recovering_cynic

Sept. 12, 2011 - Recovering Cynic - Fallen Haven - Ch. 1 (ML, V)

8 posts in this topic

Hello everyone!

I've been MIA from Reading Excuses for awhile, but I wanted to get back into the swing of things. And so, I present Fallen Haven, a blending of several different genres: steam punk, epic fantasy, urban fantasy, and science fiction. I hope you enjoy it. It does contain mild language and violence for those who are content-wary. I currently have 14 chapters written, and I hope to keep a decent buffer ready for submission.

Now, as to feedback, I am looking for primarily two things: (1) encouragement (tell me what I'm doing right) and (2) help identifying any major flaws (no nit-picking or grammar-level corrections please). If you dislike the book or a chapter, tell me what's turning you off, but at the same time, if a chapter really works for you, let me know why.

Keep in mind, this is a first draft. I fully intend to revise and polish the book several times over before I ever submit it for publication. That is why I'm looking for major criticisms, not minor problems.

Thanks in advance.

~Recovering Cynic a.k.a. Sean

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Yeah, I got the chapter just fine and I wanted to get to it a week ago, but things got in the way as things are wont to do. Sorry about that.

Good opening, a sentence like “This is the story of the fall of Earth” really grabs your attention. There are hints there of what happened and how what people think might be wrong. We don’t really know much of the details yet, but already I’m interested in finding out. The downside of the first section though is that it’s not terribly original, since I’ve seen openings like this before, but despite that it caught my attention first and it wasn’t until I was through reading it that I felt it was familiar.

The pacing of the chapter feels really high, snapping back and forth between several points of view. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. In this case I definitely felt it worked. You were also quick in getting an image in my head for the characters. This was good since with three characters and limited pages you don’t have much time to get the reader connected.

Take Jimbo for example, I only needed the first sentence of his opening paragraph to invoke an image of a redneck or hillbilly. The rest of the paragraph had me nodding in confirmation, from that moment I had a grasp on him. The same goes for the other two characters, though Akari remained a bit of a mystery since she’s alien. I had the secret agent vibe to latch on to though.

There is a downside to this and that’s in order to quickly connect to the characters you’re exploiting character clichés, the redneck, the sheriff, the secret (alien) agent. As I was reading I didn’t care so much about this, the fast pace just pulled me through the chapter and the familiarity the characters inspired made it easier to accept the alien monster, but in the next chapters I’d like to see these stereotypes broken up a bit.

Coming back to my first point, how the opening felt familiar after I was through reading it, I kind of felt the same with the whole chapter. I liked it but when I was done and started thinking about it I realized the whole chapter felt familiar somehow, like an alien invasion action movie, including the snappy dialogues when the monster appears from people who probably should be pissing their pants at the sight of it. Now this is not necessarily a bad thing, since it does promise to be quite a ride right from the start. But it’s something to keep in mind as right now there isn’t that much to set it apart from most action movies. The crystal fingers were a nice touch though (depending on what you’re going to do with this disability).

In all I’m curious about the next chapter, but I feel that you do need to break up the familiar soon.

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I just finished this and although I liked the first chapter with an exception. Before I continue I just want to say that I do not want to offend at all. I am just explaining what I felt while I was reading this.

It was fast. It felt a little too fast for one chapter. I honestly felt like I was reading a screenplay for a movie. Beyond nit picky grammar things (which I am no professor on anyway) and word choices I felt that the scene with Jimbo was forced. He saw the monster and instantly attacked with only a glimpse of what it could have been. Unless he is always the type of guy to shoot first and ask questions later (in which I wouldn't know since the character was just introduced) then this action felt out of place. Another thing that kinda shocked me was how Jimbo described Kyle and then coming to the realization that Kyle is his cousin. I am not certain if that was intentional or not, but it took me off guard for a moment.

All in all I agree that this beginning felt somewhat cliche with the characters given. I also feel the same way that I wanted to continue through to find out more. You have the ability to capture the inquisitive mind. I will get to reading the next chapter tomorrow.

I enjoyed it and I cannot wait to find out more about Akari and that side of this story.

Thanks for sharing! :D

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My primary concern for this was the contrast between Jimbo's likability and his actual actions. Maybe it is just seeing things from Kyle's view, but I don't know how likable anyone is going to be if they constantly make choices like peeing into somebody's car -- even if it is a cop car. Also, the relationship between the two should be made clear right from the beginning, in my opinion.

The first change to Akari and her perspective on the action caused me to pause for a while. I wasn't sure if Akari was in the present-day of Jimbo and the rest, or the present-day of the intro text. Formatting may help, but it wouldn't hurt to have a bit about unknowing humans or people she's protecting. I actually thought she was another human, possibly military, for a good portion of her first section.

I was a bit confused at Jimbo radioing Kyle during the chase, but that was a very minor point overall.

Other than that, I thought you handled the transitions well. It certainly kept the pace high for the first chapter.

Also, I know there can be mixed opinions on the chapter intro-text-thingies, but I thought this one worked fairly well.

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I agree with Cj that the peeing on the car seemed a little out of character, even with the very small amount of his character we see of Jimbo. He doesn't like the sherrif, but he doesn't seem mean, just down on his luck. For a down on his luck character to work, in my opinion, he shouldn't make mean decisions – only stupid ones.

Other than that, it was a very good start. there seem to be distinct voices for your characters, and your characterization itself was established very early on. you also did a good job of providing a good chunk of questions early on for what's going on your world, and very few were explained. I like a good learning curve, and in urban fantasy finding out how the world works if half the draw, so I think you made some good decisions.

The prose itself flowed well, for the most part, though some of your characters' internal dialogue seems clunky and awkward. I know you intend to do a good deal of editing; i would just make sure to pay attention to characters' thoughts to make sure they seem natural.

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My, what an opening!

I really liked your epigraph. It provided everything I'm looking for in a hook : I'm intrigued by the story, and you gave it an epic spin.

I also really liked the short snappy scenes. You managed each transition well. It helps you to give a big boost on pacing.

For the characters, I empathized much more with Kyle than Jimbo (which is convenient, since Jimbo disappears from the scene). I hope to see more of him in the future. You've hinted that he has abilities in Criminology, so I'm expecting him to make use of those abilities.

Akari felt all right, but is not as relatable as Kyle, which does make sense I guess.

As the others said, you manage to establish each character very quickly and they have a distinctive voice. In particular, Jimbo's use of language felt much like one a convict would use.

Now, I agree with the others that the pacing is ultra-fast for an opening. We'll get to see how the other chapters go, but I worry that they will feel dull in comparison.

Just beware that you have made a lot of promises here : keeping them all is going to be difficult.

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