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Assignment: Rebirth 1.1

by Tuckster


Sweat dripped down Skyla's neck as she pummeled the punching bag, one fist after the other, tapping out her own rhythm. She adjuted her feet and continued to hit it rapidly and relentlessly.

"Thirty more seconds," Darien said from the other side of the punching bag, but his voice barely permeated Skylar's brain. She was laser-focused on this target, on striking it in time with the rapid beating of her heart. She stayed light on her toes and shifted from side to side, each punch strong enough to break bones.

"That's time, Sky." Darien let go of the bag and stepped away from it, and Skylar let her fists fall to her side. She wiped the sweat off her forehead with the back of her arm and tightened her ponytail as she walked towards the bench.

"Tired already?" Myra asked from where she stood jumping rope.

"Maybe you'll understand when you actually train instead of playing with a children's toy," Skylar shot back as she wiped her face.

"Jumping rope is an underrated cardiovascular exercise!" Myra insisted. "It improves balance, coordination, and enhances speed. I've recommended it as part of the official program at least four times."

"And what has the result been each time?" Darien was wrapping his hands in preparation for his turn on the punching bag.

Skylar finished wiping her face and stood, walking over to the punching bag and positioning herself behind it. "Ready whenever you are, Darien. Let's see if you can top me."

"Bring it on." Darien cracked his knuckles and grinned, hopping a few times in place before stepping up to the punching bag. "Set timer."

"Ready, set, go!" Skylar announced. As soon as the word 'go' left her mouth, Darien was already pounding the punching bag, his gaze locked on the punching bag and his jaw set as he pummeled the bag so hard that the chain shook. Skylar could feel the impact of each of his punches through the punching bag.

He continued to rain down punches methodically, shifting from side to side and attacking in short bursts. Skylar checked the timer. Fifteen seconds left and so far he was behind her pace, as far as she could tell. With five seconds left to go, Darien took a step backwards and then struck the punching bag with all his force with a strong roundhouse kick.

Skylar felt the sting in her hand, but she wasn't about to show Darien that. "Showoff," she muttered as she stopped the timer. "Besides, I was faster."

"That may be true, but I was stronger."

"Strong punches don't help you after you've been knocked out by a return punch," Skylar retorted.

"And fast punches don't help you if you can't take them down," Darien shot back.

"Guys. It was a tie." Myra tossed her jump rope to the side and stepped up to Skylar and Darien. "We should all spar. Hitting a bag only gets you so far in this world, after all."

"I really don't understand your vendetta against punching bags," Skylar commented as the three of them made their way over to the boxing ring, repurposed for sparring. "Like, they don't teach you everything, but they're so helpful."

Myra shrugged. "I prefer natural workouts."

"And jumping over a piece of plastic is a natural workout?" Darien joked, and Skylar laughed.

"He's got a point."

Myra flushed. "Look, just do your workout, and leave me in peace to do mine."

"Sorry, My. I was only joking." Darien eyebrows furrowed as he saw the frustration on Myra's face, but he was kind enough to drop the subject. "I call winner."

Skylar rolled her eyes at his arrogance but ducked under the rope. "Come on, Myra. Let's show him what we're made of."

"I'll show him what I'm made of." Myra rolled onto the mat and sprang to her feet, adopting her fighting stance and narrowing her eyes. "Darien, count us off."

"Three, two, one, fight!" Darien chanted, and Skylar immediately launched herself forward, hoping to get the upper hand on Myra early with a feint and then an uppercut. Myra blocked the uppercut and retaliated with her own hook that passed just above Skylar's head, and the two of them stepped back to reevaluate their options.

"Come on, in a real fight you won't have this kind of time! One of you make the first move!" Darien shouted to them, and Skylar clenched her jaw. She waited for openings in Myra's posture, but none came. Despite Myra's anti-punching-bag stance, she was still a strong and strategic fighter, and Skylar knew it was unfair to underestimate her. But Darien was right. When push came to shove and they were out in the field implementing their training, she wouldn't have this much time to think about her next move. If there wasn't an opening, she had to make one.

Skylar lunged at Myra, waiting for Myra to take a swing or adjust her posture, and when Myra did lift one first, Skylar kicked her in the side just hard enough to drop her. The kick connected, and Myra winced and shifted her weight to the other leg but stayed upright. "That all you got?" Myra jibed, and Skylar clenched her jaw but didn't take the bait.

"Let's see you make the move, then," Skylar responded, waiting patiently for Myra to come towards her, but Myra only grinned. When Myra didn't respond, Skylar closed the gap between them and swung firmly at Myra's head. As Myra raised her arm to block the punch, Skylar aimed a solid punch at her chest, hard enough to make Myra collapse. Skylar tapped her four times in the face and chest to assert her dominance and then stepped backwards, extending a hand to help Myra up. Myra took it and smiled at Skylar, brushing her wispy brown flyaways out of her face.

"Good match. You won fair and square." Myra shook Skylar's hand and then ducked out of the ring. "Darien, finish what I started."


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Sun Sep 29, 2019 7:36 pm
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ExOmelas wrote a review...



Hey Tuck! I had this idea at the start of review day that I'd try and review all chapter 1s of LMS's that had been posted. I don't think this is quite going to happen at this point but I might as well make a start!

Darien was already pounding the punching bag, his gaze locked on the punching bag

I think you say "punching bag" just a few too many times in this chapter part :P

When push came to shove and they were out in the field implementing their training, she wouldn't have this much time to think about her next move.

So, something that I'm predicting I'm going to be saying later on is that there's not enough of a hook to draw the reader in and show them why this story is unique. However, I'm noting this here because it's one of the moments where there is some foreshadowing.

Overall:

To get to what I was just mentioning. This is a well written scene in a boxing training arena. However, I don't have much of an idea what's special about this training arena, or these three people, or this world in general. I know this isn't the full first chapter but I think even in the first 1k (which if you go by NaNo logic is about 4 pages) then there should be at least some idea of where this story is going - especially on here when we don't have blurbs to look at :P

Your flow is great, although sometimes it's hard to read commentary of a boxing match. I had this story about tennis I was writing once and I was determined I didn't want to narrate rallies like "serve, forehand, backhand slice, forehand approach, lob, runs back, lob, smash" but one of my readers did say that they'd enjoy that, so maybe that's actually just me.

Your characters are introduced well. I think the one with most personality so far is Myra, but that might be because she's the one who's like, had something happen so far, if that makes sense? There was a Myra-related small conflict about jump ropes, so she's the character who's been on display thus far. She seems to be quite independent (trains how she wants), but maybe below the surface a bit insecure.

Oh, about jump ropes. Boxers do do that, as far as I know. Like, it's commonplace. Is there a reason this gym doesn't? I feel like it might be worth choosing something a bit more out-there, but that's a fairly small thing.

Hope this helps,
Biscuits :)




Tuckster says...


Thanks for the review! I'll be sure to implement many of the changes you suggested when I'm reviewing :)



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Sat Sep 28, 2019 1:56 pm
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JabberHut wrote a review...



Hello, Tuck!!

Another one of the all-famed LMS novels, and I have to say I really love this start. There's some really good stuff happening in this chapter, which might not even be the full chapter yet. And that's good! It felt like it ended abruptly, so I look forward to reading the next segment soon.

I really love what you have here because each of the characters are clearly distinct and their own individual with their own opinions. It's only the first chapter, and we can already classify each of them! Darien relies on strength, Skylar relies on speed, and Myra is very calculating, perhaps even cunning, though we've yet to find out.

They each even have their own workouts that they do with reasoning behind them, and that's super cool. Again, it shows individualism! They have opinions! And goals! THEY HAVE GOALS!!

I was a little confused as to how Skylar and Darien tied 'cause it sounded like the goal of their challenge was the most punches in a given time. I expected Skylar to either win because she's the fastest or lose because she still has training to do but is getting ever closer to beating Darien. But if they tied, that either means Darien is strong AND fast or Skylar is still a bit slow for an agility-focused training regime. All that said, I can see Myra being a mediator and just saying they tied to keep argument and trash talk at bay. She sounds like a mediator. It would be fun to see Skylar and Darien hound her for the real results if that were the case, though. XD FUN BANTER!

Also, this definitely puts Myra in a lesser position to the other two! She hardly puts up a fight in the one-on-one, and I would have loved to see her excel in hand-to-hand combat or something of the sort, you know? Perhaps we will see that later, though. For someone with strong opinions about her workout, she MUST have something the others don't have!

I REALLY enjoyed your fighting scenes. You do an incredible job keeping me interested and on the edge of my seat with these scenes, keeping me engaged as they fight without boring me with too many details. It keeps up with the pacing of a natural fight while still being easy to picture, so I absolutely enjoyed reading this.

Darien's fight with Skylar should be veeery exciting. c:<

Best of luck at LMS! I look forward to reading more of this!

Keep writing!

Jabber, the One and Only!




Tuckster says...


Thanks for the review Jabber! I'm glad I kept you excited throughout, and I hope it'll only get more exciting from here!



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Thu Sep 26, 2019 2:42 pm
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FlamingPhoenix wrote a review...



Hi! FlamingPhoenix here to drop off a review for you on this lovely day!

So I think everyone else has done a great job pointing out all the things that need to be pointed out and fixed. So I'm not going to bore you with any more of that stuff, and I would like to talk to you about you chapter so far!

Let's start.
So I can't really see anything going on with your plot yet, I can tell that these three people have been training to fight something big, or maybe their undercover assassins later. I don't no but by the way their were fighting and training it seemed rather interesting, and i can't wait to see what it will lead to later.

I'm so loving your character so far they each have a very unique personalty, and they seem to get along really well, they might have good team work, but I didn't see any of that in this chapter. So maybe in the next one.
Myra seems to be a very quiet character but really out spoken when she wants to be heard. Skylar and Darien are really close and they seem to be the two to get into a lot of trouble, but they also seem to be the once to also make the trouble.

I love the description you have here, it just made everything come to life, it made everything so much better, and it helped me feel like i was there watching the three of them spar and work out. I do wish there was a little more, but I'm a bit extreme when it comes to description.

Over all i thought this chapter was very well done, and i can't wait to read more of your works, so don't you ever stop writing other wise will have to come after you, and post the next chapter on YWS soon. Have a great day or night.

Your friend
FlamingPhoenix!
Reviewing with a fiery passion!

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Tuckster says...


Thanks so much for the review! It was a great analysis of what I have so far and it was very helpful :)





Glad I could help! ;)



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Wed Sep 25, 2019 6:43 am
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Querencia wrote a review...



Hiya Tuck!

I'm excited to be reviewing your first chapter and hopefully more to come. <3

"Thirty more seconds," Darien said from the other side of the punching bag, but his voice barely permeated Skylar's brain. She was laser-focused on this target, on striking it in time with the rapid beating of her heart. She stayed light on her toes and shifted from side to side, each punch strong enough to break bones.

I really like your description here! It also gives me a mental image of Skylar as really committed and focused on this one thing, and although it's just training, I'm anxious to see what her end-goal might be--she seems to be taking this seriously enough that there has to be some stake for her in this, somewhere.

"Jumping rope is an underrated cardiovascular exercise!" Myra insisted. "It improves balance, coordination, and enhances speed. I've recommended it as part of the official program at least four times."

"And what has the result been each time?" Darien was wrapping his hands in preparation for his turn on the punching bag.

Interesting that there would be a specified program! And that jumping rope wouldn't make it on--it seems like in a training program of any sort, the more options and things to practice, the better. But what is a part of the official program, then? If it's punching the punching bag, then why does Myra refuse to do it? Just some curiosity here.

Fifteen seconds left and so far he was behind her pace, as far as she could tell.

Is she counting how many times he punches? I feel like if this is being timed, then there would be a counting aspect as well, "I got x punches in y time, you only got z punches" as a comparison between Skylar and Darien.

"Like, they don't teach you everything, but they're so helpful."

For some reason this strikes me as... overly casual? I mean, none of them are being formal, I think it's just my objection to the word "like". Something about this sentence just felt a little off to me in this context for some reason.

"Come on, Myra. Let's show him what we're made of."

"I'll show him what I'm made of."

The switch from "we" to "I" is a little odd here, unless one of the I's is emphasized: "Let's show him what we're made of--No, I'll show him what I'm made of". Or maybe she's showing them both what she's made of. It's just something about this back-to-back switch that threw me off.

Despite Myra's anti-punching-bag stance, she was still a strong and strategic fighter, and Skylar knew it was unfair to underestimate her.

I sort of wish that Myra had won the fight to prove this point! While they both make some passes at each other, Skylar clearly wins and it doesn't seem to take super long. I just want to see more of why Myra shouldn't be underestimated. :)

I think that overall, the fighting scenes really drew me in. Lots of books have had training exercises, but something about Skylar's energy and force really animates this particular scene, along with the rapid movements and good description.

I would like to see how this fits in with the story overall--it's a training scene, but we don't know what for, where they are, any sort of larger setting. Of course, this is only the first chapter (and even the first part of that) and these things don't necessarily happen right off the bat, but I just wanted to let you know that now that I've been drawn in with the intense training, I'm looking forward to what this is going to be for.

One other thing I might mention is a sense of time. They're clearly familiar enough with each other to joke around and be familiar with physical strengths, and Myra has even tried to make jump-roping official several times, but when they spar with each other, I don't get much sense of, "you're better than when we fought last" or "I'll be sure to get you next time" or "you've tried that technique before and it didn't work then either". I mean, it doesn't necessarily have to be any of these things, I'm just looking for more evidence of their history together, I guess. Just something to think about!

I'm already looking forward to your next chapter. Have a great week! <3

-Q




Tuckster says...


Thanks so much for the review! You brought up some really good points and I'll definitely put them into action when I edit :D



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Wed Sep 25, 2019 4:02 am
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mdjones199 wrote a review...



Hi Tuck! I am new the the YWS community, so it's very nice to electronically meet you!

This is actually my first review, so bare with me a little. :)

I thought this piece had lots of great things going into it! First, I would like to applaud you on your descriptive skills. I feel there are some events that can be challenging--at least for me--to create an image for when writing. The match between Myra and Skylar was very well described and easy for me to follow without feeling a lag in events. I also felt you created a great profile for each of their personalities, as well. You clearly described their dynamics with each other, personal opinions and motivations, etc.

One thing that was a tad distracting for me was how repetitive some of your words were at some points.

"As soon as the word 'go' left her mouth, Darien was already pounding the punching bag, his gaze locked on the punching bag and his jaw set as he pummeled the bag so hard that the chain shook. Skylar could feel the impact of each of his punches through the punching bag."

In this particular paragraph, I was a little distracted at the word "punching bag" because it was used so much. Here, I might substitute some of them by just saying "bag" or even going a little metaphorical with it and saying "Darien's lifeless victim".

Other than that, I thought this was an intriguing start to the story. I'm fascinated to see what Myra meant by saying, "Hitting a bag only gets you so far, in this world." Great work!! Can't wait to see more. :)




Tuckster says...


This was a great first review! Thanks so much for all of your suggestions!



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Wed Sep 25, 2019 2:21 am
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mellifera wrote a review...



Hey Tuck! Here to review, as promised ^^


Sweat dripped down Skyla's neck as she pummeled the punching bag, one fist after the other, tapping out her own rhythm.


I'm not a huge fan of this as an opener. It's not grabbing right now. Let's pretend I haven't read your LMS thread, and I don't know what this novel is about (besides a summary on the back or in the binding). I don't know who Skylar is (which is misspelled, by the way!). She's pummelling a punching bag. Ok. Lots of people pummel punching bag. Why should I care that she is?
I'm not trying to sound mean or irritated when I say this! When you open a novel, the first line is your first impression. You have no background or context (aside from a summary), so you have no reason to care about the characters yet.
Start with a question instead! I don't mean open by asking the readers a direct question, but start with something that makes them ask a question. If you use this as a guideline, it creates a hook, which then drags your reader into the story because they want to know the answer!
I can't really give you an example here, because you haven't started at a place that presents a question, so I hope this makes sense on it's own.

(you also wrote "adjusted" as "adjuted" in the next sentence!)

Darien said from the other side of the punching bag, but his voice barely permeated Skylar's brain.


While I think "permeated" sounds a little too fancy here (I'm one to talk considering I have it set up in my lms in my outline :p), I really like how you showed this line rather than telling! I think you could emphasise less on where Darien is since it does kind of contradict her focus directed away from him (thus not thinking about where he is), and worry about that coming into play afterwards, but otherwise, you did a really good job of showing here! :D

from where she stood jumping rope.


is it a transparent rope?

Skylar shot back as she wiped her face.


You did already describe her wiping her face ("She wiped the sweat off her forehead") quite recently. You'll want to watch out for that repetition, because it dulls your prose and nobody wants dull prose :(

Darien was wrapping his hands in preparation for his turn on the punching bag.


I think, generally, readers will understand what he's wrapping his hands for? I don't think you have to explain that. Even if they don't, I think it'd be pretty obvious soon enough.

Skylar finished wiping her face


has she been wiping her face this whole time? was she just going over her face repeatedly or did she wipe it very slowly?

(I think you know what I'm going to say about this line ;) )

As soon as the word 'go' left her mouth, Darien was already pounding the punching bag, his gaze locked on the punching bag and his jaw set as he pummeled the bag so hard that the chain shook. Skylar could feel the impact of each of his punches through the punching bag.


I'm going to bring up repetition again! Not only does "punch" come up four times in just this paragraph alone, but you described Skylar pummelling the punching bag earlier. While you've had a little time between the two, it's noticeable. There are plenty of ways to describe him working out! "his jaw set as he landed blow after blow against his target", or "his jaw set as he hammered his fists into it".

Skylar felt the sting in her hand


Just as I said your showing was beautiful before, I'm going to say the opposite here! "Skylar felt" is telling. There's no reason it can't simply be "Skylar's hand stung from the impact of the blow" because then you aren't telling us.
(I always differentiate them by saying you what to show how a character feels something, not so much what they're feeling)


There's a few places that you write dialogue tags in that you... don't really need? Generally, if you can tell who's speaking without the tag, it's unnecessary.
(I'm specifically thinking here about "And fast punches don't help you if you can't take them down." <-- we know that's Darien, because there's only three people in the room, Skylar can't have said it, and Myra wouldn't have said it. Contextually, it has to be Darien, so the dialogue tag isn't necessary. Plus! Just given his response and the conversation, readers should know his reply is snippy/snarky!)

Also, regarding dialogue! You do an awful lot of avoiding "said". You only use it once in this entire chapter part. I don't know if you heard the whole "said is dead" thing and that's why, but it's not! Dialogue tags are really there to identify who's speaking. They serve very little purpose. The only reason a dialogue tag would need some kind of embellishment is a) if you can't tell who's speaking b) can't pick up tone based on conservation/character moods.
The variance in your dialogue tags isn't actually helping, it's just distracting me from your writing. You're using alternatives that are fine in moderation, but dialogue tags don't exist to be fancy!


Darien joked, and Skylar laughed.


The "dialogue tag" thing aside, these should be separated, because right now, Skylar's reaction bleeds into Darien's dialogue.

Darien['s] eyebrows furrowed as he saw the frustration on Myra's face,


This line is actually a pov change. You established the story in Skylar perspective, so describing something that Darien sees doesn't fit into that established pov. You can still describe his eyebrows furrowing at Myra! Just don't include that he's the one noticing it!
(also, how is Myra expressing her frustration? Is she also frowning? Do her nostrils flare? Does she roll her eyes? Again, how the character reacts is a pretty good guideline when you're thinking about showing vs. telling!)

One of you make the first move!"


This line... doesn't make sense to me? They already lunged at each other, and then took a step back to reevaluate. They didn't... not start?


I'm really here for your fighting descriptions! I get bored really easily when it comes to action sequences, and I have trouble following descriptions of a fight, and while I think that Skylar did beat Myra a little quickly, I think you've done a pretty good baseline job for pacing! Your descriptions are clear, and I followed them without any difficulty! So, while I think you could have played their spar out a little bit, you did a really great job otherwise!


Overall, I'm wondering why you chose this place to start? I know that it often takes writing out a story before you figure out where it feels best to start, but nothing really exciting happens in this chapter? There's nothing to hook me in here yet. I like the characters you've set up, and I have no doubt you have a wonderful story lying in wait, but right now, there's no plot points. There's nothing to latch onto. I'm not asking questions about the story line, or what might happen to the characters. Your writing style is beautiful, clean, and flows well, don't get me wrong, but nothing has happened to kick off the plot yet.
I'll give you the benefit of the doubt! This is only the first part of a chapter, so maybe the second half has more of a hook/does kick off the story! But generally, you'll want to have already drawn your reader in.

Again! I had no trouble reading through this though! You have great groundwork here to develop your characters, and I can't wait to see where they end up. I just wish there had been more story and intrigue.


I think that's all I have for you today! If you have any comments or questions about anything I said, please let me know!

(sorry you signed up for my long, rambling, over-explanations. should've put that on the warning tin along with snark :P)

I hope you have a fantastic day, and Happy RevMo!

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Tuckster says...


Thanks so much for the review! You brought up some great points and I'll be sure to implement them when I edit. I did have a specific reason for starting here, which should hopefully be clear by part 3, ish? (I say like I have an actual outline lol). If it's not clear by then then I'll be sure to make some changes and adjustments.




Once you have people's attention, you have a greater responsibility to tell them something of value.
— Tobias Forge (Ghost B.C.)