The first 3 pages.

Ian Fortytwo

A Poet, Writer and eclectic Reader.
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These are the first 3 pages of my novel for your perusal. I have reached the 3rd chapter. I'm quite excited how I'm progressing. Any comments are welcome. Thank you.
 
Am I right in thinking this is your novel for children, Ian? Have you decided what age group it's for?

You might want to check the openings of recent published novels for whatever age range you've hit on, just to get an idea of how best to start the story. I'm pretty sure that for YA, publishers would want the start to be a lot less info-dumpy and much more in the voice of the child narrator, and I imagine it's the same for novels for younger children. So instead of a rather plain and pedestrian history lesson, it might be an idea to make the beginning a little more dramatic eg (just off the top of my head):

When Grandad was my age, he should have died at the Battle of Whoknowswhere. He'd just been hit by a Whatever, tearing his arm apart -- none of the conscripts had armour of any kind -- and he would have bled to death, for they had no medics or medical supplies out there. But then, out of nowhere, the Stranger appeared, in the middle of the battlefield.​

Obviously, the younger age you're going for, the less gory you'd want to make it, but I think the premise still holds good -- you want the reader, however old, to want to read further.

Prose-wise, I noticed a few spelling mistakes eg it should be "environment" "rhythm" "Vaughan". As and when you type this up, Word or whatever will presumably catch any typos of this kind, but it's always best not to rely on it as it would most likely miss something like the "sometime" you've got which in this context should be "some time" ie two words.

Word would probably also point out the odd missing words and/or incomplete sentences you've got in there eg "Whether it was the same person or a hologram projected onto each war zone." needs something to finish it off eg "I don't know." Similarly "Amongst the music Grandad** heard Vivaldi and Ralph Vaughan Williams" doesn't read right even if you're pausing after "music" (which would require a comma) and it really needs something like "were pieces by". As to which line, incidentally, unless the narrator is trained in classical music, I doubt that s/he would be talking of either composer even if the grandfather actually knew the names.

But I'm not sure if Word would also catch the comma splice punctuation errors you're consistently making eg "I live on a planet that was once called Earth, however as of this year it has been renamed Paradise." -- the comma there isn't strong enough to separate out the two clauses. In that particular case if you used "but" instead of "however" it would be OK, but in the others I noticed, and in this one if you're wedded to "however" (though frankly it doesn't seem a word a child/young person would use) you need to use a semi-colon, or turn the lines into two sentences, or rephrase them altogether.

You've also got some odd wordings that need rethinking eg "It was then that grass, trees and flowers had grown" -- the pluperfect (aka past perfect) tense of "had grown" doesn't work with "was then" -- the tenses need to be the same ie "was growing" but it still feels a little off since "then" relates to time while the grass etc requires talk of a place. It's best amended to something like "It was then everyone noticed that grass, trees and flowers had grown" which works with the mixed tenses and doesn't require a place.

So, overall, not a bad first effort, but I do think it needs more work both as to the storytelling aspect of how to begin a story and the voice, and as to the grammatical issues surrounding the prose itself.


** It's capital G when referring to him directly as in this line, but lower case g when it's eg "my grandad"
 
Thank you. It is not meant to be a young adult or child's novel. The grandson is 25 as is grandad in 2055. I want it to be exciting without the gore. I am aiming to write it in a cosy way, without too much threat or menace. Writing longhand is thoroughly satisfying for me. I know that once I put in electronic form word document etc, I'll correct spelling and grammar.
 
Ah, right. If this isn't YA or younger, then in my view you really need to rethink how you're writing this -- to my mind it simply isn't anywhere near impactful enough as an opening to encourage anyone to read further, nor is the simplistic language and style evidenced here going to win you any favours.

It's perfectly possible to write something exciting without descending into grimdark gore, but I'd suggest that you replace this with something much stronger in relation to content, voice and expression in order to achieve that.

As for spelling and grammar, as I mentioned above, it's best not to rely on Word or anything else, but in any case do please remember that if you know how to correct these things, it's best done before you put work up for critique, so members don't have to waste time and effort pointing out matters you already knew and/or could have corrected yourself.
 
It ends on an interesting note, though we have just warmed up and I would read more. The pace and language are fine but I would have to read more to form an opinion.
 
This sets up an interesting premise. To me, it feels like an exploration of the consequences following The Day The Earth Stood Still. I'm not sure where the story is going (this feels like a prologue), but I am curious about the world that results from this set up.

It's purely a personal preference, but I feel stories told in a sort of diary entry style inject distance between the reader and the characters in the story. There is a little bit of a hook in having the reader wonder why the planet has been renamed Paradise, but only recently after a long delay. I suggest that the telling of the backstory might be more compelling if it was told as a prologue from the perspective of the grandfather. The renaming of the planet could then be deferred to the first chapter and then directly from the perspective of Phoenix. Again, using a direct PoV is merely my bias and I note that several successful novels have been published using the diary or found records style of storytelling.

There is enough here to spark my interest as a reader to understand what has changed recently to compel the renaming of Earth to Paradise and it makes me wonder how paradise-like the world truly is at that point.
 
This is a nice setup. So much exposition.
Could the story instead start with some action taking place in 2100 and all of that backstory information sprinkled in along the way.

Is the path from Here (Earth 2023) to There (Paradise 2100) what the story will be about? If the story is about Paradise 2100 going forward perhaps start the story in 2100 and let the journey from here to there be an interesting reveal.

Phoenix could interact with the lovely people of the future Paradise and we could slowly learn that Paradise was born of Earth, and then as everything is wonderful we could learn that Paradise was born from Earth in just a few short decades. Perhaps human dating restarts with the renaming. Paradise year 1.

Full disclosure: I'm not a huge fan of expositional back story, so my response is directly related to my bias.
 
This is a nice setup. So much exposition.
Could the story instead start with some action taking place in 2100 and all of that backstory information sprinkled in along the way.

Is the path from Here (Earth 2023) to There (Paradise 2100) what the story will be about? If the story is about Paradise 2100 going forward perhaps start the story in 2100 and let the journey from here to there be an interesting reveal.

Phoenix could interact with the lovely people of the future Paradise and we could slowly learn that Paradise was born of Earth, and then as everything is wonderful we could learn that Paradise was born from Earth in just a few short decades. Perhaps human dating restarts with the renaming. Paradise year 1.

Full disclosure: I'm not a huge fan of expositional back story, so my response is directly related to my bias.
Building on that, having the characters DO something to set the future for the discussion is more engaging. Example: They're out camping and sitting around a campfire and the grandson asks his grandfather to tell him a story about "before". You can still get the exposition out there, but frame it as a conversation between two characters that the reader is observing.

That said, world building/conceit exposition dumps at the outset are broadly unengaging. If you look at YA or MG books, they typically start small and with a) something relatable to the target readers (e.g. waking up, eating breakfast, etc.) or b) a very short mystery intro followed by something relatable.
 

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