A view into my first novel.

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This topic contains 31 replies, has 9 voices, and was last updated by  cypher 8 months, 3 weeks ago.

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  • #346482

    Anonymous

    James woke as the dog panted at the foot of his bed. He pried open his eyes and looked at the clock, 4:15 a.m. “Another day with Buddy and the ranch,” he grunted to himself. Father had already left for work, the truck was gone. James watched as the kitchen light danced around the edges of his door. He laid back down to sleep, maybe just a few minutes. Buddy knew it was time to work and James was again woken by the dog, “Alright, Buddy. I’m up. Now get off the bed, dog.”

    James sat up on his twin sized bed; he felt the springs against his back and listened to the melody they played as he sat up. James opened his door and walked through the dark hallway with tight walls, they left an inch to spare on either side of his shoulders before he’d hit them. He walked toward the light that flickered in the poorly lit kitchen. The kitchen felt small that morning. It had white, laminate counter tops, with six cabinets and half as many drawers. A jammed window was centered over the kitchen sink. James wiped the dew left by the fog from the window. He could see the chicken coop and the pasture when he peered through it. Small, brown, bar-stools stood opposite the counter. The carpet in the trailer was dark green and it ran throughout the house.

    James fixed himself toast. He poured cereal into a plastic bowl. Then, pulled a mason jar of goat’s milk from the three shelf fridge that stayed plugged in on the counter next to the sink. James waited for his bread to burn in the black, two-slice toaster. He dressed for his morning chores. Then, buttered his toast and put it in a napkin. James poured a cup of coffee that Father had left for him and went to the porch.

    The porch was large enough to only sit three rocking chairs. The wooden planks that he walked on creaked, and nails poked holes through the surface. The porch rested on metal, white, and rusted beams. A faded white railing covered in dust stood between the posts. James sat down in his usual chair, kicked his feet out and surveyed Father’s land. After the coffee and toast were gone, he put a chaw in his lip, the same as Father always did.

    James ranched 12 acres of land. Often, he was frustrated. There were too many nuts to pick up and too many limbs to cut down. His chores were endless. The chicken coop was always cleaned by James and he constantly fed the dogs. James gazed at his surroundings before he stepped off the porch.

    He noticed the red barn first; it was a 200 by 400-foot, dark, worn out relic. The wood had rotted from last winter and faded over the years. Inside the barn is where James and Father kept bales of hay and their equipment. Father had replaced most of the boards. But, James could still see patches of raw planks and chipped paint. The barn stood on the left side of their gravel drive and sat near the pasture. Across from it sat the chicken coop.


    Thanks for reading!

  • #654454

    Anonymous

    3721 words is a bit more than I care to read and about twice the guideline for posting samples on the forum.

    I see you went back and edited it to be smaller.

    I read the first few grafs. Reminded me of a Seinfeld rerun i saw last night only without the humor. Probably just the name Jimmy doing that.
    The constant repeating of ‘James…’ was annoying.

    There may be some deep philosophical lesson buried in there somewhere but the story certainly did not grab me nor make we want to keep reading.

  • #654455

    Anonymous

    Thanks for your feedback sammy2.

  • #654456

    Anonymous
    NickMaug wrote:
    Thanks for your feedback sammy2.

    You are welcome.
    I know you wanted a 5 star praise laden commentary but I just dont see that as appropriate, even though you got 4 of them on amazon reviews.

  • #654457

    Anonymous

    Truthfully, I wasn’t seeking a 5 star rating. I was searching for honest feedback. Additionally, not everyone is going to like every book. I do think though, that is closed minded to judge an entire book by a few paragraphs. I feel as though you could have simply judged it by the cover. Ultimately, your feedback is appreciated.

  • #654458

    Anonymous
    NickMaug wrote:
    Truthfully, I wasn’t seeking a 5 star rating. I was searching for honest feedback. Additionally, not everyone is going to like every book. I do think though, that is closed minded to judge an entire book by a few paragraphs. I feel as though you could have simply judged it by the cover. Ultimately, your feedback is appreciated.

    My English prof was questioned about not reading all of our papers when she graded them.
    She said you don’t have to eat all of a rotten egg to know it is bad.

    The cover on amazon was appropriate as the cover picture was out of focus.

    If this is some literary fiction then it might be great. If it were a slice of life it might be passable. But as a novel there was no motivation, and nothing of interest. Jimmy this, Jimmy that, dull description with nothing happening and no motivation to want to read more. Maybe ostarealla and rjv will like it more than I do.

    I did scan the rest of that oversized sample and found it to be more of the same. I wonder if you had a good short story and ruined it by trying to expand it into a novel. The blurb made it sound interesting. The actual content did not live up to they hype.

  • #654459

    Anonymous
    sammy2 wrote:
    My English prof was questioned about not reading all of our papers when she graded them.
    She said you don’t have to eat all of a rotten egg to know it is bad.

    The cover on amazon was appropriate as the cover picture was out of focus.

    If this is some literary fiction then it might be great. If it were a slice of life it might be passable. But as a novel there was no motivation, and nothing of interest. Jimmy this, Jimmy that, dull description with nothing happening and no motivation to want to read more. Maybe ostarealla and rjv will like it more than I do.

    I did scan the rest of that oversized sample and found it to be more of the same. I wonder if you had a good short story and ruined it by trying to expand it into a novel. The blurb made it sound interesting. The actual content did not live up to they hype.

    Welcome back william. Lost your cover a little sooner this time around.

  • #654460

    Anonymous

    Your description is very good but for the number of words you have I expected to see more of the situation the character is in, more specific interior dialogue, in the first paragraph, and then the setting which I think is great. I would have him move and think and then describe.

  • #654461

    Anonymous
    ostarella wrote:
    sammy2 wrote:
    My English prof was questioned about not reading all of our papers when she graded them.
    She said you don’t have to eat all of a rotten egg to know it is bad.

    The cover on amazon was appropriate as the cover picture was out of focus.

    If this is some literary fiction then it might be great. If it were a slice of life it might be passable. But as a novel there was no motivation, and nothing of interest. Jimmy this, Jimmy that, dull description with nothing happening and no motivation to want to read more. Maybe ostarealla and rjv will like it more than I do.

    I did scan the rest of that oversized sample and found it to be more of the same. I wonder if you had a good short story and ruined it by trying to expand it into a novel. The blurb made it sound interesting. The actual content did not live up to they hype.

    Welcome back william. Lost your cover a little sooner this time around.

    I have no idea what you are talking about.

  • #654462

    Anonymous
    sammy2 wrote:
    ostarella wrote:
    Welcome back william. Lost your cover a little sooner this time around.

    I have no idea what you are talking about.

    Yeah, that’s familiar as well.

  • #654463

    Anonymous

    Thanks Alice, in the next few paragraphs after the end of the sample it begins to develop. The charecter does walk around and study his surroundings. I posted the entire first chapter to display this, but it was brought to my attention that I exceeded the number of words allowed. Your feedback is appreciated.

  • #654464

    Anonymous
    NickMaug wrote:
    Thanks Alice, in the next few paragraphs after the end of the sample it begins to develop. The charecter does walk around and study his surroundings. I posted the entire first chapter to display this, but it was brought to my attention that I exceeded the number of words allowed. Your feedback is appreciated.

    Now we have a clue. One famous author said to throw away the first three chapters and just start with the story not the build up.

    I would suggest that either a rewrite to repurpose that starting chapter or deleting it and getting on with things might be an improvement.

  • #654465

    Anonymous
    ostarella wrote:
    sammy2 wrote:
    ostarella wrote:
    Welcome back william. Lost your cover a little sooner this time around.

    I have no idea what you are talking about.

    Yeah, that’s familiar as well.

    ????????????

  • #654466

    jIPPity
    Participant
    sammy2 wrote:
    One famous author said to throw away the first three chapters and just start with the story not the build up.

    I would suggest that either a rewrite to repurpose that starting chapter or deleting it and getting on with things might be an improvement.

    Best-selling author Steve Berry says that readers these days have absolutely no patience with build-up. You must get right to the story.

    When I took a writing workshop with him a year ago I submitted the first chapter of my current novel for his critique. He told me it was almost all build-up, and he cut everything but the last few paragraphs, said that’s where the story begins. I followed his suggestion, and I cannot believe the difference. I can’t bear to look at the original any more.

    In other words: get the horses out of the gate right away!

    –Warren

  • #654467

    Anonymous
    wdarcy wrote:
    sammy2 wrote:
    One famous author said to throw away the first three chapters and just start with the story not the build up.

    I would suggest that either a rewrite to repurpose that starting chapter or deleting it and getting on with things might be an improvement.

    Best-selling author Steve Berry says that readers these days have absolutely no patience with build-up. You must get right to the story.

    When I took a writing workshop with him a year ago I submitted the first chapter of my current novel for his critique. He told me it was almost all build-up, and he cut everything but the last few paragraphs, said that’s where the story begins. I followed his suggestion, and I cannot believe the difference. I can’t bear to look at the original any more.

    In other words: get the horses out of the gate right away!

    –Warren

    Forget the gate. Start with the horses racing down the backstretch neck and neck with a million dollar prize on the line. And one jockeys kid held hostage to ensure he throws the race while the police are frantically searching for the kidnapped kid. The build up, back story, and other information can be doled out slowly while something actually happens. But what do I know. Although I am a these days type reader.

  • #654468

    jIPPity
    Participant

    In other words, don’t start with the stadium opening, crowds filing in, bets being placed, hot dogs purchased, lots of boring chitchat about which horses are favored and which are not, yada yada yada…

    Start with the gunshot that opens the race. And go from there.

    –Warren

  • #654469

    Anonymous

    While I agree there shouldn’t be “filler” at the very start of the story, I’d say that how it starts depends on the story. Starting the story by building tension can be every bit as effective, if not more so, than starting with the gun going off and then having to filter in the lead-up events. Great horror stories often start with mood, or setting. The “gunshot” won’t happen for some time – but readers keep reading anyway.

    Like everything in writing, there’s no set rule – as long as you pique the reader’s interest and keep them wanting to turn the page, it’s working.

  • #654470

    Anonymous
    ostarella wrote:
    While I agree there shouldn’t be “filler” at the very start of the story, I’d say that how it starts depends on the story. Starting the story by building tension can be every bit as effective, if not more so, than starting with the gun going off and then having to filter in the lead-up events. Great horror stories often start with mood, or setting. The “gunshot” won’t happen for some time – but readers keep reading anyway.

    Like everything in writing, there’s no set rule – as long as you pique the reader’s interest and keep them wanting to turn the page, it’s working.

    Did Nick’s book sample pique your interest? Did you want to keep turning pages?

  • #654471

    Anonymous
    sammy2 wrote:
    Did Nick’s book sample pique your interest? Did you want to keep turning pages?

    Unfortunately, since I don’t skim over posts for critiques and it can take up to an hour or more to do one, I haven’t had time to give it a proper read and critique. It’s Autumn and unfortunately, in the Midwest that means a lot of non-writing work to be done. As to that, there are a great many well-received and financially successful books that don’t pique my interest. Obviously, one opinion does not fact make.

  • #654472

    Anonymous
    ostarella wrote:
    sammy2 wrote:
    Did Nick’s book sample pique your interest? Did you want to keep turning pages?

    Unfortunately, since I don’t skim over posts for critiques and it can take up to an hour or more to do one, I haven’t had time to give it a proper read and critique. It’s Autumn and unfortunately, in the Midwest that means a lot of non-writing work to be done. As to that, there are a great many well-received and financially successful books that don’t pique my interest. Obviously, one opinion does not fact make.

    You dont need to critique it. Take a little time and just read it. Did it make you want to keep reading more ?
    You might be able to read it all in under 1 minute.

    Not asking for fact just your opinion on this book sample.

  • #654473

    Anonymous

    Ostarella, thank you for your feedback! There is build up as the chapter continues. In fact, for someone that could relate to a ranch style setting, I’d say the end of it makes this one of the best chapters. Thanks a lot.

    Sammy2, you are awesome! Please, continue to personalize your lack of excitement for my post as it brings a much wanted awareness.

  • #654474

    Anonymous
    NickMaug wrote:
    James woke as the dog panted at the foot of his bed. He pried open his eyes and looked at the clock, 4:15 a.m. “Another day with Buddy and the ranch,” he grunted to himself.

    Father had already left for work, the truck was gone. James watched as the kitchen light danced around the edges of his door. He laid back down to sleep, maybe just a few minutes. Buddy knew it was time to work and James was again woken by the dog, “Alright, Buddy. I’m up. Now get off the bed, dog.”

    See that second-last sentence? Action and thought intermingled. I don’t think it’s a good idea. Leaping in and out of a character’s mind like that forces me as a reader to “keep up,” with you, and you haven’t (yet) given me a reason to want to do that. I also believe that dialogue should be split into paragraphs when it’s two different “moments.” Above, the “Another day” quote is a distinct moment apart from “Alright,Buddy.” Hence, as I see it, two paragraphs.

    I have to get to work. I hope that little snippet at least helps.

  • #654475

    Anonymous
    NickMaug wrote:
    Ostarella, thank you for your feedback! There is build up as the chapter continues. In fact, for someone that could relate to a ranch style setting, I’d say the end of it makes this one of the best chapters. Thanks a lot.

    Sammy2, you are awesome! Please, continue to personalize your lack of excitement for my post as it brings a much wanted awareness.

    I have not personalised anything. And sammy2 modestly agrees that he IS awesome.
    All I can do is tell you my reaction. Others will react differently. Your problem is to figure out whose suggestions you should take , if any.

    I am sure there are people who love lots of description and a slow pace of an old style British novel ala dark and stormy night.

  • #654476

    Anonymous

    Also I wish you had written a one or two-sentence synopsis, kinda like reading a book jacket before diving into the novel. I wish everyone would do that for these critiques.

  • #654477

    Anonymous
    Alice Holt wrote:
    Also I wish you had written a one or two-sentence synopsis, kinda like reading a book jacket before diving into the novel. I wish everyone would do that for these critiques.

    Didn’t he post a blurb that did that ? Maybe that was in another thread.

  • #654478

    AngelinaK52
    Participant

    Let’s help the OP out instead of bickering like little children. And no, there is not reason to reply saying he or she started it. Everyone needs to remember that opinions are like a**holes, everyone has one. And opinions are just opinions. They are neither right or wrong and differ for a reason.

    Am I the only one that grew up learning that if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything?

  • #654479

    Anonymous

    Thank you, T.A. Rodgers. Additionally, I apologize for the mess I have created.

  • #654480

    AngelinaK52
    Participant

    Not a problem. You were new and you quickly fixed the issue.

  • #654481

    Anonymous

    You do a good job with description, it would be better to use that in more action, as already stated. I have one comment, not previously mentioned, and maybe it’s my personal preference. When i first started reading up on “how to write” I heard or read, the idea that the point of view character wouldn’t describe their own home,or room, or office, they are used to it, it would be only background to them. unless an action or event causes them to notice something or a recent change, they wouldn’t notice it at all. that makes sense to me, and now when i read that in a work, it really catches my attention. I don’t know how others may feel about it. Keep writing.

  • #654482

    jIPPity
    Participant
    jackitaylor wrote:
    You do a good job with description, it would be better to use that in more action, as already stated. I have one comment, not previously mentioned, and maybe it’s my personal preference. When i first started reading up on “how to write” I heard or read, the idea that the point of view character wouldn’t describe their own home,or room, or office, they are used to it, it would be only background to them. unless an action or event causes them to notice something or a recent change, they wouldn’t notice it at all. that makes sense to me, and now when i read that in a work, it really catches my attention. I don’t know how others may feel about it. Keep writing.

    Jacki, you are absolutely correct about this.

    –Warren

  • #654483

    Anonymous

    jackitaylor,

    I never thought about it like that. Not only is that interesting, it also seems to ring true. Perhaps I was unknowingly trying to describe a desireable scene for the reader, so they would entertain the idea of resentment for the character in appreciation for what he has as the story develops. However, I do like the idea you presented much more. Thank you for your input, greatly appreciated.

  • #654484

    cypher
    Participant

    I sent you a PM. NickMaug.

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