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Chicken, eh? Here's a section of Miranda and the Ancient Boy.

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Old 09-08-2013, 11:20 AM
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Default Chicken, eh? Here's a section of Miranda and the Ancient Boy.


Edit: ~1500 words. The story is about Miranda who had an imaginary friend. Her imaginary friend was real. It is set in 19th century America, and on the world of Gakesh. She sees Calen for seven years until their link is broken when she is 12. Miranda spends the next seven years learning how to find him, and succeeds when she is 19. But things are not what they seem; either for Miranda or Calen, and she falls through a portal and onto a beach in Gakesh. Soon, Miranda and Calen are caught in a centuries old conflict that threatens to destroy both of their worlds.

A young woman fell from the sky, closely followed by a pulsating blue stone that fell deep into soft sand a few feet from her.

Miranda had miraculously landed on a beach - miraculous because the fall hadn’t killed her. Or perhaps the energy field she had created slowed her fall.

She pushed up to her knees and wiped sand from her face, and looked up into the midday sky.

The portal is gone, she thought.

Miranda cursed under her breath and vigorously shook her head to clear sand from her hair.

Calen had told her not to jump into the gateway. That was a few minutes ago, and now she had no idea where he was, or where she was for that matter. He said this was his world, so he should be around somewhere.

“Calen!?” Several times Miranda called his name − at first desperately, and then with failing hope. Hearing no reply, she gave up and brushed sand from her chest and arms.

“She had a gun. A gun!

Five and a half feet tall, wearing thick ornate goggles around her neck, rubber gloves, and a waist length lead-lined vest, Miranda looked like she’d just stepped out of a laboratory. In fact she had, and she’d probably still be there if it wasn’t for Mrs Dawson and her gun.

She also wore blue denim pants under a dark skirt, and boots that appeared to be three sizes too large, leaving an overall impression that she was not particular in the way she dressed.

A clap of thunder rolled over her from the west. She turned toward the sound and saw a colourful pillar of light streaming from the top of a black tower barely visible above the forest. The sun’s reflection off the beach hurt her eyes, so she pulled on her goggles. Through the filtered lenses, the stream of light appeared alive with vibrant tendrils of powerful energy.

From the frying pan and into the fire, she thought.

Miranda removed her rubber gloves and tossed them angrily to the sand. Her hands were wet from sweating in the heat.

She slowly spun in a circle, searching for anything recognizable. Sea to the south, trees to the north, beach as far as you could see to the east, and a group of granite boulders not far to the west. She could not tell where she was by looking at the landscape, but the forest would offer immediate shelter from the hot sun. Miranda lost no time getting into the shade.

Miranda was sweltering in the lead-lined vest by the time she reached the forest, so she pulled it off and threw it to the ground. Angrily, and repeatedly, she stamped on it.

“Perfect.”

She now realized that jumping through the portal was a bad idea. She was lost, the heat was unbearable, and the sand mixed with sweat made her skin itch.

“Calen!” Nothing but the sound of the ocean lapping against the beach in the distance.

“Calen?”

After foraging through a few feet of bushes and saplings, Miranda found a well worn path heading east and west. She walked east until she found an archway of bushes that led to an oblong clearing, twenty feet across and twelve feet deep, covered by overhanging trees. The floor was flattened leaves and pine needles. It had a lived-in air about it, and stunk of fish.

Her goggles made it difficult to see in the dimmer light of the clearing, so she pulled them down to her neck. She saw a small cinder block stove at the back with a black metal pipe that extended up at angles until it was hidden above the trees. There was a pile of fish bones drying beside the stove.

Miranda stepped inside for a better look. A bed, no more than a mattress of cross-hatched fern leaves, was set close to the east end of the clearing. Beside the mat, hung in the branches of a skinned six foot high plant resembling a rhododendron, were charcoal drawings and tools of stone and roughly-cast metal.

Her feet ached and her boots felt heavy. She looked for a place to take them off, but only found a two-foot tree stump that was too roughly cut to be comfortable. There where palm leaves, stripped bark, vines twisted into rope, and the skulls of small animals stored in neat stacks in a corner. She rummaged through the stacks in search of something to use as a cushion.

“Ah,” she said, and gathered a coil of rope and a handful of the thick palm leaves, and fashioned them into a rustic cushion. She set it on the stump, which made a serviceable if barely comfortable chair.

Is this where you live, Calen?

The clearing didn’t seem to her to be the place he had once described as his home.

Miranda sat to remove her boots, but was interrupted by a disturbing sound.

#

A deep and throaty rumble came from somewhere beyond the back of the clearing.

“Ngh.” A sound like a nasal hum with a soft growl from the back of the throat.

Miranda froze and listened carefully. Leaves rustled.

“Hello?” she said.

Leaves rustled again, now not far from the back of the clearing.

“Who’s there?” she said.

“Ngh.” Meaning: Go away.

This time it was closer, and it sounded more inquisitive than threatening. Perhaps it was just hopeful thinking. Running away seemed like a good idea just the same.

The leaves parted as an ape-like man pushed through - heavy and stocky with the head and face more Neanderthal than human, and skin of a gray pallor with blue veins just visible on his arms and legs. He wore a large furry animal skin draped over his back and chest like an open vest, and knee-length pants sewn from scraps of animal hide. There was a large animal skull filled with yellow and purple berries hung at one side of his waist.

He held a spear at his side by the centre of the shaft, with the blade pointed at Miranda. His deep-set brown eyes were narrowed under a pinched and heavy brow.

“Not belong,” he said in a low and monotone voice.

Miranda was stunned and took a long and careful look at the beast of a man, standing nearly seven feet in height and slightly hunched over at the waist and shoulders - all muscle but for a round belly. A wide and scarred face peered at her, more tired than angry. His chest was three feet wide, his arms extended to within a couple of feet of the floor, and his hands were as large as Miranda’s small torso.

She held her hands outward, and with both palms facing him to demonstrate that she was neither armed nor in possession of any of his belongings.

“I’m lost. Can you help me?” she said nervously, and then smiled sheepishly.

“Shoo.”

He bumbled past her and tossed his spear on the mat, then hung the skull of berries on a cut off branch nearby. He slowly turned around and eased himself down to the mat with a grunt.

“Shoo!” he repeated more urgently than before.

“Ok,” Miranda said, and made a beeline for the entrance, but stopped under the arch of bushes.

“Wait a minute,” she said, and then turned around.

“You speak English.”

“Ngh.”

“Well, in a manner of speaking then,” she said.

Miranda boldly made her way back to the stump and sat facing him.

“Maybe you can tell me where I might find somewhere to stay for the night? Like a hotel or a hostel? Or even a church, although that would not be my first choice. I’ve had a little trouble with the church recently. But that’d be fine if that’s all there is. Never look a gift gorilla in the mouth, right? Is there any place to get food? I mean regular food? Not that your berries don’t look delicious. They do, but I’m a bit finicky about what I eat.”

Miranda scrunched her nose at the smell of fish on the hairless ape.

“And I don’t care for fish.”

“Ngh,” he uttered, shaking his head.

“Long day? I can sympathize. Boy was my day a rough one. I fell through a hole in the sky and that’s not the worst of it. I…”

“Quiet,” he interrupted.

“What?,” Miranda said. “Sorry. I talk a lot when I’m nervous.”

The hairless ape looked at her curiously, with special attention to the goggles around her neck.

“Teknaut?”

“Tech not? What does that mean,” Miranda asked.

“Means go away,” he said, and then pushed his spear farther away, lay back on the mat and rolled to his side, facing away from her.

Miranda stared blankly at his massive back. She sat there quietly for a long while wondering what to do. At first she had considered going farther into the bush but it didn’t take much thought to imagine that something less benign might lurk there.

Her dress stuck to her skin and felt uncomfortable. She ripped the hem from the bottom and used the top as a blouse, which she tucked into her jeans. She used the hem as a bandanna.

“Enjoy your siesta, Mr No Use At All,” she said, and left the clearing.

At the entrance, Miranda slipped on her goggles and stood looking up and down the beach, uncertain of where to go.

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Last edited by Horse; 09-08-2013 at 12:35 PM..
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Old 09-09-2013, 12:03 AM
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Originally Posted by Horse View Post
Edit: ~1500 words. The story is about Miranda who had an imaginary friend. Her imaginary friend was real. It is set in 19th century America, and on the world of Gakesh. She sees Calen for seven years until their link is broken when she is 12. Miranda spends the next seven years learning how to find him, and succeeds when she is 19. But things are not what they seem; either for Miranda or Calen, and she falls through a portal and onto a beach in Gakesh. Soon, Miranda and Calen are caught in a centuries old conflict that threatens to destroy both of their worlds.
I suppose this was for us, so we could know what the general premise is about... are you going to go into further detail about their pasts? About how they were friends, and then lost from each other, until they found each other again? Will any of that be part of the story?


Originally Posted by Horse View Post
sand
I don't need to have three iterations of her brushing off separate parts of herself to get the sand off. It's a bit much.

Originally Posted by Horse View Post
“She had a gun. A gun!

Five and a half feet tall, wearing thick ornate goggles around her neck, rubber gloves, and a waist length lead-lined vest, Miranda looked like she’d just stepped out of a laboratory. In fact she had, and she’d probably still be there if it wasn’t for Mrs Dawson and her gun.

She also wore blue denim pants under a dark skirt, and boots that appeared to be three sizes too large, leaving an overall impression that she was not particular in the way she dressed.
Try to avoid moments like this where you are literally just dumping information onto the reader's lap. Make descriptions seem natural, show, don't tell.

Originally Posted by Horse View Post
“Calen!” Nothing but the sound of the ocean lapping against the beach in the distance.

“Calen?”
Why are you separating her text? If one person speaks, then is cut off by descriptions, you can continue their second (or third or fourth...) set's of dialogue in the same paragraph. It's only when another person speaks that you want to start a new one... that or if the paragraph you were working on was getting to be a bit large.

Originally Posted by Horse View Post
#
What is this supposed to be? A separator? Or was it not supposed to be here?

Originally Posted by Horse View Post
“Wait a minute,” she said, and then turned around.

“You speak English.”

“Ngh.”
Here's a good example of why you want to keep one person's dialogue in the same paragraph, unless you make it painfully obvious that the same character is speaking despite the break between them.

Off hand, as person reading it, and somebody who isn't in your mind... reading this caused a bit of momentary confusion. "Wait a minute," she said, and then turned around...

And now here I am thinking that the grunting man is replying to her saying, "You know English."

But then find the issue resolved when I read the "Ngh," response he gives... still. Make it easy for the readers.

Originally Posted by Horse View Post
“Well, in a manner of speaking then,” she said.

Miranda boldly made her way back to the stump and sat facing him.

“Maybe you can tell me where I might find somewhere to stay for the night? Like a hotel or a hostel? Or even a church, although that would not be my first choice. I’ve had a little trouble with the church recently. But that’d be fine if that’s all there is. Never look a gift gorilla in the mouth, right? Is there any place to get food? I mean regular food? Not that your berries don’t look delicious. They do, but I’m a bit finicky about what I eat.”
Is she going to be one of those characters that doesn't realize when she's stepping over the line?

"Never look a gift gorilla in the mought, right?"
"Not that your berries don't look delicious. They do, but I'm a bit finicky about what I eat."

First, why would she say that to him?

Second: Implying that he would have shared his berries with her in the first place, which seems rather unlikely based on the fact that he's being trying to get her to leave since he arrived?

And if her line wasn't implying that she thought she was welcome to the berries, then why would she have said that at all? Did she think he was going to be angry that she asked for food when his berries were so close, implying that his berries weren't food? So she'd worry about him reacting to that, but calling him a gorilla face is a-ok?


Originally Posted by Horse View Post
Her dress stuck to her skin and felt uncomfortable. She ripped the hem from the bottom and used the top as a blouse, which she tucked into her jeans. She used the hem as a bandanna.
Her dress clung to her skin uncomfortably, so she tore it off, just above the waist. A strip from the scrap she'd torn away made a perfect makeshift bandanna, while the rest stored away nicely in her jean's pockets.

“Enjoy your siesta, Mr No Use At All,” she said, and left the clearing.


I don't know what else to say really. Despite the introduction at the beginning, not a whole lot was given away. There was a portal, Calen said not to go through it, she went through it, there was a girl with a gun.

She's finds herself on a beach (apparently unconcerned with the stone that fell down with her [which also apparently is the originator of the ' energy field' that saved her life?]), it's hot, and she's got sand all over her. All she knows about this world is that it's where Calen lives, and so she finds herself wondering where to go... She wanders off, finds a little hut, meets the huts inhabitant, talks uselessly with him for a while, then rips up her dress.

The scene was set, but the story not so much. I don't know what's going to happen beyond the fact that she's likely going to find Calen somehow and save their worlds from disaster. The 'gorilla' man said 'Technaut,' which is completely ambiguous as it could mean anything, and the only thing we know about it is that he (and maybe other's) view these 'Technaut's' with a bit of contempt/scorn for whatever reason.

They're going to fight together to save both of their worlds? Who doesn't. It's not unique, and it's not compelling. They were able to be friends despite the distance between them? That's more interesting, but only so because of the introduction (which has issues of it's own). She fell through a portal? I could very well be wrong, but from what I read, I feel like the only explanation for the portal is going to be, "bla, bla science." Meaning, not detailed, and unimportant overall to the story.

There just wasn't really anything that grabbed my attention, and forced me to continue reading, which I guess is my main concern, other than the sentence structure, which I have only one thing to say about... read through your sentences, out loud if you have too, and if it sounds awkward, it's probably because it is.


PS: If I sound like an asshole, it's because I am. Try not to let it bring you down. You've got something going, and that's a good thing, you just need to hone your skills to make your creation shine.

Last edited by <3Less; 09-09-2013 at 12:29 AM..
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Old 09-09-2013, 10:46 AM
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Although most of your comments are largely irrelevant and subjective, I truly appreciate the bits of gold scattered here and there. Thank you for taking the time to read and comment at length.
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Old 09-10-2013, 06:20 PM
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Horse-

I think you have the start of a really compelling story here. The close relationship, then absence, then getting to know each other again could prove to be a very interesting base for a story, especially considering the layers of portals, other worlds, etc that you've added.

I agree with some of Loveless's comments about the descriptions sometimes seeming extraneous. Perhaps there would be a smoother way to integrate that information? Or maybe just space it out a bit so it isn't so dense all in one spot? I think that would help improve the flow a bit.

Also, I'm dying to know what that blue stone was about! It was placed purposefully there in the very beginning like it was going to be important or foreshadow something, and I really wanted to find out what it was (mainly because it's sparkly!) Although it's quite possible that you have a beautiful plan for this stone and this excerpt is merely too short to make us privy to it.

Please feel free to use or lose my comments as needed, but please do post more and tell us what happens!
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Old 09-10-2013, 07:05 PM
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RS McCoy,

Thank you for reading and commenting!

I also agree that there is a bit too much information in the first few paragraphs. This is partially due to me responding to critiques that felt that there wasn’t enough information. It’s a delicate balance I have not yet achieved.

However,everything that you read in the first chapter (this is scene 1 and 2, separated with a ‘#’,) is key to what is revealed after it - mostly in the second chapter. I’ve made some edits and rewrites to move some of the detail to a later time in chapter 1. This is partly what I took from Loveless’ comments.

(No, Loveless, you can’t get me down. I already know that it is a good story. I posted the beginning scenes because they are extremely important to bring in the reader. I took from your review what was useful to me, and skipped the rest. Thick skin and all that.)

The stone is the center of what is happening to Miranda, Calen, and a handful of characters you haven’t yet met. It is the ‘thing’ that Miranda uses to create the portal, and that facilitated Calen appear in her bedroom. It is also an object of great desire by nefarious characters on both sides of the portal. In the story, it is called “The David Stone,” and is one of three important stones. Well, manufactured gems, really.

The ape man, Ulrich, is also central to the story. He is compelled to help and protect Miranda because he is a Phalen – a Guardian – of the old world, and they were bred for the purpose. He’s been a hermit for years, but Miranda shakes him out of his lethargy.

The reason that Miranda is dressed as she is, and why her personality is such as it is, is covered in flash backs, mainly. The opening scene is the result of what happened in the last scene of Part One, in Chapter 5 (about 20,000 words into the story.) If you like, I can post that scene. Perhaps from that you can see why I put so much (and likely too much,) into the opening scene.

Again, thank you for your comments and for your interest in the story.
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Old 09-11-2013, 04:07 AM
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Originally Posted by Horse View Post
A young woman fell from the sky, closely followed by a pulsating blue stone that fell deep into soft sand a few feet from her.

Miranda had miraculously landed on a beach - miraculous because the fall hadn’t killed her. Or perhaps the energy field she had created slowed her fall.
I don't normally comment on similarities but I think it will need some tweaking not to be too close to the beginning of this film: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=McM0_YHDm5A Sheeta the MC falls from an airship but the boy watching doesn't know that. She falls into his arms rather than the beach but she is wearing a glowing blue crystal. Ghibli films have become more popular over the last few years since Disney started working with them. Just more information or changing the colour of the crystal would help.

You also use miraculously - miraculous. And fall twice. Look to rearrange so you can vary the language a bit.

She pushed up to her knees and wiped sand from her face, and looked up into the midday sky.

The portal is gone, she thought.

Miranda cursed under her breath and vigorously shook her head to clear sand from her hair.
Two thoughts - I agree you don't need to say she brushed sand off more than once. Also what portal? We've never been told about it before. Now actually saying she fell through a portal in the first line would make this feel less like a revelation and make the fall different enough from Laputa.

“Calen!?” Several times Miranda called his name − at first desperately, and then with failing hope. Hearing no reply, she gave up and brushed sand from her chest and arms.

“She had a gun. A gun!
Interrobangs !? Aren't used in fiction. It would be ? or !. Also just Miranda called would be better. Miranda called his name sounds like it is in his head and he is hearing it.

Who said "She had a gun?" Who had a gun? Could she close her eyes and see the scene a bit?

Something that would be more showlike in this would be if you had her call Calen more than once and explain her actions and body language with each one.

Five and a half feet tall, wearing thick ornate goggles around her neck, rubber gloves, and a waist length lead-lined vest, Miranda looked like she’d just stepped out of a laboratory. In fact she had, and she’d probably still be there if it wasn’t for Mrs Dawson and her gun.
Five and a half? Do you mean five feet and half an inch or five foot 6 inches?

Ugh kids again. If this is useful ask and I'll continue later.
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Old 09-11-2013, 11:03 AM
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Thank you for taking the time to read and comment! I probably should not do this, and I hope you don't mind, but I feel compelled to get more clarification on your thoughts.

Originally Posted by AnyaKimlun View Post
I don't normally comment on similarities but I think it will need some tweaking not to be too close to the beginning of this film: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=McM0_YHDm5A Sheeta the MC falls from an airship but the boy watching doesn't know that. She falls into his arms rather than the beach but she is wearing a glowing blue crystal. Ghibli films have become more popular over the last few years since Disney started working with them. Just more information or changing the colour of the crystal would help.
You may hate me for this, but I couldn't care less what Sheeta the MC does in a Ghibli film I have never seen. But thank you for your concern. (More on this in a later comment.)

You also use miraculously - miraculous. And fall twice. Look to rearrange so you can vary the language a bit.
Yes Ma'am, I do. I'll consider this.

Two thoughts - I agree you don't need to say she brushed sand off more than once. Also what portal? We've never been told about it before. Now actually saying she fell through a portal in the first line would make this feel less like a revelation and make the fall different enough from Laputa.
You will have to read further into the story to learn about the portal. I can't think of a book I have read that explained everything in the first 1500 words. Again, I don't intend on changing the scene, but the a number of critics have suggested that I switch the first and last scenes of Part One.

Interrobangs !? Aren't used in fiction. It would be ? or !. Also just Miranda called would be better. Miranda called his name sounds like it is in his head and he is hearing it.
Oops on the interrobang.

Who said "She had a gun?" Who had a gun? Could she close her eyes and see the scene a bit?
Read further on in the text I posted. Did you not read the entire text? --> 'and she’d probably still be there if it wasn’t for Mrs Dawson and her gun.' appears in the paragraph immediately following "She had a gun."


Something that would be more showlike in this would be if you had her call Calen more than once and explain her actions and body language with each one.
Hmm. I don't believe that all dialogue needs explaining, but I will think on it.

Five and a half? Do you mean five feet and half an inch or five foot 6 inches?
Why does this bother you one way or another? Is it bad grammar, out of vogue or something significant? Honest question.

Ugh kids again. If this is useful ask and I'll continue later.
Ah, kids. Mine are grown up now so I have plenty of time to do this sort of thing.

Thank you very much for taking the time to read and comment! Everything helps.
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Old 09-11-2013, 11:49 AM
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As always they are my opinions on your work and you are the author. Whether you choose to listen to any reader is a decision only you can take. But remember you won't be stood next to me in the bookstore and these are the pages that will sell or not sell the story.

Laputa is a movie that is growing rapidly in popularity. Normally I don't care about similarities but in this case the miraculous fall and the blue glowing crystal, plus later you even have goggles makes it worth considering. The particular scene might just be close enough to land you in trouble as you've currently described it.

Yes you explain things later in the text but whilst ambiguity works for me deliberate vagueness in an author feels like cheating to me as a reader. The moments I pointed out are where I found it deliberately vague.

And with the five foot and a half - it's poorly worded and the two options create two very different images. At five foot and half inch she is short. At Five and a half feet so five foot and
six inches she is average to tall.
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Old 09-11-2013, 11:53 AM
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I appear to have unintentionally insulted you, which I had hoped I would not. Of course these are your opinions and I appreciate them. I may not agree with some of it, but that's my prerogative. Anyway, this is why I generally do not reply to critics. Skins vary in thickness on both sides of the page.

Again, thanks for your comments.
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Old 09-11-2013, 11:59 AM
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No offence taken :0) - just responding to your words. I do think it is useful to remember you won't be stood in a bookstore when someone is reading the first few pages and deciding whether or not to buy the book.
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Old 09-11-2013, 12:04 PM
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This is true. Nor do I ever expect to be standing beside someone looking at my book in a bookstore. (I'm not looking to be published, I'm just trying to tell a story.) I take your thoughts kindly, and they may lead to changes. However, I'm more likely to swap the last scene and the first scene of this part. Most people who have read both think that would be a good idea.

EDIT: Moral of the story - never respond to a critique before feeding the cat and making a pot of coffee.
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