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Old 07-19-2010, 03:39 AM
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Default Demogoran: Chapter 1 - The Pit. Feedback appreciated


Chapter 1.



The Pit



The four anthropological team members worked in the rain and into Monday night, pulling out bodies, one by one. By morning, their orange boiler suits were more the colour of chocolate and they’d unearthed a rain sodden hole almost twenty feet across and almost twelve feet deep. Far from a silent affair, Nick had heard and witnessed the whole muddy thing from his bedroom window. JCB’s accompanied by the burbling bass of diesel-fuelled trucks had turned up and drove away all night. Their engines, less than silent, had totally prevented him from sleeping, as had the temporary argon light towers providing nighttime illumination for the digging four. They blasted out light like a solar flare in the night’s sky, raining dazzling white onto the pit while it grew in size. For an almost sixteen-year old boy, this was way more than fascinating, in fact better than TV.

With the old sash window pushed up as far as its ancient jamb would let it, he gazed down for as long as the increasing weight of his eyelids allowed, screwing up his face in silent reaction to each unearthed body. One after another, excavated, exhumed. It was a double quandary, a spectacle and a monstrosity all at the same time.

Eventually, with the noise levels dipping slightly, he dropped into a fitful sleep. With no chance of a lie in, Tuesday morning saw Nick uncommonly awake, out of bed, in the garden area, and leaning against a recently erected makeshift fence framing the perimeter of the pit. With a horde of media, radio and (possibly) television to his right, there was probably no chance of school today anyway.

He glanced into the pit at a cloud of midges about twelve feet below. Wholly unaware of their macabre surroundings and media attention, they hovered over one of the rain created pools, basking in a narrow shaft of light. It was astonishing: the floor of the excavation, pockmarked with indents and shadow, echoing a ghoulish reminder of what had been, what had been there only hours earlier.

Apparently, one of the anthropological team, or A-team, as Nick had called them, was going to give a statement, at least at some point. And that’s what the horde was waiting for.

One of the A-team performing the excavation had told Bill, Nick’s dad, not to worry, that the site was most probably an ancient burial ground, likely from some form of epidemic, possibly because of a plague of some sort, but that they would mount an enquiry once they’d taken the bodies away.

Perhaps Bill’s decision to continue his commute back to London was premature but aided by the reassurance that the bodies were indeed old, in fact very old.

However, with understandable concerns, he had asked about the watch found on the rotted skeletal hand and DI Grants strange interest in it, and his surprising and seemingly rapid exit. Nick stood at his dad’s side, listening intently to the response. Another one of the A-team had indicated that it was more than probable that the site had perhaps become contaminated, at least at some stage. He threw his small spade down and walked over, wiping muddy hands on his legs. ‘Oh, I wouldn’t worry about it,’ he said. ‘DI Grant probably had somewhere he needed to be.’

‘And the watch?’ asked Bill.

‘Kids,’ he replied. ‘They get into all sorts.’

Bill grimaced. ‘Are you trying to tell me some kid had placed a watch around the skeletal remains of a corpse?’

The suit nodded. ‘You’d be surprised at what we’ve seen in our time mate.’

‘It sounds unlikely.’

‘Once, we found a―’

A voice sounded from about twenty feet away. ‘Pete!’ Nick could see he was frowning. ‘That’s enough!’ Clearly, a reprimand, the man speaking to Bill looked down and kicked some earth. ‘Sorry,’ he shouted back, paused and then turned back to face Bill. ‘Hmm, we shouldn’t discuss it.’

Bill nodded and said, ‘It’s fine. Don’t worry about it.’ He then paused and said, ‘Look, I have to leave for work. But my wife’s in. And…’ He gestured a hand to the burgeoning swell of media at the front of the house.

‘Oh, don’t worry about them,’ said the suit. ‘My gaffer’ll sort it. Once he tell’s em’ what’s here, what we’ve found, that it’s not some mass murder, they’ll clear out. You’ll see.’

‘I’m not so sure. And I’m not going to be around to make sure.’

‘Nine day wonder, max! You’ll see. Prob’s less.’

Nick waited until the suit had walked away, and then gestured to the surrounding turmoil. ‘Do you have to go back to work?’

‘I’m afraid so,’ said Bill. ‘Got stuff on.’

‘But what about this lot?’

‘You heard the, what do you call them, the A-team?’ Nick nodded. ‘Besides, you’re not on your own.’

Nick flinched. ‘Doreen? You mean the Acid Queen.’

Bill’s face stiffened. ‘What have I told you about calling her that?’

*

That same Tuesday morning, Bill had made his arrangements with the A-team, and left for London as indicated. In his absence, Doreen, his wife, had surprisingly been more than happy to receive the attention from both the A-team and the media, enjoying nothing short of an unexpected bask in the limelight. At least initially that is.

Not that she looked the part. With a fag cornering her mouth, she was certainly no starlet. Venturing at the front door to collect the milk, she was pounced on by an inquisitive young male reporter. She flinched in mock surprise, pulling her dressing gown tight over her spindly limbs. After picking up the bottle, she held it tight to her chest and smiled.

‘Yes?’ she asked.

Happy at the invitation, the young journalist thrust a microphone before her. ‘What do you know about the plague pit Mrs Ramsdale?’

‘Plague…pit…oh?’ replied Doreen with a confused stutter. Composing herself, she slid a hand through her peroxide hair. ‘Well, we’re not sure what it is. They only unearthed it yesterday.’

‘Well, how does living on top of it make you feel?’

‘They’re dead aren’t they? What does it matter?’

‘Well, yes, but it seems the first thought plague pit may well have been the scene of a massacre, one that occurred over four-hundred years ago.’ Doreen simply stared back in silence. The journalist appeared slightly nonplussed at her vacant and abhorrently disinterested stance. Presumably defeated, he tried a different tack. ‘Is your husband in Mrs Ramsdale?’

She frowned. ‘No, he isn’t. Look, I’ve kids to feed and get to school. Is there anything else?’

The man smiled. ‘Yes, just one thing.’

‘Well.’

‘All the bodies were almost half a millennium old, yet one appeared to be wearing a modern day timepiece. And, this is the most interesting bit, what we are told appears at first to be the remains of a mobile phone.’

‘And?’

‘Have you nothing to say? Don’t you think it strange?’

‘I’m busy,’ she said, and slammed the door, dispatching him away. After this, Doreen took great pleasure in regaling Nick and Conner, her real son, with the young man’s comments.

Nick rolled his eyes at Doreen’s less than humorous attempt at adding inappropriate cheer to an otherwise serious situation. After all, he’d heard firsthand of the likelihood that the site had been visited at some point by marauding kids.

Happily, and as thought, school didn’t happen that day either, which was a plus. However, Tuesday night, was about to throw yet another one of his confusing nightmares into his head. And, it wasn’t going to be a macabre hand reaching up through the soil. No. This was something else, something far worse.


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Old 07-19-2010, 09:26 AM
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Please, please, please could someone give me a smattering of feedback. Pleeeeeeese x
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Old 07-19-2010, 12:34 PM
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Help!!! Have I offended someone, not submitted in the correct way?
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Old 07-19-2010, 11:45 PM
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Oh dear.
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Old 07-20-2010, 03:50 AM
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Wow, you're as impatient as me (which I like). I've given this a quick read through. I like it, it's intriguing. I'll do a detailed crit on it later when I have time. In the meantime, my advice is lose the italics.
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Old 07-20-2010, 04:25 AM
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Thank the gods.

I was beginning to feel a little invisible. This is the first chapter of an urban fantasy novel aimed at the YA demographic.

The only problem is it's 175,000 words. However, is full of mystery and intrigue.

Eeek.
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Old 07-20-2010, 04:35 AM
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Originally Posted by cmhine View Post
Thank the gods.

I was beginning to feel a little invisible. This is the first chapter of an urban fantasy novel aimed at the YA demographic.

The only problem is it's 175,000 words. However, is full of mystery and intrigue.

Eeek.
Holy crap. Chop it in two. Or three for good measure. Just so happens my own stuff is YA Urban Fantasy too.
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Old 07-20-2010, 05:03 AM
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Originally Posted by cmhine View Post
Chapter 1.



The Pit



The four anthropological team members worked in the rain and into Monday night, pulling out bodies, one by one. By morning, their orange boiler suits were more the colour of chocolate and they’d unearthed a rain sodden hole almost twenty feet across and almost twelve feet deep. Far from a silent affair, Nick had heard and witnessed the whole muddy thing from his bedroom window. JCB’s accompanied by the burbling bass of diesel-fuelled trucks had turned up and drove away all night. Their engines, less than silent, had totally prevented him from sleeping, as had the temporary argon light towers providing nighttime illumination for the digging four.Maybe just say 'the dig'. Ending the sentence like that just feels wrong to me. They blasted out light like a solar flare in the night’s sky, raining dazzling white onto the pit while it grew in size. For an almost sixteen-year old boy, this was way more than fascinating, in fact better than TV<I'd say 'better, in fact, than TV'.

With the old sash window pushed up as far as its ancient jamb would let it 'let it be', or 'go', he gazed down for as long as the increasing weight of his eyelids allowed, screwing up his face in silent reaction to each unearthed body. One after another, excavated, exhumed. It was a double quandary, a spectacle and a monstrosity all at the same time.

Eventually, with the noise levels dipping slightly, he dropped into a fitful sleep. With no chance of a lie in, Tuesday morning saw Nick uncommonly uncharacteristically? remarkably? awake, out of bed, in the garden area, and leaning against a recently erected makeshift fence framing the perimeter of the pit.<is the dig actually in his garden? With a horde of media, radio and (possibly) television to his right, there was probably no chance of school today anyway.

He glanced into the pit at a cloud of midges about twelve feet below. Wholly unaware of their macabre surroundings and media attention, they hovered over one of the rain created pools, basking in a narrow shaft of light. It was astonishing: the floor of the excavation, pockmarked with indents and shadow, echoing a ghoulish reminder of what had been, what had been there only hours earlier.<awkward sentence. I don't want to tell you what to write to make it better, you seem like you can work that out yourself. I'm just pointing out it sounded awkward to me.

Apparently, one of the anthropological team, or A-team, as Nick had called them, was going to give a statement, at least at some point. And that’s what the horde was waiting for.

One of the A-team performing the excavation had told Bill, Nick’s dad, not to worry, that the site was most probably an ancient burial ground, likely from some form of epidemic, possibly because of a plague of some sort<what would make them think that? How would they have evidence of cause of death if it was caused by an illness?, but that they would mount an enquiry once they’d taken the bodies away.

Perhaps Bill’s decision to continue his commute back to London was premature but aided by the reassurance that the bodies were indeed old, in fact very old.

However, with understandable concerns, he had asked about the watch found on the rotted skeletal hand and DI Grants strange interest in it, and his surprising and seemingly rapid exit< too long. I think you'll find that I personally hold the record for longest run on sentence. I don't want you coming on in here and taking that away from me ; ). Nick stood at his dad’s side, listening intently to the response. Another one of the A-team had indicated that it was more than probable that the site had perhaps become contaminated, at least at some stage. He threw his small spade down and walked over, wiping muddy hands on his legs. ‘Oh, I wouldn’t worry about it,’ he said. ‘DI Grant probably had somewhere he needed to be.’

‘And the watch?’ asked Bill.

‘Kids,’ he replied. ‘They get into all sorts.’

Bill grimaced. ‘Are you trying to tell me some kid had placed a watch around the skeletal remains of a corpse?’

The suit nodded. ‘You’d be surprised at what we’ve seen in our time mate.’

‘It sounds unlikely.’<have to say, it really does. Kids do weird stuff, but they can't keep a secret. Unless the kids are the reason the site was found in the first place. I'll shut up now.

‘Once, we found a―’

A voice sounded from about twenty feet away. ‘Pete!’ Nick could see he was frowning. ‘That’s enough!’ Clearly, a reprimand, the man speaking to Bill looked down and kicked some earth. ‘Sorry,’ he shouted back, paused and then turned back to face Bill. ‘Hmm, we shouldn’t discuss it.’

Bill nodded and said, ‘It’s fine. Don’t worry about it.’ He then paused and said, ‘Look, I have to leave for work. But my wife’s in. And…’ He gestured a hand to the burgeoning swell of media at the front of the house.

‘Oh, don’t worry about them,’ said the suit. ‘My gaffer’ll sort it. Once he tell’s em’ what’s here, what we’ve found, that it’s not some mass murder, they’ll clear out. You’ll see.’

‘I’m not so sure. And I’m not going to be around to make sure.’

‘Nine day wonder, max! You’ll see. Prob’s<I'd say 'probably' less.’

Nick waited until the suit had walked away, and then gestured to the surrounding turmoil. ‘Do you have to go back to work?’

‘I’m afraid so,’ said Bill. ‘Got stuff on.’

‘But what about this lot?’

‘You heard the, what do you call them, the A-team?’ Nick nodded. ‘Besides, you’re not on your own.’

Nick flinched. ‘Doreen? You mean the Acid Queen.’

Bill’s face stiffened. ‘What have I told you about calling her that?’

*

That same Tuesday morning, Bill had made his arrangements with the A-team, and left for London as indicated. In his absence, Doreen, his wife, had surprisingly been more than happy to receive the attention from both the A-team and the media, enjoying nothing short of an unexpected bask in the limelight< another long one. Chop!. At least initially that is.

Not that she looked the part. With a fag cornering her mouth, she was certainly no starlet. Venturing at the front door to collect the milk, she was pounced on by an inquisitive young male reporter. She flinched in mock surprise, pulling her dressing gown tight over her spindly limbs. After picking up the bottle, she held it tight to her chest and smiled.<Nice paragraph.

‘Yes?’ she asked.

Happy at the invitation, the young journalist thrust a microphone before her. ‘What do you know about the plague pit Mrs Ramsdale?’

‘Plague…pit…oh?’ replied Doreen with a confused stutter. Composing herself, she slid a hand through her peroxide hair. ‘Well, we’re not sure what it is. They only unearthed it yesterday.’

‘Well, how does living on top of it make you feel?’

‘They’re dead aren’t they? What does it matter?’

‘Well, yes, but it seems the first thought plague pit<doesn't make sense. 'Well, yes, but it seems that what was first thought to be a plague pit may well have been the scene of a massacre, one that occurred over four-hundred years ago.’ Doreen simply stared back in silence. The journalist appeared slightly nonplussed at her vacant and abhorrently< is this the right word here? disinterested stance. Presumably defeated, he tried a different tack. ‘Is your husband in Mrs Ramsdale?’< Nice.

She frowned. ‘No, he isn’t. Look, I’ve kids to feed and get to school. Is there anything else?’

The man smiled. ‘Yes, just one thing.’

‘Well.’

‘All the bodies were almost half a millennium old, yet one appeared to be wearing a modern day timepiece. And, this is the most interesting bit, what we are told appears at first to be the remains of a mobile phone.’

‘And?’

‘Have you nothing to say? Don’t you think it strange?’

‘I’m busy,’ she said, and slammed the door, dispatching him away<dispatching implies sending away, choose one or the other. After this, Doreen took great pleasure in regaling Nick and Conner, her real son, with the young man’s comments.

Nick rolled his eyes at Doreen’s less than humorous attempt at adding inappropriate cheer to an otherwise serious situation. After all, he’d heard firsthand of the likelihood that the site had been visited at some point by marauding kids.

Happily, and as thought, school didn’t happen that day either, which was a plus. However, Tuesday night, was about to throw yet another one of his confusing nightmares into his head. And, it wasn’t going to be a macabre hand reaching up through the soil. No. This was something else, something far worse.



I like this a lot. It's a great start. I've pointed out what I would do if it was mine, but obviously it isn't so please feel free to ignore me.
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Old 07-20-2010, 05:26 AM
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Thanks Casper. That was just what I was looking for.

It's a strange one isn't it: you pain over the same words for so long; then, they end up vague and glossy, the details, blurred.

I’d love to chop my book down into three. It's actually divided into four parts. The problem I have is each part ends on a cliffhanger, so (to me) it would be a problem to split without some sort of end wrapping.

Would you like to see Chapter two?
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Old 07-20-2010, 05:51 AM
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If I was a YA picking this up off the shelf, I'd definitely read on. So post away.

And I know exactly what you mean. Re-reading your own stuff is the only way to edit it and make it better, but the more you read it the less able you are to read it objectively. I have little to no idea what I'm going to do with my first chapter. I'm currently sulking with it and its perverse desire to read like a Twilight reject. Boo!
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Old 07-20-2010, 06:01 AM
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Cheers Casper.

‘Oh dear’ about yours though. Is it vampires?

I've read lots of blurbs on the (how to create a gripping) first chapter, and they all point at cutting the first and jumping in at the second?

I've sort of gone backwards. I created a new chapter one entirely.

I’ll post the second chapter soon. Just off to a data protection meeting now: borrrring!
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Old 07-20-2010, 07:42 AM
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It's not vampires, and I don't think the rest of the novel is much like it (although it is a love story ). I just can't think of a way to start it without eliciting comparisons with Twilight.

Here's the hook, although it's my first attempt at writing it, so it will probably change.


When Ana, a troubled teen in the foster care system, gets her last chance at family life and a good school in Belle Fourche, she turns over a new leaf to make it work; but when she finds out the truth about Dev and why he wants to be with her, she finds herself struggling not only with being the master of her own destiny, but the mysterious link his kind have to her birth mother’s death.

I will have a look at Chapter 2 though - see if there's any way I can do that. Sigh. Might just be better to go with Chapter 18 - people seem to like that one!


Edit: Crap. Ch 2 starts with a dream. Back to the drawing board.

Last edited by Casper; 07-20-2010 at 07:46 AM..
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Old 07-20-2010, 07:49 AM
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Oooooh - the bit: 'her birth mothers death,' sounds a little close to the bone. That is, a little like part of my plot. I'll drop a little more later. I’m leaving work now. It’ll be later on tonight when I reply again.

However, ironically interesting.
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Old 07-20-2010, 08:01 AM
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I've just started a new thread for 'my' chapter 2.

See link: http://www.writersbeat.com/showthread.php?t=26016
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Old 07-20-2010, 02:22 PM
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Yikes. The similarities are endless. My chapter two starts with a nightmare. Is that bad? My MC's plagued with them, that's a major issue for him and an integral aspect of the main plot.

And, as regards what you said about her birth mothers death, mines similar there two. I have an organisation known as 'The Priory'. They've had a part in the death of my MC's mother. It's all v complex.

Anyhow, your hook: you're quite right about your sentence length record holding. It's a whopper alright. It does hit the spot though, gets you wondering what it is about 'Dev' that's caused this historic catastrophe. I have a 'Dez' character, short for Derek. What's 'Dev' short for?

I'm already thinking about my next story, which continues on from this epic offering. My next chp one will start with gore and a cliff hanger. Try that. Introduce an implausibility, some intrigue that raises a question and ultimately causes that proverbial reader to turn that page.

Have you posted your chapter one on a previous occasion?
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Old 07-22-2010, 10:14 AM
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Yes, although the threads are in a bit of a mess. It's called Fait Accompli, and it's on the Member's Only forum. I originally posted it in three parts because of the length, then on the first thread I tinkered with the arrangement and put the whole thing up there in a later post.

I hope dreams aren't bad - my mc has a lot of them too (although they aren't nightmares) I've just read that you aren't supposed to start a novel with one. Big no no with agents as far as I can tell.

Oh, and Dev isn't short for anything, it's just his name. I've only just noticed that I picked three letter names for my mc's (Ana and Dev). Really silly of me not to notice - I did the same with my kids!
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Old 07-22-2010, 10:30 AM
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I'm going to hit myself - but what (or who) is a YA?
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Old 07-22-2010, 11:19 AM
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Originally Posted by United View Post
I'm going to hit myself - but what (or who) is a YA?
Young Adult. Apparently that's what kids like to call themselves these days.
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Old 07-22-2010, 03:08 PM
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Hmmm. I read that too, about the dream thing. Bummer. So many films (scenes at least) either wake from a dream or have a sequence in which the MC is immersed.

Think I might post in the members only with the remainder of my story.

Did you post the whole of yours or just your chapters?
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Old 07-22-2010, 06:36 PM
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The four anthropological(I'd remove this designation and bring it up later; the hook is stronger without it because you add an additional story question: What team? And why are they moving bodies?) team members worked in the rain and into Monday night, pulling out bodies, one by one. By morning, their orange boiler suits were more the colour of chocolate(unless you're trying to say pulling bodies out of a hole is a sweet endeavor, another description is needed) and they’d unearthed a rain sodden hole almost twenty feet across and almost twelve feet deep.

(I added a paragraph break here because now you move into the head of a character and are no longer describing the scene as narrator)

Far from a silent affair, Nick had (careful of past perfect tense; it's jarring and moves the reader out of the current immediate scene) heard and (even though the word witness means 'seeing' something, common use also implies the other senses) witnessed the whole muddy thing from his bedroom window. JCB’s accompanied by the burbling bass of diesel-fuelled trucks had turned up and drove away all night. Their engines, less than silent, had totally (like, totally Maybe for YA , though)prevented him from sleeping, as had the temporary argon light towers providing nighttime illumination for the digging four anthropological team. They blasted out light like a solar flare in the night’s sky (alliteration), raining dazzling white ontointo the pit while it grew in size. For an almost a sixteen-year old boy, or nearly so, this was better than TV.

(paragraph for impact)

Way better.
In the first paragraph, you relate the trucks and lights and how they have interfered with Nick's sleep, then at the end you say it's exiciting to him.

You should remove the complaint over sleeplessness and have him up all night, excited. Doing that will reinforce the final statement that, to him, it's way better than TV. As it is, it's conflicted.

Just some examples of stuff to look for
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Old 07-23-2010, 12:36 AM
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Originally Posted by cmhine View Post
Hmmm. I read that too, about the dream thing. Bummer. So many films (scenes at least) either wake from a dream or have a sequence in which the MC is immersed.

Think I might post in the members only with the remainder of my story.

Did you post the whole of yours or just your chapters?
I've only posted the first chapter and an excerpt from Ch 18. You can't post any more than 3000 words in one post, and no more than three a week (I think), so it isn't really viable to put the whole thing up. A lot of people find a writing buddy here and do it privately to get a crit on the whole thing though.
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Old 07-23-2010, 04:46 AM
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I've only posted the first chapter and an excerpt from Ch 18. You can't post any more than 3000 words in one post, and no more than three a week (I think), so it isn't really viable to put the whole thing up. A lot of people find a writing buddy here and do it privately to get a crit on the whole thing though.
That's interesting. I'll look into that at some point.
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Old 07-23-2010, 04:48 AM
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Cheers Drech for that critique. I think in my hea I had him excited but very tired too. I'll take another look.
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