone. Robin is only 5 years old. This seems unfair.”

Grandpa said “Don't worry, we will take care of you. How about lunch?”

Robin said “Yes please” and slowly walked into their home. He wasn't happy.

Grandma found him crying like a baby.

Grandma said “Robin, why are you crying so much?”

Robin cried “My parents are gone, both of them, and this is making me really sad. So sad, I can barely talk.”

Grandma said “Oh, I understand. And you are very young, but look at it this way. I have heard of babies being born to dead moms. That is much worse than your situation. And you have me and Grandpa here to take care of you.”

Robin said “I know. But I can't get my mind off of the death of my parents.”

Grandma said “Why don't you go see our lizard. He might be able to get your mind off of your situation.”

He went to where the lizard was. He could feel the heat and humidity and the light was very luminous. The lizard itself was about 1 foot long and its tail was about half its length. With the lizard green as a tree in the summer, Robin put his hand out and the lizard climbed onto him.

About 10 minutes later, Grandpa said “Robin, Lunch is ready. You want to feed the lizard after you eat?”

Robin said yes and ate his lunch faster than usual and then fed the lizard a cored apple.

He helped Grandpa on the farm and then went to sleep, crying as he did so. He cried throughout the night.

The next day he was unusually tired.

He slowly came downstairs and said “Grandma, I think I have a stomach bug. All I feel is ill, no cough or stuffy nose.”

Grandma said “Oh dear. Death of your parents and now an illness. Go back to bed and I will give you some ginger tea.”

So Robin waited for 10 minutes. His stomach upset was getting worse. He slowly drank the ginger tea. It immediately relieved his nausea.

A year later Robin said “I miss my friend Lisa so much. I now feel comfortable enough to see her again. Bye.”

Grandma said “Hold it. In order to get to Lisa, you have to get past this forest. There are bears, wolves, big cats, and other animals that will want to attack you. You don't need to worry about venom though. You produce natural antibodies against venom so that isn't a problem. Same with poison, you produce antibodies so you're good there.”

Robin said “Grandma, I had to get past a bit of forest to get to where you are and no animals attacked me. And I have been attacked by a bear once when I was 3. I still have this claw mark on my back.”

Grandma said “But I am still worried about you. What if a wolf pack or a big cat comes?”

Grandpa said “Hey, if you have survived a bear attack when you were 3, then that is a mark of survival. Go ahead and defend yourself in the wilderness. Survival is important but so is seeing your best friend.”

So Robin got his courage and went into the forest.

When he got hungry he found a berry bush but all of a sudden a feisty monkey came out of the bush and said “These berries are poisonous to us monkeys, don't eat them or you will get sick too.”

Robin said “Back off, just because you monkeys can't eat these berries doesn't mean I can't. Deer can eat plants that you can't. Bamboo has so much cyanide it would kill you but other animals do just fine on bamboo. But I can eat anything and get nutrients out of it because I make antibodies against poison of any kind. Venomous bites aren't a problem for me either. Now let me have those berries.”

The fiesty monkey was so angry, he broke a leg. He immediately cried in pain after that. Robin used what he could find to make a splint and carried the monkey with him.

That night a wolf pack came and wanted Robin and the monkey for dinner. Robin climbed the tree to get away from the wolves.

The next day he was able to get to Lisa's home just in time for lunch.

Robin said “Lisa, a feisty monkey came after me when I came across a berry bush. I told him I could eat anything because I make antibodies against any kind of poison or venom. He got so angry that he broke his leg. I made a splint and saved him from a wolf pack. Could you or your parents fix his leg?”

Lisa's mom said “Well I just so happen to have X ray vision so I can see where it is broken and align it. I see that you knew which leg was broken and put a splint on the correct leg. Good job Robin.”

Lisa's dad asked “Do we have any cloth at all that isn't important? I will prepare the glue for the cast.”

Lisa's mom said “Yes we do. Go ahead and make the glue.” “Lisa, can you get the leftover pieces of cloth, no really big ones but medium sized and small will be good.”

Robin said “So you are going to align the bones, your husband is making the glue, and your daughter is getting the cloth. What can I do when you take the splint off to realign the bone? The monkey might move his broken leg which would hurt him.”

Lisa's mom said “Excellent point. You can give the monkey some fruit to distract him from his leg. Any fruit will do as long as it isn't moldy or anything like that.”

So they worked as a medical team and Robin got the best job, distracting the monkey from his broken leg. The monkey healed in a few months.

During those few months, Robin built his bow, 100 arrows, a sack to hold the arrows, and a basket to hold fruit. He took a spare pot from Lisa's family to hold water in. Pretty soon after the monkey was healed, Robin went out into the wilderness to survive on his own.
 

caters

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#3
If I may ask, what sort of book do you envision this being?
I envision this being sci fi/fantasy, thus the venom and poison immunity via antibodies. All my stories I have written(of which none are complete) have been in this category of sci fi/fantasy.
 

caters

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#5
What age group are you targeting.
I am not really targeting any specific age group. With my other stories I also am not targeting a specific age group. I do have a group that I am not targeting though and that is children. But young adults, teens, and older adults, I am targeting equally. Well okay maybe not teens either since I avoid a hint of porn in all my stories and a lot of teens read and/or watch porn. I might say that Lisa is pregnant after a week of trying but I would not say that Robin and Lisa had sex for a week. And I use exactly 0 curse words in both my writing and my speech.

So I guess you could say I am targeting young adult and older.
 

Brian G Turner

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#6
It does read as very young and it's lacking a sense of focus - one moment it's about his parents dying, then it's about adventures with animals. I don't get much of a sense of character and dialogue is used too much to try and explain things. Have a read of Wonderbook by Jeff Vandermeer, as that explains the technicalities of writing that you'll need to get to grips with.
 

tinkerdan

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#7
I have to wonder how much young adult fiction you have recently read.
If it's a lot then I might suggest you go back and find the ones that appealed to you the most and look at how they are written.
If it's little or none then I'd suggest reading some for research on what the market is putting out right now.

There are a number of difficulties I see in the writing; one of which I echo from other comments.
This is dialogue heavy. Not only that but it overuses dialogue tags and ignores the use of narrative to a large degree.
There are a lot of x-said dialogue where the said precedes the dialogue, as though it might be a rule to do it that way.
Switching that up to put dialogue first would help some, but not fix the whole difficulty.

I'd suggest reducing the number of said tags and use descriptive dialogue to help identify the speaker and also help get closer to the characters.
This entire piece lacks emotional closeness to the characters and that creates a unrealistic feel to the entire story.

What I mean by that is that this character is 5 years old and both parents have died. The only way I can see that happening as presented is that it came on suddenly and took the parents in one day. Especially if the grandparents are close enough for the child to walk to their home. If the illness were lingering I'd think they'd have sent the youngster to get help from the grandparents before they died. That's a minor issue to some others.

The grandparents reaction to the whole 'my parents are dead' comes off as blase and 'well, okay that's really terrible...lets have supper'.

The same holds true for allowing the youngster to wander off alone through predatory forest to see his friends; even considering that he was attacked by a bear at age 3, 'well, you survived it once you can survive it again'.

All that given--somehow this could be some part of the world-building that the reader is missing and despite caution about world-building too much too early--maybe we are missing some important information that should be presented first or as we go(in the narrative).

Also using a 5 year-old as a main character in a young adult novel might be dipping too low in the age pool unless again this is some advanced 5 year-old.

Once more I'd suggest digging into current works within your age group and also the book @Brian G Turner has suggested.
 

The Judge

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#8
I have to confess I'm baffled by this extract -- if it had appeared yesterday morning I would actually have thought it some kind of April Fool prank.

To be honest, it reads as if it's written for, and possibly by, primary school children. Even if you are attempting to replicate a 5 year old child's thought processes -- not to mention writing ability and attention span -- in order to show how Robin at that age would have written his own story, it really doesn't work as the introduction to any novel, and certainly not as SF for an adult.

I'm not sure what your intention is here, but frankly this opening is untenable in it current form, especially at this length. If you want to have some element of this child-type writing appear in the novel, I'd suggest you bring it in only after you have established Robin as an adult doing adult things. If he happens to regress into childhood for any reason, then you could incorporate elements of this simplistic style into the flashbacks/dreams/hallucinations or perhaps use them as diary entries from his childhood which have some correlation to what is happening in his adult life. However, I'd suggest you never have more than a few lines of this at a time, since the effect of several paragraphs would be teetering on bathetic.

As an example of how simple and almost childlike -- not childish -- writing can be made to work, and in a SF setting, I'd recommend Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes.
 

caters

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#9
I have to wonder how much young adult fiction you have recently read.
If it's a lot then I might suggest you go back and find the ones that appealed to you the most and look at how they are written.
If it's little or none then I'd suggest reading some for research on what the market is putting out right now.

There are a number of difficulties I see in the writing; one of which I echo from other comments.
This is dialogue heavy. Not only that but it overuses dialogue tags and ignores the use of narrative to a large degree.
There are a lot of x-said dialogue where the said precedes the dialogue, as though it might be a rule to do it that way.
Switching that up to put dialogue first would help some, but not fix the whole difficulty.

I'd suggest reducing the number of said tags and use descriptive dialogue to help identify the speaker and also help get closer to the characters.
This entire piece lacks emotional closeness to the characters and that creates a unrealistic feel to the entire story.

What I mean by that is that this character is 5 years old and both parents have died. The only way I can see that happening as presented is that it came on suddenly and took the parents in one day. Especially if the grandparents are close enough for the child to walk to their home. If the illness were lingering I'd think they'd have sent the youngster to get help from the grandparents before they died. That's a minor issue to some others.

The grandparents reaction to the whole 'my parents are dead' comes off as blase and 'well, okay that's really terrible...lets have supper'.

The same holds true for allowing the youngster to wander off alone through predatory forest to see his friends; even considering that he was attacked by a bear at age 3, 'well, you survived it once you can survive it again'.

All that given--somehow this could be some part of the world-building that the reader is missing and despite caution about world-building too much too early--maybe we are missing some important information that should be presented first or as we go(in the narrative).

Also using a 5 year-old as a main character in a young adult novel might be dipping too low in the age pool unless again this is some advanced 5 year-old.

Once more I'd suggest digging into current works within your age group and also the book @Brian G Turner has suggested.
I have to confess I'm baffled by this extract -- if it had appeared yesterday morning I would actually have thought it some kind of April Fool prank.

To be honest, it reads as if it's written for, and possibly by, primary school children. Even if you are attempting to replicate a 5 year old child's thought processes -- not to mention writing ability and attention span -- in order to show how Robin at that age would have written his own story, it really doesn't work as the introduction to any novel, and certainly not as SF for an adult.

I'm not sure what your intention is here, but frankly this opening is untenable in it current form, especially at this length. If you want to have some element of this child-type writing appear in the novel, I'd suggest you bring it in only after you have established Robin as an adult doing adult things. If he happens to regress into childhood for any reason, then you could incorporate elements of this simplistic style into the flashbacks/dreams/hallucinations or perhaps use them as diary entries from his childhood which have some correlation to what is happening in his adult life. However, I'd suggest you never have more than a few lines of this at a time, since the effect of several paragraphs would be teetering on bathetic.

As an example of how simple and almost childlike -- not childish -- writing can be made to work, and in a SF setting, I'd recommend Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes.
I actually designed my story to go like this in the first few chapters:

Chapter 1: Robin at 5 years old and death of his parents
Chapter 2: Lisa at 15 years old and death of her parents
Chapter 3: Coincidence that both are 26 years old and are in the same area, marriage
 

The Judge

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#10
Well, to be honest, I think you need to redesign it. Start with them both as adults, which is when the story begins. Any back story of their childhood should be brought in gradually as the novel progresses, preferably using adult prose.
 

caters

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#12
Well, to be honest, I think you need to redesign it. Start with them both as adults, which is when the story begins. Any back story of their childhood should be brought in gradually as the novel progresses, preferably using adult prose.
Honestly, that doesn't go so well with this story. I consider when Robin's parents died as the start of the story. I mean with so much in the childhood(like the monkey with a broken leg, climbing a tree to get away from wolves, a lone, pregnant wolf being friendly to Lisa and comforting her, almost like a domestic dog, that is a lot to miss in the story if I try to redesign it. Besides, I don't plan on publishing it.

That doesn't mean that I won't ever publish it but it does mean that unless something changes whether or not I want to publish it, it will stay as a story that I have written and not published.

In fact, I myself never think about "Could this be published after I am finished writing and editing?", just the writing itself.
 
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The Judge

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#14
Of course, it's up to you how to open the story, and since you're not intending to try to attract an agent/publisher or to self-publish it, it really doesn't matter what others might think about the opening. Though in that case I'm a tad surprised that you bothered to put it up for critique and that you're considering what the age range of your target readership of it would be.

As a matter of interest, though, are you deliberately using child-type narrative here for the 5 year old Robin, with then a 15 yo writing style for Lisa before turning to adult prose for the third chapter onwards?
 

Teresa Edgerton

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#16
Here is the problem that I see with this piece of writing: it sounds much more like the outline for a story than the story itself. It needs a lot of fleshing out.
 

Joshua Jones

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#17
I agree with @Teresa Edgerton here. When I started reading this, I thought you were summarizing the background information for the story. Also, I couldn't discern the rules for your universe. You have monkeys interacting like humans, super powered children, and it seems to be set on a planet around a real star, which implies space SF. You can have a universe where things are different from ours, but people need to be able to understand what is possible and not possible in the universe.

Additionally, you have to be really careful that every encounter progresses the plotline. The wolfpack showed up and trapped them in a tree, but then both the pack and the tree simply disappear and it moves to the next day at Lisa's house.

So, as a premise for a story, if you address the aspects @The Judge pointed out, I think it has some potential. As an actual story, this needs to be expanded substantially. The wolfpack scene, for example, could well be its own chapter, if not two. But, you need to bring together some of the apparently disparate elements into a cohesive universe.

So, if I were working on this, I would hold off on writing more until you have developed your universe more, then go back and rework this into 10-12 chapters. Explore what the characters are feeling, why the grandfather would be willing to let a small child go out into a dangerous forest... Those are the things which the reader will be especially interested in. But, keep at it, keep refining it, and see how it grows.
 

Shorewalker

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#18
Apologies for sounding so harsh, but...

This really does read as though it is aimed for 6-8 year olds. If your prose changes as the characters age, fair play, but I don't have any indication from you that it does.

I also got zero emotional resonance from the piece, nor any sense of place. It really did seem like one long piece of dialogue, complete with way too many tags.

I might be missing something extremely important about this set-up, a reason for doing it this way, but if it is quite deliberate, you might want to give the audience a few hints, because without them, I personally could not continue to read.
 
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#19
Honestly, that doesn't go so well with this story. I consider when Robin's parents died as the start of the story. I mean with so much in the childhood(like the monkey with a broken leg, climbing a tree to get away from wolves, a lone, pregnant wolf being friendly to Lisa and comforting her, almost like a domestic dog, that is a lot to miss in the story if I try to redesign it. Besides, I don't plan on publishing it.

That doesn't mean that I won't ever publish it but it does mean that unless something changes whether or not I want to publish it, it will stay as a story that I have written and not published.

In fact, I myself never think about "Could this be published after I am finished writing and editing?", just the writing itself.
Hello. Could you give an example of a story or author that you like to read, especially one that you might like to emulate with your own writing?
 

RJM Corbet

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#20
But I have to say, I read this first chapter straight through with no pain, because I wanted to know what happened next -- which was quite impossible to guess, lol. And I can't say that about many new writers.

Punctuation is hurried and there are commas, etc missing. But the grammar and delivery are adequate and the sentences are well balanced.

There's an energy and enthusiasm to get on and tell the story that is infectious. It's quite different. It's funny too. Sometimes I don't know if it's intentionally funny. It can't really be judged by normal rules and standards. I have to say that I enjoyed the read which again is definitely not the case with all first chapters by new writers.

EDIT: I'd like to read the next chapter. Please don't give away too many spoilers about what's going to happen next.
 
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