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School for the Not So Gifted (Pending) Exerpt

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Old 09-11-2009, 09:32 PM
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Default School for the Not So Gifted (Pending) Exerpt


Here's a little taste ( I really do mean little) of one of my novels I am writing. Criticism is greatly appreciated.This is from my first chapter titled :

EDITED:

Chapter 1: School is for learning?
(thought I'd change it to meet the standards )



This morning I woke up to the sound of my alarm, playing some kind of country music song. Not being able to fully awaken, I sat up with the blanket still covering the bottom part of my body; gathering my senses by scratching my head, I looked at the time: forty-five minutes left. Going through my morning routines of showering, brushing my teeth, and getting dressed, I thought about the day I was going to have, all the surprises and new people I was going to meet, including with those of the opposite sex. I took one last look at myself in the mirror before leaving, as I’d always done ever since middle school. The same five-foot six, one hundred-twenty five pound stick stared back at me with his brown eyes, buzzed black hair, and dark skin, not to mention his ever-growing mustache.
(I haven't changed this, so if anyone has any ideas on how to describe the character without directly doing so let me know) “I am Adriano Rossi, and I am a sexy beast,” I said to myself while laughing.

Walking out of the bathroom into the narrow hallway, I trudged to the entrance of my room, conveniently located at the end. I lived in a one-story house, sharing a room with my little brother, which was unfortunately next to my mother and her husband’s room and my baby sister’s room. In my room I had a bunk bed and two shelves filled with random assorted electronics, toys, wrappers and batteries, with the occasional book sprouting up. Living in this room for a full year now has been the worst experience in my life so far; little did I know, there were worst things that could happen.

Approaching my closet, my mind scrambled to think of what to wear. I decided on a long white t-shirt, baggy jeans, and a pair of white Nikes. Thirty-five minutes have now passed, and I was told to wake my brother before I left.

“Julian get up,” I whispered while slapping him, “get up fool!” My attempts reward me with an irate little brother who seemed quite displeased with my actions. While he swatted at the air in retaliation, I poked at his sides for him to get up.
“Leave me alone,” Julian spoke, the words came out but they were half-dead, “I’m up, I’m up.”
“I’m leaving. If you don’t get up it’s your fault.” I grabbed my bag and headed toward the outside world.

The walk down to the bus stop was a long one. There were no shortcuts, and my house didn’t have one that was closer then a quarter mile away. My trek was exciting; I counted my steps as I walked, I was scared by a dog’s barking as I turned past a nearby fence, and I dodged early morning traffic. “Mission complete,” I thought to myself as I reached the bus stop. While I waited to be picked up, a dark figure could be seen across the street on the opposing sidewalk. As it stepped into the light I realized that it was shaped like a marshmallow; the shaggy-headed figure was my best friend, Brian.

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Last edited by Koin; 09-13-2009 at 04:56 PM.. Reason: Update the post
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Old 09-12-2009, 10:37 AM
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Changing 'a beast' to beast, 'next my' to 'next to my', 'reward me' to 'rewarded me', and 'approaches' with 'approached' may improve it.
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Old 09-12-2009, 12:54 PM
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First the parts I liked: I thought that was an amusing way to introduce the main characters name, and it worked well. I also liked the sarcastic description of the journey to the bus stop.

As for things to change, aside from what nlambert said, I'd also separate this sentence:

Living in this room for a full year now, has been the worst experience in my life so far, little did I know, there were worst things that could happen.
Cut it right after "so far" with a semicolon maybe.
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Old 09-13-2009, 01:55 AM
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I appreciate it. I really do. Anything to help is most welcomed. Of course good comments only help to boost my confidence. But I really do thank you for taking the time to read and critique my writing.
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Old 09-13-2009, 08:12 AM
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Originally Posted by Koin View Post
Chapter 1: Embarrassment, Surprises, and The Unnamed [Ahh!! What's with the bold? ]

This morning I woke up to the sound of my alarm, playing some kind of country music song. [I understand that you're letting on to the fact that your alarm is your radio, but you should just say that--"I woke up to the sound of my radio alarm . . ." Also, I'm not sure I'm liking the wording of "some kind of"] I rose out of my bed, sitting up with my blanket covering only the bottom part of my body; scratching my head [comma] I looked at the time; [semicolon doesn't work here, perhaps a colon?] forty-five minutes left. Going through my morning routines of showering, brushing my teeth, and getting dressed, I thought about the day I was going to have, all the surprises and new people I was going to meet, including with those of the opposite sex. [I think that everyone (including me) has done this and gotten grief about it. Now it's your turn You will be hard pressed to get an interest in a story that begins with the MC waking up and going through a mundane morning routine. My advice on this would be to try and start the first chapter somewhere later in the day, perhaps at one point having the MC think back to his morning (if it's important enough to add in later)] I took one last look at myself in the mirror before leaving, as I’d always done ever since middle school. The same five-foot six, one hundred-twenty five pound stick stared back at me with his brown eyes, buzzed black hair, and dark skin, not to mention his ever growing [ever-growing] mustache. [This part seems like an info dump. Putting in his entire height, weight, hair color, eye color, etc., really slows down interest in the story] “I am Adriano Rossi, and I am a sexy a beast,” I said to myself while laughing. [I say that to myself in the mirror every morning too! ]

Walking out of the bathroom into the narrow hallway, I walked [repetative] to the entrance of my room, conveniently located at the end. I lived in a one story [one-story] house, sharing a room with my little brother, which was unfortunately directly next my mother and her husband’s room, [no comma] and my baby sister’s room. [Again, this sentence is a little bit info dump.] In my room I had a bunk-bed [no hyphen] and two shelves filled with random assorted electronics, toys, wrappers and batteries, with the occasional book sprouting up. Living in this room for a full year now, [no comma] has been the worst experience in my life so far,[period or semicolon] little did I know, there were worst things that could happen.

Approaching my closet, my mind scrambled to think of what to wear. I decided on a long white t-shirt, baggy jeans, and a pair of white Nikes. [Again, too much info. Unless there is something crucial about what the exact attire the MC is wearing, I would leave most of it out] Thirty-five minutes have now passed, and I was told to wake my brother before I left.
“Julian get up,” I whispered while slapping him[he whispering this while slapping him?], “get up fool!” My attempts reward me with an irate little brother who seemed quite displeased with my actions.
“I’m leaving,[period] if you don’t get up it’s your fault.” I grabbed my bag and headed toward the door at the other end of the hallway.

The walk down to the bus stop was a long one. There were no shortcuts, and my house didn’t have a bus stop that was closer then a quarter mile away. My trek was an exciting one; [not sure if the semicolon works here since counting steps doesn't sound too exciting. I would go with a period] I counted my steps as I walked,[period] I was scared by a dog’s barking as I walked past a nearby fence, and I dodged early morning traffic. “Mission complete,” I thought to myself as I reached the bus stop. A dark figure approaches me down the opposing sidewalk across from me. As it stepped into the light [comma] I realized that it was shaped like a marshmallow,[period] the shaggy-headed figure was my best friend, Brian.
It's hard to give comments on plot because nothing has happened to give me a clue as to what the story might be about. I'm only as harsh as I am about this because I can see real potential in your writing skills, but you need to stray away from some of the certain cliches that I mentioned above.

Also, you have a tendency to continuously switch tenses in this. "I thought to myself as I reached the bus stop" is past tense, but "A dark figure approaches me" is present tense. Stick to one.

As I said earlier, I think that your best bet is not to start the story here. Start it perhaps, at the end of the chapter--where the MC is running into his friend and start getting to at least some of the good stuff. The title is intriguing, but from what I've read, I'm not sure if I could continue on. You need to have something by this point to really make me want to keep going.

I hope this helps you!
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Old 09-13-2009, 08:45 AM
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Before we begin...I loved the title! It made me click just because it's just the sort of book I'd pounce on in a store. ^^ I just know it's going to be fun.

Originally Posted by Koin View Post
Here's a little taste ( I really do mean little) of one of my novels I am writing. Criticism is greatly appreciated.This is from my first chapter titled :

Chapter 1: Embarrassment, Surprises, and The Unnamed


Well...the chapter title isn't quite as fun as the book title, but you can't top it every time right?

This morning I woke up to the sound of my alarm, playing some kind of country music song. I rose out of my bed, sitting up with my blanket covering only the bottom part of my body; scratching my head I looked at the time; forty-five minutes left. Going through my morning routines of showering, brushing my teeth, and getting dressed, I thought about the day I was going to have, all the surprises and new people I was going to meet, including with those of the opposite sex. I took one last look at myself in the mirror before leaving, as I’d always done ever since middle school. The same five-foot six, one hundred-twenty five pound stick stared back at me with his brown eyes, buzzed black hair, and dark skin, not to mention his ever growing mustache. “I am Adriano Rossi, and I am a sexy a beast,” I said to myself while laughing.

Mrrr, this is kind of a boring way to begin the story. I've done it before too, starting my story with a weather report. I thought it was funny...no one else did. I know beginnings are kind of hard, but maybe you could skip ahead a little to something more engaging?

Walking out of the bathroom into the narrow hallway, I walked to the entrance of my room, conveniently located at the end. I lived in a one story house, sharing a room with my little brother, which was unfortunately directly next my mother and her husband’s room, and my baby sister’s room. In my room I had a bunk-bed and two shelves filled with random assorted electronics, toys, wrappers and batteries, with the occasional book sprouting up. Living in this room for a full year now, has been the worst experience in my life so far, little did I know, there were worst things that could happen.

It may help you to print this out and do what I call, "The Highlighter Test". Highlight every word that ends in "ly". If it looks like confetti exploded all over your page, you might want to take some out. In most cases you can remove the word
completely and the sentence comes out stronger.

Approaching my closet, my mind scrambled to think of what to wear. I decided on a long white t-shirt, baggy jeans, and a pair of white Nikes. Thirty-five minutes have now passed, and I was told to wake my brother before I left.
“Julian get up,” I whispered while slapping him, “get up fool!” My attempts reward me with an irate little brother who seemed quite displeased with my actions.

It might be more active and interesting if you showed the irate little brother instead of told about it.

“I’m leaving, if you don’t get up it’s your fault.” I grabbed my bag and headed toward the door at the other end of the hallway.

probably he gets yelled at for this.

The walk down to the bus stop was a long one. There were no shortcuts, and my house didn’t have a bus stop that was closer then a quarter mile away. My trek was an exciting one; I counted my steps as I walked, I was scared by a dog’s barking as I walked past a nearby fence, and I dodged early morning traffic. “Mission complete,” I thought to myself as I reached the bus stop. A dark figure approaches me down the opposing sidewalk across from me. As it stepped into the light I realized that it was shaped like a marshmallow, the shaggy-headed figure was my best friend, Brian.
Hope this helped!
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  #7  
Old 09-13-2009, 02:09 PM
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Thanks for the help. I have so much written already that editing it would drive me insane.
As I said earlier, I think that your best bet is not to start the story here. Start it perhaps, at the end of the chapter--where the MC is running into his friend and start getting to at least some of the good stuff. The title is intriguing, but from what I've read, I'm not sure if I could continue on. You need to have something by this point to really make me want to keep going.
Whats funny is, that in the next paragraph the story really kicks in. But I think I'll rearrange, and takes somethings out. A lot of the sentences I read now just don't fit or are worded wrong to me.

Anyways, I appreciate it. I'll post some more later, and I hope you can take the time to critique that as well.

EDIT:
Originally Posted by Firefly View Post
[I think that everyone (including me) has done this and gotten grief about it. Now it's your turn :smile: You will be hard pressed to get an interest in a story that begins with the MC waking up and going through a mundane morning routine. My advice on this would be to try and start the first chapter somewhere later in the day, perhaps at one point having the MC think back to his morning (if it's important enough to add in later)]
I realize what you're saying, but what if everything about the routine is important for later? Do I just leave it out? Or is there a better way to write it?
Basically, how would you make it seem less boring and more enjoyable?
I can't take it out because it is important. (Oh, and the clothes are important too )

EDIT 2:
I took everyone's advice, and I can already see a big improvement. I'll work on the fist two paragraphs and re-post them, hopefully I'll get another response. I can't get better unless I'm told what's wrong.
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Old 09-13-2009, 02:37 PM
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As Firefly has alluded, the excerpt is clogged with superfluous stuff the reader does not need at all. You should prune and polish it extensively. Of course, this is a really small part for it to have character development, but a strong start is the one where characterization is ample.

Write only about things significant to the plot. No reader will care where and how the protagonist's blanket is positioned. It doesn't add to the atmosphere of the room, of the character, and of anything at all.

Remember, a good writer is constantly a critical reader of his own work.
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Old 09-13-2009, 02:44 PM
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Like I said, you could try to have the MC think about his morning routine later on in the story. Cutting out some of the less important details and keeping the ones that are crucial to the storyline later on. Like:

"I thought back to when I woke up to that country song blaring from my alarm radio. The same routine every morning . . . "

That way, you can start it off at a place that really catches the reader's eye, and then go back and get some of the stuff that you want us to know. Just go through to cut out the stuff that's like the MC scratching his head as he looked at the clock, or the blanket covering the bottom half of his body, or whatnot.

Also, you can subtley throw in what he's wearing at he goes about his day too. Like, I scuffed my clean, white Nikes on the sidewalk as I made my way to the bus stop . . . or I pulled up my baggy jeans as they started to slide down my waist . . . Just so it's not listed in order like a grocery list

Seeing that you have importance in these things though, does pique my interest a bit more! I'll definitely be looking for more on this story later!

Again, I hope I've helped you some!
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Old 09-13-2009, 03:02 PM
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I rewrote the sentence. So
Not being able to fully awaken, I sat up with the blanket still covering the bottom part of my body; gathering my senses by scratching my head, I looked at the time: forty-five minutes left

I'm trying to make it so the reader knows its to damn early for him to be getting up. You know the feeling. Waking up and looking at the clock like, "DAMN!"
Though if you still disagree, I'll just take it out, or rewrite it so I can get the feeling another way.

Also, you can subtley throw in what he's wearing at he goes about his day too. Like, I scuffed my clean, white Nikes on the sidewalk as I made my way to the bus stop . . . or I pulled up my baggy jeans as they started to slide down my waist . . . Just so it's not listed in order like a grocery list
I like this idea. Thanks. Though the clothes do have a meaning, but that's for later.
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Old 09-13-2009, 04:17 PM
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Default Commas

Good call on the comas, firefly. I also personally think there is no need in the English language for a semincolon, or even a colon.

But nobody caught the change in tense in the last paragrpah, where he "approaches" his friend. You can't change tense in the middle of a paragraph. Just change it to "approached."

Last edited by kevinmont; 09-13-2009 at 04:19 PM..
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Old 09-13-2009, 04:24 PM
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Firelfy caught the tense changing, which I have already changed (I think so). Though not on the actual post. I will edit the original post so that if anyone wants to help with the new rewrite they'll be able to.
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Old 09-13-2009, 11:19 PM
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Originally Posted by kevinmont View Post
I also personally think there is no need in the English language for a semincolon, or even a colon.
A colon is a very practical tool for enumerating stuff, even enumerating sentences. And while we're at that, if one is enumerating phrases, or ideas realized in sentences with commas, it would be awkward and confusing to separate those with a mere coma. That is where the semicolon comes in. Also, if a writer uses up a lot of conjunctions, and the idea still struggles throughout the sentence, then it is best to use a semicolon to junction those ideas. Some would simply separate them into two sentences, and while it is a smooth solution in some cases, it doesn't flow well in other cases.

Here are a couple of ad-lib examples:

1. The crowd kept blurting out discouraging disapprovals like: "Get on with it already!" ; "You're no good!" ; Get off the stage!"

2. What they didn't know was the state in which his mind was enraptured by grief, and that thoughts filled with contrition clogged his sanity: I could've done something, if I was only faster; I could've fired a warning shot; I could've yelled, or said something, anything; I could've simply not organize the ill-fated trip.

Hope that helps.
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Old 09-15-2009, 07:38 PM
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Default Semicolons; and Colons:

I just searched my own writing for colons and semicolons. In 157,000 words, two novels, I have two colons that aren't time related,

1. Dear Mrs. Jackson:
2. The others chimed in for the chorus:

I have one semicolon,

1. They weren't radical, they weren't intellectual; they were the middle colonies.

I'm not asserting that I'm right. I just maintain that there are alternatives, and have no affect on the flow of the narrative.

I could have put colons and semicolons all through this post,

"I have one semicolon:"
"I'm not asserting that I'm right; I just maintain..."

Does normal use of commas and periods introduce ambiguity into those clauses? No.

I'm not saying don't use them, just use them sparingly, because those two punctuation marks are unnecessary, and, I truly believe, introduce a style of pomposity in an author's writing.

Just my opinion; don't do it. (oops)

Kevin

Last edited by kevinmont; 09-15-2009 at 07:46 PM..
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