Young Writers Society

Home » Literary works » Novel / Chapter » Dramatic


Broken (chapter one)

by psudiname


The instant Mac awoke, he knew he was in an asylum. The sterile white fluorescent lights buzzed angrily at him from above, and the room he found himself in resembled a beautified prison, complete with a toilet on the wall. His first reaction was one of panic. Looking around the room for a weapon, Mac stumbled out of the bed he had been laying on. His horror only intensified as he noticed what was on his arm. Firmly clamped around his wrist was what appeared to be some sort of tracking device. It looked like a watch without a screen, and was made entirely of plastic, save for a tiny blinking green light which he guessed was Plexiglas. Mac diverted his attention to the task of removing the object. He slammed it furiously against the slightly padded wall, his heart beating faster and faster as the realization of his situation began to register in his brain. Suddenly, all at once, his muscles tensed up uncontrollably, and he fell to the ground in pain.

It only lasted a split second, but for that moment, Mac felt as if his whole body were on fire. It began to dawn on him that what he had just felt was his first electric shock. Muscles all over his body continued to spasm occasionally, unaware that their electrons were no longer moving. Just as he thought his heart would explode if it were to beat any faster, the handle of the only door in Mac's small cell began to turn. He scrambled frantically backwards on his hands and knees, imagining what sort of massive prison guard might be behind the door. The only explanation for someone entering the room was to teach him a lesson and make sure that was the last time he tried to remove his tracking device. Mac didn't have time to finish picturing all of this before the door swung quickly open. Standing behind it was the last thing he was expecting.

A young girl in a lime green jumpsuit to match the one Mac wore stood smiling in the doorway. She took one look at Mac recoiling in fright on his hands and knees and began giggling uncontrollably. His fear dissolved. She couldn't have been older than twenty five, which would make her only a few years older than Mac. Her blond hair looked casually messy, as if she brushed it occasionally, but frequently forgot. All in all she seemed remarkably harmless and even a little bit out of place.

"Are you... crazy?" Mac asked tentatively, his heart still racing from the start she had given him. The girl's laugh receded to a smile.

"I'm perfectly sane. The real question is what's wrong with you."

Mac felt a tad offended, being called crazy by someone he had just met.

"There's nothing wrong with me!" he snapped, trying to manage a scowl. The girl continued to grin cheerfully.

"If you say so. I mean you are in the mental ward of a hospital, so it would make sense if you were crazy, but if you are it shouldn't be that hard to figure out."

"That's the thing though, I'm not supposed to be here!" Mac said, "they must have made a mistake or something, because I'm not crazy."

"Relax, I believe you," the girl responded. "Anyway, I'm Alice.What's your name?"

"I'm Mac. Do you think you could take me to whoever is in charge of this place so I can tell them that they made a mistake?" he asked, desperately afraid that she might change the subject if he let introductions drag on too long.

"Sure! You won't be able to talk to them until the next assembly, but I'll make sure to point out who you should talk to when the next one comes around. In the meantime let me introduce you to my friends!" Alice said, her voice sounding almost musical with all of the enthusiasm she put into each word.

"Uh... ok," he said. She seems sane, he thought to himself as he followed her down the corridor outside his room. Still, a part of him was afraid that her friends might end up being imaginary. The thought of being confined in a building with only crazy people creeped him out. As he walked through another hallway with a ceiling, a floor, and two walls that looked nearly identical to the slightly padded ones of his room, Mac had a thought.

"Alice?"

"Yes?" she said.

"if you're not crazy, why did they put you here?"

She slowed her spirited gait so that she could be side by side with Mac as they walked. Her smile became vaguely melancholic as she thought for a couple seconds before speaking.

"Well there's nothing wrong with me, but Kara can be a little bit... problematic sometimes."

Mac furrowed his brow. "Who's Kara?"

Alice seemed surprised, as if Kara's identity was common knowledge. "Oh, well she's kind of like my roommate. We share a body."

Mac stopped walking abruptly. "you what?"

"We share a body," Alice said calmly, not acknowledging that this was at all out of the ordinary. "We take turns, so sometimes she's awake, and sometimes I'm awake. It's not that bad, it only gets difficult if I'm in the middle of something important when she wakes up. And like I said, she can be a little mean and insensitive sometimes."

She's completely batshit crazy, Mac thought. Still, just being around this sprightly young girl made him feel unnaturally and inexplicably cheerful. Nevertheless, he thought, she's still insane. So are her friends probably. Her insane friends that I'm about to meet. God this is going to be a long day."


Note: You are not logged in, but you can still leave a comment or review. Before it shows up, a moderator will need to approve your comment (this is only a safeguard against spambots). Leave your email if you would like to be notified when your message is approved.







Is this a review?


  

Comments



User avatar
695 Reviews


Points: 5608
Reviews: 695

Donate
Mon Jun 11, 2012 6:07 pm
Audy wrote a review...



Psudiname,

Just want to say thank you for your patience, and sorry this review took longer than usual! I really enjoyed this piece though :o Absolutely gripping and hilarious there at the end. I'm already intrigued and want to know more about your characters.

I find it quite amusing that as Mac was thinking, the same thoughts were going through my own mind. Particularly when Alice mentioned her "friends" the first thing I thought were ooo better not be imaginary friends xD So this is some funny stuff!

Your style and execution is interesting. I'm assuming that you will reveal more and more as the story goes along, and I'm quite okay with not knowing everything at this point. I also find it interesting that you started at the point of the action, in media res. I've noticed quite a lot of stories are starting that way now, and while I do believe that we as readers are developing shorter attention spans, and so could find this kind of style useful (you certainly did a great job of hooking us in!) there are some pitfalls/cons that you should be aware of, by starting this way.

The beginning felt a bit disorienting. Which is not altogether a bad thing, because your character felt this way too. But then, one thing you would want to adjust is perhaps the pacing. You have a real gripping, fast-pace story here and I love the fast-pace, it's quite refreshing at times, but there are moments where I thought everything was happening a bit too quickly. Give your story time to simmer.

That's another pitfall with in media res. You end up skimming over exposition, and so character development is slow and ongoing rather than all at once. This can be a good thing, but it acts as a double-edge sword, because at this point, I don't know enough about Mac to really care so much about him, other than find his situation a bit amusing.

So my suggestion would be to do the best of both worlds. Stick to your gripping, seat-of-your-pants way of writing, but also take some time to develop your characters a bit more. The way that you're developing Alice/Kara right now is perfect, I feel like I have a taste of her and I want to know more about her. But your main character feels a bit flat/boring in comparison.

I hope this helps, and let me know if you have any questions! Keep writing!

~ as always, Audy




User avatar
96 Reviews


Points: 4980
Reviews: 96

Donate
Tue Jun 05, 2012 5:55 am
noninjaes wrote a review...



One juicy Lemon from The Chapter List coming right up.
Please note that I haven't read the other reviews so that way my opinion isn't tainted.

This is an intriguing first chapter here; I'll be interested to see how this novel pans out. Even though It's a bit short for my tastes (I prefer 2000 word chapters), but chapter length is a writers choice. I like how you've left one big fish hook dangling right in front of the reader, enticing them to keep reading without blatantly saying "Read my novel because I've just thrown a big fat hook right in front of you".

Right away, you've hinted at that hook without having to go right up and say it with "The instant Mac awoke, he knew he was in an asylum." Though, the introductory paragraph is a bit dodgy in this respect. The introduction notes that he knew he was in an asylum because of his surroundings, though the description of the surroundings could easily match that of a modern-day prison. A better way to introduce the fact that he's in an asylum would probably be by him asking Alice about where he is.

On a side not, one thing that bugged me was the usage of the term "beautiful prison". Prisons aren't really the kind of places that can be described as beautiful; crisp and clean - definitely, but no beautiful.

I'm also curious as to why the first thing Mac did after examining his surroundings was start searching for a weapon. I'm not sure whether or not his is because of the characters past or who the character is or what. It seems a bit unrealistic. If I were to write a character into that situation, I would probably put more into the character being confused and concerned, rather than anxious to get an edge on defending his or her self. I guess I'll just have to keep reading to find out.

The same can be said for the tracker device. Why did Mac go straight to violence when something strange was on his wrist? Also, general readers probably won't pick this up, but it seems a bit out of place that Mac could tell it was a tracking device. It could just as well have been easily a vital monitoring device to make sure he's alive. Though, the whole electrocution bit could possibly give a hint to its true purpose.

I did like how the electrocution bit was played out. It was a good way to show that his captors had power and that getting away wouldn't have been so easy. Though, one thing that I noticed was that it wasn't mentioned whether or not Alice had one.

Another nitpic. I don't really like how Alice was referred to as a young girl. When it was mentioned, before her specific age I thought she might be around the ages of 7 to 10. Young woman would probably have been a better suited term.

I really liked how your dialogue was played out. It really helped form more of an idea of what the characters a like. t was good how you refrained from using "said" too much and instead used much more expressive words. This also helps draw the reader. The way the conversation itself was played out was good too. The conversation was realistic and not robotic or anything like that - It flowed naturally, like it was happening in real-life.

The way you used dialogue to introduce that Alice really is crazy was good. It really helped add a bit of a shock factor into the mix as well. It also helped to add a little more to Alice as a person. It showed that she really is oblivious to the fact that she's crazy and that even if she does have a slight clue, she's really casual about the fact that she has a second personality.

Even though I did spot a few grammatical errors, this chapter is a well written introduction to the story. I really am interested to meet Alice's made friends and to see how Mac reacts to meeting them. It will be good to see how this plays out with the rest of the plot, especially with the unanswered question of why Mac's in there. It will definitely be good to see if the other chapters deserve a Lemon as sweet as this one.

- noni >( ==)




User avatar
14 Reviews


Points: 1449
Reviews: 14

Donate
Fri Jun 01, 2012 5:37 pm
NeitherHereNorThere wrote a review...



The instant Mac awoke, he knew he was in an asylum.


First 'instant Mac' reminds me of Mac 'n' Cheese thus I picture him as a big noodle :P Lol.

This was a good chapter, it could be longer...but that's a writers choice ;)

Most have already pointed everything out already, so I will tell you that this is not something that I would keep reading. However, I love how you just toss your readers into the story. Well done!

The language probably should not be in there....its not...I just don't respect characters for unnecessary language. But that could just be me. I just see it as immature.

I like the idea of Kara (Nice different spelling!) and Alice sharing a body! It reminds me of writers. :)

You have a good story idea forming here. Keep writing and perhaps I will keep reading.

NHNT




User avatar
56 Reviews


Points: 1646
Reviews: 56

Donate
Fri Jun 01, 2012 1:22 am
mithrim96 wrote a review...



First of all I have to mention, you have a lot of good reviews on this chapter! Other people seem to have mentioned everything they might need to but I’ll try my best! Sorry, this is going to be long and I will probably repeat what others have said. I’ll just make notes as I’m reading. Here goes:


The instant Mac awoke, he knew he was in an asylum. The sterile white fluorescent lights buzzed angrily at him from above, and the room he found himself in resembled a beautified prison, complete with a toilet on the wall. His first reaction was one of panic. Looking around the room for a weapon, Mac stumbled out of the bed he had been laying on. ---I agree with firehearedkaratepup in that this sounds a little awkward.--- His horror only intensified as he noticed what was on his arm. Firmly clamped around his wrist was what appeared to be some sort of tracking device. ---How would he know it was a tracking device? Does he have some experience with them? If he does it can be explained later, but if he doesn’t, how does he know?--- It looked like a watch without a screen, and was made entirely of plastic, save for a tiny blinking green light which he guessed was (coated in?) Plexiglas. Mac diverted his attention ---from what?--- to the task of removing the object. He slammed it furiously against the slightly padded wall, his heart beating faster and faster as the realization of his situation ---What is this? Should the reader know?--- began to register in his brain. Suddenly, all at once, his muscles tensed up uncontrollably, and he fell to the ground in pain.


It only lasted a split second, but for that moment, Mac felt as if his whole body were on fire. It began to dawn on him that what he had just felt was his first electric shock. Muscles all over his body continued to spasm occasionally, unaware that their electrons were no longer moving. Just as he thought his heart would explode if it were to beat any faster, the handle of the only door in Mac's small cell began to turn. He scrambled frantically backwards on his hands and knees, imagining what sort of massive prison guard might be behind the door. The only explanation for someone entering the room was to teach him a lesson and make sure that was the last time he tried to remove his tracking device. Mac didn't have time to finish picturing all of this before the door swung quickly open. Standing behind it was the last thing he was expecting. This is really good!


A young girl in a lime green jumpsuit to match the one Mac wore stood smiling in the doorway. ---This sentence is a little awkward but a good introduction.--- She took one look at Mac recoiling in fright on his hands and knees and began giggling uncontrollably. His fear dissolved. She couldn't have been older than twenty five, which would make her only a few years older than Mac. Her blond hair looked casually messy, as if she brushed it occasionally, but frequently forgot. ---Two ways of saying the same thing.--- All in all she seemed remarkably harmless and even a little bit out of place.

"Are you... crazy?" Mac asked tentatively, his heart still racing from the start she had given him. The girl's laugh receded to a smile.

"I'm perfectly sane. The real question is what's wrong with you."

Mac felt a tad offended, being called crazy by someone he had just met. --- He just called her crazy though.---

"There's nothing wrong with me!" he snapped, trying to manage a scowl. The girl continued to grin cheerfully.

"If you say so. I mean you are in the mental ward of a hospital, so it would make sense if you were crazy, but if you are it shouldn't be that hard to figure out."

"That's the thing though, I'm not supposed to be here!" Mac said, "they must have made a mistake or something, because I'm not crazy."

"Relax, I believe you," the girl responded. "Anyway, I'm Alice. What's your name?"

"I'm Mac. Do you think you could take me to whoever is in charge of this place so I can tell them that they made a mistake?" he asked, desperately afraid that she might change the subject if he let introductions drag on too long. --- This sounds rather intriguing. He doesn’t want people knowing much about him? I like the slight suspense.---

"Sure! You won't be able to talk to them until the next assembly, but I'll make sure to point out who you should talk to when the next one comes around. In the meantime let me introduce you to my friends!" Alice said, her voice sounding almost musical with all of the enthusiasm she put into each word.

"Uh... ok ---okay---," he said. She seems sane ---his thoughts should probably be in italics---, he thought to himself as he followed her down the corridor outside his room. Still, a part of him was afraid that her friends might end up being imaginary. The thought of being confined in a building with only crazy people creeped him out. As he walked through another hallway with a ceiling, a floor, and two walls that looked nearly identical to the slightly padded ones of his room, Mac had a thought.

"Alice?"

"Yes?" she said.

"if you're not crazy, why did they put you here?"

She slowed her spirited gait so that she could be side by side with Mac as they walked. Her smile became vaguely melancholic as she thought for a couple seconds before speaking.

"Well there's nothing wrong with me, but Kara can be a little bit... problematic sometimes."

Mac furrowed his brow. "Who's Kara?"

Alice seemed surprised, as if Kara's identity was common knowledge. "Oh, well she's kind of like my roommate. We share a body." ---This sounds really exiting! Yay!!!---

Mac stopped walking abruptly. "you what?"

"We share a body," Alice said calmly, not acknowledging that this was at all out of the ordinary. "We take turns, so sometimes she's awake, and sometimes I'm awake. It's not that bad, it only gets difficult if I'm in the middle of something important when she wakes up. And like I said, she can be a little mean and insensitive sometimes." ---Good way of describing.---

She's completely batshit crazy ---this is really good character building!---, Mac thought. Still, just being around this sprightly young girl made him feel unnaturally and inexplicably cheerful. Nevertheless, he thought, she's still insane. So are her friends probably. Her insane friends that I'm about to meet. God this is going to be a long day."

Wow…

Right near the end here is where you really grabbed me. The reader has many questions at the end. Who is Mac? Who is Alice and what’s the deal with Kara? Why’s he in a mental hospital? What is his past? This makes the reader want to know more/read more but it can also make people lose interest, feeling like they don’t know the main character.

Your writing is quite simple and easy to read which is really good. Your descriptions are effective without being too long – I find this hard to do, so nice work! I’m excited to read the next chapter now which is really good. I think your story has the potential to be something really great.
Hope my review helped,

Mith




User avatar
270 Reviews


Points: 5081
Reviews: 270

Donate
Wed May 30, 2012 3:24 am
fireheartedkaratepup wrote a review...



Alright. You've gotten general. I'm gonna nitpick a bit.

[

Looking around the room a weapon,

*for

Mac stumbled out of the bed he had been laying on.

Aaaaand here's where you start telling instead of showing. "He had been laying on" is completely superfluous. We know he's lying on a bed, because he just woke up--well, I suppose he could been lying on the floor, but the bed part was made obvious here:
Mac stumbled out of the bed

In fact, subtract the "the". You don't need it.

Now, "show, don't tell" is hard to explain, because you just have to keep writing and find it by instinct. How do I know this? I used to show a LOT. XD Kid me looooved explaining things, it's hilarious to look back on. Not that I never "tell" now--I'm just better at not doing it, simply because I kept writing.

save for a tiny blinking green light which he guessed was Plexiglas.

.........what?
I assume you mean lightbulb/transparent cover is made of Plexiglas (Thanks Shino, didn't know it should be capitalized), but that's not clear. I suppose this is a "the reader is an idiot" moment, but adding "the covering of which, he guessed, was Plexiglass" might help clarify things. Now, don't use that exact wording--I want to see what you come up with. (Not to sound narcissistic: I've had people do that before, when I only meant to make a suggestion.)

"are you... crazy?"

Caps please.

"That's the thing though, I'm not supposed to be here!" Mac said, "they must have made a mistake or something, because I'm not crazy."

Comma after thing. I think you could use a period instead of a comma after "said", but that's my opinion.

"Relax, I believe you," the girl responded. "Anyway, I'm Alice, what's your name?"

Not sure why this sound forced. There's nothing wrong with it, it's something someone would say, it's structured pretty well... but I think a period after "Alice" would make it look more natural.

A few more capitalization issue, but otherwise I'm going to leave it at that. Unless you want me to go in and be your editor, which I don't mind doing.

On the whole, I really like this story. It's intriguing, and you're telling it well. As I said, your style will mature with time--so don't worry /too/ much about things now. Make what improvements you can, keep writing, and the rest should come naturally.

Sorry if I seemed harsh! Or if I overlapped with anyone. Cadi and Shino had such loooong reviews, I only glanced at them.




User avatar
107 Reviews


Points: 9326
Reviews: 107

Donate
Sat May 26, 2012 12:52 pm
Cadi wrote a review...



Hey psudi,

Sorry it's taken me a couple of days to get to this - revision and exams and all that. But now I'm here, so let's get to it.

My overall impression of this piece is that you have a good idea, and some interesting characters, but the way you're letting the reader know about them is a bit 'tell-y', as in the painfully oft-quoted 'show don't tell'. For example, "Mac felt a tad offended, being called crazy by someone he had just met." Rather than telling us he's offended, why not show him reacting in an offended way? Body language is the easiest way of conveying emotions indirectly - I've seen 'body language thesauruses' floating around the internet, so something like that might be a useful reference. Alternatively, you can try imagining that you feel the emotion you're portraying, and then think about how you moved your body with it.

Another symptom of 'telling' is having long strings of "he did this he did that" sentences. I feel like your first paragraph is a bit like this. I think that what you have crammed into this one paragraph would be better over a couple, with a bit of focus on how Mac is feeling about things and reacting to things, rather than just on what he's doing.

Something that's often linked with 'tell-y' description is characters that know things, even when it doesn't feel right that they should. Mac does this quite a bit - in the very first sentence, even! "The instant Mac awoke, he knew he was in an asylum." Or how about "It began to dawn on him that what he had just felt was his first electric shock."? In both cases, it feels a bit like you really want the reader to know this bit of information, so you just had Mac think it. What might be more effective is describing the thing without saying it directly. We would feel Mac's fear and confusion more if we read about his surroundings without knowing what they were. We don't need to know it's an electric shock he gets from the strange thing on his arm - just that it hurt, and he's not going to do it again! Other places where this kind of thinking applies, I think, include Mac's knowing that the thing on his wrist is a tracking device, and where Mac thinks about who is coming into the room.

There are also a couple of places in this that made me double-take - the most noticeable being the line "their electrons were no longer moving". I'm not entirely sure what that means, especially since you're talking about muscles, and electrons and muscles are on such vastly different scales.
On the other hand, you also have some bits of description in here that I really like - for example, Alice's description of Cara (Kara?) as her 'roommate' struck me as a cool take on the two-minds-one-body idea. A few more of those kind of lines, and you're heading down a good track.
I think that's all I have to say about this for now. Feel free to message me if you have any questions about what I've said here, or if you'd like me to do a grammar-spelling-typo hunt through this.

Cadi x




User avatar
178 Reviews


Points: 652
Reviews: 178

Donate
Sat May 26, 2012 4:23 am
View Likes
Paracosm wrote a review...



Hey there! Time for me to do your review.

I'm not going to berate you over grammar and typos, those are things you'll catch in the next draft anyway, plus you don't have too many, just some spots with left out words. Thank you for capitalizing Plexiglas! I love you for that.

You are a very talented writer, and you are great with description. I love the way you describe when the part where he gets paralyzed! There are just a few things that I thought were off, or that could be a bit stronger.

Okay, just one thing, some asylums do not have handles to doors on the inside. This used to be kind of common, but they don't want their patients burning to death in a fire, so that's not around much anymore. Okay, random. Back to the point.

How did he know he was in an asylum? It would reinforce your character some if you mention how he is familiar with the fact that he is in an asylum. This is a neat little trick you can employ with your characters, if he's seen an asylum in a movie, it will make him feel more real to us because real people watch movies. If he knows it because he's had family there or something, we'd know more about his past. Be sure to include background information about your character in relevant paces.

I like Alice! She's a great character. I can tell you've done your research, real people with mental disorders may recognize that something is wrong with them, but they don't usually acknowledge it. You pulled that off really well. Nice!

At one point, you describe the lights as flashing angrily. There's nothing really wrong with this, it's a nice description, but lights can't really flash... angrily. You might want to reconsider that part, maybe just say rapidly, or violently. Violently gives the same effect as angrily, plus lights can flash violently.

I feel like you've really got something going here! You have two interesting character, an interesting situation, and a talent for captivating your readers, or at least this one. Keep up the good work and keep writing! This is going somewhere!




User avatar
82 Reviews


Points: 2557
Reviews: 82

Donate
Fri May 25, 2012 11:00 pm
TheClosetKidnapper wrote a review...



Hey! Up here, as requested!

I overall thought this was a great piece. It was interesting and makes me want to read more. As Shearwater said, though, the comic relief isn't always believable. This is easily fixed by what she said. Other than that, I can't really see anything else that stands out to be improved. You don't tell much, you show it, and the characters have their own personalities. The only thing I suppose I could suggest is to possibly rephrase this: "She's completely batshit crazy." It sounds a little off to me. Might I suggest removing "completely"?

Overall, great piece! Hope this helps!

- Up




User avatar
816 Reviews


Points: 44887
Reviews: 816

Donate
Fri May 25, 2012 3:53 am
Shearwater wrote a review...



Hey, Psu!

So the reason I wanted to come and review this for you is because the beginning of this chapter really caught me by surprise since it was similar to my novel's. My character, well-after a train accident, ends up in a sort of mental asylum as well. Anyway, your writing is pretty good, I noticed some slip ups but I'm not going to nitpick right now.

I want to talk about your character though. He wakes up in a crazy place and sees another girl who's obviously a little too friendly that it comes off as creepy. In addition to that, how is she able to walk around and open other patients' doors and introduce them to her friends? This isn't a school, right?
Also, Mac's reaction to her is a little off and rushed. I think you were trying to get past the icky part of where the character has to go through some denial and paranoia before trusting someone and skipped to the good part where they become friends.

The first part of this is written really well and I liked the fear and anticipation but then you brought around some, very little but it was there, that comic relief. It was awkward after that great opening and kind of unbelievable. Put yourself in his position and think about what you would do if a girl just opened your door and started laughing crazily and tried to introduce you to her friends after you had no idea what was going on. It's not like Mac woke up in another house, he was in a asylum, lawl.

Overall, this is still interesting and I like that you seemed to be pretty balanced with your writing. You just need to work on making things a little more believable and realize action vs reaction vs emotion. and how they play together.
I hope this review helps and let me know if you have any questions.

All the best,
-Pink





Everyone you will ever meet knows something you don't.
— Bill Nye