1. nippy818
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    nippy818 Active Member

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    Am I being too detailed...

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by nippy818, Mar 31, 2014.

    I was hoping to get some constructive criticism for the introduction to my book. i have been outlining for 3 months and have finally jumped in and sadly i feel as though i may be getting to descriptive already. any pointers would be awesome.

    The smell of sulfur. that was the first thing to hit me when the airlock opened. The smell of sulfur and the multi-colored plasma screaming at near sonic speeds. back and forth. The first war since the terraforming of the solar system and I was met with the smell of the primitive weapons the ancients used. We were there to protect the treaty, the one document that held all peace together, the one that that bound mankind into one being and we , the enforcers had arrived to quell the rebellion. The great Marines of the twin system the military arm of the Agents of Zion we the Peacekeepers.
     
  2. Andrae Smith
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    Andrae Smith Gone exploring... in the inner realm... Contributor

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    Hey there Nick,

    I would say you are being a little too descriptive if these are your opening lines. We don't know where we are or, more importantly, whose head we are in. The info you've presented can come a little later. I'd make a note about some of the mechanics, but that is best done in the Workshop.

    Best,

    Andrae
     
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2014
  3. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    First of all, welcome to the forum. You may want to read the forum rules, particularly those related to posting work for review.

    I agree with Andrae. It's not a question of how much detail but rather whether or not you are pulling the reader in. This doesn't. It actually reads as if you are picturing a movie in your head and trying to describe what you see.
     
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  4. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    Welcome to the forums, nippy818!

    When I read the opening paragraph, I'm looking for two things:

    #1- Whose head am I in?

    #2- What's the setting, and what's generally going on? Where is this narrator? What is he/she doing?

    For this paragraph, I would start off with "We are the Agents of Zion, the Peacekeepers against the rebellion..." Right away I would know what this book will generally be about, and whoever is narrating this is obviously part of some force that is fighting an uprising. Then I would go on to give this nameless narrator an identity, a name shouted at this narrator and a quick "We have to escape this ship!" Then proceed.
     
  5. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    There was a little sci-fi show once called Space: Above and Beyond. It had all the makings of a great show if only it had been made about ten years later when "dark and gritty" had come into vogue. Anyway, this little opening sounds just like the opening to that show. It has a ring of propaganda to it, like I'm supposed to feel impressed and vaguely intimidated by the badassery of this league of ass-kicking "...great Marines of the twin system the military arm of the Agents of Zion we the Peacekeepers.." Do they really have three names or are those different options and you haven't decided on one yet? The missing commas is making me lean toward the latter, but you tell me.

    Anyway, this works for TV where you have to sell a quick visual to get the people invested before the commercial comes on and they go to the bathroom or change the channel. For a story you need to sell me on the character, the person whose POV I'm getting into or next to, not on how badass and studly/patriotic/heroic the guys are in Kill-Force 17.
     
  6. nippy818
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    nippy818 Active Member

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    thank you guys for the helpful insight thus far. I will have to bring more to the table when i have contributed enough to get into the workshops. I believe this thread may be slated for deletion.
     
  7. Atari
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    Atari Active Member

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    Perhaps it is my contrary nature, but I consider this opening fascinating. There is enough information that I understand what is happening, and then a bit more information so that I know something will happen.

    Give me a PM if you wanna share more.
     
  8. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    I think some of the details are great, some are too explain-y and can wait. But if you juggle some of the opening elements around and create a scene fueled with action, I think it would work better.
     
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  9. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    I think that's a cracker of an opening idea. You hit us immediately with something we can relate to (the stink of sulphur) then let us know this is the first war since terraforming (a very advanced technology), but the plasma and sulphur smelled like simple weapons the ancients had used. This is not only informative, but philosophical. I like it a lot.

    Perhaps this would be the spot to interject something personal here, from the narrator's point of view. What does this make him/her think about (however briefly.) No matter how far advanced we are, we can't escape our roots ...or something like that? (I'm not suggesting the wording, only the basic idea.) I'd maybe add another sentence or two here, just to develop that thought a little bit ...not too much. Developing the thought will also help develop the character. And bang, we're inside your narrator's head.

    Then move on to the bit about who he/she (we) are, and what they're doing, etc.

    Oh, and watch your punctuation. You've made a couple of mistakes which I've corrected in red.
     
  10. nippy818
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    nippy818 Active Member

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    Thank you very much jannert for the response and the corrections. i have found this site to be extremely helpful with a very active community.
     
  11. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Yep, we're a bouncy bunch, that's for sure! :)
     
  12. Thomas Kitchen
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    Thomas Kitchen Proofreader in the Making Contributor

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    The sentences I have highlighted are in my opinion excellent and don't need any editing, at least not until you've written your entire story and know where exactly it's going. After these lines, however, I think the information could be far more spread out. Try instead to focus on the characters' thoughts, or even go for some dialogue.

    Just ask yourself: does the reader need to know this right now, or can it wait? Would it have more of an impact if I introduced the sentence later? As this is the start of the story, don't worry about placing every bit of info in front of the readers; instead think about what would draw the reader into the experience even more. How can I set the scene? Maybe I should introduce another character. And so on. Question your work, because it will help.

    Nice work so far, though. I think I would still keep reading! :)
     
  13. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    There's nothing wrong with description, or opening with description for that matter. Don't fall into the trap of thinking "Because it starts with description, it must be bad." No. The only thing that matters is whether it grips the reader, and description can do that just fine if it's well-written.

    Now as for your opening...

    The sulfur smell is excellent. It is description, but it's description that immediately lets me sense and taste something. It's vivid, and puts me in the scene right away. I think it's great.

    You fall short when you get to "The first war..." - thereafter - it's not a matter of description. What you're doing is not description - description sets the scene of where the characters are and how the environment may look/feel/smell etc. What you have, by telling us about the ancients and treaty binding all of mankind together, is infodump. THAT's what makes it bad.

    Your infodump is pretty loaded. To be honest, you could probably still include the same information but dish it out little by little, weaving it in to the rest of the actual environment they're in. There's the smell of sulfur, great, but now where are they? What does everything look like? Is the character with someone else? Are they entering a shuttle, a port, a ship, a shed, what?

    I would break it down a little, feed the info between bits of story where the info is relevant.

    Anyway, I didn't find it so bad as it stands. It's interesting enough that I may have read on. But no, it doesn't hook me. But then again, I don't normally read sci-fi lol.


     

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