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The Broken -- Traitor Colonel -- Chapter One



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Mon Sep 08, 2008 7:50 pm
Sureal says...



Leo.



And suddenly Leo was standing in the woods, his bare feet itching against the undergrowth and his skin smothered in goose bumps. He blinked, looked down, and realised he was naked.

That was strange.

He reacted with the instincts bred into him during his seventeen years alive, and covered himself with his hands, feeling as though he had just woken from a dream. One moment he had been … somewhere, doing … something, and now he was here, in the woods. Naked.

He swore and closed his eyes, clutching for the memory of where he had just been, of what he had just been doing. The memory skipped from reach and ran off laughing. He swore again, louder this time. He had no idea what had happened to him, had no god damned idea why he was standing naked in the woods.

If Leo had been the sort to take drugs, like a number of his friends did, he might have pointed his finger at them. Drugs, however, were not his thing. Perhaps alcohol was involved somewhere. He certainly drank, sometimes too much. Quite often too much, actually. If this is because of alcohol, Leo thought, I hope I had a damned good time last night. Deciding that as there was no one else around there was no need for modesty after all, Leo dropped his hands.

At least the scenery was pleasant. He was surrounded by swaying greenery and proud trees. The sunlight, filtered through the bright canopy of leaves above, felt comfortingly warm against his skin, whilst the broken twigs and tiny flecks of dirt beneath him made his feet itch. He could hear, but not see, a nearby river, its waters sloshing and splashing in play. Everything was peaceful.

Despite the situation, the pleasant surroundings did make Leo wish he visited woodland more often. Even though he lived in a small town surrounded by countryside and nature, he had rarely left the confines of urban life since he’d hit his teenage years. His life was a blend of school, friends, parties and videogames. There was something almost childlike about the country, he’d felt, but now he was here he saw that wasn’t really the case.

Well, what do I do now? he wondered. Obviously he had to make his way back home, but he couldn’t do that until he knew where he was. He turned slowly on the spot, his bare feet sliding across the dirt and weeds. As far as he could see, there were only trees and the river nearby, and no other landmarks. If only he had his mobile with him, then he would be able to call someone for help.

With that thought, he realised he hadn’t actually checked for his stuff yet. It was entirely possible that his mobile - or even better yet, his clothes - were simply hidden behind a small rock. Pacing around his immediate surroundings, Leo searched. He pushed aside long blades of grass, checked around a couple of trees, and even sought out the river and searched its weed infested banks, pushing through the wet clumps of leaves that grew on the edge of the water. Nothing. No clothes, no mobile; all he won was a thin scratch on his finger from a thorny weed.

Well, this is just great, he thought, sucking on his wound. He took the finger out his mouth, deciding he wanted to vocalise his suffering at the sadistic hands of Fate. ‘This is crap,’ he said, and put the finger back in.

There was nothing for it but to pick a direction and walk. Shrugging, Leo started forwards, all too aware of his lack of shoes. The thorns on some of the plants looked rather vicious, and Leo had no intention of getting any closer to them than was needed. But regardless of how careful he was, there was no avoiding the fact that walking barefoot in woodland wasn’t an altogether smart idea. Small, hard bits of dirt, broken twigs, jagged stones, and various other such nuisances plagued every few footsteps. Leo had to stop walking to check and clean his feet twice after only fifteen minutes of walking.

And those fifteen minutes of walking had gotten him little closer to home than when he had started off. He was still utterly surrounded by trees. For all he knew, he could have just wandered even farther into the forest. C’mon, this is England. Just how big are our woods? he asked himself. He sighed, as miserable as he was naked. I just want to be home. I just want to be in bed.

Looking around himself sadly, Leo realised that off to his left the trees started to thin out. Hoping that was a sign the wood was ending, he headed in that direction. The way was uphill, but as he got closer Leo noticed that crude steps had been carved into the earth, with dirty wire meshing placed over them to keep their shape. Almost smiling, he bounded up them, hoping.

Trees thinned rapidly, as the land beyond the peak of the hill came into view. The trees ended suddenly here and the hill’s plateau was more or less flat. On it, a collection of squat buildings came into view. They were modern temporary homes, all green and brown and flimsy looking. Each one was rather big, probably able to house eight people each without much trouble. Leo could see six of the buildings, but there were probably more outside of his view.

There were people too. Soldiers, dressed in khaki uniforms. None had noticed Leo yet, and he slunk back so that they wouldn’t be able too. He could just see the tips of the soldiers’ heads now, and hopefully they should not be able to see him at all. Even though the top of the hill was in a clearing, it was still surrounded by trees and bushes. He shimmied behind a bush and completely out of sight.

This was an interesting problem, Leo decided. He hadn’t a clue as to how the soldiers would react to a naked teenage boy approaching them. With no idea how he ended up in the woods, he wouldn’t be able to explain anything to them. Also, for all he knew, this could be a restricted area; he might well have passed a ‘we shoot on sight’ sign on his way into the woods. Leo didn’t like the idea of being shot on sight.

On the flip side, the army was a government established institution. It was possible that they would be able to help him. They could clothe him and call his parents, and all would be right again.

Whilst Leo was debating with himself, a voice suddenly broke his concentration. It was a man’s voice, deep and baritone. ‘I thought you should know,’ it said. ‘Sir, the readings have been erratic. Not like last time, but it’s definitely different from the norm.’

Leo peered through the bush, and found himself staring at two sets of khaki trousers tucked into black boots. Biting his lip, he eased back. He hadn’t heard the two soldiers approach, but now they were only a couple of feet away from him. If they peered around the bush they’d find him. He shivered.

‘How different from the norm?’ asked another voice. This one was higher, but also more confident.

‘Different enough to be notable, sir. Radiation levels also fluctuated, but quickly settled down again. It’s no guarantee, but I think it’d be foolish not to look into this.’

‘That’s good enough for me. Get everything prepared, will you?’

Before the first voice answered, there came approaching footsteps. They were light on the soft grass, and Leo almost didn’t hear them again. A third voice joined the conversation. ‘Found something, gentleman?’ it asked.

The deep voice answered. ‘Perhaps, sir.’ It sounded uncertain. ‘Maybe not, though.’

Leo glanced behind himself, wondering if he’d be able to slip away without being seen. He wasn’t sure he’d be able too, though. If he moved away from the bush he might end up sliding right into the soldiers’ line of sight. All he could was sit and wait the conversation out.

‘I see,’ said the new voice. ‘You weren’t going to waste anyone’s time with this, were you?’

‘Shove it,’ said the second voice. ‘You’re not part of this operation, you have no say over how it’s run. That’s my job.’

‘Careful, Major,’ said the new voice. ‘I’m not one of your underlings you can boss around. You don’t outrank me.’

‘And you don’t scare me,’ said the confident voice. ‘Bugger off.’

‘Very well. I’ll leave you chasing shadows, then.’ There were more footsteps, this time leaving.

After a short pause, the deep voice spoke again. ‘Sir, do we really need to keep him on site?’

‘I’m afraid so. He has no actual command here, though, so don’t let him order anyone around.’

‘Right, sir.’

‘I think it’s time we got everything prepared now, don’t you think?’

‘Sir,’ agreed the deep voice. There was the sound of more footsteps as the soldiers walked away.

Leo let out a breath of air, and let his muscles relax. He still wasn’t sure if he wanted to reveal himself to the soldiers or not, but he knew he didn’t want to be caught spying on them. He peered through the bush again, to double check that all the soldiers had moved away. All three had.

What now? Do I show myself or not? Leo wondered. He knelt and glanced over the top of the bush. He could see six soldiers; four marching somewhere, the other two stood talking. Three of them had guns on them, he couldn’t help but notice. Surely that wasn’t a good sign.

From this position, he could see a strange structure he hadn’t noticed before. It looked almost like a metallic, leafless tree, with a thick, perfectly smooth trunk, and several shiny branches growing on the top, all growing off one another in an almost organic manner. It sat there, in the middle of all these temporary buildings, unmoving.

The soldiers he had overheard had talked about readings and radiation. The metal tree must be test equipment, Leo figured, being used in some sort of experiment. He looked away from it, and too late realised that one of the soldiers was looking at him.

Swearing, he ducked down again. Had the soldier really seen him, or had he just been looking in Leo’s general direction? Leo couldn’t help hoping - just a little - that the soldier had seen him. At least then he wouldn’t have to make the decision about whether or not to reveal himself; it will have already been made for him.

He shifted his body, and glanced around the side of the bush this time, slowly edging his head out. The soldier was pointing towards Leo’s position, and a several other soldiers were jogging over towards him. Well, that settles it, he thought. They’ve seen me. Let’s just hope they’re friendly.

He stood, holding up his hands and feeling stupid. The bush he’d been using as his hiding place preserved his modesty a little while longer. The soldiers that had been jogging towards him sped up. Behind them, Leo saw one of the armed soldiers raise his gun and aim at him. ‘Crap,’ Leo said, realising that the soldiers weren’t friendly after all. He turned and sprinted back towards the woods.

The gunshot boomed behind him, even louder than the frantic beating of his heart. He wasn’t sure where he was running too, exactly, he just ran, his bare feet slapping the earth. Trees and branches flew past him at dangerous speeds. At any moment, he was expecting to hear a second gunshot and to feel a bullet tearing through his body. Maybe the bullet would even kill him before he realised a second shot had been made.

A soldier appeared in front of Leo, charging out the trees, making a grab for him. How did he get in front of me? Leo wondered numbly. The soldier managed to get hold of Leo’s wrist, pulling him to a halt. In his panic, Leo balled up a fist and smashed the khaki clad man in the face. His assailant loosened his grip with a pained grunted, and Leo slipped free.

He started running again. Breathing was painful. He was slowing down too. I’m so out of shape, he thought. Two more khaki shapes materialised from out the trees. Leo managed to avoid one, ducking under his grasping hands, but the second soldier grabbed him by the arm and pulled him to the ground. Whilst Leo struggled to get to his feet again, a second man jumped on top of him, and then another, both pinning him. Held like that, he couldn’t even punch or kick.

They’d got him. There was no way he could struggle free.

He closed his eyes, waiting to hear a gunshot and then nothing.


------------------

Author notes:

-- Well, this is the opening to my novel. If any of this is familiar to you, it may be because you read the first chapter of my last attempt at this novel. In fact, this is my third attempt at this novel. What makes me think I'll achieve this time what I failed the last two times? Why, this time I've written out a plan. =)

-- The 'Traitor Colonel' subtitle in the name is because I've split the novel into four different sections. 'Traitor Colonel' is one of these sections. And whilst these different sections are all mixed up in the actual novel depending on chronological order and the characters present (for example: the first three chapters are from 'Traitor Colonel', whereas the fourth chapter is from 'A Tragic Revolution', then we're back to 'TC' with the fifth chapter), I've decided to write each section seperately.

-- The above is only a first draft. It's just under 2,200 words long, with 800 word written in one day, and 1,400 in another. Any advice y'all can give me will be taken into consideration when I come back to edit this.

-- In particular, I'd like to hear about: a) pacing, and b) your thoughts on the main character (Leo). But of course, all advice is equally welcome. =)


------------------

Chapter Two
Last edited by Sureal on Mon Sep 15, 2008 12:23 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Mon Sep 08, 2008 8:50 pm
Blink says...



A plan :shock:

He reacted with the instincts bred into him during his seventeen years alive, and covered himself with his hands, feeling as though he had just woken from a dream.

This is a long sentence. And I say that because you ask about the pacing, and right here there is a massive difference between this, and the preceeding three sentences. I loved the start - both paragraphs, the pacing works brilliantly - but then you go on to describe too much about Leo. In particular, that long stretch at the start. Perhaps I am making a big fuss about something small. Maybe not. In other words? Cut it down! Remove those excessive words: "He reacted at once, an instinct bred within his seventeen years alive..."

clutching for the memory of where he had just been

I'm not sure 'clutching' works as it should do. Maybe just 'searching', or even 'attempting to retrieve'.

Deciding that as there was no one else around there was no need for modesty after all, Leo dropped his hands.

Erm, took me a moment to understand. Stick in a comma or two, maybe rearrange a few words. I would say: "Deciding there was no one else around, there was no need for modesty, so dropped his hands."

He was surrounded by swaying greenery and proud trees

The passive voice here is more effective removed: "Swaying greenery and proud trees surrounded him." Partly to get rid of another 'to be'.

countryside and nature,

I feel these two nouns don't fit. How about: "countryside and the rest of nature..." not sure. Countryside is very specific, whereas nature seems to include anything rural.

weed infested

"weed-infested"

The thorns on some of the plants looked rather vicious, and Leo had no intention of getting any closer to them than was needed

"he needed", I would say. It removed an annoying 'to be' form.

they wouldn’t be able too.

Tut, tut. 'to'.

said the confident voice.

There are a lot of 'voices' around here. The repetition is a little irritating :wink:

He closed his eyes, waiting to hear a gunshot and then nothing.

This is weak compared to the rest. I think the pacing is off. "He closed his eyes, waiting for the gunshot. Then nothing." Might work better.

Anyway, to be cliché about it, nitpicks aside! I haven't read any of the others (perhaps that's a good thing). I really enjoyed this! Your humour is working into this very well.

PACING

Well, I've said a bit about it already, but generally speaking there's little to say -- or from my viewpoint anyway. The fact that we learn about Leo as he's moving through the forest was a good choice, but the way he just walks up a hill and sees a few houses I'm not so sure about. The chase at the end didn't do it for me. I would have loved to see a chase down the forest, Leo leaping behind a bush. That would give chance for some suspense -- the transition between Leo realising he has been caught, then running, then expecting to be shot was all very rash. Otherwise, seems fine to me.

LEO

I like him. He's the kind of happy, fun, witty guy that gives stories that little more flavour. I disagree, however, with his reaction to the houses. He thinks a lot too -- a lot of rhetoric questions that a little character dev. might make up for. Remember though, we still don't know what he looks like! it might be nice to have him worry a little more, question what the time is, if his family are alright, if they might be worried about him.

Overall, great piece! I hope I've helped. I haven't reviewed in a while :wink: I'm interested where this is going, and shan't read any other drafts you have posted of 'The Broken'. You will certainly see me about in other instalments, and if I don't review them, feel free to pester me 'til I do. =P

Good luck!
-Oh, and don't blink
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Tue Sep 09, 2008 8:55 pm
thunder_dude7 says...



I didn't really find any issues with this that Blink missed. The pacing was good, Leo was well developed, and overall, nice work.
  





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Thu Sep 11, 2008 5:00 am
Rubric says...



And suddenly Leo

Is it sudden for Leo? I mean, he's hardly going to confuse being teleported to some place (or some other phenomena occurring) with waking up with a hangover, especially if he gains consciousness while standing up.

That was strange.

Too impersonal; it sounds like the narrator is making a qualitive judgement instead of Leo. Perhaps it should be: This was strange.

The memory skipped from reach and ran off laughing

I'm of mixed minds about this one. On the one hand, it's a cool, fun line, but on the other, it sounds like a hallucination of a word running away. You could replace " and ran off laughing" with something a tad less...metaphorical. (Even as I write this I'm confused; it's a good line.

damned good

we say "damn good" over here. Obviously not a point of criticism, more of a *points and laughs*.

countryside and nature

it's already been noted that "countryside" is within the sub-set of "nature". It's like saying you like beef and meat.

sadistic hands of Fate

Do we capitalise "Fate" merely because it is a faceless personalisation, or because we refer to the Fates of greek legend. What I mean to say is that capitalising "Fate" actually has repercussions on character development......I think. In theory capitalising "Fate" would be a reflection of your character's views and preferences rather than your own.

Leo realised that off to his left the trees started to thin out

I think blink raised the oddity of just wandering off and finding some buildings. I mean sure there could be a good reason for him suddenly becoming conscious near these buildings, but walking toward them, or at least not randomly away? Perhaps he should decide to go uphill, to get a better view of the surrounding area, and discovers these buildings on top of the hill? I mean, yes you describe it's uphill, but he should go uphill for a good reason.

Almost smiling, he bounded up them, hoping


hoping for what? I know people don't like -ly words, but grammar is overriding. (change to "hopefully")

The trees ended suddenly


In this instance, "abruptly" might be more fitting than "suddenly", suddenly tends to be overused, even though it hasn't been here.

Even though the top of the hill was in a clearing, it was still surrounded by trees and bushes.

This sounds like an excuse to the reader, and it is. The"even though" sounds like "sorry, but bear with me". Never ask a reader to bear with you, simply plough on and explain that he hides behind a bush, one at the very edge of the clearing. It isn't a difficult concep to understand, so don't waste words explaining it.

shimmied

I could be wrong, but shimmy-ing is a way cof climbing trees, not hiding behind bushes, yes?

‘we shoot on sight’

Do you think 'we shoot on sight' signs would have brail translations underneath?

Leo didn’t like the idea of being shot on sight.

Another classy reference to your main character in a simple and humourous way.

deep and baritone

I haven't studied the music in a while, but isn't deep a characteristic of baritone? If so, you've done the subset thing again.

man's voice...it said

Everytime I read something like this or "the mouth ate" "the feet walked" said, it just doesn't sit wellm with me. Do voice's speak, or do people? I don't know the answer, and so I can't say outright that it is incorrect to say they do.

but I think it’d be foolish not to look into this.’

It's a bit iffy for a subordinate to speak to a superior like this. He basically puts the superior in a position of agreeing with him or being called a fool. Again, this could be intention, or it could be accidental; what's important is that it bears thinking over.

Before the first voice answered, there came approaching footsteps.

An ugly sentence. I'll let the "voice answering" bit be referred up to my previous question on voices speaking. But, the "there came approaching footsteps" sits rather oddly on the end of the sentence, and microsoft word agrees with me, though I wouldn't neccesarily have called it a fragment as Word has.

You’re not part of this operation, you have

replace the comma with a semi-colon

several shiny branches...in an almost organic manner

you've already used the idea of "shiny branches" to describe it as tree-like, so to say it's shaped in an almost organic way seems to be almost an understatement

The gunshot boomed

what is it, some kind of cannon?

before he realised a second shot had been made

do these soldiers have some kind of cannon....the assumption in these kinds of situations is that they have assault rifles of some kind, which shoot in bursts rather than single shots (usually). If there's a distinction, it needs to be made.

His assailant

You've describe people as voices and soldiers so much that it might be nice just to hear "the man" once or twice in the piece.

He closed his eyes, waiting to hear a gunshot and then nothing.

it sounds like "waiting to hear a {gunshot and then nothing}" but could also read, "{waiting to hear a gunshot} and then nothing"
What I mean is that the "and then nothing" could also be something that is waiting to be heard, or it is something that occurs whilst Leo is waiting. So yes, de-ambiguise.


I like this introduction; you introduce you main characte strongly through the strict focus on him, but also make room for later character development of the other three characters through their voices.

A few of the points I made could be simple misinterpretations, but even if they are, the fact that I misinterpreted highlights a need to be clearer at some points.

Cheers

Rubric
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Sat Sep 13, 2008 7:59 am
Fellow says...



Well you asked for a review this what i found.

He felt a gust of wind touching his body making him shiver a little. He blinked, looked down and to his surprise he realized he was naked.


Well he doesn't just blink, looks down and sees his nakedness. From his idea he just woke up in the wood *with some clothes on*. You need to make him look down, give him a reason to look down.

I just want to be home. I just want to be in bed. I just want to have some clothes on.


He started running again in fear. The adrenaline was pumping in his blood. He could swear he broke the world record for 100m. He ignore the pain from his feet as little rocks and twigs wounded his sole. Breathing was painful, running was painfull. I’m so out of shape, he thought.


He is chased by soldiers with guns that want to kill him. - RUN!!!!

Two more khaki shapes materialised from out the trees. Leo managed to avoid one, ducking under his grasping hands, but the second soldier grabbed him by the arm and pulled him to the ground.His body hit the ground with such force that Leo thought his bones will break at another movement. Whilst Leo struggled to get to his feet again, a second man jumped on top of him, and then another, both pinning him. Held like that, he couldn't even punch or kick.


The soldiers are packs of muscles. How would you feel if a big green bloke smashed you on to the ground? o.O

OK. At the beginning when Leo wakes up I suggest that you describe more of his appearance and of his reactions. example: Argh! For the love of God! he said raising one of his [ color, shape] eyebrow, half amused - half intrigued of his situation.
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Sun Sep 14, 2008 3:19 pm
Kaylyn says...



Your character Leo is interesting, it sounds really good. I couldn't see any grammatical mistakes that jumped out at me. There is detail, which is good. I hope you keep going with it because I, gor one, want to find out what happens next. PM me when you post it. Good luck with your writing, and I hope you finish it.
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Thu Sep 18, 2008 2:22 pm
PenguinAttack says...



Hey Sureal!

You know the weird thing? I had already bookmarked this story to check out, before you posted on my thread. ^^ Sucked me right in, the story.

I love the reality of Leo. Sometimes you get these stories and the characters act out of, well, character and you wonder where the writer came up with such weird responses to different actions. I thought Leo was well placed, he thought like a normal teen (I think teen, right? 18+, if you consider the drinking, but his mental process feels younger than say,23) and his actions reflected what a normal individual might do. You give just enough information with how he acts that we get a feel for him, but we’re not dumped into his life. You let us know he drinks, and drinks hard. That he’s smart, but not a camper, or someone who hikes (I believe the usual procedure for such people is to sit and wait, the assumption that people will be looking for them.) I like how you’ve done this, certainly, and I’m interested to know more about Leo.

On the pacing; I like it, you run through the events and it’s not too quick or too slow, the speed picks up with the action and we get a feeling of running with Leo, and being in Leo’s shoes, instead of just watching the events unfold. It’s very nicely done.

Having read your second chapter as well, I approve of using Leo first; his perspective is a fantastic one to start with. All in all, this is very nicely done and I look forward to more. I’m sorry I couldn’t be more helpful for you.

Well done.

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Wed Nov 19, 2008 9:12 pm
Rascalover says...



I didn't dislike this story nor love it. Thats because it's just not my kind of story, so I'll try and not be biased in my review.

leo as a character seems to be very much as what you aspired him to be. A teenage boy who drinks to much with his drugie friends, and curses when things don't do his way. I might say I do like the part where he is spying on the soldiers, and the way they acted was very realistic.

So the pacing is accurate. After we have a feeling for Leo action is certainly picked maybe slowish at first but its like a snowball that gets bigger and bigger. The story it self didn't exactly suck me in, but I think you've a decent job :)

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Fri Nov 21, 2008 1:40 am
denj says...



Despite a very few minor mistakes, most of which have already been pointed out, this is a very intriguing and well-written story you've got going. The pacing, which you asked for criticism about, was perfect. I wouldn't recommend going any slower or faster. Your descriptions of the Leo and his thoughts were also right-on, and you've created a character with some real depth. The situation in which the story begins had me hooked from the beginning, and it flowed so smoothly that I didn't want to stop reading. I really look forward to seeing what happens later in this story. It seems as if the expression "Third time's a charm," really worked for you here in your third draft. Great job!
  





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Fri Nov 21, 2008 10:08 am
Jiggity says...



and [s]a[/s] several other soldiers were jogging over towards him


So, I haven't many thoughts regarding this to be honest - which is a feat, in itself, given the many elements in the piece. Not enough here for my to tell whether it's going to be as cliche as it has the potential to be - mind you, a piece is only truly cliche if the writing is bad, and it isn't, which is good.

I like the Adam and Eve references; wondering if they're intentional? Naked man, beautiful forest, strange tree - yeah, seems pretty biblical. If it's not intentional, perhaps something you want to keep an eye on, especially if its meant to be a twist somewhere along the way...

Nice stuff.
Cheers
Last edited by Jiggity on Sat Nov 22, 2008 2:28 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Fri Nov 21, 2008 9:38 pm
Jon says...



Sureal, this was very good! It flowed along nicely and i found very few things that could have been improved:

The sunlight, filtered through the bright canopy of leaves above, felt comfortingly warm against his skin, whilst the broken twigs and tiny flecks of dirt beneath him made his feet itch.


Which is fine, but we already know the twigs and other things make his feet itch, you mention it a poaragraph or so above. :wink: *Redundant*


Well, what do I do now? he wondered.

Maybe this is me but i think it would sound much better without the, "well" maybe instead of wondered it could be, he pondered.

Well, this is just great, he thought

The "well" slows the flow a little and when you say somthings great, it just sounds better when you say, this is just great. or maybe you could say, "Damn, this is turning out to be a great day."
your character cusses, right? well that would reinforce and it would be a comic relief at the same time!


Leo -- I really like this character so far! Maybe you could flesh him out a little more, other than he was naked.
Does he have black hair, blond, brown?
Slender?
Tall?

Also when you have the people talking, instead of just reapeating, Said the deep voiced man, you could give him a name?
Its a nice audio but names are a plus. :wink:


Sorry if i wasn't much help, those are just the things i spotted.


all the best,


---Jon---
:D
P.S. -- keep with this one! *Gold Star*
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Sat Nov 22, 2008 9:37 pm
Lord Anzius says...



Gold star work.


I can't really comment upon many things, because of the amount of comments here already, but I forced myself to find something. (anything) that I could correct. :D

And those fifteen minutes of walking had gotten him little closer to home than when he had started off.



What is the meaning of this sentence... I don't get it.

I also found this

A third voice joined the conversation. ‘Found something, gentleman?’ it asked.


Shouldn't it be gentlemen?

Look I found two things. :D

Now about the character. Good work with the Development, giving us some small details giving us a general picture of Leo. Well done.

Then the narrator, I can't do anything else but to lift my hat and say bravo.

It is an addictive story if you like the genre.


Great work!!

~~Lord Anzius~~
To copy reality is good... But to create reality is much, much better.
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Fri Nov 28, 2008 6:28 am
Squall says...



Hey there Sureal :D I did say that I was going to critique all of this series. I'm a man of my words.

If this is because of alcohol, Leo thought, I hope I had a damned good time last night.


Haha...

He shimmied behind a bush and completely out of sight.


Interesting word choice "shimmied" but it seems a bit off to me. I think it's because I don't really feel as though Leo is really embarrassed about having to hide in the nude. The word itself is quite closely tied with the feeling of "embarrassed". But from what I've read, Leo seems more like confused and troubled with the situation that he's in.

He hadn’t a clue as to how the soldiers would react to a naked teenage boy approaching them.


I personally think that he'll have some idea as to how they'll react. He's naked after all.

There was something almost childlike about the country, he’d felt, but now he was here he saw that wasn’t really the case.


Maybe you want to expand this point. I quite like the idea, but it don't really see as to how that is so. It could also help in characterizing Leo further.

Overall impressions:

Man, I had to read the whole piece again just to find some "line to line" nit picks. Anyways, I quite enjoyed this piece, mostly because of your main character, Leo, and the writing itself.

Leo is quite realistic as a teen. He's quite laid back, yet has that sense of seeking thrills in life. The only thing I can suggest is to maybe make seem more embarrassed. I didn't really get the feeling that he was naked. It seemed more like a stealth mission than running around in the nude. I also think that you should expand on Leo's thoughts of the environment. You said that it almost seemed childlike to him, but I don't exactly see why. I think that if you elaborate on it more, it will create a stronger image of Leo himself.

The other problem that I had would probably be the lack of sensory imagery. Though the writing itself is very good, it sometimes feel like a chore to read during some sections. For example, the forest scene. I was quite curious as to what sort of smell the forest had and/or if any sounds could be heard while in the forest. This is so that the audience gets a better idea of the situation at hand and probably even as a directional compass so that they have anticipate with interest as to what could happen next. Another example: The military site didn't really seem like one. It lacks the military crudeness and discipline that one would expect from such a place. Where are the marching orders? What about the artillery practice sessions? It seems more like a camp for adults at the moment.

The lack of sensory could be one of the factors as to why I didn't actually feel for Leo's nakeness. When a person is naked, they are more in tune with their senses to avoid detection or face embarassment. If it doesn't seem that way, then it appears as though Leo doesn't really care that he's naked, hence influencing the audience to think in such a way too.

But overall, I quite enjoyed this. It has quite a bit of depth to it and well written. I'll give you a gold star as a tribute to your efforts. Well done, and I'll be reviewing the other chapters soon (your work is quite hard to review lol).

Andy.
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Tue Dec 02, 2008 1:53 am
LoveableLittleSock says...



And suddenly Leo was standing in the woods, his bare feet itching against the undergrowth and his skin smothered in goose bumps. He blinked, looked down, and realised he was naked.


Very nice first paragraph - it's reels the reader in, makes them ask question. Where could he possibly be? And why is he naked? And it's "realized," not "realised." But I'm not one for the difference in European spelling, but spell check says it's wrong, so... =]

That was strange.


What's strange? The fact that he's naked? How this is happening so suddenly? How he doesn't know where he is or why he's there? Elaboration is your best friend.

He reacted with the instincts bred into him during his seventeen years alive, and covered himself with his hands, feeling as though he had just woken from a dream. One moment he had been … somewhere, doing … something, and now he was here, in the woods. Naked.


You're really emphasizing this naked thing, aren't you? And this first sentence is sort of run-on-ish. Try squeezing a semi-colon or period in there. And I know the first part of the sentence, the one where you're all sneaky-sneaky in telling the reader he's seventeen (I applaud you on the show, not tell) is important to you, but it's sort of... unnecessary, you know?

He's reacting to what he's been taught, and he's covering himself with his hands. He feels he has just woken up from a dream. Why? I like the vague-ness of the next sentence, it makes the reader anxious and eager to know why he's in the woods. Naked. =] But still, just because he doesn't remember doesn't mean it feels like a dream. Has he never seen this forest before? Does he feel drugged? Dizzy, confused, hurt, self-conscious?

He swore and closed his eyes, clutching for the memory of where he had just been, of what he had just been doing. The memory skipped from reach and ran off laughing. He swore again, louder this time. He had no idea what had happened to him, had no god damned idea why he was standing naked in the woods.


How do you clutch for a memory? I think "find" is good enough; "clutch" makes it sort of awkward. You impress me in the next sentence with your personification, but the next two annoy me. We know he has no idea what has happened. We know that he doesn't know why he's naked in the woods. Aren't those phrases the same anyway, just one written differently? Try not to repeat yourself - I know your trying to leave an impression on the reader, but don't annoy them.

If Leo had been the sort to take drugs, like a number of his friends did, he might have pointed his finger at them. Drugs, however, were not his thing. Perhaps alcohol was involved somewhere. He certainly drank, sometimes too much. Quite often too much, actually. If this is because of alcohol, Leo thought, I hope I had a damned good time last night. Deciding that as there was no one else around there was no need for modesty after all, Leo dropped his hands.


About the bolded: You're being repetitive again. "He certainly drank, sometimes too much. Quite often too much, actually." Yeah, we get it. I would recommend omitting the second sentence, but it's your decision.

At least the scenery was pleasant. He was surrounded by swaying greenery and proud trees. The sunlight, filtered through the bright canopy of leaves above, felt comfortingly warm against his skin, whilst the broken twigs and tiny flecks of dirt beneath him made his feet itch. He could hear, but not see, a nearby river, its waters sloshing and splashing in play. Everything was peaceful.


1) The scenery being pleasant and what the scenery actually is is pretty much one thought - connect it with a semi-colon or comma.
2) That should be "filtering." "The sunlight, filtering through the bright canopy..."
3) Why would flecks of dirt make your feet itch? Is it this magical itching powder dirt?
4) If he hears a nearby river, I think we can infer that he doesn't see it. If he did, you would be telling/showing us that there is indeed a river in his view, and crap about all the shiny fishies jumping in and out of it. =]

Despite the situation, the pleasant surroundings did make Leo wish he visited woodland more often. Even though he lived in a small town surrounded by countryside and nature, he had rarely left the confines of urban life since he’d hit his teenage years. His life was a blend of school, friends, parties and videogames. There was something almost childlike about the country, he’d felt, but now he was here he saw that wasn’t really the case.


There should be a space between "video" and "games." And why isn't the country childlike like he thought previously? You have to tell us the reason, unfortunately, for everything you write, and everything Leo thinks. You can't leave us in the dark! It's not how writing works! ;]

Well, what do I do now? he wondered. Obviously he had to make his way back home, but he couldn’t do that until he knew where he was. He turned slowly on the spot, his bare feet sliding across the dirt and weeds. As far as he could see, there were only trees and the river nearby, and no other landmarks. If only he had his mobile with him, then he would be able to call someone for help.


That "Well, what do I do now?" thought should be in italics, because it's a direct thought rather than, "Leo thought about what he should do..."
And I thought he could only hear, and not see the river! LIAR!

With that thought, he realised he hadn’t actually checked for his stuff yet. It was entirely possible that his mobile - or even better yet, his clothes - were simply hidden behind a small rock. Pacing around his immediate surroundings, Leo searched. He pushed aside long blades of grass, checked around a couple of trees, and even sought out the river and searched its weed infested banks, pushing through the wet clumps of leaves that grew on the edge of the water. Nothing. No clothes, no mobile; all he won was a thin scratch on his finger from a thorny weed.


I like this paragraph - it works up Leo's character a little bit. It shows us his problem-solving skills, and how he surprisingly keeps his cool in such a sudden and strange situation. You also subtly explain the surroundings, and you tell us about that mysterious river we've wanted to know about =] I also like the last sentence, about winning the scratch from the thorn. It's just one of those lines that flow so well that I can't help notice.

Well, this is just great, he thought, sucking on his wound. He took the finger out his mouth, deciding he wanted to vocalise his suffering at the sadistic hands of Fate. ‘This is crap,’ he said, and put the finger back in.


1) "..sucking on his wound." AWW!! He's so cute!!
2) I'm failing to understand why Leo has the sudden irresistible urge to talk to himself. And I love how he just puts his finger back in his mouth without blinking. He's so adorable! I love him!

There was nothing for it but to pick a direction and walk. Shrugging, Leo started forwards, all too aware of his lack of shoes. The thorns on some of the plants looked rather vicious, and Leo had no intention of getting any closer to them than was needed. But regardless of how careful he was, there was no avoiding the fact that walking barefoot in woodland wasn’t an altogether smart idea. Small, hard bits of dirt, broken twigs, jagged stones, and various other such nuisances plagued every few footsteps. Leo had to stop walking to check and clean his feet twice after only fifteen minutes of walking.


1) "There was nothing for it but to pick a direction and walk." There was nothing for it? Nothing for what?
2) I'm just irritated by how you say he shrugs. Shrugging usually means that he's expressing confusion to a companion, or something. But he's just shrugging out of the blue. It's just like, "Why take the time to move your shoulders up and down for no apparent reason before you get out of this really dangerous situation?"
3) I know it sort of makes sense, but when you write "and various other such nuisances" in the second-to-last sentence, it just annoys me. I think it's correct, but I'm not entirely sure, because when I read it out loud it sort of comes out like, "What?"

And those fifteen minutes of walking had gotten him little closer to home than when he had started off. He was still utterly surrounded by trees. For all he knew, he could have just wandered even farther into the forest. C’mon, this is England. Just how big are our woods? he asked himself. He sighed, as miserable as he was naked. I just want to be home. I just want to be in bed.


You should italicize his thoughts every time he does one like "I just want to be home. I just want to be in be in bed." I covered this in an earlier paragraph. And the bolded part is that you should put "a" before the word "little," resulting in, "...walking had gotten him a little closer to home." I think it's just a typo. And he's English? I love him more now!

Looking around himself sadly, Leo realised that off to his left the trees started to thin out. Hoping that was a sign the wood was ending, he headed in that direction. The way was uphill, but as he got closer Leo noticed that crude steps had been carved into the earth, with dirty wire meshing placed over them to keep their shape. Almost smiling, he bounded up them, hoping.


You're creating scenery, but I can't picture it. He's walking up a hill, up "crude steps that had been carved into the earth," apparently, and there was wire meshing covering these alleged crude steps. Is he climbing stairs, or walking down a path? Are you just trying to make your writing pretty? What's going on here?

Trees thinned rapidly, as the land beyond the peak of the hill came into view. The trees ended suddenly here and the hill’s plateau was more or less flat. On it, a collection of squat buildings came into view. They were modern temporary homes, all green and brown and flimsy looking. Each one was rather big, probably able to house eight people each without much trouble. Leo could see six of the buildings, but there were probably more outside of his view.


The first comma should be omitted. And you use the word "view" three times. Time to break out a thesaurus, buddy. And whoa, eight people? For a flimsy looking house? How many rooms are in that thing?

There were people too. Soldiers, dressed in khaki uniforms. None had noticed Leo yet, and he slunk back so that they wouldn’t be able too. He could just see the tips of the soldiers’ heads now, and hopefully they should not be able to see him at all. Even though the top of the hill was in a clearing, it was still surrounded by trees and bushes. He shimmied behind a bush and completely out of sight.


That should be "to," not "too." And "even though the top of the hill was in a clearing, it was still surrounded by trees and bushes?" It's a clearing - there aren't any trees and bushes! If you already stated it was a clearing, just try not to let them notice your mistake and don't state it's a clearing again if the trees and bushes are essential. Or better yet, just say he walked onto a patch of land with a couple trees out of the way, or something. Or just write he's at the end of the forest! There is no forest! No clearing! =]

This was an interesting problem, Leo decided. He hadn’t a clue as to how the soldiers would react to a naked teenage boy approaching them. With no idea how he ended up in the woods, he wouldn’t be able to explain anything to them. Also, for all he knew, this could be a restricted area; he might well have passed a ‘we shoot on sight’ sign on his way into the woods. Leo didn’t like the idea of being shot on sight.


I would omit the last sentence - it sounds like a line from a childrens book. "Leo likes pancakes. Leo didn't like the idea of being shot on sight (because Susie liked pancakes more and she was ready to do anything to get some). " Not the most child-friendly story, but it's just how you incorporate his name on these disturbs me.

On the flip side, the army was a government established institution. It was possible that they would be able to help him. They could clothe him and call his parents, and all would be right again.

Whilst Leo was debating with himself, a voice suddenly broke his concentration. It was a man’s voice, deep and baritone. ‘I thought you should know,’ it said. ‘Sir, the readings have been erratic. Not like last time, but it’s definitely different from the norm.’


First paragraph: It's fine - leave it alone. Maybe just add the word "everything" before "all."
Second paragraph: Omit "deep and baritone." We know it's a man's voice, and we don't care whether or not his voice sounds like every other males. If his voice was high pitched or accented or gruff or something, them mention what it sounds like. Right now, "it was a male voice," was enough. And put a comma after "norm."

Leo peered through the bush, and found himself staring at two sets of khaki trousers tucked into black boots. Biting his lip, he eased back. He hadn’t heard the two soldiers approach, but now they were only a couple of feet away from him. If they peered around the bush they’d find him. He shivered.


You use the verb "peer" twice. There are many other synonyms for "to look." Secondly, you say that Leo "eases back" when he sees the two soldiers standing right in front of him. How can he possibly be at ease? Maybe he should freeze in place, or almost fall back in surprise.

‘How different from the norm?’ asked another voice. This one was higher, but also more confident.

‘Different enough to be notable, sir. Radiation levels also fluctuated, but quickly settled down again. It’s no guarantee, but I think it’d be foolish not to look into this.’

‘That’s good enough for me. Get everything prepared, will you?’


The second voice seems skeptical at first, but then he's like, "Oh whatever, I'm fine with it." Try to keep their personalities in check.

Before the first voice answered, there came approaching footsteps. They were light on the soft grass, and Leo almost didn’t hear them again. A third voice joined the conversation. ‘Found something, gentleman?’ it asked.


There's two of them right? So it's "gentlemEn."

The deep voice answered. ‘Perhaps, sir.’ It sounded uncertain. ‘Maybe not, though.’


Put a comma after, "sir."

Leo glanced behind himself, wondering if he’d be able to slip away without being seen. He wasn’t sure he’d be able too, though. If he moved away from the bush he might end up sliding right into the soldiers’ line of sight. All he could was sit and wait the conversation out.


"To," not "too." Too means also, like "She wanted to go too." To is like, well, this sentence, "He wasn't sure he'd be able to."

‘I see,’ said the new voice. ‘You weren’t going to waste anyone’s time with this, were you?’

‘Shove it,’ said the second voice. ‘You’re not part of this operation, you have no say over how it’s run. That’s my job.’

‘Careful, Major,’ said the new voice. ‘I’m not one of your underlings you can boss around. You don’t outrank me.’

‘And you don’t scare me,’ said the confident voice. ‘Bugger off.’


Dude, that guy was owned. And when the second voice tells him to shove it, say "....of this operation, AND you have no say..." so the dialogue flows a little better, you know?

‘Very well. I’ll leave you chasing shadows, then.’ There were more footsteps, this time leaving.


Omit "this time leaving," because it telling and not showing, so just say something like, "He heard the soft crunch of grass under the other mans boots, signaling his departure." Okay, I know that sounds stupid, but you know what I mean. Maybe you could just get rid of "this time leaving" and be done with it =]

After a short pause, the deep voice spoke again. ‘Sir, do we really need to keep him on site?’

‘I’m afraid so. He has no actual command here, though, so don’t let him order anyone around.’

‘Right, sir.’

‘I think it’s time we got everything prepared now, don’t you think?’

‘Sir,’ agreed the deep voice. There was the sound of more footsteps as the soldiers walked away.


There's a sudden change in subject. "Does he really need to be here?" "Yeah." "So we should get everything ready now?" "Yup." Huh? And does the deep voice have anything else distinguishable about it? And you give no description after the dialogue. Why don't you use tags? Or thoughts? I mean, does Leo's mind go absolutely blank when he hears the soldiers talking? I mean hello, third person? You've got a real advantage here! We're not Leo, you can still tell us everything that's going on whether your MC witnesses it or not.

Leo let out a breath of air, and let his muscles relax. He still wasn’t sure if he wanted to reveal himself to the soldiers or not, but he knew he didn’t want to be caught spying on them. He peered through the bush again, to double check that all the soldiers had moved away. All three had.

What now? Do I show myself or not? Leo wondered. He knelt and glanced over the top of the bush. He could see six soldiers; four marching somewhere, the other two stood talking. Three of them had guns on them, he couldn’t help but notice. Surely that wasn’t a good sign.


Switch up the second-to-last sentence so it's like, "He couldn't help but notice three of them had guns on them."

From this position, he could see a strange structure he hadn’t noticed before. It looked almost like a metallic, leafless tree, with a thick, perfectly smooth trunk, and several shiny branches growing on the top, all growing off one another in an almost organic manner. It sat there, in the middle of all these temporary buildings, unmoving.


So... he sees a tree. Obviously this tree or strange structure has some sort of relevance, but you're not telling us.

The soldiers he had overheard had talked about readings and radiation. The metal tree must be test equipment, Leo figured, being used in some sort of experiment. He looked away from it, and too late realised that one of the soldiers was looking at him.


...Oh =] Leo's pretty smart isn't he, to figure all that out so quickly? You tell us about the tree, and the immediately tell us after that that Leo somehow knows it's test equipment. Or he thinks it's test equipment, but we're assuming he's correct, because you need that message to somehow get across to the readers, right?

The gunshot boomed behind him, even louder than the frantic beating of his heart. He wasn’t sure where he was running too, exactly, he just ran, his bare feet slapping the earth. Trees and branches flew past him at dangerous speeds. At any moment, he was expecting to hear a second gunshot and to feel a bullet tearing through his body. Maybe the bullet would even kill him before he realised a second shot had been made.


"To," not "Too!" And try to replace the comma after the bolded word with a semi-colon instead.

He closed his eyes, waiting to hear a gunshot and then nothing.


I have to say, I'm disappointed by your last line. Why don't you just say, "He closed his eyes, waiting to hear a gunshot?"


~*~*~*~~*~*~

LEO

I love Leo! He's so cute! You did an awesome job with him. Although, you did get a couple things mixed up. Multiple times you were telling us things like how Leo was thinking about how scared he was, about what he should so and where he should go. But his actions don't portray this - you say he "easily" does things. He seems super-laid back for a person in this kind of position! Read this over and you'll see what I mean.

Leo's obviously pretty smart, and he's able to collect himself and stay calm when pressured. He wakes up in a forest, naked, and one of the first thing's that crosses his mind (besides the obvious, "What the hell am I doing here?") is "Where's my mobile? Are my clothes still here?" He doesn't panic and race around, yelling for help. Of course, when he doesn't find his mobile, he tries exploring. Of course, poor Leo is then captured by the soldiers. I read a couple chapters after this, about the girl and being stored in a room, and Leo actually getting to have actual dialogue with some wimpy soldiers... so I understand his character a little bit, because I cheated. Anyway, you did a good job with your protagonist, so snaps for you!

WRITIN' SKILLZ

You're a very good writer. When I first read this, I immediately raced to the next chapter because I was so eager to see what happens. I read your critiques, and I just wanted to yell at them and be like, "Shut up! The story's awesome! LEAVE IT ALONE!" Anyway, I really like your language. You used personification and metaphors (I think, I'm just throwing that in there), and that helped draw in the reader a lot. Also, the way you wrote this makes the reader care about Leo. It makes us wonder why he's there in the woods, and what he's going to do. What happens when he's captured by the soldiers? Are they nice? Will they hurt our poor, cute, innocent Brit?

OVERALL

Judging by what I already wrote, you can tell that I liked this story a lot. I did skip a couple paragraphs toward the end, because I thought nothing was wrong with them (and I wanted to get this review done and over with). You need to find the difference between "to" and "too," though. And words like "realize" and "materialize" are written with z's here in America, while I don't know the story for you Euro folks. It just annoyed me because I'm on firefox with spell check, so it's always saying it's wrong =]

Awesome, awesome job! Loved it! You have so much potential that if it was tangible, it... would be, well, a lot. Every time I think of the word "tangible" I think of oranges. Like "tangerine," I suppose. So I guess if tangible was tangible, it would be orange goop. If potential was tangible, I think it would somewhere along the lines of purple goop. Or playdo. Something purple.

Keep writing!
~*Sara*~
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Mon Jan 05, 2009 2:01 am
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Firestarter says...



Alright pal, as requested! Leo better not be angsty ...

General Things I Caught

And suddenly Leo was standing in the woods, his bare feet itching against the undergrowth and his skin smothered in goose bumps.


I have a bit of an obsession about first sentences, and I'm a little disappointed by yours. I think you could have done much more to grab the reader's attention with a more exciting start. Don't begin it with 'And' -- that's not because of the 'rule,' I break that all the time too -- because it doesn't work and sounds lame. Suddenly is a boring adverb used too much.

For example:

"Leo was standing in the woods, his bare feet itching against the undergrowth and his skin smothered in goose bumps."

It just reads smoother.

The memory skipped from reach and ran off laughing


Not sure I like the metaphor of a memory running off and laughing. Perhaps replace with something else?

With that thought, he realised he hadn’t actually checked for his stuff yet. It was entirely possible that his mobile - or even better yet, his clothes - were simply hidden behind a small rock


I know you're trying to say his mobile could be hidden behind a small rock, but it reads like clothes could be hidden behind a small rock, which is silly. Might wanna sort that out.

His assailant loosened his grip with a pained grunted, and Leo slipped free.


Grunt.

Other Thoughts

Your writing is refreshingly good! It read well and I thought the pacing was fine. On Leo, it's hard to say. Right now I've hardly a chance to get to know him, and so it's hard to tell. He might be an interesting character, or he might be utterly boring. I'll have to read some of your other chapters. I found your tone a little too informal for my tastes, but style is style. The sensory imagery might be improved by looking at your descriptions and trying to mix in some more exciting adjectives or nouns here and there. Otherwise I can find very little criticism, the beginning was mysterious, the ending a cliffhanger, and I want to read on to find out what is happening, and I'm sure I'll look at Chapter Two very soon.
Nate wrote:And if YWS ever does become a company, Jack will be the President of European Operations. In fact, I'm just going to call him that anyways.
  








When you cut pieces out of the truth to avoid looking like a fool, you end up looking like a moron instead.
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