FacebookTwitterPinterestInstagramTumblrGoogleYouTube
 
 
RSS Feed Print
Congratulations. It's a...a..it's a... What the hell is it?
Michael R Hagan
Posted: Friday, November 16, 2012 1:10 PM
Joined: 10/14/2012
Posts: 229


Hi
Use this thread to list your book's main concepts, plot or even paste your synopsis, and get opinions as to within which genre it ought be classed.




Michael R Hagan
Posted: Friday, November 16, 2012 1:15 PM
Joined: 10/14/2012
Posts: 229


If your book isn't pitched in the correct genre, will it ever reach the desk of the right agent/publisher? If not, you're beaten before you start, so I thought I'd open this discussion...... and of course be the first to ask..... what have I done? (In a literary sense, of course)

Michael R Hagan
Posted: Friday, November 16, 2012 2:41 PM
Joined: 10/14/2012
Posts: 229


Mostly based in the modern day, with a serial killer and his cult, the detective charged bringing them to justice, this should be straight forward, right?
Put into the mix, the latest target of the (graphically) murderous cult, a young orphan child, with burgeoning prophetic abilities, and the 'Higher Being' which fathered him, having walked amongst mankind through the millenia, and the genre becomes a little mixed.
When flasbacks merging snippits of documented history and legend are mixed together to question modern day religions... where does this fit now.... oh yes and political intrigue in the form of the resurgence of imperialistic aims by governments dealing with economic turmoil, civil disorder and critical immigration levels due to climatic change ..............HELP PLEASE!

Elizabeth Moon
Posted: Monday, November 26, 2012 5:50 PM
Joined: 6/14/2012
Posts: 195


It sounds to me as if you're trying to pack more into this book than it can hold, but that can produce a lovely, dense, intricate book.   The problem I see so far is that it's not clear what the story is--what the main line of the plot is.

What is the main story?  The conflict of the serial killer and his cult (how many serial killers have cults, by the way?  Serial killers are usually secretive loners, I thought, while the multiple murders of a Manson-type and his cult aren't in the same category...)  Anyway, if the conflict between serial killer/Manson-type and the detective trying to identify and capture him/them is the main story, then the addition (as a side issue ) of the orphan child with prophetic abilities, etc. just shifts it from straight crime fiction to fantasy + crime fiction.   All the rest is background/setting

If the main story is the fate of this child of a "higher Being" and the whole history of that...then  (depending on how you present "Higher Being") you're doing supernatural fantasy (in one case) or religious fiction  (in another.)  Again, political intrigue is the background.   You need to define your "Higher Being" and decide if you're actually doing religious fiction or not--makes a huge difference to the market.

You need to pick one as your main storyline, and make everything else subordinate...subplots at most, and all feeding into the main one.   This is far from my kind of fantasy, and I don't write crime fiction, so I have no idea what the marketing niche would be.  But in general, one main story that readers can follow, with other stuff feeding into it, works best.


Michael R Hagan
Posted: Monday, November 26, 2012 7:27 PM
Joined: 10/14/2012
Posts: 229


Hi Elizabeth
Thanks for this, I'm very grateful for your time in helping me with my confusion.
The main flow of the book is the gradual unravelling of the intent of the higher being, culminating with something of a 'showdown.'
I've wrapped the shared beliefs of many religions and their prophecies into this fictional deity/demon and the true purpose for his interaction with mankind through the ages. The characters are rational people in the main and it takes quite a while for them to accept that anything supernatural is going on, so the majority of the book is about their search for their own answers: The detective trying to find the seriel killer, the archaeologist searching for the link between the prohecies he's discovered.
Other characters, politicians and global corporation tzars, have their own nationalistic or materialistic agendas, and it only halfway into the story does it become apparent that everyone's actions are part of an orchestrated plan by the entity to bring mankind to where it wants them: Something it's been manipulating since before the first civilisations emerged.
The 'serial killer' at first committed his actions, believing himself a prophet of what he saw as the true God, receiving a form of higher enlightenment with each kill. He later becomes convinced that he has been deceived, and tries to murder the child of the deity in order to sufficiently increase this enlightenment to a point where he may interfere with the course which has been set for mankind.
Through gifted vision, one of the MCs witnesses, as if first hand, a number of key events in history where this being has directly interfered to keep the progress of civilisation on the path he needs it to be.
I guess this does sound of fantasy genre, but as the portrayal of any supernatural happenings comes quite late on and most of the plot is the rationalising reactions of character's who I have tried to write as if they are real, everyday people, I don't think it has a fantasy feel to it.
All the sub plots definately lead into the Higher Being and his machinations as the storyline!

The closest comparison I could make would be...... If 'The Omen' were not about revelations, but a mish-mash of religions, some modern and some ancient, the result fictional, which genre would it be?
Fantasy, or maybe horror? Would it still be religious fiction if it's not grounded in an actual religion?

If I haven't bored you to death with the longest question ever written, your thoughts would be more than welcome.
Thanks again,
Michael

Tom Wolosz
Posted: Monday, November 26, 2012 8:58 PM
Joined: 5/25/2011
Posts: 122


Hello Michael,


     Let me begin by saying that I’ve only gotten through a few pages of your book.  But after reading the synopsis you supplied for Elizabeth (above), I must say that your plotting and writing style are congruous – both dense and intricate.  Please take that as description, not criticism – we all have our preferred styles.  The problem may be that you are just trying to put too much into everything.  Some of the sentences I read had more information packed into them than gold coins in a miser’s purse, a style that some will love, and will cause others to put your novel down after a few pages.  Truthfully, some people love Henry James, but I, unfortunately, tend to forget what his page-long sentences are about by the time I get to the end of them.  Short attention span I guess. But in light of this thread, let me offer not a suggestion – I haven’t read enough to honestly do that – but an idea to play with.  Why not break your book into separate books, a series, with a grand concluding novel?  I realize that this may be presumptuous on my part, it’s just an idea.  I was thinking of something along the lines of Tolkien’s approach to his trilogy, which is, after all, really a single novel.  That would make each easier to classify, and might allow you to develop a readership eagerly awaiting the next clue to the overall puzzle.


    Well, like I said, just a thought.  I won’t post a review until I feel I’ve gotten far enough along to really understand the book, and my schedule is a bit tight right now, so it will probably be a few weeks.  Until then, good luck with the novel.   


 


Michael R Hagan
Posted: Tuesday, November 27, 2012 3:40 AM
Joined: 10/14/2012
Posts: 229


Hi Tom.

Thanks for that (and for starting to read my book....yipee!)
At 153K words, my novel is possibly a little long for a first attempt at publishing and I had thought of breaking it into two. My fear has been that as the stories intertwine and the reader (should) only become aware of what truly is happening quite late on, I can't find a point that the first part could be closed off satisfactorily. Also, as an unknown, would two books for one story ask too much of my prospective buyer?
I'll have another look and see if I think this can be done.
Re: Sentence length......... Oh no, my wife has been saying something similar since the start! I can't tell her she's been right now, It'd be hell!
This point is definately going on my list of things to keep an eye out for on my next rewrite.
Many thanks. Useful and gratefully received comments, all!
Mike

Elizabeth Moon
Posted: Tuesday, November 27, 2012 7:38 PM
Joined: 6/14/2012
Posts: 195


Given Tom's response to having read some of your book, and your additional description, I side with him in thinking you've got more than will fit in one volume.  It also sounds (from both your writing style here and your description) that readers would benefit from your "unpacking" sentences and opening the structure some.   This would provide the additional length (and maybe a natural "cut-line" would show up) for you to make this a 2 or 3 volume book with an overarching storyline.  

For most readers, the POV should be human--they're trying to figure out what's going on and only slowly realize it--that's fine.  A "greater being" POV is extremely hard to manage and tends to impose an omniscient viewpoint--for most readers, not that interesting when sustained. 

Readers who like very long stories deal very well with the need to hold the previous volume in mind while reading the current one.  And...um...dunno how practical it is now, but my first books (initially written as one monster much, much longer than yours)  were chopped into thirds by me, and then published.   Don't worry about your buyers yet--worry about your readers being glued to the page.   Think how to make your complex story make sense to them--check with your alpha readers to be sure they aren't bored in this part, or confused in any way in that part.  Suspense is one thing; confusion is something else. 


Tom Wolosz
Posted: Tuesday, November 27, 2012 9:15 PM
Joined: 5/25/2011
Posts: 122


Hello Michael,


      153K words?  The general sense I’ve gotten is that publishers expect, or desire (demand?), about 100K.  I know, however, how you feel.  The complete Agony of the Gods is 180K words.  I sent it to one publisher and had a rejection letter before I got home. I assume they simply looked at the size of the envelope and then the word count listed in the upper right hand corner of page 1 and tossed it.  Unfortunately for me, my plot is not as intricate as yours seems to be.  The book is about 2/3 the Enforcer and Apprentice investigating and 1/3 murders of Originals.  I’ve had a few friends read it and they can’t identify places to cut.  So right now I’m working on short stories (2 are posted on BC, and 1 entered in a short story contest on Bookkus) in the hope that if I can get a few published, that might help me find an agent who can peddle Agony to a publisher for me. 


     As far as sentence structure is concerned, you need to go with what you are comfortable with, but I’d suggest you break them up a bit.  When I started writing Agony I was paranoid about not describing things carefully enough so I included dimensions (e.g., the room was 12 by 14 meters).  One friend put it well: “You should leave some things to the reader’s imagination!”  Now most of that is gone (I guess I should mention that the novel is in its 6th draft).  In your case, if you burden the reader with too much detail they get tired quickly.  Let your writing flow, not plod under a burden of too much description.  Here’s an example (please note that I’m writing this a day after I started reading your novel and this is what sticks with me): “Rao, barely sixteen, but after a youth spent in the slums of Delli where he was often beaten and abused by older boys and men until he escaped to Afghanistan where he was adopted by a battalion of British soldiers and learned English looked much older, toiled up the hill carrying the heavy pack with the instruments, some of which would be used to sound for hidden caves and tunnels while others would extract minute samples of the dyes used in the cave paintings for analysis back in the lab, until he tripped and fell due to exhaustion.”  Now that’s obviously an exaggeration, but it’s kind of how some of your sentences struck me.   If you make it: “Rao, barely sixteen but looking much older,  toiled up the hill carrying the heavy instrument pack  until he tripped and fell due to exhaustion.”  You have a sentence that flows much better, and you can drop the other info in later, in other ways. 


       Hope I’m not being too forward with that, but I’ve found that I sometimes have to have someone point things out before I see them.


    


Michael R Hagan
Posted: Wednesday, November 28, 2012 3:53 AM
Joined: 10/14/2012
Posts: 229


Thanks to you both for the continued help. And, Tom, you can't be too forward with me.... if you water your comments down at all, I'll probably only see compliments where there are actually constructive suggestions or criticisms.

Sentences too long..... Got it, and will revise!
(I'll do this after I get afew more problems pointed out, which I can try and deal with in one go.)

I've tried to get around the difficulties in writing for the 'higher being's' POV by, at first writing about him from the perspective of others, and then giving his history, through the vision/dream of one of the MCs. So though the incidents are effectively seen through the eyes of a god, they are only memories interpreted by a mere person (in a coma induced by the god,) though while experiencing the vision, he believes himself to be the actual entity.
And there I go again with another long sentence!
Tom, maybe we should submit a sentence count rather than a word count to our, much sought after, agents!

The cut off point might be more difficult to instigate...... though who said it should be otherwise? I'll see if I can find somewhere that, with a little tailoring, there might be some sense of closure, at least to one or two of the sub-plots.

If I could impose on your wisdom once again..... With a little more of the plot having been revealed, may I ask, what are your thoughts on catagorising the genre now?
In appreciation,
Michael



Tom Wolosz
Posted: Thursday, November 29, 2012 9:43 PM
Joined: 5/25/2011
Posts: 122


Hello Michael,


      So what is it?  Well, before I venture a guess, let me make a few points.  First, I suggest that you go with the broadest possible label.  When I first posted Agony of the Gods I struggled with where to put it on the Genre Map, finally decided Dystopian SciFi.  I think that doing that really limited the potential readership, so I eventually moved it to Soft SciFi which I think is a more general listing, and did get a few more readers.  Sometimes to try to put your work in a very exact pigeonhole can be counterproductive.       


     My other thought is that if you are trying to pitch the novel to a publisher you definitely do not want to go into too much detail in your synopsis – your summaries also suffer from detail overload, and could just confuse an editor.  From what I’m told you get about 15 whole seconds of their time so you don’t want to misuse it.  You might try looking for keywords to replace some of your more involved description.


      I would guess that at least as far as the BC Genre Map is concerned you’re probably somewhere between Paranormal Mystery and Supernatural Thriller.  Of course you could call it a Supernatural Mystery Political Thriller, but that gives the reader that you yourself are confused about it.  I don’t think you want to do that, so my advise – go simple, choose either Paranormal Mystery or Supernatural Thriller.


P.S. I’ll be interested to see what you think of Agony once you get to the parts where the two MCs start meeting Originals.


 


Michael R Hagan
Posted: Friday, November 30, 2012 4:46 AM
Joined: 10/14/2012
Posts: 229


Thanks Tom
Supernatural Thriller it is!
I'll let you know my thoughts on the meeting, and the rest of the story in about two/three weeks. I'm doing a bunch of reviews (having joined several of these sites recently) but I'm for finishing 'Agony of the Gods' for pleasure. Ain't that something!
Mike

Michael R Hagan
Posted: Sunday, December 2, 2012 8:01 PM
Joined: 10/14/2012
Posts: 229


Oh, I'm such an old ham!
Elizabeth, you'd said my Supernatural Thriller wasn't your preferred genre. (See Tom, I took your advice about the classification!) So I've written a short (very short) Sci-Fi, just for you.
 'A Final Day in Central Park'
It has a similar 'selective info POV' to my long (very long) novel, but might be more up your street.
Tom, this is an homage to your idea about writing shorts with a view to aiding the eventual marketing of the big 'n beautiful one.
Hope you take that as the compliment it is!
Mike.

P,S, sorry for making up terms.......selective info POV?
Really?

Tom Wolosz
Posted: Sunday, December 9, 2012 9:32 PM
Joined: 5/25/2011
Posts: 122


Re: The Desolate


Hello Michael,


    Just finished chapter one.  Not sure how many ms pages it comes out too, but you really make your reader work!  You have an intense interest in detail that may work for some readers, but will probably make it difficult for you to get past the slush pile if you submit to a publisher.  You need to learn to add detail a bit at a time so that it doesn’t kill the flow of the story.  I’ll be blunt, the first chapter reads like dramatis personae synopsis pages.  You can’t stop the flow of the story for long disquisitions into character back ground.  As an example, Benton.  All you need to say at this point is that Benton is McKenzie’s sugar daddy.  You don’t need to give us three paragraphs of information about him, nor do you need to give us detail about McKenzie’s finances.  You have an entire book to spread this out across - use it.  Also, don’t go into such minute detail regarding equipment – a Honda generator, or a something or other ¾ inch electric rock drill (rock drill is sufficient).  And Honda? Unless you’re already planning product placement for the movie this really isn’t necessary.  Also, as far as the cave-in section – they seem to have a lot of equipment and material for a 6 person quick- in operation that had problems getting some of their stuff through customs (kind of like movies where the hero’s gun seems to have an unlimited bullet clip).  As I read it I kept wondering which mining movie (U.S. western or British(?) coal) you had modeled this on.  And BTW, to you really think someone can jiggle or worry a half ton rock?  I’ve worked in this stuff and I would say not.  Speaking of that, it might not matter for the average reader, but get the rock right.  Schist and limestone?  Schist and marble sure, but not limestone.  Also, most caverns are in limestone terrains, so unless you are really familiar with the area of your story, read up on caverns a bit.


    I guess the main problem I see is simple.  My 2nd chapter in Agony has a lot of info dump; but you have a writing style that loves to dump info.  Back off a bit.  Think of this like a television show.  A slow drip over time of character info works better than a quick tsunami.  One works while the other flushes the reader right out of your story.


   Hope that helps.  I’ll get to chapter 2 in a few days.


Tom


 


Michael R Hagan
Posted: Monday, December 10, 2012 4:00 AM
Joined: 10/14/2012
Posts: 229


It definately helps!
Chapter one has been of some concern. It was the first chapter of my first book and as such I was trying to self-consciously venture into the world of descriptive writing. I may have over-compensated a little.
I'm hoping as the story takes over, the other chapters will be a tad more flowing..... but keep the honest feedback coming. If I don't know what's broke, I can't fix it.

Regarding the Schist and limestone. How handy to come across a geologist! I had googled the terrain surrounding the Sadri cave network, and it came up predominantly schist and limestone, but as anyone can put anything on the internet, can I double, double check this with you? If you're certain that schist and marble are predominant then come back to me again please, and the make up of 'my' Alvand mountains can wonderously change overnight.
Funny, I was at 'Agony of the Gods' last night. The flow, characters, and plot as I said in the review of the partial, are excellent. I still think you have a publishable book here. I'm approaching the halfway mark, and can't add a huge amount to my initial review yet, but here's a couple thoughts, just from a 'fresh pair of eyes' being cast over it.

37% When the apprentice and the enforcer are being transpoted to the ground, it's explained that though they may be in motion, it feels to them more like they are stationary and everything else is moving around them. This might be of importance later on, and I suspect it will be. If it's not to be of significance, then it's one extra concept, in a story already packed with new concepts (all other concepts being essential to the story,) and may not be necessary. Does the story lose anything if motion just feels like motion.
Don't answer this, as if it is important, I'll soon see as I read on.
38% "bald statement" - I think that oughta be "bold"

When apprentice is considering enforcer prior to their first assignment, she decides he is 'weak.' I know she goes on to, make a couple of mistakes and then hates her own weakness, but I felt this harsh character judgement interrupted the way their relationship was developing. I know she's had terrible memories implanted and as a consequence his compassion is alien to her, but from this point on I'm waiting for her to betray him, and it becomes less easy to like her.
I get that the element of mistrust is essential as is the fact that to an extent, due to her past, she is in a large part using him, but the judgement of him as 'weak' just seems a little to all encompassing. Maybe she could 'hate (or warily take mental note of) this weakness she sees in him.
BTW, I know it's still up for grabs that she might actually be there to replace/kill him, but there's just something about the judgement that is too harsh, and detracts from my empathy for her. (Takes away the balance, as to this point, enforcer has my empathy, and apprentice almost equally so.)
Lordie, I can rattle on about one point.... truth is though, there's not really much else for me to rattle on about...... I'm enjoying the story very much, and I can't just blow smoke up your arse the whole time.
Best of luck,
Mike

Tom Wolosz
Posted: Monday, December 10, 2012 6:24 PM
Joined: 5/25/2011
Posts: 122


Hello Michael,

    Just a quick note.

    First, I posted a comment about some of your thoughts under John’s review of A Final day in Central Park. 

    Second, with The Desolate, I would suggest that you quicken up the opening.  Maybe have it start with one of your characters crawling through one of those tight cavern tunnels.  If it’s McKenzie it can be a brief dream of him getting stuck, or maybe finding something (that might be better), and then he wakes and you are at the current beginning of the chapter.  One of the things that worried me was the length of time you took to really have something happen.  I think we both know that that should not be a problem, but modern readers and editors have attention deficit disorder.  Also, I’ll take a look at the geology of the Zagros Mountains in a day or two and get back to you.

    Finally,  Agony.  I’m trying to make the characters sympathetic, but also not perfect and true to their life experience.  I won’t say more than that.  Also, that comment puts you at chapter 8.  The next chapters are (from my point of view) when things really start to get interesting.

Cheers,

Tom


Michael R Hagan
Posted: Tuesday, December 11, 2012 6:41 AM
Joined: 10/14/2012
Posts: 229


Hi Tom
Following your lead, I'm putting comments in here as I go otherwise the final review of 'Agony of the Gods' will be longer than our books!
As I keep saying..... love it! I'm a bit of a miser, and had I bought it in a bookstore, I'd consider it a fair purchase...... That said, I'm not giving you a cent.
My last comments took us up to around 40%, so, from there...
46% I particularly like the explanation given to apprentice re "The narrow focus" that works brilliantly, and I was happy to see it come into play a little later on as well.
From 47% until 51%, I had a number of issues with the flow of my reading, or thinks I'd do differently. (NB. Purely my opinion, for what that's worth.) I won't screen them, I'll just bilge them out and you can consider, agree, or discard as you see fit.

47% .....and pain were also burning off dark energy, not extinguishing, but only diminishing his anger for a time.
I didn't like the structure of this sentence. How about?
....and pain were helping to erode the darkness he felt, if not extinguishing entirely, at least diminishing his anger for a time.
47% 'The fractures and cracks offered hand - and footholds, so he began to climb.' This kinda made it sound like he climbed just because there was a rock face there which he could. How about?
The fractures and cracks offered hand and footholds, which he utilised to continue his ascent.
48% TYPO - but the very though that it.....   *thought*
48% The paragraph starting:- 'What had he called them...... quartz pebbles.....why not just call them white rocks.'  
I'd leave out this para.... There's enough clues without it to get the horror and concept across without spelling it out. Also I think it is a very rare inconsistancy..... vary rare. I think is the enforcer looked closely enough to give such a specific label as quartz pebbles, he'd have twigged what they actually were. I genuinely feel the story flows better without this paragraph.
50% TYPO.... I think, have a looksie anyway.
'....., and had slept until she awoke in the dream of the village. (I think the 'in' should be a 'from')
50% 'Picture of Doran' Maybe I've missed something here. Is this a reference to Dorian Gray. If so I'd give the full name, to allow for dunces like me, and also we're missing an 'i'i in Dorian. Maybe it's a different reference which has gone over my head, though.
50% I'd leave out the partial sentence - ';whenever he saw her smile it made him happy.' The prious and subsequent sentences cover this better on their own, I feel.
51% Her you have 'he needed to sleep a dreamless sleep' then a paragraph, and then 'but he would have his dreamless sleep' I see what you're going for here, but I wasn't keen on it. I'd change the therminology of one or the other. Maybe the first one to..'he needed rest, undisturbed by the relentless images of senseless slaughter which lay just beneath closed eyelids....................................................................................... He would have his dreamless sleep.
(Or some other way of doing this)
51%'he had become progressively moodier.' I'd sub 'moodier' for 'more withdrawn'

51%
'...if it was the memories of what he had seen, or a fear of what he might soon see.......
(Don't feel this has your usual eloquence!"
What about?....'if it was the fear or what he had seen, or a fear of what he yet may.'
51% '..now that she was spared the agonyof the lights...'
I think if they had been causing her agony, she would have thought of them before. I thought when she was caught contemplating the enforcer, and said the lights were giving her a headache, then 'rubbed her eyes and forehead for emphasis' that she did this for emphasis as she was mimicking the discomfort to distract from having just been caught contemplating him? Maybe not.

Then, at 52%, all problems (problems in my mind) stop again, and it's back to the excellence of the first 46%.

53% TYPO - AS followed it, she studied the house - (should be a 'they' in there.)
58% TYPO - 'Of course some think that your are clearly misogynistic' (the 'your' ought be a 'you')
That's it for now... just as well as I need to go and look up misogynistic in the dictionary.

Seriously I'm still really enjoying this... I'm hoping apprentice softens a bit towards enforcer though, as her inexperience is coming through a fair bit, but she's still very judgemental of him, possibly even a little hypocritical in her views. I know she has to remain wary (due to her past) but if she can be wary and suspicious without being so judgemental, she'd be much more likeable
Best wishes, I'll report in again when I've anything else I think worth saying to say!
Mike

P.S. Hope you don't think this was too picky of me... it's just I think all before is great, and so far, all after is great..... like publishable! But (to me) this 5% or so just doesn't flow like the rest of the book.
Mike



Tom Wolosz
Posted: Thursday, December 13, 2012 8:49 PM
Joined: 5/25/2011
Posts: 122


Hello Mike,

Been really busy so have not had the time to go through your comments in the detail they deserve. Will do it this weekend, also get back to your book (read cahpter 2, but will re-read before I comment).

Looked up geology of Zafros mts.  If you simply say the rock is limestone you will be quite safe.  Here's a link to an article about the Zagros caves http://carsologica.zrc-sazu.si/downloads/381/7Stevanovic.pdf   If you have not seen it, take a look.  There are some neat pictures of the caves. 

Cheers,
Tom
Tom Wolosz
Posted: Monday, December 17, 2012 9:37 PM
Joined: 5/25/2011
Posts: 122


Hi Mike,


Finished 2nd read of Chapter 2.  Here are my thoughts.  Hope they help.


5%-6% I don’t get conversation about Gregg – he was excited over a possible (very important) find. When on verge of discovery holding back is very difficult to do, especially for a young person.


6% He’s in a cave, in the dark, and estimates a tunnel if 400 meters long? How? Headlamp light might allow him to see about 10 meters, if that.  Or is he just guessing that it’s 400 meters to the surface? I also wonder how the people who carved this got in if the passage ends? Also, I’d check as to wooden traces in limestone caves. It strikes me you may be mixing up mineshafts with caves. 


Don’t use “filming.” “Video recording” is more appropriate now.  Also, you’re not using film. So “capture everything on film” is better.


7% digital stills and film?  Why? If they are so crimped for space why would they carry two cameras, especially when one is obsolete?


7% McKenzie/Gregg conversation – people do not talk like this.  Since both are familiar with the material it should be more of a shorthand between them.  Consider the following conversation between the two of us:


Mike: “Hi, Tom.  My car is running rough. I believe it is the fuel injectors which feed gasoline into the cylinders that are the problem.”


Tom: “Yes, Mike.  When the fuel is injected it mixes with air and is then ignited by a spark from the spark plug. However, the combustion often leaves a carbon residue which builds up on the injector tip, and clogs the nozzle, restricting the gasoline flow, preventing the proper amount of gasoline from being injected.”


Mike: “Exacty, Tom. The result is the engine running rough, exactly as it is in my car!”


Tom:  “Mike, why the hell are we talking like this?”


Mike: “Beats me.”  J


7% Range Rover sounds pretty full. Wouldn’t it be better to have it hauling a trailer laden with….?


8% and on: The translation.  Okay, this is an info dump, but try to break it up a bit.  It all seems so matter-of-fact. I get the fact that this is being recorded very soon after the king had his dream, but why is that important? Is that unusual? Why is all this hidden in some cave?  Why not clay tablets? You need to give the reader a sense that this is unusual.  Even the revelation about the doctored symbol has no emotional punch.  McKenzie just keeps talking. Is he a bit embarrassed to admit this?  Is he smug?  He found the same symbol in the journal of one of Hitler’s cronies and tells Gregg as just another la-de-da fact? Nothing special here? In no sense do I feel any emotion, and then when he finishes you write: “Gregg had never seen McKenzie so animated.”  I don’t believe it because you’ve not shown it to me. All you did was have McKenzie talk.


Some of these are minor, some more important stylistic comments.  Of course you are the author, so you decide!  Hope this helps.  Will move on to Chapter 3. 


Printed out your comments on Agony, but have written new draft since stuff posted on BC, so will take a while for me to digest them.  One thing – “picture of Dorian” – just trying to give the sense that it’s something he read a very, very long time ago.


Cheers,


Tom


 


 


Michael R Hagan
Posted: Tuesday, December 18, 2012 3:10 AM
Joined: 10/14/2012
Posts: 229


Hi Tom
Thanks, This is a great help. The likes of the tunnel which ends... It's meant to have been a full length tunnel, intentionally collapsed after fulfilling its purpose. Clear in my head.... not so on the page.
Filming......... he he, I'm so out of date
The non excited McKenzie..... yep again, he was excited in my head, but the writing can obviously be taken other ways, so I'll address this......... hopefully I don't go too far the other way.
The converstion about your car engine....... sounds fine to me,(kidding.) I'll have a serious look at this. Gregg is not a historian like McKenzie, so he only knows a little. McKenzie was meant to be going on a bit about a subject he loved............ important error if this isn't conveyed, so I'll get to this pronto.
Thanks again Tom............. I just wouldn't pick these things up when reviewing my own writing!
Michael

Tom Wolosz
Posted: Tuesday, December 18, 2012 8:19 AM
Joined: 5/25/2011
Posts: 122


Hi Mike,
Quick note.  Be careful with the Gregg is not a historian bit.  There is little point for someone to study a (I assume) dead language unless they are a historian or archaeologist. As a result, all of their training would be on ancient texts. So i would find it difficult to believe that Gregg was not at least a bit familiar with this.  
 You may go into this through a question/answer dialogue, but show us also what the characters are thinking, give us more inner detail.  
Also, the fact that the symbol is found in the journal of Hitler's cronie needs some sinister elaboration.  Remember the swaztika is a common symbol in other cultures (goggle it, I don't remember which ones exactly), so just finding a similar symbol may be pure coincidence.
I'll get back to you when I finish Chapter 3. About half way through. God, I thought I was a gruesome bastard! But you are obviously much more in your comfort zone in C3. Writing, dialogue, description all flowing much, much better.
Cheers,
Tom 
Michael R Hagan
Posted: Tuesday, December 18, 2012 4:25 PM
Joined: 10/14/2012
Posts: 229


Hey Tom
Yea, sorry about chapter 3. Normally I forewarn folks.
Gregg.......... Fair point. I've tried to describe him as having 'Elf Syndrome' without actually saying it, but it stands true he'd have a fair experience with the history belonging to the languages he studied. Well, that scene needed changed anyway, so I'll kill two birds with one rewrite.
Many, many thanks
Mike
ceers
Mike
Tom Wolosz
Posted: Sunday, December 23, 2012 11:07 AM
Joined: 5/25/2011
Posts: 122


Hi Mike,


    Some more quick comments just so you know I haven’t forgotten about you (as we get closer to Christmas there seems to be less time to do anything!).


The Desolate:  Intended to finish Chapter 3 and review, but couldn’t put it down until I finished c6!  Real page turner!  I’m going to try to re-read tonight to point out places where you fall back into over description mode which slows pace (originally intended to do that, but was more interested in reading than writing).  Also, I think you tend to over describe fight scenes.  Too much description lags the sense of swift action you are trying to convey.  I’ll go through this in more detail next message, but you need to work on short, clipped, sentences for fights.  “He spun, arm blocking the descending cleaver.  Kicking out, felt bone crunch.  The madman groaned, fell to the ground.”   I know that’s awful, but I think you get the idea.  Also, kind of like McKenzie, Jenny seems to go into lecture mode when she’s speaking to Hassom in hospital.  This may be because she’s still in shock, but it made me wonder if you ever had any non-boring profs in college?  (Aside: my wife offered to buy me a t-shirt with the saying, “Professors are people who talk in other people’s sleep.”  So I do understand. J ).


Just jotting ideas now, will give specifics in next message.


 


Agony:  47% “…fractures and cracks….” This is based on experience.  I’ve climbed in areas like this.  The shale slope is like trying to run up the steep side of a sand dune – exhausting, and then you get to the limestone cliff, and it’s totally vertical – a wall.  If there were no fractures and cracks there’s no way, so I did intend for Him to decide to keep climbing on seeing the hand and footholds.  (Actually did this once, and when I got to the top and looked back at the drop-off decided that I must be crazy!)


48%  Again my geologist is showing.  I emphasize quartz pebble because they can be so blazingly white.  So knowing a bit about streams and geology, he’d assume that they were quartz pebbles.  Also has to do with characterization (I will say no more about that as I’ve mentioned earlier.)


51% “more withdrawn”  Spot on!  Thanks for that, I spend hours pouring over my thesaurus, yet these things still slip through.


Other stylistic comments:  Will get to them ASAP.  Just haven’t had time to dig out revised MS.


Apprentice: Softening?  Again, characterization, so as Gollum would say, “We shall see….”


So as I said, Mike, I’ll get back to you with the specifics, but overall really enjoying the Hassom section of book.


Cheers,


Tom


 


 


 


 


Michael R Hagan
Posted: Sunday, December 23, 2012 11:49 AM
Joined: 10/14/2012
Posts: 229


Hi Tom,
Thanks for the update, and the encouragement. It's great to hear a section called a page turner.... Just so long as it doesn't encourage you to turn multiple pages at a time.

RE - 'made me wonder if you ever had any non-boring professors in college'
I'm just chuffed that having read to Ch, 6 you still feel it possible that I once may have seen the inside of a college!
I'll be out and about for  3 or 4 days, likely not on BC, so have a great Christmas. I'll be back in time to give some more views on 'Agony' while wishing you a timely Happy new year!
Don't eat too many brussel sprouts in the meantime!
Seasons Greetings!
Michael


Tom Wolosz
Posted: Sunday, December 23, 2012 12:58 PM
Joined: 5/25/2011
Posts: 122


And a great Christmas and Happy New Year to you and yours!

Tom

P.S. How'd you know I love brussel sprouts? 

Tom Wolosz
Posted: Thursday, December 27, 2012 4:31 PM
Joined: 5/25/2011
Posts: 122


Hi Mike,


    Reread chapters 3 through 6.  This section really takes off, and I enjoyed reading it.  Here are some comments for you to consider.  Note that I did not note typo’s, etc.  It looks like you will need to do some revision, so I figured I’d leave that to you and try to concentrate on plot and more important writing problems.  Overall, though, a good story despite any comments below.


Chapter 3 In both of the following you run-on too long with a single sentence.


- first paragraph:  break up sentence 2 into 2 or 3 sentences.  It will help with flow.


- paragraph 3: again, break up into 2 sentences.  


Chapter 4: First you are discussing Hassom’s thoughts about the neighbors in paragraph 3, then you go into a digression about architecture, and then back to neighbors in paragraph 5 – combine paragraphs 3 and 5, then describe architecture (or do it before neighbors).  Either way don’t break up the flow of thought.


9% description of apartment – kind of a bloodless, dry description.  What emotions or thoughts do they evoke in Hassom, only to be violated by the blood?


Flash – again, needlessly wordy. Why not “the burst of a camera flash told him where his destination lay?”


How does he know the jacket is in the cloakroom under the stairs?  For that matter, how does he know there’s a cloakroom under the stairs?


Hammer – end sentence at “hammer which lay discarded on the floor.”  When you go on too long it kills the horror.


Not wanting to know the children’s names – good!  Tells us something about Hassom.


Not sure if you should go into such a long digression concerning Hassom’s marriage.  Again, too much of a digression without any real reason other than info dump. Why not dribble it out over time?  Add to Hassom’s thoughts at appropriate times of reflection.


15% “Hassom started to turn slowly….”  I’ve been told that in situations like this it’s easy to lose the proper voice.  I think you do that when you get to “When one person approaches….”  That’s Mike talking, not Hassom thinking.  Here you actually break up what would work as a single sentence:  “He recognized in the sound an absence of instinctive protocol, the gentle cough or sound of hands rubbing together that announces the other’s presence….”


This entire description of Hassom being attacked is a question of style.  It’s very detailed, but reads a bit like a judo training manual.  My thought here is that something that takes a “fraction of a second” shouldn’t take a few seconds to read.  But that’s your choice.  If you want to give the sense of rapid action you need to heavily edit this. “Hassom whipped around, spinning on the balls of his feet while going into a crouch and sweeping his forarm across his face.  That saved his life as he deflected the downward thrust of his assailant’s gleaming meat cleaver.”  I know that’s bad, but you get the idea.  If nothing else, at least get rid of the “at a distance of fourteen inches.”  That kind of detail just ruins a good action scene.  


Fight’s over, Hassom running down hall obviously worried about what might be going on – would he really take in all this detail as far as the inmates’ rooms are concerned?  I think he’d note that they were empty and apparently undamaged, but not much more than that.  Again, it’s Mike stopping the action to loving describe each and every detail.  But if that’s your style it’s then a matter of trying to get it past an editor.   


Chapter 4 18%  “McKenzie’s folly….”  Missing quotation marks where Clements explains. (lots of places where quotation marks are missing throughout these chapters.)


Chapter 5. Well, in the midst of the traumatic battle between the police and the mad mob you halt the action to explain how Hassom managed to show up to save the day!   You just took a scene which was flowing rapidly and carrying the reader with it and ran it into a brick wall. Save explanation for later!  Or else at end of section with two other police (offering him tea) have Hassom suddenly have an epiphany, for example:  He glanced at the canal, partly hidden by the surrounding topography and growing darkness.  Oh my God!, he thought. 


22% “twisting his torso anti-clockwise”?  By how many degrees?  Mike, simplify! “twisting his body and driving the knife….” Is quite sufficient and it flows better.


Chapter 6


Jenny explaining what she did at institute (22%).  She strikes me as having recovered a bit too quickly, but that might be expected of a heroine.  On the other hand you add description which doesn’t mesh with her dialogue.  “Funding of course….” paragraph has only one pause: “…I do believe…No, we were….” And then you describe Hassom seeing inner conflict and strain.  Her dialogue should convey that to the reader.  Use more pauses, maybe have her repeat words as if trying to convince herself.  Play with this Mike, you can make the reader believe it when she says it.  Play a mind game – imagine the worst thing you can think of happening to you (death, destruction, Ireland converting to the Euro) and imagine yourself speaking to someone shortly thereafter – how would you feel?  How would you talk?


Actually, this entire chapter bothers me for a number of reasons (all plot and character related).  Of course, the first big question comes down to why Jenny is still capitated (as opposed to de-).  I assume we’ll find out more about this later.  Second, Hassom awaking to find Jenny in his room is a bit clichéd for a number of reasons, including how she even knows he’s there.  Also, for someone who’s just been through what she has her recovery (despite your ending, which again has Hassom telling us something about her which does not come through from her dialogue) seems all but miraculous.  


Here’s some suggestions (since they’re free advice they’re obviously worth what they cost):


When Hassom wakes have Jenny sleeping in chair, but with a nurse in another.   Let the nurse tell Hassom that Jenny woke screaming his name, or calling for him (after all he’s the lifeline that pulled her from the pit of hell), so to calm her they brought her to him.  Make it clear that she is mildly sedated or drugged in some other way, which could explain her talkativeness, but make sure that she starts to panic if she gets too close to what happened.  She’s too calm and matter-of-fact about the entire episode.  If (as I assume) Batiste was the ring leader, the thought of him should send her back into a panic (unless of course she’s actually working for him).


Obviously you can ignore any or all of this, but Jenny has just been through a monstrously traumatic experience – make us believe it.


Well, that’s it so far.  Good story.  I need to get back to something else I’m working on right now, but will start on chapter 7 in a couple of days.  I hope this helps, Mike.  I really like the Hassom character so far and think you’ve got a good novel in the works.


Best wishes for a Happy New Year,


Tom


 


 


Michael R Hagan
Posted: Wednesday, January 2, 2013 6:46 AM
Joined: 10/14/2012
Posts: 229


Hi Tom
I've been busy over the Xmas hols..... not quite sure doing what, but the days have frittered away. Just read 60-70% 'The Warrior' chapter. I've no real constructive comments to make... I thought it was great; really powerful, heart-wrenching stuff, but not overdone. I can't help but like when it all comes good in the end for the farmer and his son, but then I'm a sucker for happy, justice filled endings.
Didn't even see any typos in this bit, so I'm about as much use to you on this section as knickers on a kipper.
Great stuff...!
Now that I'm back at work I'll have more time for reading on
Cheers,
Mike
Tom Wolosz
Posted: Wednesday, January 2, 2013 9:46 AM
Joined: 5/25/2011
Posts: 122


Hi Mike,
   I know what you mean about the holidays!  Ended up seeing 4 movies with various family (2+, 2-, so a draw!), but definitely cuts into work time.  
   The fact that you liked the chapter is more than enough help!  That helps keep a writer writing.
    Be prepared though, next 2 chapters are long, so I'll be very interested in your thoughts.  Also, will get around to uploading rest of book for you soon.
    Cheers,
       Tom

Michael R Hagan
Posted: Thursday, January 10, 2013 6:55 PM
Joined: 10/14/2012
Posts: 229


Hey Tom
They didn't feel too lengthy. The Maestro's world chapter was very descriptive, but not 'over the top' descriptive. I quite like the image-maker, he's the first original I hope doesn't get a sharpened stake up his @#£!
There was only one part in this section I wasn't keen on, and it's the same as the only real gripe I've had with anything which went before. When the youngster in the image maker's world talks, I have to read and reread what he's said before understanding. If I'm honest, there were one or two phrases of his that even after the reread, I still had no idea what he meant because the inflection, or dialogue accent was so strong. I made a similar comment about the doctor's dialogue when he was drunk. I think the accents could be toned down while the reader still recognises that the character is speaking in a particular way. I have no problem with characters having their own slang, slurs or speech impediments, but I think they need to be understandable on the first read. They're obviously speaking with clarity when you read the lines, but I think that might be because you know what they're saying. I hope you don't mind me banging on a bit about that, it's just EVERYTHING else is grand, so as I thought this same thing on two occasions I thought I'd mention. 
(Just my opinion of course.) I read somewhere that a good litmus test for dialogue is to get someone to read it aloud and see how they get on.
You stumped me at 81% 'thinking of Charles' description of this world' - I thought there was a typo and had penned in, Charle's, but that's clearly not right... Charles's... Charles'..... I don't know! Maybe the original is perfect.
85% Typo - as quests would usually avail themselves... - 'guests'
87% The last sentence - 'him' that could produce a nightmare - The sentence just didn't feel right. Now, I've given up smoking this week and might be a bit dense, but have a look and see what you think.
92% Typo - '... the lady to His left...' - unwanted capital.
94% Wonderful description of the music's perfection which really made the Maestro's contempt.... well, contemptable. I knew there would be coming a detailed description of the music at some point and was wondering how to 'pen' this description in such a way as to make the reader truly feel it, but when I read it, it really worked.
100% The Soldier - Now this might be one to ignore, as even as writing the comment, I'm wondering if it's silly, but I think maybe he oughta be 'The General'.... something about the term 'soldier' kinda draws empathy, somehow implying sharing in the danger, and this character should have none as he's a right sod. (I'd have called him something else, but don't know the BC policy on foul language being used.
That's me to the end. I'll keep a look out for when the next chapters go up..... don't leave me hangin like this, it's heating up nicely.
Oh yes, also, the apprentice's thoughts and conflicting emotions, specifically regarding the enforcer's kindness/weakness are very credible and no longer what I initially thought were too harsh to like her attitudes. (If you remeber, early on, I thought this judgemental appraisal was the one and only trait that made it hard to like and identify with her.) The enforcer is still my fav character anyway.
Still lov'in the concept and story... it's still a pleasure to read, still flowing well, developing at a fine pace and has not failed to hold my interest at any stage.
Gimme more!
Best of luck,
Mike
P.S. I don't usually blow just so much air at folk's posteriors. I've only seen one other story on any of the sites which I like as much.
Tom Wolosz
Posted: Thursday, January 10, 2013 11:43 PM
Joined: 5/25/2011
Posts: 122


Hi Mike,
  Just a quick note - added 5 more chapters, hope you like them.  Only 7 more to go.  Couldn't call the one you mention "The General" because "The General" is coming up soon.   
   Have to look over the boy's speach patterns.  Thought that they would run well phonetically.  Oh well, will take another look.
   Will get back to The Desolate this weekend.  Trying to take care of a couple of short reviews first.  Saw that your next Chapter gives us our first glimpse of Baptiste.  This should be interesting! 
Tom


Tom Wolosz
Posted: Thursday, January 17, 2013 7:47 PM
Joined: 5/25/2011
Posts: 122


Hi Mike,

   Done through Chapter 11 now.  Other than typos can’t say I find much wrong with 7, 9, 10, and 11.  You do need to proof read, but those chapters flowed well.  Batiste is good villain (totally mind f****d), and chapter with Lucas done really well.  What’s in the kid’s head?  Creepy in subtle way as opposed to blatant Batiste evil.  Also, Hassom continues to be a good, solid character (when you gonna pen “The Inspector Hassom Mysteries” for BBC?).  Only Chapter 8 seemed to drag a bit.  I totally agreed with Benton when he said, “Perhaps, James, we could dispense with the fine detail and provide a summary of the information….” The point is that we get it.  If you’d like, why not simply say that from the point of view of one of the other characters, “McKenzie seemed to drone on….”  Sandwiched between one or two opening and closing sentences about the Book of Daniel.  I was also a bit unsure about Benton inviting Hassom and Clements to the meeting.  I would suspect that someone of his stature would likely not be bothered, simply directing the police to contact McKenzie upon his arrival back in the UK. Of course, these are just thoughts as I am enjoying the story.  Will get back to you after the next 3 or 4 chapters.


Cheers,
Tom

Michael R Hagan
Posted: Friday, January 18, 2013 6:24 AM
Joined: 10/14/2012
Posts: 229


Hi Tom
Benton has his reasons... beyond that, I cannot say.
 I'll try and shorten McKenzies 'lecture.' I was trying to think of legends and prophecies which support his (and the story's) concept, but maybe I don't have to use all of it. I'm trying to show his view as logical, rather than outlandish, as the others see it.
I'll be doing more reviewing next week. This is exam week for my kiddies, and I've to teach them how to shorten their sentences...... he he!
Thanks again, and chat soon,
Mike

Tom Wolosz
Posted: Sunday, January 20, 2013 5:59 PM
Joined: 5/25/2011
Posts: 122


Hi Mike,

   You’re making the same mistake many non-scientists do: confusing piling on with proof.  In mathematics (and this always drove me nuts in high school) we were always told that, mathematically, you needed to prove that f(a function) was true for f(1), f(2), f(3),…..f(k).  How do you prove something for k!  What the hell is k anyway?  Well, all it means is that for a hypothesis to be proven it has to be shown to work in all situations.  You could show that a function works for each number inserted between 1 and 1,000,000, but it’s still not proven because you haven’t shown it for 1,000,001, 1,000,002, etc. 

    Same is true for science.  Observational science, like what McKenzie’s doing, is impossible to prove with 100% assurance.  So you don’t try.  McKenzie would give one detailed example, then add something like: “And exactly the same symbol correlates to similar events in at least 15 (or whatever) situations across recorded history, THAT WE KNOW OF, including name, name and name. If you’d like I’ll be happy to share that information with you.”  A senior scientist like McKenzie would be sure enough of his conclusions that he would limit himself.  A nervous graduate student would prattle on and try to impress with shear volume.

   Hope that helps.

Cheers,

Tom


Michael R Hagan
Posted: Sunday, January 20, 2013 7:12 PM
Joined: 10/14/2012
Posts: 229


Yep, got it!
I'll bring forward the comment about keeping it relevant to the detective's case, and cut out either the most longwinded, or the least cool examples. (Does the fact I think they're cool make me a nerd?)
Thanks Tom
Mike

Michael R Hagan
Posted: Friday, January 25, 2013 11:57 AM
Joined: 10/14/2012
Posts: 229


That's a new Ch 1 of THE DESOLATE up now.
I think it's alot less bad than before.

As always, any thoughts welcome and acted upon.
Tom Wolosz
Posted: Friday, January 25, 2013 6:19 PM
Joined: 5/25/2011
Posts: 122


Hi Mike,
   Saw your review of "Agony."  Thank you! Most kind as always.  No need to go back to start, when I added last few chapters it came up as new draft, but only thing changed was addition of chapters.    
    Under a bit of a deadline right now, but will get back to The Desolate (including looking over new Chapter 1) by next week sometime. 
     Thanks again!
Cheers,
Tom

Tom Wolosz
Posted: Saturday, February 16, 2013 7:51 PM
Joined: 5/25/2011
Posts: 122


Hello Mike,


     Sorry this has taken so long, but I’ve been really busy.  Started to re-read Chapter 1 and was immediately struck by something – McKenzie.  He’s just too pat.  He’s the scientist out of the one-dimensional character warehouse.  On top of that, you still start the book with him waking up, and I recently read an article somewhere that that is one of the major clichés to avoid.  I know that scientists often come off as oh so cool, emotionless, and cerebral, but guess what?  We’re people too!  The image you present is the one McKenzie wants to present to the world, but why don’t you show us something from under the mask?  Some of his colleagues joke about “McKenzie’s Folly”?  That’s got to hurt, whether he laughs it off in public or not.  It should elicit anger or distain for them in his mind.  Why not show us some of this? 


     As I read the section about McKenzie crawling through the cave which was getting narrower and narrower, it suddenly struck me as one possibility.  Why not start the book with him in a situation like that, only something happens (he gets stuck, or maybe he sees the symbol he’s searching for through an opening but can’t reach it, whatever).  Only it turns out to be a nightmare, and then he wakes up in the tent.  The intensity of the situation would be a better “grab” of the reader, and it also allows you to show us something of the true McKenzie.  (Another idea could be McKenzie about to reveal his “find” at a press conference or scientific meeting, but when he opens the case – there’s nothing there.)   


     I hope you don’t mind the suggestion.  It’s just that compared to Hassom, McKenzie is just a nothing character.


Tom


Michael R Hagan
Posted: Sunday, February 17, 2013 12:38 PM
Joined: 10/14/2012
Posts: 229


Hi Tom, I'm midst rewrite, and have tried to put a little more emotion to McKenzie. (Maybe more again is needed...I'll have a peek) I've realized however that despite my original intentions, it's really Hassom who is the first MC. As such I've also reorganised the chapters, so he leads off.
Funny, the waking up is a cliche... I can change this easily enough, but I don't know about starting with a dream, for exactly the same reason.
I'll update my BC showing soon, but I'm at Ch 17 now, so I've got a ways to go.
All comments welcome as always, they can only improve the masterpiece, as you know.

Mike
Tom Wolosz
Posted: Sunday, February 17, 2013 8:45 PM
Joined: 5/25/2011
Posts: 122


Hello Mike,


      Let me know when the new post goes up.  I’ll hold off reading until you’re ready.


      Very much like the idea of leading off with Hassom – good character. 


      Sure, starting with a dream is clichéd, but truthfully – what isn’t?  The difference is that a dream tells us something about the character, let’s us see into his mind, fears, hopes, etc.  That makes the reader forget that they’re in the middle of a cliché.  On the other hand consider what McKenzie did when he woke up: stretched, glanced at some maps, had some tea (or coffee, I forget), and wandered off to talk about breakfast and the schedule for the day.  L   Another option is to start McKenzie right in the middle of his cave crawl.  No dream, reality, and if you set it up right you’ve got your reader wondering what in hell this guy is doing and why.  And, of course, in order to find out they’ve got to keep reading.  You did that very well with Hassom.  Threw him just about right into the middle of a really nasty, riveting scene.   Your problem will be that most people are generally familiar with Hassom’s line of work.  McKenzie on the other hand….


     Ok, get back to work now.  I want to find out what happens with the kid. J


     BTW, let me know when you’re ready and I’ll upload the final chapters of Agony.


Best,


Tom  


 


Michael R Hagan
Posted: Saturday, March 2, 2013 1:27 PM
Joined: 10/14/2012
Posts: 229


Hey Tom
That's the new, improved version up now. It even has a brand new title... SEER.
Word count is down by about 15000. That's 15000 adjectives removed. :~)
I'm actually quite excited about it.
Anyhoo, now that's complete, I can get back to reviewing..... and sleeping, eating.... might even get some work done.
All the best,
Mike

Tom Wolosz
Posted: Saturday, March 2, 2013 2:05 PM
Joined: 5/25/2011
Posts: 122


Hmmm, we seem to be playing thread tag, Mike.  SEER popped up in my "books your following" que, but it looks like a lot of the last reviews got lost.  Oh well, I'll try to start in on it tonight.  Looking forward to seeing how the re-write went.
Tom

Michael R Hagan
Posted: Wednesday, March 13, 2013 3:03 PM
Joined: 10/14/2012
Posts: 229


Hey, 40 comments, and no-one else has joined.Come on guys, you need no invitation............ I must be the only dolt who wasn't so sure about which genre I fell into.

Tom, I'll get back to 'Agony' in a couple of weeks. I'm doing a full manu review on....... can I say? Critters.
Back soon though,
Cheers
Mike

Michael R Hagan
Posted: Tuesday, March 19, 2013 9:50 AM
Joined: 10/14/2012
Posts: 229


Hey Tom
I've made the amendments you suggested on Ch 2, showing more of Mckenzie's buried emotions.... hopefully I haven't gone OTT.Also all your years of Geological experience have gone into the cave collapse.... not a bit of sandstone or aggregate in site.
I've been a little self-absorbed over the last week with my revision, as you'll see from the Swain discussion, but that's me up to date now and I can get back to my buds, the apprentice and enforcer.
Check in when I've something worthwhile to say,
Mike

Tom Wolosz
Posted: Wednesday, March 20, 2013 8:20 AM
Joined: 5/25/2011
Posts: 122


Hi Mike,
   I saw the Swain discussion, but I generally avoid commenting in those types of threads.  As a (sob!) unpublished author, I am a bit doubtful about the value of my advice in such things.  Also, I find a lot of the comments somewhat contradictory (show, not tell!  Don't describe so much!).  
   Overall been pretty busy (I'm trying to work my way through a book of short stories on Bookkus).  I'll get back to your book sometime late this week.  BTW, I found some of the discussion of your first pages interesting, especially since I found the sections with Hassom from first murder scene to attack on orphanage a real page-turner as I think I told you.  Maybe I don't suffer from the same short attention span as some editor5s do! 

Michael R Hagan
Posted: Wednesday, March 20, 2013 9:19 AM
Joined: 10/14/2012
Posts: 229


Well, if you prefer, you can hold fire to give input on Swain until next year, when you're published!

BTW... where did all those exclamation marks come from. I don't remember typing them all in. I think I've left two in place.

Your emphasis is bound to be on the bookus, so just come back to my booky when you have time. I'll get back to yours regardless, as I want to know who this assasin is, how it all ends, and whether App and Enf get it on.
Michael R Hagan
Posted: Saturday, April 20, 2013 4:57 AM
Joined: 10/14/2012
Posts: 229


Hey Tom
Nicely done, I see you at the 2nd stage over on that other.... erhmmm.
I don't want to ask questions over there and I'm not familiar with the structure of the site... So what now?
The first review is done ages ago... do I just post further comments on the discussion, or is there somewhere to do additional reviews to get it to a 3rd stage?
Basically, is there anything constructive I can do for you and your uber excellent book?
Tom Wolosz
Posted: Saturday, April 20, 2013 8:46 PM
Joined: 5/25/2011
Posts: 122


Hi Mike,

   Sorry I’ve taken so long to get back to the Desolate, but the day job’s consumed all my time for the last few weeks, and all I ever had time for was to go through a few short pieces at the other site.  Finally found the time and decided to start from beginning since you mentioned that you had changed things.   Through about 33%, just finished Chapter 13 where McKenzie and Hanna get to Morey’s (ok, so why is it that academics must be total morons when it comes to their lovely assistants? Also, why haven’t I ever found one?).  Really, really looks good.  Rearranging of chapter sequence has made a world of difference, all for the much, much better.  All other changes have also greatly improved book.  Comments below are all generally minor, but might help a bit.  Going to try to spend much of tomorrow reading on, hope to finish book by sometime mid-week.

    As to Agony, just go back to your initial review, delete and add new one if you’ve finished the book.  At this point, once I get about 8 more reviews (assuming they are good) they will put it into hidden mode where the group gets to discuss whether it should be published or not.  At that point I will not be able to see the discussion.  You might call that stage 3.  As a member of the group you will get a message from William to take part in the stage 3 discussion if it gets there.   Did you get to the end yet?  Since it’s complete on other site I thought I’d just leave what I have here on BC as is.  I’d still like to know what you think of last few chapters, and the conclusion in general.

    I might add that having looked over a number of stage 1 stories, I’d say that if the rest of the Desolate is as good as what I’ve read so far you should be a shoo-in for a quick (1 or 2 month) residence in stage 1 before the book goes to stage 2.  Truthfully, this story is much better written than almost anything I’ve read on the other site.    

    Ok, here are my new comments:

Chapter 1.  Like the opening sentence.

0% (Bottom of page 3 on BC) “Only emotions could he….” Reads a bit awkward.  “He could only afford to deaden….” Would seem to work better (at least on this side of the pond.)

Next page:  paragraph describing first floor and stairs needs a transition between normal and blood stained wall.  Something like “The width of the staircase separated this world of pristine beauty from the wall where a thick slick of blood now marked the entrance to hell.”  Something like that (And I’m sure you can do much better than that.)

I think your description is a little to cold and matter-of –fact.  Add just a touch of melodrama, for instance: “…severed at the elbow, which seemed to beckon him forward, pleading for help.”  Mike, you don’t have to tell us that Hassom is emotionally upset by this, but let your description do it.    And then I read on - “The chill from his rain-soaked trousers….” Yes! Bravo! You did that perfectly.  You just need to sprinkle a little more into the story.  Start the description with a hint: “Hassom looked at the four figures around the table, closed his eyes for a moment, took a breath.”  Now describe the scene.  Actually, it really takes off from here.  Very nice mix of Hassom’s emotions and gruesome description.  This really conveys the horror – even the hardened cop is shocked. Great.  Instead of “retreated” how about “escaped”?  Stronger verb emphasizes emotion. I see you use escape a couple of sentences later, but I’d use it first and use a weaker verb in the secondary slot.

4% description of symbol: ”… circle within an eclipse….”  Do you mean ellipse?

15% still capturing the cavern writing “on film?”

A few pages later “after filming”  use “after recording.”  You should use this since you later have McKenzie slip USB connections from camera into computer.

24% use “LED” not “LCD” for the screens.  Benton probably would not be caught dead with old technology.  Also, I assume Hannah would insist on Ms., not Miss (despite her “acceptable” Geology degree J).

25%  Typo. Hannah wonders “whether if”  Proel’s appearance. 

       Hmmm.  I don’t understand McKenzie’s jumping off into a prepared presentation.  He did not know that others would be at his meeting with Benton, and I would guess that he’s been through this to some extent with Benton already in order to get his funding, so this doesn’t quite work.  Went back and re-read this, I think it just needs a couple of extra sentences. It might just be that the transition is too swift.  Something along the lines of McKenzie being surprised that the police would be interested, then shrugging and deciding to use the file with the longer preamble.  After that I found the rest of the chapter tremendously improved over the earlier draft. 

“…do as he pleases~” sounds a bit to modern to be quoted from the Bible.

Obviously not a lot to these comments, so as I think you can see you’ve really done a great job improving things.  I really look forward to the next few days of reading this.  And then posting comments.

Cheers,

Tom

 

 

 

 


Tom Wolosz
Posted: Tuesday, April 23, 2013 4:43 PM
Joined: 5/25/2011
Posts: 122


Hi Mike,

     Finished The Desolate yesterday evening.  You did a great job.  If you are not an archaeologist you show the ability to make people believe you know enough to be one.  This is a talent that Michael Creighton had to really convince the reader that his characters are real (unless, of course, you happened to be in the field of the character he was depicting).    Hassom excellent, McKenzie great (once you opened him up a bit), and all others real.  Good job.  I think that if you have not already submitted somewhere else you should contact William at Bookkus and see how long he thinks the que is for books to be posted.  More about that after a few minor quibbles.

Quibble 1.  I think the first half of the book ends with the arrest of Batiste.  2nd half is more fantastic, and some of the main characters fade a bit into the background early on (Hassom for instance).  I would suggest you alert the reader to expect the change by labeling two sections – First half might be Book 1: The Madman, second half: Book 2, Entity (or The Child, or some such).  Obviously, it’s up to you to come up with appropriate titles that work for you, but my point is that it’s such a scene shift that it helps the reader to expect that something is about to change and not feel suddenly lost or disoriented.

Quibble 2.  The Ending (well, not the ending so much as the dénouement).  After the Entity is defeated (well done by the way), the book seems to descend to the happy ending level of a television melodrama – everyone has a happy ending over drinks (even the Entity!!!).  I don’t read lots of thrillers, so maybe this is considered necessary, but it seemed a bit overdone to me. Don’t get me wrong, I liked the characters very much, in a way I am glad things worked out, but it just seemed a bit saccharine. I may be writing this as a writer rather than a reader, since I tend to dissect plot carefully   (for instance, I was wondering about Jenny early on just because she survived and no one questioned how or why, but was relieved when you revealed her pretty quickly and didn’t try to draw her part out).  

Well, that’s about it other than the little notes below:

34% Chapter 13. Missing (.) at end of first sentence.  2nd sentence a bit awkward.  Might flow better as: “The slashing, sliding rain water covering the windscreen impaired his vision as he watched the Mercedes, awaiting the return of its owner .”  

55% fragments of schist?  Where’d they come from?

68% typo – “…unrivalled proximity…”  not “…unrivalled proximately…”

80% typo – “out loud” not “out load”

So again, great job. If you have any questions just post to thread. 

Now, about Bookkus.  I get the feeling that they want to move more quickly.  They will have been up for a year come September and have yet to publish a book.  Right now they are posting a number of short stories which may indicate a lack of material (which would be good if you submit).  They also seem to attract a lot of interest in thrillers (including supernatural).  The first book that actually made it to the “consider for publication” level is Faust’s Butterfly, a supernatural thriller, but I’m in that group and it’s not going to make it without a significant re-write (the nearly unanimous conclusion among group members).  My point is just that The Desolate might very well fit a niche that they are looking for.

Well, good luck, you’ve done a great job and I thoroughly enjoyed the read.  If you get posted on Bookkus you’ve already got one very good review ready to go.

Tom

  

 


Michael R Hagan
Posted: Wednesday, April 24, 2013 3:46 AM
Joined: 10/14/2012
Posts: 229


Hi Tom
Thanks for the pointers and the kind words. I really feel like something wonderful has happened any time I hear someone has read the book to the end.
The two part idea.... Going to do it!
The happy ending.... I meant to kill off Jonesey, but when it came to it, I just couldn't. The entity... well okay, his hope at the end was maybe just too disney, but I couldn't have him beaten, just thwarted on this occasion. I've tried to make it unclear as to whether he is Satan, God, a god or a demon... or indeed that they are all one and the same and it's just our need to catagorise things that even create these concepts.......... what happens to me if I really hammer God at the end.
The second half of the epilogue could simply be left out altogether... what do you think?

I'm back at Agony... P645 and still haven't worked out who the assasin is, or whether apprentice is an original, or just led to believe so by the Lady. I've a few comments, though not many (half a page for the last 165pages) as I think you must have done a pretty comprehensive revision since I started. I think one typo in all. I'll post it up tonight.
In bookkus do I just post in in a discussion thread?
Sure if you're not on before tonight, I'll just pop it up here in the meantime.
Back soon, and thanks again... you've made my day.
Mike
Tom Wolosz
Posted: Wednesday, April 24, 2013 5:31 AM
Joined: 5/25/2011
Posts: 122


Hello Mike,

    Quick comment: go to Bookkus and along toolbar click I'm an author, then down to bottom of page for How to Submit.  April 20th was last dealine prior to July 20th, but if you are ready see if they will still accept The Desolate, other wise take the time for one last run through to take out typo's and make any other corrections.  The more polished the ms the better it will do.
Cheerts,
Tom


 

Jump to different Forum...