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A Separation of Worlds 1st Chapter (968 Words)

Ashleyne

Shhh. I think they're listening
Joined
Apr 19, 2014
Messages
573
I posted parts of this chapter a while back and have altered it based on the advice I was given. Now I'm hoping people are gonna shower me with even more advice, so here's the entire chapter. *runs and hides*

CHAPTER 1: THE OTHERWORLDER

Metal strained as the bus slanted sideways. Brittany flew up and the back of her shoulders hit the ceiling, smacking breath from her lungs. She tried to scream; her eyes bulged, pressured like they might squeeze from her sockets.

She clenched Kelly's hand, but her fingers slipped away.

She and thirty-two of her classmates were tumbling into each other, into the handrails, up and down the stairs, tossed around like beans in a rattle. An elbow bashed her neck, making her gag and choke. A harsh orchestra of screams joined her own.

Her head collided with Laura's piggish nose: crunch. Laura's blood dribbled down Brittany's cheek, warm like tears. It tasted like a penny; her stomach turned.
Her bones tingled from her skull to her soles. A glow shone from her trainers, then slowly, slowly ascended through her, filling her like a light bulb, shining through her fingers and from under her clothes.

A metal bar zoomed towards her head. She gasped.

The bar bent around her forehead, painlessly like a cotton belt.

The glow from her body shined upon Laura, whose nose stopped pouring blood and cracked itself straight. Brittany didn't know how, but the glow seemed to be healing, protecting.

She willed her glow to spread to everyone on that bus. Everything went white.
Then everything went black.

#
The squeaking door alerted her. As soon as her dad's afro and her mum's blond spirals came into view, she hopped from the bed, ran to them, then buried her face. Her parents towered over her, wrapping their arms around her shoulders. She trembled. Her parents clung tighter.

Her mum said, in almost a whisper, “It's OK, darling. We thought we'd lost you, but you're OK.”

“S-S-Some of my friends...” Her throaty, lumpy sobs prevented her from finishing.

Her dad's deep voice said, “We're with you. We'll help you get through this. Anything you want, just ask.”

“I w-want to go home. They s-said I could go home soon.”

Her mother replied, “The doctor just told me that he's sorting out your discharge papers. It won't be long now.”

Her parents released her. She went back to sit on her bed, joined by her mum.

Her dad sat in the bedside seat and slumped her mum's handbag on the floor. “If you ever need to talk,” he said, “you know where we are.”

She sat for a few silent moments, the soothing sensation of her mum's fingers tickling through her hair, spreading goose pimples down her skin, making her feel loved all over. “I think I did something,” she said, “during the crash.”

“Oh, honey, the crash wasn't your fault”, said her mum.

“No, I know that”, said Brittany. “I mean, I think I... I protected myself.”

Her dad scrunched his face, looking confused. “How d'ya mean?”

“It was like a light. It came from me. I tried to make it spread to everyone, but...”

Her dad asked, “You mean, like, a shield?”

“I think so”, she replied. “Like a shield of light.”

“Well,” said her dad, “I've always said you're a bright lass when you wanna be.”

Her face spread into a wide smile as her father beamed at her and continued: “Still, coming out of that alive, without a scratch, it's got to be more than just luck, hasn't it?”

“Oh ignore him”, said her mum, with a wrinkling of her nose. “I'm sure that you were just seeing things. Hallucinations. Injured or not, you've still been through a traumatic experience and your only fift-”

The room darkened, enveloping her in white and black smoke. Her parents jumped to their feet, looking frantically in every direction as the walls and floor fell away. Her parents levitated.

Her dad yelled, “What's happening?”

She tried turning her head, but her neck was rigid. She tried to uncross her legs; they didn't so much as tense. Without her will, her mouth forced itself open and began speaking and the voice that came out wasn't her own, but instead, a high croaky voice, scratching her throat: “Miss Dove, you do not belong in this world.”

Her parents, wide eyed and open mouthed, stared at her as the voice continued: “I don't have much time to explain, so listen closely and pardon my abruptness.
“We have been recently made aware of the magic you possess, Miss Dove, a magic which has hidden within you and awoken, it seems, at a time of great emotion. I'm sorry, but I'm afraid magic simply cannot be allowed to exist in your world. Therefore, you are being summoned to ours.

“The summoning has already begun. This could take weeks or even months. I advise you until then, Miss Dove...” her eyes jerked her head to look once at her mum, then at her dad, “and of course, your family... to enjoy the time you have left, for once you are gone- ”

Gradually, the white and black smoke subsided, slotting the room back into place. Her parents swayed on their feet as they landed. The room looked as if it'd never left.

“What the bloody hell,” her dad said, voice shaking, “was that?”
Her mum gawked. “Brittany?”

She struggled, or at least she tried to struggle, but still couldn't move. Her mum placed a hand on her arm, but recoiled; Brittany's own screams pierced her ears. She thrashed her limbs.

Her parents wrapped their arms around her as she continued flailing.

“They're trying to get me. They're trying to take me away. Don't let them take me. Help. They're gonna take me away.”

Her dad sounded close to tears: “It's OK. No one's gonna take you.”

“They're gonna have to get through me first”, said her mum.
 

The Big Peat

Darth Buddha
Joined
Apr 9, 2016
Messages
2,239
Hmm. Interesting.

My big problem with this is that we don't know how Brittany feels about it until she wakes up, and after the initial meeting with the parents we don't get to feel her thoughts again either for a while. Its all things happening without any emotional sequel for me and I want that emotional response.

To go back to the crash... is she panicking? Does she think she's about to die? Does she have any regrets? Can she make out any individual words from anyone's screaming? The mage thing says her magic comes from times of great emotion, but I'm not getting it. And I'm not in that moment either (is the first bit it happening for real or her dreaming it?). Its very storyteller, and I like storyteller and it fits there, but I think a bit more immediacy would help.

Where I think immediacy isn't working is how quickly we get to the big defining moment of "Yer a wizard Brittany!". I'd have preferred more time learning about her world and establishing normal before dropping that in.

Finally, an odd little nit pick - you keep referring to Brittany's parents as "her dad" and "her mum" - surely from Brittany's perspective they'd just be "Dad" and "Mum"?
 

Ashleyne

Shhh. I think they're listening
Joined
Apr 19, 2014
Messages
573
@The Big Peat ,yea, I am gonna change it to just 'Mum' and 'Dad'.

And yea, I see how you were taken out of the immediacy. Maybe I need to write more about the bus journey before and immediately after the crash.
 

Plucky Novice

Eat sleep write repeat
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May 11, 2018
Messages
184
Location
UK
I quite enjoyed the premise. I don't think you're in "run and hide" territory here but there are some things that could be improved for me.

The bus crash is quite extreme for the passengers but the only thing the bus does is "slant sideways" - would this cause someone to fly six feet into the air and hit the ceiling? I found myself trying to contextualise the crash and had it tumbling over and over down a drop to give the "beans in a rattle" effect. I'm now envisioning a school trip in the mountains. Foreign trip? Foreign hospital?

It would be a miracle no one died which might tie in nicely with the premise. I could use just a little more context.

The room darkened, enveloping her in white and black smoke. Her parents jumped to their feet, looking frantically in every direction as the walls and floor fell away. Her parents levitated.
I really struggled with this bit. I don't see the purpose of the dark room if the walls and floor disappear (ceiling there?) Is the rest of the hospital there? Are they hovering above the operating theatre? Do they get rained on, battered by winds? I'm not sure you need this, a possessed child wrapped in smoke ought to do it.

I'd echo the points made on emotion/feeling.

I don't agree that you should use just mum and dad, I think that makes it first person and it isn't. You could use "he" instead of "her dad" to make it more readable though.

Just my thoughts, I hope they're helpful.
 

Bruce MacLean

New Member
Joined
Feb 8, 2019
Messages
2
Hi Ashleyne,

I liked the immediacy of the opening and some of the descriptions (e.g Laura's piggish nose) and the promise of the premise (will she find a way to resist the summons? Meet others like herself who have fought against it etc.).

I agree with Plucky that the crash sounds like it needs to be a bit more severe to throw everyone around like that, but that's a minor quibble.

The part that didn't sound quite right was this:
awoken, it seems, at a time of great emotion.
If your character is fifteen, has she not experienced great emotions before this? Going through puberty, my emotions were all over the place. Even going to the dentist to get a couple of extractions was pretty intense.
Maybe some flashbacks of her younger self, showing portents of what is to come might help, or making the trigger related to the life-threatening danger? Just a couple of suggestions can feel free to ignore!

Hope this helps.
 

Stable

Watching you from upside down
Joined
Oct 7, 2016
Messages
332
The details are great (piggish nose, dad joke, etc.) but the action description is too clinical and detached for me. The second sentence is a great example:
"Brittany flew up and the back of her shoulders hit the ceiling, smacking breath from her lungs."

I'd prefer something like: "Brittany crashed into the ceiling. She tried to scream, but couldn't draw breath back into her lungs..." (I'm sure you can do better than this with some thought) You're strongest when writing about the impact on the characters, rather than describing what happened to them, if that makes sense.

Secondly, I think you need some foreshadowing, somehow, for both the powers and the possession-voice. It's tempting to have them come out of nowhere, but it feels weaker. There needs to be some reason why we believe that happens.

Hope that helps!
 

tinkerdan

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I like what you have here.
However I think if you reorder thing they might be more efficient.
I know this will fly in the face of advice you have had and I'm not disputing the notion that the crash is a great place to start; however all things considered, you might benefit by:
1) Use the first paragraph or two as a starter and then switch to her in the bed trying to push the memories away.
2) Get closer to your main character--her feelings what she hears sees and smells--the senses; and introduce her to the reader.
3) Delete explanation of the shield with her parents; since they are magicked along with her you can wait until they levitate and have her return to the accident and all of them can see it. The memory is forced by the other world-ers.
4) When they come out of it you can have their reactions.
Maybe Mom says,'What just happened?'
Dad, 'That was like watching the five o'clock news. Was that the accident? Is that what happened?'

As to the over-voice in the magic--I'm not sure how important it is that it talk through her--it might work as well as a disembodied voice or even several voices that are accessing the memories and evaluating each item to come to the conclusion that it was the onset of awakening magic and their assessment of what must be done.

It seems like there needs to be a reason why they wait until mom and dad arrive before they pass judgement and maybe incorporating the notion that they have to wait until the parents are present before they force the memory because of her age and that they are forcing the memory as evidence of their conclusions. Perhaps somewhere in there could be a notion that the previous memory at the beginning was brought on by one or two of the judges jumping the gun.

Either way I think you could tighten the entire piece by incorporating the memory with the magic and any necessity for explanation to the parents and utilize the extra space to get closer to your main character and use her senses to acquaint the reader with her.

However you have done well with this and it really works best as what works for you. Still consider tightening things some.
 

Ashleyne

Shhh. I think they're listening
Joined
Apr 19, 2014
Messages
573
Thanks for using up your time to critique my chapter, guys.

It's seems like there's a lot of directions and can go and things I can do to make the beggining of my story more impactful and you've all given me a lot to think about.

It seems like there could be interest in getting to know Brittany before the moment where her powers manifest, and I'm starting to wonder if this might be a story best told non-chronologically through present time and flashbacks to create the juxtoposition between her fantasy world life and her normal life.
 

The Big Peat

Darth Buddha
Joined
Apr 9, 2016
Messages
2,239
It seems like there could be interest in getting to know Brittany before the moment where her powers manifest, and I'm starting to wonder if this might be a story best told non-chronologically through present time and flashbacks to create the juxtoposition between her fantasy world life and her normal life.
That would immediately ramp up my interest in reading the book. Both because I like things like that, and because that juxtaposition sounds cool.
 

CTRandall

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I agree with the others that you can take a little more time with this. The bus crash works well as an opening but I want more from the hospital scene before the posession starts. I want more reaction to her abilities, tension between sceptical mom and believing dad and some attempt to figure out what really happened. The possession can wait.
 

Ashleyne

Shhh. I think they're listening
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Thanks, @CTRandall. That's given me a lot of though. I need to learn to slow down and not mash everything together at once.
 

L.L.Lotte

The Anime King
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I know that the common belief is to open with an action scene to get the reader interested in the story, but this is a bit too much action too fast. This would be much more powerful if you developed the scene and characters a bit more before launching them into the disaster of the bus crash. We need to know them before we can care about them. Who is Brittany, who is Kelly? You give us these names but don't introduce us to them.

You would be better going back to before the crash happened and build up some suspense. Show how the crash started, show the interactions of the kids before it happened.

Also, the character's reactions to her sudden power don't feel realistic to me, but that's because the first scene is seriously underdeveloped. Give it some depth and character. Describe the power more, and how exactly she went about figuring out how to use it.

Even in the second part, there is so much missed opportunity. Barely had the crash happened when you have people walking in and revealing things to the entire family. I'd recommend holding off on the appearance of those characters. Again it would be more powerful if you explored the after effects of the crash on her and classmates, and explored the discovery of her powers in her own time. Have her make mistakes and cause a scene or two at school or something before her secret is discovered by whatever mysterious organisation this is.
 

OHB

Crazed Writer
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Jan 5, 2019
Messages
101
Location
somewhere in time and space
I like the premise of the story but feel that it rushes through everything. I'll go point by point on the things that threw me out of the story:

She gasped.
1. You have a lot of things (mostly sounds and actions) in italics which breaks up the flow of the sentences.
The squeaking door alerted her. As soon as her dad's afro and her mum's blond spirals came into view, she hopped from the bed, ran to them, then buried her face. Her parents towered over her, wrapping their arms around her shoulders. She trembled. Her parents clung tighter.
2. There is nothing here that tells me this is a hospital room. I actually thought she woke up in her own bedroom and that the bus accident was just a dream. I didn't realize where they actually were until I read on. There was also nothing in the transition from the crash to this moment that let me know her attempt to save everyone failed. Brittany knows that it didn't work, but we didn't see the moment she found out.
3. This might be a personal preference, but I think you overuse stuttering to show Brittany's emotion.
Her dad asked, “You mean, like, a shield?”
4. It seems odd that he immediately jumped to that conclusion. Unless the dad already knew about this stuff and didn't tell his daughter.
Her face spread into a wide smile as her father beamed at her and continued: “Still, coming out of that alive, without a scratch, it's got to be more than just luck, hasn't it?”
5. Ditto
The room darkened, enveloping her in white and black smoke. Her parents jumped to their feet, looking frantically in every direction as the walls and floor fell away. Her parents levitated.
6. This happens too fast. It would help if you used more description. Show the smoke rolling in, the room falling away, etc. Take it slow. This is a pivotal moment; let the reader savor it.
“We have been recently made aware of the magic you possess, Miss Dove, a magic which has hidden within you and awoken, it seems, at a time of great emotion. I'm sorry, but I'm afraid magic simply cannot be allowed to exist in your world. Therefore, you are being summoned to ours.
“The summoning has already begun. This could take weeks or even months. I advise you until then, Miss Dove...” her eyes jerked her head to look once at her mum, then at her dad, “and of course, your family... to enjoy the time you have left, for once you are gone- ”
7. This is basically an info-dump and it kills my curiosity by revealing too much too soon. I'd rather there be clues leading up to the reveal over time than to learn everything in the first 1,000 words of the story.
“They're trying to get me. They're trying to take me away. Don't let them take me. Help. They're gonna take me away.”
8. Her reactions, as well as the reactions of her parents, seem off. Maybe it's the lack of shock, the lack of exclamation points, the fact that Brittany's emotions seem to turn on a dime, or all three. I don't know what it is, but I don't find the dialog very believable. I guess I'm not much help on this point. Sorry!

You've got a good story here. If you let it move at its own pace, it would draw the reader in more.
 

Ashleyne

Shhh. I think they're listening
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Apr 19, 2014
Messages
573
I've been a bit neglected full, but I just wanted to pop in and thank everyone for their advice and perspectives. I've taken a lot of it on board and have tweaked my into and other parts of my story in one or two places. Thanks again for the time taken to critique my intro. It is appreciated.
 

J.C. Scoberg

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Cymru
I like the idea of there being another magical world where Brittany has to be pulled into from ours due to her magical abilities. I thought it was good but would suggest a few tweaks, mainly dripping information to the reader at a slower pace rather than telling us immediately about another world. It felt like maybe two (or even three) chapters worth of information at once.

Maybe let the awareness of her abilities come through more slowly and the contact from the mage likewise. Maybe she starts to feel as though someone is trying to contact her. If she can't control her powers, then how is the mage able to contact her after one episode? This could help build up the intrigue as to what is happening to her and allow you to flesh out some of the characters too.

I was surprised by how her dad jumped to those conclusions so quickly - I don't know if he is aware of magic, and if he is, how is he still in the world?

Great job though :)
 

psychotick

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Hi Ashleyne,

I thought this was a good premise, just a little jerky. So here's my take.


(Before this you need to have something about the upcoming crash. Eg someone screamed. She turned and saw the truck coming straight at them etc. Then boom.) Metal strained as the bus slanted sideways. Brittany flew up and the back of her shoulders (Try - Brittany flew up. Her shoulders hit ...) hit the ceiling, smacking (driving the) breath from her lungs. She tried to scream; her eyes bulged, pressured like they might squeeze from her sockets.

She clenched Kelly's hand, but her fingers slipped away.

(Now we need something more about the crash. Why isn't it over already? So eg The bus was spinning, tumbling out of control. She and etc)

She and thirty-two of her classmates were tumbling into each other, into the handrails, up and down the stairs, tossed around like beans in a rattle. An elbow bashed her neck, making her gag and choke. A harsh orchestra of screams joined her own.

Her head collided with Laura's piggish nose: crunch. Laura's blood dribbled down Brittany's cheek, warm like tears. It tasted like a penny; her stomach turned. (I doubt it. This would be after the crash is over. She doesn't have time to taste blood and and feel ill while the bus is still crashing.)

(Now here's where it needs something. Emotion. Something to trigger the strange. Eg She was going to die! But in that moment, something happened. And time slowed because too much is happening in a second or two.)


Her bones tingled from her skull to her soles. A glow shone from her trainers, then slowly, slowly ascended through her, filling her like a light bulb, shining through her fingers and from under her clothes.

A metal bar zoomed towards her head. She gasped.

The bar bent around her forehead, painlessly like a cotton belt.

The glow from her body shined (shone) upon Laura, whose nose stopped pouring blood and cracked itself straight. Brittany didn't know how, but the glow seemed to be healing, protecting. (Kill this sentence it's stealing from the immediacy. Leave out the thinking. She doesn't have time to think. So just a realisation - eg The glow was helping.)

She willed her glow to spread to everyone on that bus. Everything went (turned?) white.
Then everything (it) went black.

#
The squeaking door alerted her. As soon as her dad's afro and her mum's blond(e) spirals (curls?) came into view, she hopped from the bed, ran to them, then buried her face. Her parents towered over her, wrapping their arms around her shoulders. She trembled. Her parents clung tighter.

Her mum said, in almost a whisper, “It's OK, darling. We thought we'd lost you, but you're OK.”

“S-S-Some of my friends...” Her throaty, lumpy sobs prevented her from finishing.

Her dad's deep voice said, “We're with you. We'll help you get through this. Anything you want, just ask.”

“I w-want to go home. They s-said I could go home soon.”

Her mother replied, “The doctor just told me that he's sorting out your discharge papers. It won't be long now.”

Her parents released her. She went back to sit on her bed, joined by her mum.

Her dad sat in the bedside seat and slumped her mum's handbag on the floor. “If you ever need to talk,” he said, “you know where we are.”

She sat for a few silent moments, the soothing sensation of her mum's fingers tickling through her hair, spreading goose pimples down her skin, making her feel loved all over.

(Okay, definitely needs something here. Why does she tell them this? How does she feel about talking about it? Get in her head.)

“I think I did something,” she said, “during the crash.” (Is she nervous saying this? Confused?)

“Oh, honey, the crash wasn't your fault”, said her mum.

“No, I know that”, said Brittany. “I mean, I think I... I protected myself.”

Her dad scrunched his face, looking confused. “How d'ya mean?”

“It (There) was like a light. It came from me. I tried to make it spread to everyone, but...”

(Needs something more. Parent's reactions. Dad doesn't understand? Asks - "A light?" Mum looks worried? Maybe ask if her head hurts. And she awkwardly explains.)

Her dad asked, “You mean, like, a shield?”

“I think so”, she replied. “Like a shield of light.”

“Well,” said her dad, “I've always said you're a bright lass when you wanna be.” (Is this a joke? And is it the right place for a father to be joking?)

Her face spread into a wide smile as her father beamed at her and continued: “Still, coming out of that alive, without a scratch, it's got to be more than just luck, hasn't it?” (No. I don't buy this. He accepts her story too easily. And she's in hospital. She isn't unhurt.)

“Oh ignore him”, said her mum, with a wrinkling of her nose. “I'm sure that you were just seeing things. Hallucinations. Injured or not, you've still been through a traumatic experience and your only fift-”

The room darkened, enveloping her in white and black smoke. Her parents jumped to their feet, looking frantically in every direction as the walls and floor fell away. Her parents levitated.

Her dad yelled, “What's happening?” (Put the what's happening first for immediacy)

She tried turning her head, but her neck was rigid. She tried to uncross her legs; they didn't so much as tense. Without her will, her mouth forced itself open and began speaking and the voice that came out wasn't her own, but instead, a high (pitched?) croaky voice, scratching (that scratched) her throat: “Miss Dove, you do not belong in this world.”

Her parents, wide eyed and open mouthed, stared at her as the voice continued:

(But what does she feel? Get back in her head. Emotion. Panick, terror etc.)

“I don't have much time to explain, so listen closely and pardon my abruptness.
“We have been recently made aware of the magic you possess, Miss Dove, a magic which has hidden within you and awoken, it seems, at a time of great emotion. I'm sorry, but I'm afraid magic simply cannot be allowed to exist in your world. Therefore, you are being summoned to ours. (Sorry this voice is too wooden for me. And he's being too brief. He needs to say a little more.)

“The summoning has already begun. This (it?) could take weeks or even months. I advise you until then, Miss Dove...” her eyes jerked her head to look once at her mum, then at her dad, “and of course, your family... to enjoy the time you have left, for once you are gone- ”

Gradually, the white and black smoke subsided, slotting the room back into place. Her parents swayed on their feet as they landed. The room looked as if it'd never left.

“What the bloody hell,” her dad said, voice shaking, “was that?”
Her mum gawked. “Brittany?”

She struggled, or at least she tried to struggle, but still couldn't move. Her mum placed a hand on her arm, but recoiled; Brittany's own screams pierced her ears. She thrashed her limbs.

Her parents wrapped their arms around her as she continued flailing.

“They're trying to get me. They're trying to take me away. Don't let them take me. Help. They're gonna take me away.”

Her dad sounded close to tears: “It's OK. No one's gonna take you.”

“They're gonna have to get through me first”, said her mum.


Hope that helps,

Cheers, Greg.
 

Ashleyne

Shhh. I think they're listening
Joined
Apr 19, 2014
Messages
573
Yea, thanks for the input. I've already done a new version. I've decided not to post the new version for critique.
 
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