Nathan Bransford, Author


Monday, July 19, 2010

Page Critique Monday

Time for Monday's page critique! Refresher on how this works:

- If you're interested in submitting a page for a future critique, enter it in this thread in the Forums (and be sure and check out the directions in the first post).
- I use a random number generator to select the winning critique.
- Please please please remember the sandwich rule when offering your thoughts: positive, very very constructive thoughts, positive. I mean it. Err on the side of being nice.

As of this posting there were 305 posts in the thread, and the number that the good machine at random.org gave me was..........

62! But that page was disqualified because it was way more than 250 words. The next number was........

200! Congrats to KRWriter, whose page is below.

I'll be back in a bit with my critique.


Title: Untitled
Genre: YA/sci-fi
250 words

The Earth hung in the blackness, a bright blue and green orb floating in a black sea of stars and silence. Some people still lived on Earth. They chose to stay during the Great Evacuation of 2800. Voya’s people chose to leave the polluted mess and let Earth heal itself. Voya placed her hand against the cool glass, sweaty palm hiding Earth from view, as if trying to block it out. The past few sleepless nights found her tossing in turning in a cold sweat, waking from nightmares she couldn’t forget.

In her dreams, Ark2 crashed to Earth. Earth’s inhabitants were rumored to be hostile, and in the dream attacked the fallen ship. Her dorm room lay in darkness, the only light coming from the stars winking in the sky outside. In a few short hours the morning bell would ring, signaling the start of classes for the day and the beginning of a new school term. Voya climbed back in bed, pulled the covers up to her chin, and squeezed her eyes shut. She was determined to fall asleep again before morning.

The dream started as it always did, with Ark2 crashing to Earth, dragging a plume of flames and smoke behind it. Odd, she thought, to be viewing the crash from outside the ship. Usually she viewed it from a window, clinging to a bare pipe or door frame while the ship shuddered and jolted, everything succumbing to flames outside.






39 comments:

Douglas M. MacIlroy said...

I'm thinking that, viewed from Ark2window, the stars would not be "winking" No atmosphere to bend starlight. Stars would be cold and bright.

Small detail, and perhaps not germane, but that was my first thought upon reading your page.

Aloha, Doug.

Karla Nellenbach said...

First, I must say that the premise sounds intriquing, but I'm having difficulty with the repititive feeling of this page. In the first sentence alone the writer uses "black" twice to describe the surroundings. Also, there is a lot of "in the dream" going on here. I kind of feel like I'm being beaten over the head with Voya's(cool name btw) dream. It is interesting though that the dream has suddenly changed, and I'm left wondering more about the Mass Evacuation of 2800.

IsaiahC said...

I like the concept a lot, and the names are creative, Ark2 a nice archetype to call up to.

I think the page could be tightened up a bit, though. There's a lot of backstory here that could maybe wait til later. Let us see her looking out the window at earth, trying to hide it from her sight, afraid to go to sleep because of her nightmares. Then, if you have to tell us about the dream, cover the backstory there. Or, maybe better yet, have her go get a snack and talk about the dream and backstory to somebody else.
Just an idea.

Maya said...

There's some nice imagery, and I'm intrigued to learn more about the Mass Evacuation. However, I'm not sure about starting with describing a dream, especially going into it twice. Maybe one reference would be enough.

The page could also use some fine-tuned editing: "tossed AND turned" and "HER sweaty palms hiding Earth from view", for example. "Black" is used twice in the first sentence.

Interesting setting though, and you did provide some nice atmosphere. Overall, pretty good.

KRwriter said...

Thanks for the great comments everyone! I will get those things fixed when I edit.
Kara aka KRwriter

KRwriter said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Joseph L. Selby said...

I'm always up for some good post-apocalyptic adventure, so your hook gets my by its very presence. The manner in which you present it, though, seems to cram as much back story into the first 250 words as you can.

This kind of setting isn't new, which works to your favor. You can take your time laying out your world to the reader and they'll understand enough of what's happening that they won't be lost. Cut out the back story and focus on your character.

Also, while I wouldn't expect a YA sci-fi to be hard sci-fi, there are fundamental elements that even soft sci-fi should manage, such as stars winking, atmospheric controls, and direct sunlight.

I look forward to seeing more of your story.

Erica75 said...

I like the imagery included here!Since it's an untitled ms, I wonder if it's still in draft form and in need of a bit of tightening, as others have mentioned. The first sentence could simply read "The Earth hung in a black sea of stars and silence." The beginning of the 2nd paragraph does read a little awkwardly and I think you could easily eliminate the first 2 sentences. I also wonder if the 3rd paragraph contradicts itself. First, she says the dream starts like it always does, but then she acknowledges the change in point of view. I would think about changing it to something like "This time the dream looked different. Ark2 still crashed to Earth, but I was already there, watching from below." (well, something like that) Good work!

gsfields said...

I agree with most of the comments regarding tightening the scene. For me, that means organizing the flow of the scene in a clear, concise way.

You start out good by setting the stage (a space on a ship or station, the exodus, etc...just needs some editing).

Then introduce the conflict. For me the dream doesn't really show the conflict well. Is the ship getting old? Are there some on the ship who want to return to the surface?

Finally, show the reader how Voya feels about the conflict. The dream sequence is a good way to do that, but like some of the others said, a a single dream recall would be more powerful than the two dream descriptions.

Overall, I wanted to read more.

Matthew Rush said...

First of all I love the premise and the opening imagery is nice and vivid. This is a difficult format for critique but I would argue that several sentences ought to be broken up here.

An example of how I would suggest to change the first paragraph:

The Earth hung in the blackness, a bright blue-green orb floating against a black sea of stars and silence. Few people still inhabited it. They chose to stay during the Great Evacuation of 2800. Voya’s people elected to leave the polluted mess and allow the Earth to heal. She placed her hand against the cool glass. Her sweaty palm hid the Earth from view, eclipsing it. Lately sleepless nights found her tossing and turning in a cold sweat, waking from nightmares she could not forget.

I think you have some good writing here, and a very intriguing premise. I think it will impact readers even more if you can tighten up your sentences. Experiment with using short, terse sentences to bring more emphasis to certain ideas.

Great start KRWriter!

Rebecca Murray said...

I like it for a YA story. Good imagry. Two issues: the first paragraph started out with "The Earth" then all other uses were simply "Earth." Might want to pick one or the other. Second, repeting the open scene for the dream in sequencial paragraphs. Paragraph 3 would have been fine with "as she fell asleep, visions of flames... ect." Other than that, I give that two thimbs up. It caught and held my interest nicely!

Katie said...

This is an intriguing premise and world, but after the first sentence I don't even have a chance to get hooked on the real story before being distracted and weighed down with back story. It would grab my attention more if we're introduced to Voya before we're introduced to the history of this world.

Brad Jaeger said...

Like others have said, the concept certainly intrigues me. But I'm also a sucker for sci-fi ;)

My main concern is that your first paragraph seems to contain a great deal of exposition. I think you'd have a much stronger start if you began with "Voya placed her hand against the cool glass..."

This advice is coming from another aspiring author, just shy of completing 50% of his first draft, so don't think that I carry any professional clout or experience, because I most certainly do not.

Unrepentant Escapist said...

Premise/set-up sounds really interesting, but maybe not what you want to lead with. I think it might be too much info/exposition too fast. It's too much telling.

But I like the idea. I haven't seen a good space YA in awhile.

A.L. said...

Just going to add in with what others are saying. Story wise, you have me hooked. The mass evacuation, the dream changing, the rumors about those still on earth. I want to know more about them. The dream perhaps least of all, but I still want to know about it.

Craft wise, like people have said it could use some tightening up. The word black appearing multiple times, tossed and turned, the stars winking from space.

So, keep it up. Just make sure in future drafts to go through with a fine tooth comb for some of those loose bits of structure.

my lonely journal said...

Hi. So, this is my first time commenting in this Blog. I don't want to do something wrong and get yelled at. Eeeee. Okay, here we go.

Nice:

1. This feels like an outline for a story, but the story it outlines promises to be interested.

Naughty:

1. Repetition. You have great details, but you repeat yourself quite a bit. You can tighten up the prose by removing some of the repetition. Examples: "The Earth hung in the blackness, a bright blue and green orb floating in a black sea of stars and silence." Both clauses here say essentially the same thing. The earth is hanging in the void. Okay. Which clause is disposable? Which clause is more telling? Can they be combined into one much sharper sentence? "The past few sleepless nights found her tossing in turning in a cold sweat, waking from nightmares she couldn’t forget." In this sentence you say the nights are "sleepless" and then you go on to show that the nights are sleepless -- "tossing," "cold sweat," etc. You can probably do away with the word "sleepless" since you go on to make that sleeplessness clear.

2. Summary. Like I said, this reads like a summary for the beginning of a very interesting sorta space saga, but, still, it's a summary. Summary is good and useful sometimes. Other times, it can be really wearying, like watching the author collect his or her thoughts. I tend to think your story or book would have so much more tension / momentum / intrigue if you avoided telling us all this stuff from the start (or wherever this occurs chronologically -- near/at the beginning I assume). Maybe try launching right into a scene. Think of The Road, where the author just begins ... and heck, we never actually get to know the nature of the catastrophe that's decimated the earth, you know? Hm. I think I'm trying to say, in the nicest way possible, that this "Main character conveniently dreams back story" trope might be something you ultimately cut from your ms. I am positive you can work that back story in elsewhere and to greater effect.

spiziks said...

I like the premise. Post-apocalypic SF is, for me, a good starter. We have some good sensory imagery--cool glass, black sea, sweaty palm.

The opener does need a little work on timing. We flip in and out of the dream in the second and third paragraphs, and it’s hard for us readers to figure out where we are. Also, you’re starting with exposition and flashback, which is a weaker hook. (Most of the first paragraph is exposition, and the final sentence of it is flashback. In the second paragraph, you tell us about the dream rather than it show to us, turning it into exposition instead of action.) Finally, Voya’s dream hints that she has never been to Earth (“Earth’s inhabitants were rumored to be hostile”), but the references to “Voya’s people” and the Great Evacuation hint that she has been there.

I would suggest inserting a scene or two of Voya’s life on the ship, preferably something with some conflict in it, and as bedtime approaches, show us her fear of going to sleep because she knows the dream is coming.

You have an interesting setup and a good character here, to start.

--Steven Harper Piziks

patlaff said...

There are some nice touches of description here: "the only light coming from the stars winking in the sky outside;" "dragging a plume of flames and smoke behind it." My biggest problem with these 250 words is I don't get a sense of place. I know she's in her dorm room, but you've paid more attention to everything outside of where she is rather than her immediate surroundings and, therefore, I can't find my bearings. For better or worse, I thought immediately of WALL*E.

spiziks said...

Here’s a line-by-line.

The Earth hung in the blackness, a bright blue and green orb floating in a black [we’ve had the word “blackness” already] sea of stars and silence. Some people still lived on Earth. They chose to stay during the Great Evacuation of 2800. [I’d delete “of 2800”--very few historical references carry a year.] Voya’s people chose to leave the polluted mess and let Earth heal itself. Voya placed her hand against the cool glass, sweaty palm hiding Earth from view [good], as if trying to block it out. [Unclear--is she trying to block it out or is her hand trying? And is it trying or succeeding? She can’t see through her hand--or is the Earth larger than her hand?] The past few sleepless nights found her tossing in turning in a cold sweat, waking from nightmares she couldn’t forget.

In her dreams, Ark2 crashed to Earth. Earth’s inhabitants were rumored to be hostile, and in the dream attacked the fallen ship. Her dorm room lay in darkness, the only light coming from the stars winking in the sky outside. [This is jarring. Sentence #1 is the dream, and sentence #2 isn’t.] In a few short hours the morning bell would ring, signaling the start of classes for the day and the beginning of a new school term. Voya climbed back in bed, pulled the covers up to her chin, and squeezed her eyes shut. [good] She was determined to fall asleep again before morning. [However, we’ve flipped from Voya looking out the porthole to her dream to her in bed. Where are we in the story?]

The dream started as it always did, with Ark2 crashing to Earth [you mentioned this], dragging a plume of flames and smoke behind it. [good image] Odd, she thought, to be viewing the crash from outside the ship. Usually she viewed it from a window, clinging to a bare pipe or door frame while the ship shuddered and jolted, everything succumbing to flames outside. [Since this is the first time we readers have seen the dream, it’s difficult for us to find this new view of it strange.]

--Steven Harper Piziks

Unrepentant Escapist said...

Also the way you mention letting the earth "heal itself" would probably make me put the book down. Because a) It makes me think the book is going to be focused on a preachy message, and b) any environmental damage great enough to cause people to abandon the earth is also probably too big to clean itself up without human help.

I want to know more about how you'd conduct classes on a spaceship in a closed system, presumably without any access to resources that could replace broken stuff.

k10wnsta said...

I'll wait to comment until after Nathan has had his say, but I'd like to point out one thing that really jumped out at me straightaway:

'the Mass Evacuation of 2800'

The first thing I thought reading this: 'What a conveniently well-rounded number on the Gregorian calendar for such a cataclysmic development to occur.'

That's not to say it would be unheard of, as long as it's in the cards that the event was largely premeditated.

Additionally, 'Mass Evacuation' is a bit blunt. You have an opportunity for flavor there. You might should head over to dictionary.com, punch 'exodus' into the thesaurus, and play around with some of the words that come back.

Sarah W said...

Voya placed her hand against the cool glass, sweaty palm hiding Earth from view, as if trying to block it out.

This is such a powerful and revealing image--please don't lose it in revision!

Though perhaps the "as if' isn't necessary--if I was having repeated nightmares about a planet, I would definitely be blocking it out!

Reena Jacobs said...

I found the excerpt intriguing. It's sounds like a story I might enjoy reading. I also liked the varied sentence structure. It has a nice cadence.

One thing I noticed was the style seemed disorderly. For instance, you start with a description of the earth. So I wondered, is this a prologue or is this from someone's POV? A stronger starting sentence might have been "Voya placed her hand against the cool glass..." Then lead with "The Earth..." By doing so, you ground the reader in the POV.


The next paragraph you mention "In her dreams..." Then again you mentioned "The dreams started..." It makes it a little awkward in my mind to already have details of the dream, but then start again with describing the dream. Makes it an unnecessarily reboot.

Just putting sentences in the proper order makes a world of difference as far as putting the reader in the mind of the character.

Overall, I like it. Just think it could use a little streamlining, which might also reduce redundancy.

Carol Riggs said...

I also like the Ark2 and the general sci fi feel to this. The idea of leaving the Earth in an ark is intriguing…though it sounds vaguely familiar, like another movie or book (maybe like the Earth 2 series, or the end of the movie Knowing). I agree with the previous comments; if you omitted "black" to describe sea, the first sentence would read fine--and quite nicely lyrical--as "floating in a sea of stars and silence." Other comments:
1. It might be good to see Voya mentioned first rather than the more distant "some people" and "they." Also, the first time she's mentioned it's as "Voya's people" so at first I wasn't sure if that was the name of the spaceship holding the people, instead of the main character.
2. You do have a cool glass and a cold sweat, slightly redundant but not excessively so. Frankly, I'd like to SEE the nightmares rather than being told about them; it feels distant. I agree with the previous comments about not mentioning the dreams twice. Combining these would be good, especially since there are similarities in the descriptions.
3. I would omit the word "sleepless"--obviously, if she's tossing and turning, it's pretty clear she's not getting much sleep! And technically, it can't truly be sleepless if she's been "waking" (implying she was asleep in the first place). Sleepless means no sleep at all.
4. The line "She was determined to fall asleep again before morning" sounds distant to me, or like telling. Part of that is the weak "was" verb, I think. (You have another weak "was" verb sentence with "Earth's inhabitants were rumored to be hostile.") I don't feel like I'm in Voya's head enough, close enough to her. Even the dreams have a kind of distant feel. She supposedly wakes in cold sweats, but for some reason the dream description doesn't feel vivid or like Voya is experiencing them with any heightened emotion. It could be a lack of enough sensory details that is giving me this feeling, not sure. But even she is viewing the crash from the outside looking on, during the dream--which probably adds to the distance.
5. I agree with an above comment to start with "Voya placed her hand upon the glass"--but as the SECOND sentence rather than the first sentence!
I do like Voya's name; I like unusual names in general, but hers fits the genre. I'd be curious to see where you go with this! Good start, and good luck.

Jill Elizabeth said...

I wonder: would the Earth still appear blue & green if it is so polluted in this future? It might be an interesting twist to have the Earth be somewhat unrecognizable from what we know it, switch up the standard "view of Earth from space" imagery.

Also, ditto on the comments from above, eg the switching between the dream, reality,and back to the dream. A little restructuring there could easily fix that problem.

I have to say--I don't usually get into sci fi but this has an interesting hook and I would want to read more. Keep at it, I think you have the start of a great story here!

Marilyn Peake said...

Wow, I love the story, the imagery, and the author’s voice that shines through the writing. I think at this point, your excerpt just needs to be polished. Attention to scientific detail is important, as others have mentioned. I got hung up on the "black sea of stars" because I kept thinking that space rather than the stars are black, and that detracted from the power of that image. Something like "a black sea of space riddled with stars and silence" or "a black sea of space glittering with stars and silence" might have worked better.

The following section pulled me out of the story too close to the beginning of it because it was written in a passive style and was told more from the point of view of an historian narrator than the point of view of Voya: "Some people still lived on Earth. They chose to stay during the Great Evacuation of 2800." Maybe something like this would keep the point of view with Voya: "Voya thought about the people who still lived on Earth, those who had chosen to stay during the Great Evacuation of 2800."

Also, I agree with Unrepentant Escapist that "Voya’s people chose to leave the polluted mess and let Earth heal itself." sounds preachy and takes away from the exciting science fiction nature of the story. It also sounds out of keeping with Voya’s point of view. How does she know that Earth will heal itself? Traveling as a young person in an ark ship after her home planet became nearly uninhabitable, she would probably be fearful that Earth might never heal. The certainty that Earth will heal sounds preachy, rather than realistic science fiction.

Good luck with this book. I think it has the potential to be amazing! Overall, your use of language and descriptive writing are beautiful.

S. Kyle Davis said...

This is a very interest premise, if slightly done. There seems to be a unique twist to your approach, though, that I like. The idea of school in space sounds cool.

My main comment would be the same as others have said. We have a backstory explosion in the first paragraph. This is off-putting. Focus on her getting ready for school, and make the differences from "normal" life clear. As you do this, you can bring in the backstory piece by piece.

Smith said...

I like this piece for its vivid images. It has a first-drafty feel, but that's okay. I, too, like the sentence, "Voya placed her hand..." In fact, I like it so much I might encourage you to cut the initial exposition and start right there. Exposition always works better when it is inserted into action. Also, my (admittedly limited) powers of prognostication are telling me that the reason the dream has changed is because this time it's NOT a dream...if that is indeed the case, and the writer cut the first paragraph, the reader might get that knowledge on the first page. And then you're off and running. Good luck, I think this piece has many strengths, not the least of which is an intriguing, upfront protagonist.

Lydia Sharp said...

You've already received some great advice, and I'm sure Nathan will cover anything that hasn't been brought out yet, so I just wanted to wish you good luck with this. :)

Kate said...

This passage definitely paints a picture and like other commentators, I think there's some nice imagery going on here. I think this definitely has potential.

However, it goes into back story pretty quickly, even though it's sneaky with nightmares and such. I'm not a sci-fi reader but I'm sure back story is important to most sci-fi plots. But it did take me out of the moment while I there suspended in space watching the curve of the Earth, ya know?

swampfox said...

Hooray, another page that's not first person. (Can't stand first person.)

Love SciFi, though, and I have an automatic interest just for that.

Off the top, I second, (or third, or etc.) the suggestions to refrain from repeating words, e.g.: the word "Earth" is overused.

Also, they're in space so morning, day, night, or "sky outside" would not be relevant.

You made it clear they are not on an interstellar voyage, but merely orbiting earth while it "heal(s) itself." Maybe you should provide a clue as to how long that will take.

I'm a teacher so I like the idea of school and classes in a spaceship. (I'd have a job up there.) Way to go.

Anonymous said...

I LOVE this!

And I have some clean-up comments:


Title: Untitled
Genre: YA/sci-fi
250 words

The Earth hung in the blackness, a bright blue and green orb floating in a black sea of stars and silence. Some people still lived on Earth. They chose to stay during the Great Evacuation of 2800. Voya’s people chose to leave the polluted mess and let Earth heal itself. Voya (looked out the viewing portal/window, etc. of her orbiter/space ship/satellite/etc., Ark2 and) placed her hand against the cool glass, sweaty palm hiding Earth from view, as if trying to block it out. The past few sleepless nights found her tossing in turning in a cold sweat, waking from nightmares she couldn’t forget.

In her (*remove: dreams*) (nightmares/night terrors/etc.,) Ark2 crashed to Earth (*remove: Earth’s*) (where its remaining inhabitants were) (*remove: rumored to be*) hostile and (*remove: in the dream*) attacked the fallen ship. (Now) her dorm room lay in darkness, the only light coming from the stars winking in the sky outside. In a few short hours the morning bell would ring, signaling the start of classes for the day and the beginning of a new school term. Voya climbed back in bed, pulled the covers up to her chin, and squeezed her eyes shut. She was determined to fall asleep again before morning.

(*remove: The dream started as it always did, with Ark2 crashing to Earth, dragging a plume of flames and smoke behind it. Odd, she thought, to be viewing the crash from outside the ship. Usually she viewed it from a window, clinging to a bare pipe or door frame while the ship shuddered and jolted, everything succumbing to flames outside.*) (unnecessary and repetitive)

Jill said...

YA/Dystopia/Sci Fi just isn't my thing. Usually 250 words is more than I can read. But your writing is so very clear. No coy slight of hand to disorient/dazzle the reader. Simply an interesting set-up and character in Voya (my immediate association was Voyager -- bet she's going on a journey!). A little tweaking and editing will go a long way. Thank you for sharing this!

Matt Leo said...

I think this piece has charm, but it suffers from the cardinal problem of speculative fiction: premature world building. As necessary as world building is for making a story compelling, it's a chore for the reader to get through unless you are a writer of uncommon poetic power. When I read a couple sentences like this in the first paragraph, I have to tell myself to keep reading: "Some people still lived on Earth. They chose to stay during the Great Evacuation of 2800. Voya’s people chose to leave the polluted mess and let Earth heal itself."

Most successful openings pose some kind of problem the reader can understand without any background; as the reader learns more about the hook, he picks up enough background to understand the real problem, or be interested enough to take a couple of paragraph briefing.

It's not necessary to open with a hook, but I think you have to go a little way before you can safely give history lessons or throwing exotic terminology around.

I'd like to see your third paragraph come first. Then maybe hint that maybe you don't want people to know you have such a dream. Why? Because our people have separated ourselves from the people trying to survive on the poisoned earth; those people are strange and hostile.

booksandbiscuits said...

Hello,

I love sci-fi too, and having just finished reading FLOOD and ARK by Stephen Baxter, I'd definitely be in the mood for more earth evacuations!

I really like the premise and I'd definitely be intrigued enough to keep reading, but I agree with some other commenters that it feels more of an outline/synopsis and there is information in here that could be saved for later or is too repetitive. I think cutting a few sentences out would make this a really punchy start to a book, so well done!

My suggestion for cutting it down:

Voya placed her hand against the cool glass, sweaty palm hiding Earth from view, as if trying to block it out. The past few nights found her tossing in turning in a cold sweat, waking from nightmares she couldn’t forget.

Her dorm room lay in darkness, the only light coming from the stars winking in the sky outside. In a few short hours the morning bell would ring, signaling the start of classes for the day and the beginning of a new school term. Voya climbed back in bed, pulled the covers up to her chin, and squeezed her eyes shut. She was determined to fall asleep again before morning.

The dream started as it always did, with Ark2 crashing to Earth, dragging a plume of flames and smoke behind it. Odd, she thought, to be viewing the crash from outside the ship. Usually she viewed it from a window, clinging to a bare pipe or door frame while the ship shuddered and jolted, everything succumbing to flames outside.

***

This way, you grab our attention with the dream and we know instantly we're in space, there are intriguing ideas like the school and the ark (the fact it's Ark2 makes me wonder whether there's an Ark1?), but we're not put off by back story that takes us away from the immediacy of Voya's story - there's time for that later.

I'm looking forward to seeing where this story goes!

Best of Luck,
Ella

Silver the Wanderer said...

First off, I really love this concept. YA is in need of a good sci-fi, especially now with the recent release of movies like Avatar and Star Trek. There's a lot of potential here.

My only concern is the pacing - I feel like perhaps you're throwing too much information out at once. For me, it was a little hard to follow. You might want to consider spreading this information out, letting the reader know the backstory a little at a time instead of cramming it all into the opening paragraphs.

But like I said, I really love the idea of a school in space. And I love the name Voya!

~Silver

KRwriter said...

Thanks to everyone for the helpful comments! I have a lot of work to do!
Kara aka KRwriter

Rebecca1430 said...

This could definately use some tightening, but congrats on the exposition. Starting a sci-fi/fantasy novel is hard because there's a delicate balance between overloading the reader with details about the world and not giving them enough to ground the story. In my opinion, your beginning had just the right amount of detail. We get a sense of the situation and the fact that it is a sci fi novel. We also learn a bit about the past. Enough to put us in the story, but not too much. Nice job.

Ishta Mercurio said...

Hi Kara,

Congrats on getting the crit today! I enjoyed this piece. I am intrigued by your premise, and I like that you have given us an interesting character in an interesting situation.

You've already received a lot of good comments and I agree with most of them, so for what it's worth, the thing that I think is the most important to emphasize here is the lack of grounding in a specific time and place. I know we're on a ship orbiting Earth and I know that Voya is our MC, but there's a lot that I don't know. Did the evacuation happen recently, or in the distant past? You mention it, but we get no reference to when we are in relation to it. You talk about her nightmares, then she is looking out the window (I love the way you describe her with her hand against the glass, blocking out the Earth), then she needs to go to sleep, then we hear about her nightmares again. All of this back-and-forth is confusing, and the repetitive way you bring up the dream really sticks out and pulls the reader out of the story.

Try imagining this as a scene in a movie: what does the camera see, and where does it go from there? If you rewrite the scene from that perspective and really try to be disciplined about telling us what the camera sees, I think it would benefit your story, and you can slowly uncover the backstory of the evacuation and everything else as the story unfolds.

I love your name choices, I love the idea of a city in orbit, and I am intrigued to see where this goes. Good luck!

Now off I go to read Nathan's critique. (Probably way better than mine!) Thanks for sharing your work.

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