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war and his eyes (alternative beginning)

by kostia


 They all had dreams once. Then life kicked in and everything else seemed distant, obscure and lost. Eventually there was nothing left of them but life it self.

So they grew up prematurely and violently, in sort order, forgetting whatever false expectations they had from this world.

After tones of disappointments from lovers, friends and the world itself, after all the heartbreaks, and the terrible poverty and the drunk abusing parents, they let go. Somewhere between the diseased friends that died an unrighteous death and those who committed suicide either by blade or needle, in tears made of poor choices and cheap alcohol, they saw their true fate.

They would soon come to abandon their hope and innocence and give in to a ceaseless routine that would make death look appealing.

Slowly they would lose their true essence to the need of a so called social achievement that was in fact, nothing more but a colorful term for survival.

All of them were raised in the same world, one that appeared ideal to them, full of chances and possibilities. They were all part of a flawless looking society that gave them the illusion of well being and simultaneously deprived them of true freedom.

Conolyn and Eon along with their generation, had the tough luck to be borne into a world order, that was worse than any other ever mentioned in history.

Of course they couldn't have known that in their early life but only suspect it and speculate.

Conolyn was raised to have a strong voice and to be resilient. To fight injustice by any means. To be hardy, bold, self destructive and distrustful. That wasn't her targeted education nor the desired perception of morality by her parents.

That was rather the product of their actions and character in combination to her unfortunate experience of events. As a result, Conolyn became a troubled child, an aggressive teenager and later on, a reckless adult.

Eon on the other hand had an innate structure of character, one that was deep and kind and durable. He had a calm spirit and a brilliant mind. He only wanted to serve his ideas and true passions to the fullest.

He was one of those people that rejected their false teachings admirably soon. That way he was able to build a character that was all him untainted and untouched of the world as Conolyn always liked to say.

All their life, before their first meeting, there was a hole in them. They both felt a loneliness so deep and absolute that it gave them strength. They drew their hopes and dreams from it, blaming all their misfortune to their loneliness. In a fixed society that everything and everyone had a place and a purpose, they didn't. They couldn't compete in a world that, in their eyes appeared shallow and delusive.

It didn't take them long to meet and when they did, it was as if they always knew each other, as if there was never a hole in them. Their perception of goals in life and their similar philosophy not only brought them together, it completed them, it fulfilled them.


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Sat Sep 16, 2017 4:30 am
confetti wrote a review...



Hey! Here to review as requested. Sorry that it took so long.


I enjoyed the use of the 'they' perspective. I don't know if this continues throughout the story (I haven't looked further into the novel), but I think it's working well here.

I have two main critiques and I hope they will help during future revisions:

1) There seems to be a lack of specificity that leads to a lack of intrigue.
> I found that most of this opening was fairly vague (ie- "So they grew up prematurely and violently, in sort order, forgetting whatever false expectations they had from this world.") and so there was no point in which I found myself hooked. I think using more specific details as opposed to generalized statements would make this opening a bit more captivating.

2) I agree with what some of the other critiques - there is a lot more telling than showing, which has the potential to hold the piece back if it's not being used to serve some sort of greater purpose
For example:
"As a result, Conolyn became a troubled child, an aggressive teenager and later on, a reckless adult."
>> I would love to actually see this -- a confrontation with her parents about missing alcohol in the kitchen cabinet, driving home drunk one night after a college football game... it really doesn't matter what example you use. The point being, it would be more interesting to be shown (and probably more fun to write these kinds of scenes as well). I find that the use of 'showing' also helps to build authentic and engaging characters.


Thanks for sharing this piece! If you have any questions or want me to comment on anything else, don't hesitate to ask!




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Wed Sep 13, 2017 3:17 pm
Wriskypump wrote a review...



Okay, I have some major issues with this. The actual grammar and writing is fine. But really all you do is "tell" here, and this is only the prologue, and we as readers kind of want to meet and learn about the characters as we go along. We want to figure out where they are, and see their interactions play out, see them develop, and not be handed it all at one Time.

"They couldn't compete in a world that, in their eyes appeared shallow and delusive." - (oh, actually this sentence I didn't understand, just want to point out )

I really like the last paragraph tho. It's a great wrapping up of the prologue. Earlier on however, I definitely wouldn't tell these two characters' almost entire backstories. Even tho you did it in sort of a vague way so that we don't know all the details about it, it is still too revealing, and sometimes you repeat what you said in a previous paragraph, just not in exactly the same words.

This sounds like dystopia. It reminds me of a commercial I saw once where all these people were coming out of a factory on conveyor belts. And a girl and guy tried to escape. You may have seen it! Sounds maybe a little like The Giver also? But I don't really know, cause I think maybe you should have told us more about the society they are "imprisoned" in; and much less about their inner feelings and traits. For now.

Some reviewers may have already covered a lot of what I said. Sorry if Wrisky couldn't help you out more!!




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Tue Sep 12, 2017 1:28 pm
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ardentlyThieving wrote a review...



Hey hey, Ardently! here for a late night review!!! (should I be sleeping? Yes. Am I going to keep reviewing? Also yes)

I see the technical errors (grammar, punctuation etc.) have all be pretty conclusively covered so I'm going skip right over that and onto the fuzzy stuff of how I reacted to this piece. Good? Good.

First off, I like your opening paragraph. I think the hope in the starting line, immediately juxtaposed with the hopelessness of the second line makes the reader feel that loss of dreams. It pulled me in and got me emotionally involved, which then made me want to keep reading.

I also like the way that you then went on to elaborate on your opening in the next series of paragraphs. But I agree with Kostia that it does feel a bit heavy handed and you need to do a bit more showing, or maybe some stronger telling. (If you want some pointers about that there's a pretty helpful article on the literary spotlight right now that you should check it. It doesn't have much on showing, but really goes into the difference between good and bad telling and when it's appropriate to tell or not to tell.) Basically, it's a nice idea that needs a bit of tweaking and polishing.

I like how you've established your characters. I think comparing them and making them contrast each other was an effective way of introducing two characters at once and making them distinct from each other. I like the mystery behind "unfortunate experience of events" and I hope you'll go into that in later chapters. For now it's the same as the previous bit: some more showing and you'll be golden. Other than that I also like how you've set up the relationship between them, and made it obvious how important they're gonna be to each other, and I'm looking forward to how you continue to write and develop their relationship.

~ Ardently! <3 ~




kostia says...


Hello Ardently!
I decided to edit this and start my story from there. So in later editions there will be much more "showing" I guess I just wanted to go through the general idea first for inspiration purposes. I tend to do that almost unintentionally when I get a new idea. And by the way I am Kostia I think you got kind of confused there :P. Thank you for your time and your lovely review.





Ah shoot you're right. I meant Dracula I think. Welp this is why I shouldn't do late night reviews.



kostia says...


It's okay really no worries :D



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Tue Sep 12, 2017 8:49 am
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DarkPandemonium wrote a review...



Hi, Kostia! I'm Pan and I'll be reviewing your work today.

All of the other reviewers have cleared up the grammar nitpicks pretty well. I'll just point out one or two tiny things.

After tones of disappointments from lovers, friends and the world itself,


Do you mean 'tons' here? 'Tones' feels odd.

blaming all their misfortune to their loneliness.


Change 'to' to 'for'. You blame something for something, not to something.

For the most part, I'm just going to focus on general problems in this critique. I think I've read a few other parts of this series even if I haven't reviewed them, so I am familiar with the general trajectory of the story. That said, I'll try to review this opening as if it's the only part of the story I've seen, because it needs to stand on its own merit.

Things I liked

1) For someone who isn't a native speaker of English, your grammar is pretty phenomenal. There are a few odd bits of phrasing and comma usage here and there, but they're the kind of errors you'd see in any native speaker's first draft. Generally speaking, you have a nicely concise way of phrasing things - you don't go over the top with purple prose; you vary your sentence structure well; you express your points clearly. I don't have any gripes with your personal writing style.

2) The story you've hinted at has a lot of potential to be interesting. I love novels about people who meet and completely change each other's lives - not necessarily in a romantic sense, though that is one example of how they could affect each other. I also like that this close relationship is going to be juxtaposed with such a grim setting, because I like to read about friendship prevailing in the toughest conditions. All in all, you've got the groundwork for a story that could be very interesting.

3) You also have the outline for two interesting characters. Their personality traits look like they will compliment each other well, so I'm looking forward to seeing some proper interaction between the two of them.

Things to improve

1) The entire opening is telling writing, which makes it very heavy to read and not particularly evocative. If you're not familiar with the distinction between showing and telling, I'll give you a quick crash course here.

Showing and telling are two types of writing techniques. Showing is how you make readers feel like they're in the scene - it's rich in detail; it uses the senses; it gets right up close to the emotional and physical sensations of the characters, giving us exact detail about what they said and did and felt. It lets the reader witness the events of the story as if they were a part of it. Telling, by contrast, is how you cover the ground and fill the reader in on background information when you need to. It's removed from the immediacy of the moment. Some writers call it informing, because that is its main function.

I'll illustrate with some examples of both types of writing.

Telling - The room was horrible.

Showing - Damp mottled the ceiling like dirty fingerprints, and the faded wallpaper was ragged and peeling. The carpet, which bristled against my bare feet, held the wet smell of clothes left a little too long in the washer.

You can see the contrast. Telling informs the reader that the room is horrible, whereas showing describes the specific ways in which the room is horrible. If it helps, think of telling as your claims and showing as your evidence. You can make claims, but you gotta back them up with evidence. If you don't, people won't believe them.

Steering this back towards your writing, the problem is that this opening is all telling, which makes it uninteresting to read. Take this example:

As a result, Conolyn became a troubled child, an aggressive teenager and later on, a reckless adult.


Here, you tell us that Conolyn is reckless, but characterisation is so much more effective when it's shown. If you wrote a scene in which Conolyn actually does something reckless - perhaps she squares up to a fight with someone stronger than her, speaks out against a superior, lays a massive bet on something with tiny odds, whatever you think she'd be likely to do - we'd get a sense of her character for ourselves. It's the difference between hearing someone talk about a person and meeting that person for yourself. If we see her in action, she'll be much more tangible and believable.

Don't get me wrong, telling isn't bad, but it needs to be used sparingly, and only in the right context. Telling is good for getting the reader up to speed at the start of a chapter, passing quickly over a period of time, or glossing over a bit of backstory or a flashback. Key characterisation and world-building, however, should be done through showing. I also wouldn't advise starting a novel with a heavy bout of telling, because it just gets too dense and monotonous. Action is better. Throw us into the story and let us find our feet by ourselves.

2) Another issue with this piece, which does partly relate to the first point, is that it is vague. I think this is what LadyLizzLovelace was getting at, albeit in quite a blunt way. Let's take a look at your first two sentences:

They all had dreams once. Then life kicked in and everything else seemed distant, obscure and lost. Eventually there was nothing left of them but life it self.

So they grew up prematurely and violently, in sort order, forgetting whatever false expectations they had from this world.


I do agree with Lizz that this isn't a particularly strong opening, and the reason is because it's non-specific. It is a very vague outline of what happened to your characters, with no detail to mark it out as original. Masses of books are about harsh childhoods and broken dreams in some capacity, but what makes them stand out from each other is the way in which the childhoods were harsh, what kind of dreams were broken.

Instead of saying they had dreams, you could give us a specific dream. What did Conolyn want to do with her life when she was a child? Did she want to be a dancer, a vet, a teacher? What happened in her life to make her realise she couldn't be? Did her parents pull her out of dancing lessons with mumbled apologies about money? Did a teacher sneer at her and say that people like her didn't become vets? Of course these are all just examples, but you see the point I'm trying to make. You have to be specific. Engage with your characters and tell us about their experiences, because being vague and open-ended isn't interesting. Time isn't on your side in an opening - don't open with a summary, open with the proper story.

3) The opening feels like you're laying the ground work for the plot and characters, which isn't necessary. Start the story where is starts. Most good books don't begin by outlining the characters and the harsh lives they've led; they get straight into the story and show us those characters living their harsh lives. Just take the plunge and get to the point - as I said earlier, time is not on your side.

Final verdict? If I'm being frank, I feel like this opening isn't really necessary. It seems like a precursor to the actual plot. You hint at lots of interesting stuff with the world Conolyn and Eon live in, and you do seem to have a good sense of their personalities, but it reads like a backstory plan rather than an actual opening to the novel. There's no move towards the main plot at any point.

It seems harsh to say, but I think it could be scrapped. I get the sense from the way you end it that the next part will probably dive into the present day in which Conolyn and Eon know each other, and if you do that then this opening will probably become redundant. Deleting stuff can be a real pain (about a month ago I had to cut 6000 words from my WIP and rewrite a whole arc - that stung, let me tell you) but it is a huge part of the editing process. No writer can avoid it, unfortunately.

I am sorry if this was harsh. I promise it's nothing personal; I just don't think there's anything to be gained by sugar-coating things. Also, having read previous parts of War and His Eyes in which you have active scenes full of character interaction, I know you're completely capable of writing engagingly. You just need to cut down on telling and not be afraid to dive into the main story.

Keep writing! :D
~Pan




kostia says...


That was a really good review, I found your suggestions very helpful. Thank you so much for your time! :D





I'm glad it helped! :)



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Mon Sep 11, 2017 10:40 pm
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Dracula wrote a review...



Hello, kostia! Here are some thoughts I had as I read this...

They all had dreams once. Then life kicked in and everything else seemed distant, obscure and lost. After a point there was nothing left of them but life it self.
That first sentence is perfect. It's powerful and leaves me wondering what happened to make them lose those dreams. It serves its purpose of making me want to read on. I wonder if it deserves its own paragraph? The following sentence is like a wave crashing down, it's a complete change of emotion which might be more effective with a fresh paragraph.

All of them were raised in a world that appeared ideal to them, full of chances and possibilities. They were part of a flawless looking society that gave them the illusion of well being and simultaneously deprived them of true freedom.
Is it sad that I feel like this is the world today?

...into a world order, that was worse than any other ever mentioned in history.
You don't need the comma after order.

There's a lot of telling in this, which isn't necessarily bad. But if it's the 'introduction' then I think it should lead into a story. It feels like a lot of backstory at the moment that could otherwise be revealed along the way. Why is it important that I know all this at the start? Try to include even just one sentence that leads into a clear and precise conflict. I don't know your plot, but an example of an extra final sentence could be: The government didn't appreciate her nonconformity. So, Conolyn became a fugitive.

That aside, your backstory is very strong. I got a good sense of your character and it's clear that you've got everything well thought out. As far as intros go, this is good. It just needs that connecting sentence to link it with the conflict of the story.




kostia says...


Hello there and thank you so much for the review and the like. This is an alternative beginning to my story that I just started working on I m not quite sure where it will take me. If you want to get to know some of the characters feel free to check some of the chapters I have so far.
Thanks again for your time.



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Mon Sep 11, 2017 10:23 pm
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MJTucker wrote a review...



Hey Kostia! I'm stopping by to give you a few words of critique and encouragement; in other words, review.

I have all my grammatical notes enspoilered, since this is a relatively short piece. Just click the spoiler and you can see all my thoughts in red and comments in blue.

Spoiler! :

They all had dreams once. Then life kicked in, and everything else seemed distant, obscure and lost. After a pointEventually, there was nothing left of them but life itself.I changed 'after a point' to 'eventually' because it sounded more natural, at least to me, so change that if you want. Also, itself should be one word, so that's what I was trying to do with the strike-through. It's not a dash, it's to take out that space.

So they grew up prematurely and violently, in sort order, forgetting whatever false expectations they had from this world.What do you mean by 'sort order'?

They soon came to abandon their hope and innocence, giving in to oblivion and cruelty. Giving in to, a ceaseless routine that made death look appealing.

Slowly they would all lose their true essence to the need of survival.Essence is a very vague word, and at the very least, I would use a word like 'virtue', or get more specific! Did they lose their innocence, their honesty, their charm, their youth, what?

All of them were raised in a world that appeared ideal to them, full of chances and possibilities. They were part of a flawless-looking society that gave them the illusion of well-being and simultaneously deprived them of true freedom.

Conolyn, along with her generation, had the tough luck to be borne into a world order, that was worse than any other ever mentioned in history.

Of course they couldn't have known that in their early life but only suspect it and speculate.

Conolyn was raised to have a strong voice and to be resilient. To fight injustice by any means. To be hardy, bold, self destructive and distrustful. That wasn't her targeted education nor the desired perception of morality by her parents.

That was rather the product of their actions and character in combination to her unfortunate experience of events. As a result, Conolyn became a troubled child, an aggressive teenager and later on, a reckless adult.You used 'the product of' and 'as a result' twice in this short paragraph, so that got pretty redundant, and also threw off my sense of timing a little bit.

In a fixed society that everything and everyone had a place and a purpose, she didn't. She couldn't compete in a world that, in her eyes appeared shallow and delusive.


I really enjoyed this piece, and it introduced some very deep and philosophical thoughts. I covered most of my main critiques in this idea, but I would encourage you to make ths into some sort of short story. You gave us the basis for a story here, but I don't know what to do with that information. You've laid out a novel idea here and introduced the setting and main character, but since there's no story, it raises the question of 'How does this play out? How do the characters react? What are their motivations? What are their oppositions? How do other aspects of their life, like school, friends, and family, fit into all this?'

But hopefully this review was helpful, even though I didn't have a lot to say, so that's my review! Even though this was short, I tried to cover a lot of info, so I apologize if it doesn't really aid you in your future writing. If you decide to publish this or expand it and publish the edited version, please let me know, and I'll be by to review that!

Best wishes,
MJ




kostia says...


Your grammatical notes are very helpful since I am not a native speaker I recently started writing in English. Thank you so much for the review!



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Mon Sep 11, 2017 9:39 pm
LadyLizz wrote a review...



Hey there kostia and a really late welcome to YWS. It's just lizzy dropping by real quick, so without a further ado, let the reviewing begin.

I was wondering why this part was marked as other, rather than short story or chapter, because even an alternative beginning to fit into that group. Hopefully I won't need much context from the chapters in going through this, because that would just be a shame.

They all had dreams once. Then life kicked in and everything else seemed distant, obscure and lost. After a point there was nothing left of them but life it self.

I always like to look at the opening line when thinking about a work and starting the first judgement. In this case, you start with a rather relatable sentence, a view and mood about life that everyone has experienced. Just the tone and the vibe coming off it, signals me to know it will let down a moment later. Even without seeing the next part, the way you wrote it just goes right down in a letdown. The easy predictability of where this plot is going really put me off from the get go. This isn't the prime reaction that you're looking for in readers, turning them away before the story even begins to take off, and personally that's just what this does for me.

And as it turns out, the story just continues rolling on down that path of cliche and plainness. I see this being presented as the main opening, the grand entrance of your story but the road isn't going anywhere after that. Except for straight off a cliff with the hanger you left there that doesn't really seem to be one with the set-up??? This entire chapter part just confuses me because every time it starts to go somewhere, it stops and takes a turn into a completely different part of the story. Maybe it's just too late for me to be reviewing but this looks like your chapter and character can't hold a train of thought.

The length of this is barely half of a standard 1k chapter so I find it ending before it ever begins. Maybe if it wasn't so spread out with a line break every single time, it wouldn't feel so distant and so easy to cruise through. I'm mildly interested by this controlled society but the ending line just distracts me soooo much. There's several possible meanings to it so I was wondering if you might clear that up a bit.

I don't really have much more to say so I'll just see myself out.
It's #RevMo season after all.

~Liz




kostia says...


Well Liz that was kind of harsh since this isn't finished, it is the first draft and not even slightly edited. But that's okay I respect your opinion even though i don't agree. Have a nice day



kostia says...


And thank you for your review :)




I always prefer to believe the best of everybody; it saves so much trouble.
— Rudyard Kipling