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Friday, July 29, 2011


A few people were kind enough to send me the first page of their second chapter. I did my part (see the purple pen), and now it's your turn.

Yes, that would be you.

I was going to put up a third submission today but since The Lullaby got zero comments I decided not to. Because Lullaby deserves your comments as well as mine. The author wants your comments. Your comments will help the author. Comments help all of us.

So please, comment. Let me know if I was wrong, or right. Let the author know what you liked, or didn't like, what worked and what didn't. Because when you send me your submission, don't you want some comments - besides mine? Not that mine aren't great but one person's opinion isn't nearly as helpful as say...five. I'll even throw in some pretty bookmarks for the first three.

Now who can resist that? 

Again, here's Lullaby - first page, second chapter:

The Giants (like...like real Giants? Like Hagrid?) sat at the round meeting table, their focus set on Temp. He sat ram-rod straight in his chair. His hands pressed flat against the wood, long spidery fingers spread. Periodically, one of them twitched. Sweat flattened his dark hair to his forehead and they watched his eyes move behind his eyelids.
Long minutes passed and his body stilled. His eyelids peeled back and he stared at nothing, the bags under his eyes seemed to have grown in size since he had shut his eyes. He started to speak, his voice raspy and hoarse, “He is not to be trusted.”
There was a pause, no one moved. “What do you mean?” Tela almost squealed, (I would think she'd yell in disbelief or denial, rather than squeal like a pig - but I'd rather skip the dialogue tag altogether here and let her action - the sudden frantic rocking - show us how she feels) she started frantically rocking the sleeping baby in her arms, “He’s just a baby. My baby. What could he possibly do? Tell me!” Her voice became shrill.
Temp regarded her, not blinking. Sometimes, with the way he sat so still, her brother reminded her of a corpse. Cold and unforgiving. It had never bothered her, he was the way he was. Now with those lifeless grey eyes turned on her, and her son, she had to resist the urge to shiver. Creepy!
Your baby isn’t supposed to be alive,” he reminded her, his voice creaking like old stairs. The accusation rang out clearly.
 Her tone became defensive, “Are you trying to say it’s my fault? Because it isn’t, and you know it, Temp. You, out of all of us, would know best what happened. But you don’t.. So how do you expect me to? He just… was there. I didn’t do anything.”
Temp’s eyes calculated (I like the use of this word, calculated. It gives insight into Temp -r whoever he he) the truth behind her words. The whole table sat in silence, eyes flickering from Temp to Tela to the baby. “Tilo,” Temp whispered into the silence.
Tela drew the baby closer to her chest, “What did you say?” Her eyes squinted in suspension at his meaning.
Temp drew in a long breath then let it out in a sigh, “Tilo. You’ve been trying to think of a name for him. Tilo is his name. The children were calling him that.”
Tela considered his words, “What children?” Tilo. A good name. Perfect for a Giant boy.
Temp considered, “There were many of them. The purple-eyed brother and sister. The dark haired twins. The boy haunted by the spirit. The flame obsessed one. Already bringing horrors to humanity at such a young age.” Ooh! Interesting. Are you sure this isn't YA fantasy? Anyway, definitely find this intriguing with the mention of the Giants - or is that their name? - right off and the way Temp becomes someone else, knows things apparently, and then this last reference to siblings with purple eyes. This sounds like a strange and interesting place. The only other thing is I might lose some of the dialogue tags (I crossed out the ones I thought could go). I think the whole bit would read better with them. But again, that's just my opinion. What do you think?


David Jace said...

Wow, I actually was leaving my comment as this got posted. I intended to comment on both of them, but I've been reading blogs offline this week at swim lessons, so haven't been able to post comments. I'm going back to catch the first entry now.

L. said...

My apologies -- I was looking for the other Chapter 2 posts but this one got past me one way or another.

I agree with the cross-outs above. In general, it seems to me that you could tighten this up with some more specific nouns and drop some adjectives.

The name Temp hits me as odd, maybe because I work as a temp. It would probably grow on me over time, though I can't help thinking you could send the temp back and get one who tells you what you want to hear...

Sounds like Tilo's going to be part of a passel of troublemakers :)

Charity Bradford said...

I'm sorry I haven't been around to help. Camp is in 2 days and after next week I should return to some semblance of a normal life.

Parts of this are really intriguing and other parts confuse me. Although, I have to remember this is chapter two, so my confusion might not be reliable.

Anyway, I like the set up with Temp doing his thing. I got a distinctive Oracle type vibe with it.

I agree with Marcy on some of your dialogue tags, but I also wanted Tela to act a little more mother bearish. This is her child. Granted I don't understand the weight of this council they are in, but she's talking to her brother. I'm sure they argued plenty as children and I think some of that would slip out as she defends her baby.

I got a bit lost in the final dialogue. It would actually flow better without the tags. Let my mind follow the conversation instead of continually stopping to reassess what the tags are saying. Once I figured out that Temp was the one talking about the "other children" I was intrigued again.

Who are these children, where are they? He must be seeing the future because Tela would have seen children with her baby if it was the past.

All in all, I think this is a nice start to chapter 2.

S.E. Gaime (aka defcon) said...

The trouble is you ask for *kind* critiques. I don't do kind; I do honest. And true honesty includes some harshness.

Also, why chapter 2? Unless chapter 1 is a prologue, most folks don't start with chapter 2.

I'll do a slight critique because others have missed this. Let's take the first sentence: The Giants sat at the round meeting table, their focus set on Temp.

The subject here is the giants, therefore, I assume the PoV is omni.

Now the second sentence: He sat ram-rod straight in his chair.

Who sat? The subject is the giants and you already said the giants are sitting at the table. Now I assume Temp is meant to be the subject in this sentence. In which case, change "he" to "Temp."

Another issue is where did Tela come from? If this is omni PoV, you should do the OCD count and describe Tela alongside the giants, rather than her popping up when she speaks.

Though, I'm not a fan of omni because by its very nature, it is pure telling.

David Jace said...

Chapter 2 is what this whole series is about. The idea being that not only do you have to hook your reader, but be able to reel them in.

I don't think you can assume that the subject is the giants by the first sentence; it's just setting the scene. If the sentence described defunct robots sitting around a table, all "staring" at the scientist, and then went on to talk about the scientist, it would be the same thing. Also true if it were plants in a garden, or statues in the park. It is setting the scene, and cluing the reader to whom they are supposed to be focusing on. A similar technique is used in stagecraft: the supporting actors should all be looking at the kid in the limelight at that moment. Wherever the other actors are looking, that's where the audience's eyes go.

I do wonder if perhaps some of these questions we are raising would be answered if we had read, or had a synopsis of, chapter one. Perhaps grist for the next unique idea to come along.

Tara Tyler said...

i think as long as you say something positive, you should note the negative. and when you say something you dont like, give advice on how to improve.

i read this and liked it and didnt have anything constructive to add...next time, i'll just say that!

mshatch said...

First let me say thank you to everyone who commented and if you would like one of my fancy bookmarks email me your mailing address: marcy@tidewater.net with bookmark in the subject line (so I'll know it isn't trash in case it ends up in the wrong place). And if you want to see a few samples go to my blog (http://www.mainewords.blogspot.com) and scroll down on the right. There's a pic there somewhere.

Second, when I say be kind, I don't necessarily mean, be nice. One can be kind AND honest. What I don't want and what isn't helpful is if someone says, well, this sucks, and I hate it and it's stupid. That's neither helpful nor kind. Kind is saying that a part or a word or a phrase doesn't work for you, the reader, and helpful explains why it doesn't work. Kind and helpful is also easier to digest than brutal or tactless honesty. Writers need to hear what's good about their piece and what's not in a way that doesn't feel like an attack.

Last but not least, I chose to offer up the first page of second chapters because I thought it would be fun to do something different AND because no matter how good your first page or first chapter is, the rest of it has to be that good, too. It all counts.

I'll post Hero Games and the other submission I got next time and my apologies to the author of Hero Games.

S.E. Gaime (aka defcon) said...

From David Jace:
I don't think you can assume that the subject is the giants by the first sentence; it's just setting the scene.

I can assume because I'm right. Here, I'll even break it down for ya: The Giants [subject] sat [verb] at the round meeting table [prepositional phrase], their [subject] focus [verb] set on Temp [object].

Do you see how Temp can't be the subject, because it would not make sense. Now you can change it by having Temp observe the giants, which would make Temp the subject of the sentence, and I would do that if I would you because right now, it's jarring.

As an aside, I consider honesty to be quite brutal. But you know, some folks need to be beaten with a club a few times before the message gets through.

Huntress said...

1st paragraph: Lots of descriptions here, lots of scenes that my brain must conceive before I can get into the story.
Temp sat ram-rad straight/hands pressed flat/spidery fingers spread/sweating. See what I mean?
Also, it is unclear who twitched. Yes, I know it was one of the Giants but maybe that fact needs placed right after the first sentence.

Try going for “less is more”. Example: The Giants around the meeting table focused on Temp. Periodically, one would twitch as they waited. Stiff, ramrod straight in his chair, Temp’s hands pressed flat against the round table. Hs eyes moved beneath closed lids.