First Chapter Feedback, Please

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Jack Foreigner
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Sat Mar 15, 2014 12:34 am Post

Hello, Scrivener Community! :P

I think my Prologue's like 95% as polished as I can get it right now, at least without feedback anyway, so I'd like some, if anyone has the time and inclination...it's fourteen ~5x8-inch pages, under six thousand words. All comments welcome, here or there (at the URL below) -- but I can't promise I'd take any specific advice! :wink:

Thanks very much. 8)


http://jack-foreigner.com/chinese-centu ... ls#preview

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Jack Foreigner
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Mon Mar 31, 2014 10:26 pm Post

Whoa, so many "views" and not one comment??? :?

Could it be that bad???? :oops:

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pigfender
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Tue Apr 01, 2014 12:24 pm Post

Well, I personally presumed since you'd linked off site to something already in ebook format that this was less a genuine request for feedback and more a marketing exercise.

Perhaps a smaller section pasted directly into a post will encourage some responses.
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Jaysen
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Tue Apr 01, 2014 1:52 pm Post

I hate myself for what I'm about to type.

Piggy is right. Hit the nail on the head.

Someone shoot me now.
Jaysen

I have a wife and 2 kids that I can only attribute to a wiggle, a giggle, and the realization that she was out of my league so I might as well be happy with her as a friend. 26 years marriage later, I can't imagine life without her. -Me 10/7/09

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Br
Briar Kit
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Tue Apr 01, 2014 3:28 pm Post

You're a writer, so you can write what you want. Other people's opinions are just that: opinions.

The Nazi agent found his po cha rather challenging.

Rancid butter and salt, he’d been told; think of it more as a kind of soup, he’d been advised; and don’t empty your bowl—lest an immediate refill is encouraged, it was warned.

Fat chance of another sip, even for appearances’ sake. There wasn’t anything he wouldn’t do for The Party and Greater Germany, but he’d no idea the trials would be so...gastronomical. For the past two months he’d been traveling this Oriental armpit of the world on special assignment, yet of all the odd customs and ways of thinking behind them, this offensive tea—tea!—has got to be the most absurd.


FWIW, I don't think the reader needs to be told that the protagonist is a Nazi agent in the first few words. They can pick that up from the text as they follow the clew through the labyrinth of the story.

In the second sentence, the text has "he'd been told", "he'd been advised", and "it was warned". IMO, it isn't necessary to have three descriptors, and the mix of "he" and "it" (and the tense change) breaks the flow of the text.

Personally, I'd shorten it to something along the lines of:

He'd been warned about po cha.

"It's a brew of rancid butter and salt. More soup than tea. Whatever you do, never empty your bowl—they'll refill it."


The third paragraph mixes tenses:
"he’d [he had] no idea"
"he’d [he had] been traveling"
"has got to be"

IMO, for consistency, "had got to be" — though writers don't have to be consistent if they don't want to be.

For me, "the past", "armpit of the world", and "offensive" are either superfluous or they unnecessarily tell the reader what to think; and the protagonist's allegiance to Germany isn't critical so early in the text. Best, I think, to leave the reader guessing who he is and what he thinks. Again, I'd cut…

He'd been warned about po cha.

"It's a brew of rancid butter and salt. More soup than tea. Whatever you do, never empty your bowl—they'll refill it."

For two months he’d been traveling the Orient on special assignment, and of all the ideas and customs he'd encountered on his travels, po cha was the strangest yet.


As you said in your original post, you may not take specific advice. Completely understand. Just offering a few thoughts, in the hope that they might be of some help—even if they serve to reaffirm your own ideas.
Last edited by Briar Kit on Wed Apr 02, 2014 1:38 pm, edited 5 times in total.
Account closed January 2017

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pigfender
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Tue Apr 01, 2014 7:02 pm Post

Jaysen wrote:I hate myself for what I'm about to type.

Piggy is right. Hit the nail on the head.

Someone shoot me now.


I've mellowed. It's much more acceptable to agree with me these days.
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Jaysen
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Tue Apr 01, 2014 7:04 pm Post

pigfender wrote:
Jaysen wrote:I hate myself for what I'm about to type.

Piggy is right. Hit the nail on the head.

Someone shoot me now.


I've mellowed. It's much more acceptable to agree with me these days.

you aren't "mellowed" your "delusional" and maybe "deranged".

Mellow is KB. When you start telling folks to .... off with his level of mellow, then you are a master.
Jaysen

I have a wife and 2 kids that I can only attribute to a wiggle, a giggle, and the realization that she was out of my league so I might as well be happy with her as a friend. 26 years marriage later, I can't imagine life without her. -Me 10/7/09

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pigfender
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Tue Apr 01, 2014 7:09 pm Post

fair enough.
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Jaysen
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Tue Apr 01, 2014 7:13 pm Post

pigfender wrote:fair enough.

:P
Jaysen

I have a wife and 2 kids that I can only attribute to a wiggle, a giggle, and the realization that she was out of my league so I might as well be happy with her as a friend. 26 years marriage later, I can't imagine life without her. -Me 10/7/09

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nom
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Wed Apr 02, 2014 12:03 pm Post

Jaysen wrote:
pigfender wrote:fair enough.

:P

Look, the two of you need to stop agreeing with each other or (a) Global Warnings will increase exponentially; (b) Russia will do something the rest of the world doesn't like; (c) North Korea won't make sense; (d) entropy; or (e) all of the above.

As if we haven't got enough to worry about...
Complete and utter NOMsense.
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Jaysen
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Wed Apr 02, 2014 12:45 pm Post

the wife has said I've been unusually agreeable lately. Suggested I go to the Dr to see if i've been replaced by a body snatcher. I suggested that it was simply the result of the soul being crushed out of me by the last snow storm leaving 8" of snow.

But I'm more than happy to be the scapegoat. vic-k needs a break. I nom-inate ... guthrie for next week though.
Jaysen

I have a wife and 2 kids that I can only attribute to a wiggle, a giggle, and the realization that she was out of my league so I might as well be happy with her as a friend. 26 years marriage later, I can't imagine life without her. -Me 10/7/09

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Hu
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Wed Apr 02, 2014 1:21 pm Post

I'm with Briar Kit on this.

A good guideline I've found is: add the detail that the reader needs - but not until the reader needs it. (The thing about Nazis - they're interesting, in the way I think you're using them, perhaps very interesting, but the reader will have read the blurb, or whatever promotional material you've provided, and so will know something about time, place and plot - in broad generality. In any case, if the reader has chosen to begin reading, he or she won't necessarily need the Nazi stimulus to keep going. At least for a few pages. But as BK says - just an opinion.)
'Listen, some quiet night, when you've shirked your work that day. Do you hear
that distant, almost inaudible clicking sound? That's one of your
competitors, working away in the night in
Paris or London or Erie, PA.'

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Wed Apr 02, 2014 1:29 pm Post

Hugh wrote:I'm with Briar Kit on this.

Me too.

Other possibilities:
    Shorten sentences — they average 30 words, a lot to grasp.
    Cut down on adverbs and passive voice.
    Set dialogue in separate paragraphs instead of mixing it with narrative.
    Use more dialogue: it creates character and opens the page visually.

ps
You can't conquer stupid — or cure it — with more stupid.

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pigfender
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Wed Apr 02, 2014 1:57 pm Post

nom wrote:
Jaysen wrote:
pigfender wrote:fair enough.

:P

Look, the two of you need to stop agreeing with each other or (a) Global Warnings will increase exponentially; (b) Russia will do something the rest of the world doesn't like; (c) North Korea won't make sense; (d) entropy; or (e) all of the above.

As if we haven't got enough to worry about...


Of all the things I've been blamed for in my lifetime... this is the first time I've been held responsible for entropy. Daaaaaaamn.
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Jack Foreigner
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Thu Apr 17, 2014 7:01 pm Post

Jaysen wrote:I hate myself for what I'm about to type.

Piggy is right. Hit the nail on the head.


Well, I didn't think a big ol' text dump would be welcomed, and just posting excerpts seems besides the point (how informative could a paragraph or two or three really be??)...besides, I've put the chapter in a neat-o on-page/inline PDF viewer! :)

Jaysen wrote:Someone shoot me now.


Always glad to bring peace wherever I go. :lol: