Finally Settled On A Beginning to Israel Falls (scifi/fantasy 1240 words)

Cli-Fi

John J. Falco
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Below is the first 2ish pages of Israel Falls a dystopian scifi saga about a time travelling society that some of you know I have been working on for the larger part of a decade and this month I have finally figured out the beginning after a very grueling process and many false starts. I've been showing the first five pages to people and it has received good feedback.

Going forward I have thousands of pages of notes such as timelines that stretch through different time periods as well as the histories of the family bloodlines, that I need to go through to put this all together into an easily digestible narrative format but I think below is a good start that is a a tad bit more down to earth than any such earlier attempts at writing this.

It's pretty rich in mythology and most of the concepts/themes introduced here will be expanded upon throughout the novel. As it's a big multiverse certain items, technology, and letters are in the novel throughout I hope to have a finished manuscript by the end of the summer and then will shop it to agents and/or hollywood people after that. Even though I have many ideas for this society and have written a couple of shorts that take place in this world. At this point I'm thinking a trilogy is the best way to introduce people to it, but it could stay stand-alone.

The first 12 and more action packed pages to come are available upon request... And I could post them here if there's enough interest. I hope you enjoy and thanks for all the hep over the years. You have no idea how much Chrons has helped me get to this point and I'm grateful for that and pleased with this so far.


Chapter One: The Trouble with Bob

An arrow with a big “W” etched on the side was launched from the top floor of Buckingham Palace, and within moments glided on top a glistening river between The Grand Canyon with ease, nicked a drowning polar bear in the neck, and whizzed past a Pharaoh’s face before finding its way smack into the desk leg belonging to the famous anti-time travel activist Robert Carpenter. He fumbled through the pages gathered on top of it as he wacked the arrow out of the way without even turning around. Blood trickled down from his back thigh as it bounced behind him, and splinters sprang up all over. Even though it had caused a mark, he was not exactly impressed with this latest assassination attempt. “They’re gonna have to try harder than that,” he mumbled to himself. Unnerved by his would-be attackers, he lit the hemp in a peculiar-looking bald eagle shaped pipe to steady what little anxiety that might have risen in his system subconsciously.

A large blue digital calendar suddenly appeared to float just inches above his desk which included various documents of particular note in the grand scheme of things. Those being various letters from disgruntled employees, the mythical Time Map, as well as a very old but big guidebook entitled The 8 Simple Rules of Time Travel by Henry Wilson Published Circa January 3, 3003. Simple being more of a suggestion. The past-date 7/14/1835 appeared in the right hand corner of the desk. He picked up one of the many assortment of quill pens scattered about. Dipping the pen in blue glowy multi-dimensional ink, he made a notch on the calendar which had twenty-three such other notches and a few question marks. He threw the pen to the side, and waved his hand over the calendar until it disappeared a moment later.
The activist breathed in as the smoke filled his lungs and for a moment he was enjoying the soothing experience. He also momentarily forgot about any more threats that might be lurking around the corner. They had been through quite the journey together and to soil the occasion with 19th century crap weed seemed a waste. He spoke to it like it was his pet, “What’s so important about you anyway,” cursing the inanimate object he almost died for on multiple occasions. It never once dawned on him that it wouldn’t be good for business if the world’s top anti-time travel activist was caught in the upstairs parlor of a saloon in the old west where he had hidden out for the past month, but some sense of moral ambiguity did nag at him, which he couldn’t quite place.

He exhaled and then chuckled manically. The clarity from some long ago genetic programming returned as a smirk appeared on his face. His hazel brown eyes danced crazily as he was hypnotized by the stream of smoke rising up from the eagle’s beak. When it reached the brim of his cowboy hat and swirled around the top of his head, he snorted and choked as it tickled at the remaining bloody stub of what was once his right ear. Though most people knew not to use multi-dimensional objects, especially for their smoking habits, Robert Carpenter wasn’t like most people.

He smiled and was pleased with himself as he continued reading his notes by candlelight. In his rough calloused hands was a notice from the future he couldn’t possibly believe. It had detailed the harrowing account of his construction firm, The Carpenter Group, which in his absence had become obsessed with the newest mixed reality technology. “Fancy word for time manipulation device,” he growled to himself as the bald eagle dangled from his lips, his moment of contentment quickly fleeting.
He sat there pouting and pondered the future while various live photographs in horseshoe frames that hung the walls swam by in the fog as he scanned his dimly lit room. The picture which he was proudest of soon came into focus. It showed an eleven-year-old girl waving at him. She was dressed in a pink dress and pigtails. The little girl’s black bangs danced across her eyebrows as she cheerfully dangled her legs in the air. He could almost feel the controls again as his future counterpart operated the connected crane. Like the proud papa he was he remembered moving the last piece of steel beam in place like it was yesterday. Although it actually hadn’t happened yet. The picture was taken four hundred years in the future.

The world famous Carpenter Bridge would have been seen as technological wonder by the people here in the 1800s. Even when he was from circa the mid-23rd century, people told him it couldn’t be done, and the only one who really believed in him was the little lady on the steel beam in that photograph, his daughter Juliet. Of course father and daughter had proved them wrong. The connection to Alaska and Russia proved a lucrative trade route between both countries and he managed to do it without time travel or The Wilson Family! That was a rare occasion these days he thought to himself, remembering teaching Juliet all the dangers of time travel. He finished smoking, emptied the bald eagle, and slipped it into the deep pockets of his chaps for safe keeping.

He stared at the reports or smaller internal memos from still loyal employees, which seemed to confirm his greatest fears. What’s worse is that these reports seem to indicate that Juliet was changing her tune even faster than anybody realized. Extreme changes on construction and building policies and how even the inter-office was quickly adapting to using time manipulation devices to fill out paperwork! It was simply outrageous! Robert thought to himself as he read multiple accounts of employees complaining about harsh age discrimination brought on by fears of too much radiation from time travel experience. How that worked he never quite understood as it seemed counterintuitive, but he chalked it up to the illogicality of modern-future politics.

A train whistle screaming in the distance reminded him that he was on a deadline and had a limited window in which to read over his reports before he had to get moving again. He breathed out unhappily as dried bloody flakes fell from what was left of his ears. He brushed the notes off like that was a completely painless and normal occurrence. Perhaps it will be one day, he smiled to himself. An alert on his Timex calculator watch went off at the same time he simultaneously remembered the importance of this past-date. Despite his daughter’s betrayal he knew all he had to do to stop her was to simply walk through a portal, go back to the future at a point in time where she was most vulnerable to pro-time travel messages! That was easy enough right, but the tricky part was causing or finding a distraction big enough to keep the Temporal Consortium’s authorities busy in order to avoid detection. Luckily he had one.

Somehow the promise to a friend to retrieve that peculiar bald eagle had kept him distracted from the sweeping changes going on inside the Carpenter Group as well as the fate of the future. Racing across the old west and hiding from Indians would make anybody lose track of time, but now anti-time travel activists needed their leader back more than ever...
 

Toby Frost

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Other people will probably go into more detail and make a better job of critiquing than me, but my main thoughts are:

The writing is technically fine, in that the grammar, spelling etc is right. I thought that there was a slight tendency to use a particular sentence structure, that looks like this: “He did X with Y, which was a thing that [information about Y]”. What this means, for me, is that the drama of the situation tails off when the explanation for Y is given.

I feel that there is too much priming of the reader going on, and that any tension from the start disappears very quickly (especially when he literally forgets that he’s in danger). Everything connected to his present very quickly becomes a recollection or some information that isn’t directly related to the trouble that he’s in. After all, his ear is mangled. I’d have thought that he’d be thinking about that. One way of approaching this might be to look through the extract and ruthlessly remove everything that isn’t directly related to what he’s doing right now: every explanation, every side-thought he has about anything other than his immediate predicament. Those bits can be put in later, but at the moment it feels rather rambling, and that the story hasn’t really got going yet.
 

Brian G Turner

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If we're meant to be engaged by this as a science fiction story then we're missing any closeness to the character, and there's nothing that seems to be happening in this opening - it's just someone talking to themselves and reminiscing. You said action-packed scenes follow, but your story is supposed to start in the first line.

There's also a clumsiness to the prose - count how many verbs you're using in any particular sentence, and think on how you can simplify this, because every time you use a verb you provide a focus for a reader, and the more that appear in a sentence the more disorientating it can be. I'm also left wondering what your literary inspirations are for this, because your style seems very dated. Take a closer look at more recent novels you're reading and how they structure their sentences.

As ever, I always recommend reading Wonderbook by Jeff Vandermeer about the technicalities of writing, because IMO your lack of adherence to these is undermining the story you are trying to tell.
 

OHB

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Chapter One: The Trouble with Bob

An arrow with a big “W” etched on the side was launched (passive voice) from the top floor of Buckingham Palace, and within moments glided on top a glistening river between The Grand Canyon with ease, nicked a drowning polar bear in the neck, and whizzed past a Pharaoh’s face before finding its way smack into the desk leg belonging to the famous anti-time travel activist Robert Carpenter. He fumbled through the pages gathered on top of it (on top of what?) as he wacked the arrow out of the way without even turning around. Blood trickled down from his back thigh as it bounced behind him, and splinters sprang up all over. (If the splinters caused the wound, blood can't be trickling down his leg as the splinters are flying. It would happen after.) Even though it had caused a mark, he was not exactly impressed with this latest assassination attempt. “They’re gonna have to try harder than that,” he mumbled to himself. Unnerved by his would-be attackers (They are attackers, not would-be attackers.), he lit the hemp in a peculiar-looking (peculiar to whom?) bald eagle shaped pipe to steady what little anxiety that might have risen in his system subconsciously.

A large blue digital calendar suddenly appeared to float just inches above his desk which included various documents of particular note in the grand scheme of things. Those being various letters from disgruntled employees, the mythical Time Map, as well as a very old but big guidebook entitled The 8 Simple Rules of Time Travel by Henry Wilson Published Circa January 3, 3003. Simple being more of a suggestion. The past-date 7/14/1835 appeared in the right hand corner of the desk. He picked up one of the many assortment of quill pens scattered about. Dipping the pen in blue glowy multi-dimensional ink, he made a notch on the calendar which had twenty-three such other notches and a few question marks. (He can't dip the pen in the ink and make the note at the same time.) He threw the pen to the side, and waved his hand over the calendar until it disappeared a moment later.
The activist breathed in as the smoke filled his lungs (Again, these are not simultaneous actions. He breathes in and then the smoke fills his lungs.) and for a moment he was enjoying the soothing experience. He also momentarily forgot about any more threats that might be lurking around the corner. They had been through quite the journey together (they?) and to soil the occasion with 19th century crap weed seemed a waste. He spoke to it like it was his pet (spoke to what? The pipe?), “What’s so important about you anyway,” cursing the inanimate object he almost died for on multiple occasions. It never once dawned on him that it wouldn’t be good for business if the world’s top anti-time travel activist was caught in the upstairs parlor of a saloon in the old west where he had hidden out for the past month, but some sense of moral ambiguity did nag at him, which he couldn’t quite place. (We're in his head. If this thought never occurred to him, how do we know it?)

He exhaled and then chuckled manically. The clarity from some long ago genetic programming returned as a smirk appeared on his face. His hazel brown eyes danced crazily (he can't see his own eyes. Is this meant to be omniscient POV?) as he was hypnotized by the stream of smoke rising up from the eagle’s beak. When it reached the brim of his cowboy hat and swirled around the top of his head, he snorted and choked as it tickled at the remaining bloody stub of what was once his right ear. Though most people knew not to use multi-dimensional objects (aren't all objects multi-dimensional?), especially for their smoking habits, Robert Carpenter wasn’t like most people.

He smiled and was pleased with himself as he continued reading his notes by candlelight. In his rough calloused hands was a notice from the future he couldn’t possibly believe. It had detailed the harrowing account of his construction firm, The Carpenter Group, which in his absence had become obsessed with the newest mixed reality technology. “Fancy word for time manipulation device,” he growled to himself as the bald eagle dangled from his lips, his moment of contentment quickly fleeting.
He sat there pouting and pondered the future while various live photographs in horseshoe frames that hung the walls swam by in the fog as he scanned his dimly lit room. The picture which he was proudest of soon came into focus. It showed an eleven-year-old girl waving at him. She was dressed in a pink dress and pigtails. The little girl’s black bangs danced across her eyebrows as she cheerfully dangled her legs in the air. (Is she sitting on something or floating in the air?) He could almost feel the controls again as his future counterpart operated the connected crane. (Thoughts suddenly shifted to construction firm?) Like the proud papa he was he remembered moving the last piece of steel beam in place like it was yesterday. Although it actually hadn’t happened yet. The picture was taken four hundred years in the future.

The world famous Carpenter Bridge would have been seen as technological wonder by the people here in the 1800s. Even when he was from circa the mid-23rd century, people told him it couldn’t be done, and the only one who really believed in him was the little lady on the steel beam in that photograph, his daughter Juliet. Of course father and daughter had proved them wrong. The connection to Alaska and Russia proved a lucrative trade route between both countries (The vast majority of the Russian population lives in western Russia. Unless you're talking about trading with the small towns in the east, it's likely faster and cheaper to go through Europe. Russia spans 11 time zones; going from way east to way west isn't easy.) and he managed to do it without time travel or The Wilson Family! That was a rare occasion these days he thought to himself, remembering teaching Juliet all the dangers of time travel. He finished smoking, emptied the bald eagle, and slipped it into the deep pockets of his chaps for safe keeping.

He stared at the reports or smaller internal memos from still loyal employees, which seemed to confirm his greatest fears. What’s worse is that these reports seem to indicate that Juliet was changing her tune even faster than anybody realized. Extreme changes on construction and building policies and how even the inter-office was quickly adapting to using time manipulation devices to fill out paperwork! It was simply outrageous! Robert thought to himself as he read multiple accounts of employees complaining about harsh age discrimination brought on by fears of too much radiation from time travel experience. How that worked he never quite understood as it seemed counterintuitive, but he chalked it up to the illogicality of modern-future politics. (Instead of summarizing all these reports he's reading, you could write out portions of them for the readers to see. i.e. Show instead of tell.)

A train whistle screaming in the distance reminded him that he was on a deadline and had a limited window in which to read over his reports before he had to get moving again. He breathed out unhappily as dried bloody flakes fell from what was left of his ears. He brushed the notes off like that was a completely painless and normal occurrence. Perhaps it will be one day, he smiled to himself. An alert on his Timex calculator watch went off at the same time he simultaneously remembered the importance of this past-date. Despite his daughter’s betrayal he knew all he had to do to stop her was to simply walk through a portal, go back to the future at a point in time where she was most vulnerable to pro-time travel messages! (So much contradiction. He hates time travel but will use it to go back in time to tell his daughter not to use time travel.) That was easy enough right, but the tricky part was causing or finding a distraction big enough to keep the Temporal Consortium’s authorities busy in order to avoid detection. (Can they detect whenever someone uses time travel? It isn't clear.) Luckily he had one.

Somehow the promise to a friend to retrieve that peculiar bald eagle (What does the pipe have to do with anything?) had kept him distracted from the sweeping changes going on inside the Carpenter Group as well as the fate of the future. Racing across the old west and hiding from Indians (oh, please) would make anybody lose track of time, but now anti-time travel activists needed their leader back more than ever...
In-depth notes in green in the quote above. There are some logistical issues I pointed out, but one that I didn't mention above is that there is no clear reason why the time travelers (who clearly want Robert dead) don't just travel to the Old West and kill him. They must know exactly where he is because they were able to shoot an arrow into his desk. I'm assuming Robert is a criminal. He clearly went to the Old West without authorization. So why do they allow him to stay there? There may be something that explains all of this, but it's not presented in this opening. I have such little idea of how the society operates and how Robert operates. All I know is that they use time travel a lot and he doesn't like it. I don't know why he's opposed to time travel, nor do I know what specific acts he has committed to anger them to the point that they're willing to shoot him. These are all things I'd like to know early on in a story. Without them, I can't get a feel for the character or the situation he's in.

Speaking as someone who has also spent nearly a decade working on a novel about a time-traveling society (go figure), I know it is *bleeping* hard to come up with a beginning that provides readers with all the info they need to understand how time travel is used while still being engaging. I still haven't figured out mine. It can be really frustrating when you think you've finally gotten it and then a dodo like me comes along and says it's not working. All I can say is keep trying. Aside from that, reading and writing critiques of other people's work can help you recognize what does and doesn't work as a beginning to a novel. I know that critiquing others' work has been invaluable to me as I edit my novel for the 5 millionth time.

Best of luck!
 

Cli-Fi

John J. Falco
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After all, his ear is mangled. I’d have thought that he’d be thinking about that. One way of approaching this might be to look through the extract and ruthlessly remove everything that isn’t directly related to what he’s doing right now: every explanation, every side-thought he has about anything other than his immediate predicament. Those bits can be put in later, but at the moment it feels rather rambling, and that the story hasn’t really got going yet.
I have a big plan for the ears, some of which is explored further in the first chapter/second chapter. A big event happens on the train which is alluded to here. I was thinking of moving that portion up closer to the attack in his office.
 

Cli-Fi

John J. Falco
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In-depth notes in green in the quote above. There are some logistical issues I pointed out, but one that I didn't mention above is that there is no clear reason why the time travelers (who clearly want Robert dead) don't just travel to the Old West and kill him. They must know exactly where he is because they were able to shoot an arrow into his desk. I'm assuming Robert is a criminal. He clearly went to the Old West without authorization. So why do they allow him to stay there? There may be something that explains all of this, but it's not presented in this opening. I have such little idea of how the society operates and how Robert operates. All I know is that they use time travel a lot and he doesn't like it. I don't know why he's opposed to time travel, nor do I know what specific acts he has committed to anger them to the point that they're willing to shoot him. These are all things I'd like to know early on in a story. Without them, I can't get a feel for the character or the situation he's in.

Speaking as someone who has also spent nearly a decade working on a novel about a time-traveling society (go figure), I know it is *bleeping* hard to come up with a beginning that provides readers with all the info they need to understand how time travel is used while still being engaging. I still haven't figured out mine. It can be really frustrating when you think you've finally gotten it and then a dodo like me comes along and says it's not working. All I can say is keep trying. Aside from that, reading and writing critiques of other people's work can help you recognize what does and doesn't work as a beginning to a novel. I know that critiquing others' work has been invaluable to me as I edit my novel for the 5 millionth time.

Best of luck!
Haha oh wow that is awesome! We worked on similar things. I explain part of the world after this scene but it seems like based on the feedback I should cut this out and move up what he sees/does in the next scene. That's why I kinda wanted to put my first five pages here as this is only two-ish. The next scene takes place on the train which explains the world a lot more and is more action-filled being that it's a temporal terrorist attack which sets up the division inside this society. I guess I wanted to set up the main characters more talk about their hopes and dreams more than the society itself.

Basically, time travel is really advanced here. The Wilson family invented and controls time travel and I've tried things from their POV but it just doesn't work as well as from Robert's and Juliet's. So now The Wilsons (from Robert's POV) are just looming monsters in the background who also pretty much own the government/Temporal Consortium with politicians that are bought and paid for. And it all operates like some big tech company where normal everyday people don't quite understand it, they just know it works, maintain a sense of rule-following/morals, and go about their normal day using the technology/devices like there's nothing nefarious going on in the background. The whole premise is that time travel just works like Apple products and society isn't too keen on figuring out the nuts and bolts and I allude to human rights abuses like such companies do in the present and that people just ignore it. Time Travel is too cool and too much part of society to give up like that. So as to your monitoring concerns, yes they do monitor whereabouts, but it's not that simple. Just like how Apple or Facebook, "monitors," you but don't necessarily do anything about it.

Robert is a national political figure on the small but loud other side of this issue. He is fully aware that he is a hypocrite though he's a little concerned about being exposed as one. He doesn't want to ban time travel (unlike some in his group), he doesn't want to prevent others from using it (unlike some in his group), he just doesn't like it and wants to highlight those reasons anyway he can. I'm not sure this makes for a good protagonist but Juliet changing her views (based on influences by personal interactions with the Wilson family) on time travel really affects him and has him sympathizing with the terrorists that you see throughout the book. This is explained more in the first 5-10 pages after this portion.
 
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Toby Frost

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That's not really what I mean. Say some monster or lunatic rips off part of my ear. From that point on, until I am safe and my wound is dressed, almost everything I think and do will be about the ear. My thoughts will involve: getting to safety, getting the wound sorted out, how much it hurts, hiding from the enemy, being unable to act properly because of the wound, even just plain fear of my enemy. At the moment, there's no sense of that. It's almost like saying "Oh, by the way, his ear had come off. But anyway..."

I don't want to bang on about this, but a lot of your comments seem to say that the issues will get sorted out at a later point in the story. But that won't matter if the reader doesn't get to that point. However you choose to open the story, whether with violent action or something more subtle and low-key, it needs to grip the reader's attention, and I don't think it's doing that right now.
 

L.L.Lotte

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I always feel mean saying negative stuff in critiques, but there is some serious issues I have with the realism of this scene.

That first sentence is the worst of it, but I guess it clearly sets the picture that this will be comedy, or at least it makes me think it might be -- I'm a little unsure about this because you don't say anything about comedy in your little intro, instead referring to it as a "dystopian scifi saga," which to me means it is intended to be serious... But even for comedy, it just seems so impossible that I find I cannot suspend my disbelief and enjoy it.

So some how an arrow is shot from the UK, ends up crossing the ocean to the Grand Canyon in the US, then I'm assuming it is deflected north to Canada/Alaska where it hits a Polar Bear, and is once again deflected southeast to Egypt because that's where people would assume the pharaoh would be, until finally going back to America... the logistics behind that is insane.

I'm guessing there is some special time-travel forces in play, hinted at by the mention of the pharaoh? But it is so vague that I'm left picturing a Hanna-Barbera cartoon style scene of this arrow zipping around the world.

Then we get to the way the character handles it, which is also unrealistic. I'm also trying to figure out if the damage to his ear was caused by the arrow, because at the time you only mention the bleeding from his thigh, yet later mention the ear again as if it is a new wound. His lack of reaction to either wounds, well... nobody would just dismiss an arrowhead cutting their thigh, or all those splinters, and especially wouldn't dismiss that wound to his ear.

Even though it had caused a mark, he was not exactly impressed with this latest assassination attempt. “They’re gonna have to try harder than that,” he mumbled to himself. Unnerved by his would-be attackers, he lit the hemp in a peculiar-looking bald eagle shaped pipe to steady what little anxiety that might have risen in his system subconsciously.
So here you have a contradiction in what the character is feeling. You say he "isn't impressed" which to me means whoever shot that arrow had failed to scare him. But then you say he is "unnerved," which means they did actually scare him. Yet that final bit, "what little anxiety that might have risen" suggests that he doesn't actually know he is unnerved.

ping pong contradiction there.

And throughout the rest of it, I just can't help but feel the unhinged nature of the character is a bit too much. You're going overboard on portraying the crazy in him -- "chuckling manically", "eyes danced crazily", ignoring bleeding wounds. And honestly, if you want him to be the PoV character then I'd suggest to think about how he would picture himself. Isn't it the case that unhinged people rarely recognize that they are going insane? They look insane to people, but in their own mind they have a special sort of clarity that justifies the way they act.

I'm reminded of Pirates of the Caribbean -- I know, fiction -- But, in the words of Captain Jack Sparrow, "Crazy people don't know they're crazy. I know I'm crazy, therefore I'm not crazy, isn't that crazy?"

So a lot of it I don't really understand at first read through. It's him talking about things that he knows, but I am left feeling it is so vague that I can't really know the meaning and relevance of what he is saying without sitting there and reading each paragraph over multiple times. I think what is going on with this scene, and it isn't just this paragraph, is that you as the author know what you are talking about because you know the behind the scenes details. But a reader coming in fresh to this is going to see a disjointed flow of thoughts that are confusing.

It's like one of those exercises teachers get kids to do at school. They make one person write an instruction manual, then they get the second person to try follow the instructions exactly without any extra help and see if the instructions work. Majority of the time, they don't, because the person writing them fails to explain everything properly. They think they have, but their mind is playing tricks on them because they know more than what they are writing down.

What I assume is going on here is he is reminiscing about his journey with the pipe and how precious it is to him, yet he doesn't know why, and then unnaturally goes off on a completely separate tangent about the trouble he would be in if he was caught here in the past, using the time travel methods he supposedly is against... but somebody shot that arrow at him, so they already know where he is... so him worrying about being discovered is another contradiction.

If you want to get on to his worrying about being discovered, then the train of though doesn't flow well and needs to be changed to happen more naturally. The reminiscence of the pipe isn't enough to get us there.

Ultimately, I think this is why the opening doesn't work, because it is written like the middle of a story, where we are supposed to know more about the world and characters than we do. You don't have to explain everything in the opening, but what you're dealing with is so complicated that it cannot be left so vague. All of it is stuff which you might understand, but the reader cannot understand until later -- you know this, you're using that explained later as an argument, but I'm with Toby on this one -- which, in my opinion, makes it a poor opening. I'd go back to the drawing board with this one. Sorry.



On other notes. You stated that you're using Robert as the PoV character here, but it doesn't actually read like he is the PoV. It is more inclined towards omniscient, especially considering it starts from the PoV of the arrow. But the way the character's emotions are described is so distant that it feels like a fly on the wall talking about the character from an outside perspective. You aren't in the head of the character, especially when you start doing stuff like mentioning the colour of his eyes.

You're using way too many adverbs/adjectives to describe his feelings, which is what they call telling rather than showing. You want to show the reader what the character is feeling. And you're also doing both telling AND showing to describe the same action/feeling. For example:

Even though it had caused a mark, he was not exactly impressed with this latest assassination attempt. “They’re gonna have to try harder than that,” he mumbled to himself.
It would have been good enough to just have him whack aside the arrow and then say, “They’re gonna have to try harder than that.” You don't need to say that he wasn't impressed. It is redundant telling.

other examples of where the distance is an issue:

He smiled and was pleased with himself as he continued reading his notes by candlelight. In his rough calloused hands was a notice from the future he couldn’t possibly believe. It had detailed the harrowing account of his construction firm, The Carpenter Group, which in his absence had become obsessed with the newest mixed reality technology. “Fancy word for time manipulation device,” he growled to himself as the bald eagle dangled from his lips, his moment of contentment quickly fleeting.
Why was he pleased? Don't just say he was pleased, give us the thought he had that pleased him. That entire paragraph suffers from the distance from the character. The lack of personal thoughts in this makes the ping pong emotions of going from pleased to angry far too jarring.

The picture which he was proudest of soon came into focus. It showed an eleven-year-old girl waving at him. She was dressed in a pink dress and pigtails. The little girl’s black bangs danced across her eyebrows as she cheerfully dangled her legs in the air. He could almost feel the controls again as his future counterpart operated the connected crane. Like the proud papa he was he remembered moving the last piece of steel beam in place like it was yesterday. Although it actually hadn’t happened yet. The picture was taken four hundred years in the future.
Show us a reaction to him seeing the picture, don't just tell us he was proud. Also, you start describing her as "the little girl" which is once again distance from the character. She isn't "the little girl" to him, is she? Think of it this way, if you have a daughter, and was looking at a picture of her, would you refer to her as "little girl" ...... the answer is no. Naturally, you'd use their name, or, his daughter, etc. Little girl is what the character would use if he didn't know the identity of the child.



Also, check your use of suddenly and seemed. If we are in the head of the character, then the calendar didn't appear "suddenly," he triggered it. How? What action did he take to cause it to appear? Your character seemed to know stuff a lot. Describing thoughts in that way is also omniscient narrator style description and distances us from the character. He doesn't seem to know anything. He either knows it, or he doesn't. Ask the question, why does he seem to know it? Write the answer to that question instead of using seemed description.

With the overall descriptions of simultaneous actions, OHB is spot on with all the logistical inconsistencies, so I don't have to worry about repeating all them. But I'll point out another one I had issue with:

An alert on his Timex calculator watch went off at the same time he simultaneously remembered the importance of this past-date.
He remembered the importance before the alarm went off, or was it that the alarm going off is what reminded him? More natural that it would be the latter, in which case, he didn't simultaneously remember it at all, the remembrance came after the alarm because it was triggered by the alarm.

Racing across the old west and hiding from Indians would make anybody lose track of time, but now anti-time travel activists needed their leader back more than ever...
You're going to get roasted alive for lightheartedly disparaging Native Americans in that sentence.

I would recommend doing some research on Deep PoV. I'm here shaking my head in disbelief at all the wasted potential in this scene. It could be rich and powerful, if you just got directly inside of the character's head.

I'm brutal, I know. Sorry.
 
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Cli-Fi

John J. Falco
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Ultimately, I think this is why the opening doesn't work, because it is written like the middle of a story, where we are supposed to know more about the world and characters than we do. You don't have to explain everything in the opening, but what you're dealing with is so complicated that it cannot be left so vague. All of it is stuff which you might understand, but the reader cannot understand until later -- you know this, you're using that explained later as an argument, but I'm with Toby on this one -- which, in my opinion, makes it a poor opening. I'd go back to the drawing board with this one. Sorry.
Yeah most of the other openings that I've started I was told I explained too much so it was kinda funny reading this from someone new saying that I was too vague, if I started with the terrorist attack which really throws the whole society upside down and exposes a lot of things about the time manipulation devices, do you think that would be a better beginning? The terrorist attack on the train starts around page 3.
 

L.L.Lotte

The Anime King
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Yeah most of the other openings that I've started I was told I explained too much so it was kinda funny reading this from someone new saying that I was too vague, if I started with the terrorist attack which really throws the whole society upside down and exposes a lot of things about the time manipulation devices, do you think that would be a better beginning? The terrorist attack on the train starts around page 3.
Well I've not read it, so i dont know.

But my point was that it's not about what happens during the opening, it's about the way it is written. This opening here can work fine but it needs further revision.
 

SciFrac

WIP me into shape!
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I really like the ideas with time travel your using here, but I also agree with the comments above. Some things you’ve explained too much, the ear things seems unrealistic as a human reaction, and I’m definitely not feeling close to him as a character. There’s too much distance to grab me, but it shouldn’t take much to correct that. Keep going!
 
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