Looking for feedback

5 months ago | mickeyyarber (Member)

Hello....my name is Mickey and I'm finally trying my hand at writing fiction for the first time. I've written online articles for years for different websites, but this is my first foray into fiction. All of my previous writing experience has been based around nostalgia and retro pop culture, but I'm hoping that experience with writing lends itself to this new endeavor.

I'm looking for some feedback on the first chapter of my story, and was hoping someone here could give it a look and suggest anything that comes to mind. I'm not afraid of criticism, as I'm just looking to see how this first attempt is starting out.

If anyone would be interested in helping a newbie, you can check out the first chapter here:

https://appalachianindependence.wordpress.com/

Thanks,
Mickey Yarber

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Responses

  1. MaddiroseX (Member)

    Posted 5 months ago

    Hi there, and welcome!

    The technical aspects of the writing are good. Nothing egregious jumped out at me in a casual reading, though I'll admit I'm a rather careless reader. Still, I've stopped reading serials in the past because of horrible grammar or formatting, so it's worth mentioning.

    I like the sort of wistful tone throughout, which indicates to me that this is going to be some kind of post-apocalyptic kind of story. That said, that's sort of the problem: I only have an indication about what's going to be interesting about this story in the future. The entirety of the story is taken up telling me about the main character's town, a day in his life, and exposition about a bunch of these characters and who they are...but I don't really have any reason to care about any of them right now. These are all details that I would *love* as a good contrast to the same town after I know what happened, but seeing the "before" without even knowing what to expect in the "after" will make a lot of people click away, I suspect.

    I get that you're trying to build interest by not making the interest point of the story clear to the reader in the first chapter. That said, I think that's a really dangerous balance to try to strike. A large number of your readers will not give you until chapter two to become interesting. Hell, a not-insignificant number of your readers won't give you until paragraph two.

    In a nutshell, I'd say good technical foundation, excellent tone, good notes of intrigue, but I would suggest starting at what you planned for chapter two, giving readers a bit more reason to be interested. That's just my rough and rushed first impression though! Go with what feels right to you; after all, you're the most important person you're writing for!

    Spurs & Seraphim (ongoing) | Beta Key (complete) | Twisted Cogs (complete) | Orbital Academy (complete)
  2. mickeyyarber (Member)

    Posted 5 months ago

    Thanks a bunch for the feedback, It means a lot to me with this being the fiction I've attempted to write.

    Do you think a prologue with a look at things after everything changed would be a good setup? As in, make my chapter one chapter two, with a look at the new world being the first chapter?

  3. Jim Zoetewey (Moderator)

    Posted 5 months ago

    Generally speaking prologues are a bad idea since they usually don't involve the main storyline and only exist to establish history. That means that they can be removed from the story and it won't matter much.

    If something can be removed and it won't matter much, it probably shouldn't be in the story.

  4. MaddiroseX (Member)

    Posted 5 months ago

    Heh, see here I was going to say that sounded like a terrific idea.

    I definitely agree with the sentiment, @Jim Zoetewey, but in this case, it really feels like Chapter 1 is already a prologue, or at least acting as such in all the ways you're warning about. Of course, I have no idea how relevant to the main storyline chapter 1 is, but I really am getting the impression you mention; a lot of foundational expository info about the town and the main character's friends, but nothing that feels like the start of a story, nothing I'd miss terribly if the story started later.

    @Jim Zoetewey: Did you get a different vibe from chapter 1? I'm definitely not the be-all end-all when it comes to writing, I'd be interested to hear how my impressions line up with yours

    Spurs & Seraphim (ongoing) | Beta Key (complete) | Twisted Cogs (complete) | Orbital Academy (complete)
  5. Chrysalis (Member)

    Posted 5 months ago

    There are good prologues in literature that aren't just an excuse for a premature history lesson. I really liked the Game of Thrones prologue, for instance. It delivered a teaser, a promise of things to come.

    Anathema, a web serial about the effect superpowers would have on our world. http://anathemaserial.wordpress.com/
  6. Walter (Member)

    Posted 5 months ago

    Hey Mickey. One of the biggest mistakes I made in writing my serial was not having a good 'hook' in the first section. I feel like you might one day end up in my situation, looking back to see a 90% dropoff between page 1 and 2.

    My advice is that you got to put the hook in from the start. Musings that the world was about to end are all well and good, but there needs to be SOMETHING to grab the reader there. Just a sentence or two at the beginning clarifying what kind of "until the Fire Nation attacked" situation we are looking at here could go a long long ways.

  7. mickeyyarber (Member)

    Posted 5 months ago

    I really appreciate all the feedback so far. I've taken it all seriously, and re-arranged a few things. First, I added a short, three paragraph prologue that can be skipped in the story or not. I've got a new Chapter 1 which hopefully will hook and intrigue readers, and turned my original chapter 1 into chapter 2.

    If you guys that have already checked it out have the time, can you take another look at the page and see if you think it's an improvement over the original first chapter?

    https://appalachianindependence.wordpress.com/

  8. Jim Zoetewey (Moderator)

    Posted 5 months ago

    From my perspective, very little happens in chapter one or two which means that keeping either as a prologue would probably be a bad idea. When writing my bias is to start as close as possible to the moment that things depart from normal and the story begins. While I like the wistful quality of the earlier two entries, the point where the story feels like it starts is when you go from being part of a modern society to one where there's no power at all.

    Now it may be that that's going to be a flashback that doesn't go anywhere by itself, but if it's the point where the story actually starts and moves forward from, start there. The end of modern civilization is an effective hook--especially if it's a mystery initially.

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