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Regicide(Speculative Ficition)

prologue writing example critique review style

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#1 thecraigstone

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Posted 20 March 2018 - 02:46 PM

The following is the opening three paragraphs to my primary manuscript. The working title is 'Regicide', previously titled 'A Priori Rex'; a literary and legal reference I'm not sure anyone would get.

 

I'm looking for any feedback you can give, and willing to provide feedback of my own.

 

The genre is speculative/science fiction. The opening scene (below) takes place during the opening ceremony of FIFA world cup, in Husky Stadium, Seattle, in 2052.

Regicide: Prologue, Opening (249 words)

---------------------
 

The rising sun casts a long, broad shadow from the stadium walls. In the center of the field stands a lone bronzed man with black hair tied into a top knot. It’s forty degrees – a near record cold for June – but he seems oblivious of the chill. Despite the cold, he is wearing only the simple white fundoshi and hachimaki, a linen loincloth and twisted fabric headband which keeps the sweat from his eyes. He is drumming, and the grass at his feet quivers with the sound of his strikes on the ō-daiko.
 
The great drum is twenty feet in diameter and has been shipped from Japan on the world’s largest transport aircraft; the child of a behemoth born in the Soviet era. It took sixty men to move the lacquered giant by hand to the center of the soccer field. No machines, sharp implements, chains, or metal objects are permitted near it. The workers who move it wear clothes without buttons for fear of scratching the finish. The body of the drum is made from a single cathedral redwood harvested on Vancouver Island, and the skin is made of material that approximates the properties of a hide.
 
The sound of the man’s strikes on the great drum are primal. It rolls over the stadium in great waves, and the hairs on my neck and arms stand on end as if drawn by static. My heartbeat matches time with the drum. The sounds are life and death. 


#2 thecraigstone

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Posted 21 March 2018 - 10:23 AM

Allow me to be more specific. I would appreciate knowing:

  • Does it read well or does anything come across as disjointed?
  • Is the description sufficiently detailed or is it overly so?
  • Does the voice feel consistent and authentic?


#3 Sarkin

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Posted 21 March 2018 - 05:53 PM

 

The following is the opening three paragraphs to my primary manuscript. The working title is 'Regicide', previously titled 'A Priori Rex'; a literary and legal reference I'm not sure anyone would get.

 

I'm looking for any feedback you can give, and willing to provide feedback of my own.

 

The genre is speculative/science fiction. The opening scene (below) takes place during the opening ceremony of FIFA world cup, in Husky Stadium, Seattle, in 2052.

Regicide: Prologue, Opening (249 words)

---------------------
 

The rising sun casts a long, broad shadow from the stadium walls. In the center of the field stands a lone bronzed man with black hair tied into a top knot. It’s forty degrees – a near record cold for June – but he seems oblivious of [TO?] the chill. Despite the cold, he is wearing [CONSIDER STARTING THIS SENTENCE WITH "HE WEARS" ] only the simple white fundoshi and hachimaki, a linen loincloth and twisted fabric headband which keeps the sweat from his eyes. He is drumming, and the grass at his feet quivers with the sound of his strikes on the ō-daiko.
 
The great drum is twenty feet in diameter and has been shipped from Japan on the world’s largest transport aircraft; [MAYBE A -- OR COMMA INSTEAD OF ;] the child of a behemoth born in the Soviet era. It took sixty men to move* the lacquered giant by hand to the center of the soccer field. No machines, sharp implements, chains, or metal objects are permitted near it. The workers who move it* wear clothes without buttons for fear of scratching the finish. The body of the drum is made from a single cathedral redwood harvested on Vancouver Island, and the skin is made of material that approximates the properties ["APPROXIMATES THE PROPERTIES OF" IS A LITTLE WORDY, JUST MY OPINION THOUGH] of a hide.
 
The sound of the man’s strikes on the great drum are primal. It rolls over the stadium in great waves, and the hairs on my neck and arms stand on end as if drawn by static. My heartbeat matches time [MY HEART BEATS IN RHYTHM] with the drum. The sounds are life and death. 
 

 

* I'm a little confused because I thought it already was moved, and now the workers are moving it again?

 

I think this is well-written, no obvious mechanical issues. You also clearly put a lot of thought into the details (i.e., no sharp objects on the workers' clothes). My main thoughts are:

 

1. I think the main character needs to be up front more. I didn't realize this was first-person until the last paragraph. As a reader, I personally would be drawn in more if I knew the "who" and the where / what as soon as possible. I definitely get the where in the current intro.

 

2. Can you introduce some of what the conflict is in these initial lines? I know it's really early--the first page--but it may keep people reading if they know what's at stake.

 

Good luck!!!



#4 ALNoelle

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Posted 22 March 2018 - 06:21 PM

The following is the opening three paragraphs to my primary manuscript. The working title is 'Regicide', previously titled 'A Priori Rex'; a literary and legal reference I'm not sure anyone would get.
 
I'm looking for any feedback you can give, and willing to provide feedback of my own.
 
The genre is speculative/science fiction. The opening scene (below) takes place during the opening ceremony of FIFA world cup, in Husky Stadium, Seattle, in 2052.
Regicide: Prologue, Opening (249 words)
---------------------
 
The rising sun casts a long, broad shadow from the stadium walls. In the center of the field stands a lone bronzed man with black hair tied into a top knot. It’s forty degrees – a near record cold for June – but he seems oblivious of the chill. Despite the cold, he is wearing only the simple white fundoshi and hachimaki, a linen loincloth and twisted fabric headband which keeps the sweat from his eyes. He is drumming, and the grass at his feet quivers with the sound of his strikes on the ō-daiko.
 
The great drum is twenty feet in diameter and has been shipped from Japan on the world’s largest transport aircraft; the child of a behemoth born in the Soviet era. It took sixty men to move the lacquered giant by hand to the center of the soccer field. No machines, sharp implements, chains, or metal objects are permitted near it. The workers who move it wear clothes without buttons for fear of scratching the finish. The body of the drum is made from a single cathedral redwood harvested on Vancouver Island, and the skin is made of material that approximates the properties of a hide.
 
The sound of the man’s strikes on the great drum are primal. It rolls over the stadium in great waves, and the hairs on my neck and arms stand on end as if drawn by static. My heartbeat matches time with the drum. The sounds are life and death.


I'll start with a disclaimer, I don't read a ton of your genre, so I could be off in my thoughts.

You're descriptions are very thorough. I can vividly see your scene. That being said, I kept waiting for something to happen. The only action is a man beating on a drum. The paragraph on the drum boils down to...a description of the drum, and because of the time it takes to describe it, you leave little room in your first 250 for anything else.

I also had an issue with the first person at the very end. I thought we were going to have the drummer as the MC, and then I'm thrown at the very end when we jump into someone else's head.

Your writing is awesome, and I have a feeling your world building is top notch as well. I would recommend saving some of that for later so you can start in scene.

#5 thecraigstone

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Posted 22 March 2018 - 08:40 PM

@Sarkin and @ALNoelle

Thank you both for your respective feedback. I very much appreciate your perspectives and you're both very right about the slow build and the ambiguity. In short, it's the first 250 words of a 1400 word prologue that establishes:
- the protagonist is always portrayed/reported first-person perspective
- he kills a man on the football pitch (soccer field) during the opening ceremonies of FIFA World Cup
- he boldly announces he will not spend one day in jail

That's where it leads, and I think I could smash that in a little clearer if I just opened with him having something to say. I.e. Something akin to "I always loved watching these things on TV. Opening ceremonies, I mean." Or something to that effect. It would need some tweaking, but I can do that.

It's hard to get it across in 250 words.

Here's 257 words from the opening of the following chapter - the first chapter where we're fully in the character's head:

---------------------
 

There’s a tiny part of me that says, “Fuck you, it’s cold here”, each morning when I wake. This lasts for the duration of the seven month period of October to April and only departs when I can no longer see my breath in the morning.
 
Not “Fuck, it’s cold here”, mind you; because that would be reflexive present tense. No, my ego is a lot more personal in its expression of displeasure. It specifically addresses me, “You did this! You brought us here! Bastard.”
 
It’s not like I’m in any hurry to get out of bed. I’ve got a heavily battened quilt and two flannel sheets between me and the offending air. My face is practically the only thing exposed, since I am compelled to sleep wearing a simple wool beanie. The cap’s a meager measure of prevention against the cold; I get too warm I sweat and the cap loses some of its warmth. It’s also itchy as hell, but it’s that or wake up very uncomfortable.
 
I stuff the melancholy little voice into a corner of my mind and swing my feet out of bed. Almost immediately I can feel every hair from my toes to my knees stand on end. The air is a full five to ten degrees colder close to the floor, like dipping my feet in ice water every morning. I stand quickly and brace my arms to my sides in hopes of retaining body heat as I walk over to the four-foot granite slab which hosts my wood-burning stove.


#6 rhwashere

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Posted 17 April 2018 - 03:32 PM

 

The following is the opening three paragraphs to my primary manuscript. The working title is 'Regicide', previously titled 'A Priori Rex'; a literary and legal reference I'm not sure anyone would get.

 

I'm looking for any feedback you can give, and willing to provide feedback of my own.

 

The genre is speculative/science fiction. The opening scene (below) takes place during the opening ceremony of FIFA world cup, in Husky Stadium, Seattle, in 2052.

Regicide: Prologue, Opening (249 words)

---------------------
 

The rising sun casts a long, broad shadow from the stadium walls. In the center of the field stands a lone bronzed man with black hair tied into a top knot. It’s forty degrees – a near record cold for June – but he seems oblivious of the chill. Despite the cold, he is wearing only the simple white fundoshi and hachimaki, a linen loincloth and twisted fabric headband which keeps the sweat from his eyes. He is drumming, and the grass at his feet (I would cut this to trim the sentence of its "at his", "of his" repetition) quivers with the sound of his strikes on the ō-daiko.
 
The great drum is twenty feet in diameter and has been shipped from Japan on the world’s largest transport aircraft; the child of a behemoth born in the Soviet era (I'm not sure if this refers to the plane or the drum). It took sixty men to move the lacquered giant by hand to the center of the soccer field. No machines, sharp implements, chains, or metal objects are permitted near it. The workers who move it wear clothes without buttons for fear of scratching the finish. The body of the drum is made from a single cathedral redwood harvested on Vancouver Island, and the skin is made of material that approximates the properties of a hide.
 
The sound of the man’s strikes on the great drum are primal. It rolls over the stadium in great waves, and the hairs on my neck and arms stand on end as if drawn by static. My heartbeat matches time with the drum. The sounds are life and death.

 

I like the ominous atmosphere you create with this passage, and the final sentence cements it. There are a few nit-picky issues highlighted above, but my main concern is the second paragraph. It was a little slow going for the first page of a novel and I think it could stand to lose a few of those details in order to get to the main character and his conflict faster.

 

If you have a chance, I would welcome your take on my first 250 words: http://agentquerycon...-revised-41218/


Please feel free to critique my query: http://agentquerycon...51718/?p=356935






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