Rewrite & Reorganization

Based on quite a bit of constructive criticism and feedback I have re-wrote Chapter 1 of my web-serial. I am hoping to have a few members provide me with a review so I can make sure I got it right this time. I appreciate any and all helpful feedback.


Thank you.


Hmmm...nobody has any feedback?


Not sure if after 6 days that is a good thing or a bad thing.


I went ahead and clicked on chapter one of the serial in your sig, assuming that's the one you rewrote, here are my thoughts. I'm in a bit of a rush so apologizes if it isn't as long as you're hoping.


The first section, the morning talk show interview, was hard to read. It felt too much like reading a text book or listening to a lecture than a morning talk show. Too much of an info dump. I like that it seems you're pretty knowledgeable about science but it didn't really interest me and I feel like you should space it out more. Oh and the moment when she had to take a minute after talking about her dead family took me out of the story for a moment, probably due to the lack of words about her mindset or thoughts.


Oh, I really liked the conversation she had with Johnny. It was cute and the overly technical explanations fit well considering who her conversation partner was.


My big issue with the talk show - I got interrupted partway - was how short the segment felt. It didn't feel like an organic talk show bit or segment.


Like, "Hey, how are you? Good, good, great. What is it you do? Oh yeah? You're really smart! Well, great! Let's go to ads!"


That's how you lose audience.


No, you hook the audience in, you give them time to get to know the guest and want to see more of them, and *then* you go to ads.


So, I'm a hard core amature, so I may not know what I'm talking about, but there was one moment when I was pulled out of the story: during the talk show segment (which, I know it's getting a lot of criticism, but that can definitely be a good thing), the doctor lady used the phrase, "tragedy struck." I know this is a common phrase in writing, but I have never heard someone use it in a normal conversation, in real life or on TV, unless they were reading from something. Don't get me wrong, I really love that phrase, one of my favorite word combinations, but it feels... Unnatural for someone to say out loud, and it kinda dragged me out of the story. So, my biggest suggestion: try to make the dialogue feel more natural. I know this is somewhat hypocritical, since that's one of the chief criticisms of my work (robotic characters, etc.), but it really does wonders, and I am working on it (my latest technique: read all dialogue out loud. If it sounds normal, keep it. If not, tweak it until it sounds like something someone would actually say).

Other than that, I liked it. I think it has a promising premise, and could really go places.


In my humble opinion: Remove the quote about Mother Nature from the first page. Use summary instead. What is your book about? What am I reading? Sci-fi action? Horror? Thriller? Who is the main character? What's his/her goal? One short paragraph.


Worm contains a chapter with a very believable (for the kind of show it portrayed) talk show, maybe take another look at it for inspiration? You're clearly aiming for a more serious tone, but your characters don't seem very... lively or natural. I was missing some indication of expressions, tone of voice, or appearances in between the lines of speech. Just something brief that wouldn't break the flow, maybe a larger section for the intro.


p.s. I love the look of your site, it's fantastic.


The Worm chapter in question (spoilers, naturally):


http://parahumans.wordpress.com/2013/07/09/scarab-25-4/


To Everyone:


First of all, I want to thank each and every one of you for taking the time out to read the first chapter and comment. I feel, however, that some of you may be at a disadvantage for not seemingly have had to dredge through the original first chapter to give me a basis for comparison between the two. To be honest, I was experiencing a little bit of defeat with some of your feedback because I really wanted to do a much better job than before. Be that as it may, I know constructive criticism is only good for me to move forward and to continue to improve. So, I also want to thank everyone for your honesty as well.


To Ace:


Yes sir, that was indeed the chapter in question. Can you elaborate for me on what about the science didn't interest you? Because this whole web-serial will be chocked full of science...some science fact, and some science fiction. Also, can you elaborate for me by what you mean regarding spacing 'it' out more?


In another thread on this forum, another member was dissapointed with the original first chapter because I didn't go into some of the technological difficulties I'd referenced with space travel...which is, after all, the whole "setup" for this serial (Cadence's desire). So the "interview" was an attempt to bring that out in discussion.


Would you mind helping me identify where I "Info Dumped"? I am still trying to catch myself and not do that, or at least do it when it is needed on an extremely limited and small scale.


Thank you for the compliment with regards to her talk with Johnny...it is good to see that I got something right...lol.


To Wildbow:


After re-reading it from your perspective, I do understand where you are coming from. I guess for me, it was hard to delineate how much time (as I was writing)had passed to know when a "commercial break" was supposed to happen. Let me ask you this: If I take out most of the commercial breaks, and rearrange 1 or 2 (I think I have 4 in there now?) in key spots, would that improve the segment?


Is there anything about the chapter you did like?


To alex5927:


I had to think about what you said pretty hard and run the scenarios of where I heard that phrase...and I believe you are right! I will remove that phrase (as I can see that it is actually not needed). I also like your idea of reading the dialog out loud to make sure it sounds natural. My Father worked in theater, so maybe I can recruit him to read it with me and assist me on that.


Thank you, I am hoping it does go places.


To Dennis Chekalov:


Really? Hmmm, I'll have to think about that. This is the first time anyone has mentioned it. I'd like to get more feedback on that from the others here before I commit to that though.


This is what I have as an "about" for the WFG listing:



I should remove the "natural savant part", and probably move the 'Tweaks, Augments, and iSABs" to a different sentence (or just remove it). Would a modified version of this be better then?


To Chrysalis:


I see what you mean, adding a brief description between key points in the conversation so the characters don't seem so bland. Please elaborate on what you mean by a "larger section for the intro"...I am a little confused.


Thanks, but it isn't my work. It is the Greyzed Theme from WordPress. It just seem to fit the feel for what I wanted to do.


To Wildbow:


Thanks! I appreciate you finding that. Reviewing it in depth now for inspiration.


P.S. I emailed you a few days ago.


I really liked the quote. It seemed interesting. However, having a summary on the front page is always good, too, and you don't want to take up too much space with extra things like that...

Idea: why don't you put the quote at the beginning of the first chapter? It would still be there, which is good, but it wouldn't be taking up precious space on the home page.


alex5927,


I'd thought about moving it to the first chapter as well. However, I really wouldn't want that quote to take away from the opening line either. I mean I struggled really hard to come up with an opening line to jolt the reader.



Unless this opener is just crappy and I'm not seeing it, to me it immediately conjures up questions for the reader. Am I way off?


I guess you can add something about the world and "but".


The typical structure is:








With a "larger section for the intro" I meant an introduction part for the talk show - as it stands, there is none, and you're jumping from past tense (the cameraman who "finished" the countdown) to present with a disembodied voice who "announces" the Good Morning show. You're throwing the readers into a "white room" with people speaking whom we have absolutely no connection to. White rooming means that the readers have no visual information about the scene. We don't know what the studio looks like, where the host and the guest are seated, or anything else really. We know there's a cameraman somewhere, but that's it.


I'm guilty of white rooming myself, it's one of the reasons I still need to edit my first chapter.


The introduction hook with Cadence and the folder is also too short, and too abruptly discarded, to really serve as a hook for me.


Another bit of advice - you seem to react to feedback a bit defensively, which could explain the lack of it during the first 6 days. If you're feeling defeated after feedback, less people will be willing to give you some, or they won't be brutally honest anymore and try to be nice about it, which isn't going to help you improve as a writer in the long run.


Because random readers and reviewers aren't going to be nice. They'll stop reading, or write negative / no reviews. Most people would probably opt for giving no opinion rather than a negative one.


Chrysalis,


Thank you for expounding on that for me, that makes much more sense now. I guess I was thinking that I'd be boring readers by going through and describing the set, placement of people, and etcetera since near every talk show/morning show are similar. I will add that to the list of things to fix.


Hmmmm, ok. So, should I do something different with the intro then (like jump right into a revised version of the talk show?) or would it be better to include a few more lines from where the intro came from, or do I need to come up with something different?


I will work on not coming off as defensive. That really isn't my intention. Sometimes I think people assume I am being defensive when I am explaining my thought processes for why I did something a certain way. I'm really not trying to be defensive during those times. I am offering up my "logic" for scrutiny so someone can point out where the flaw is. Seems like a delicate balance that I also need to work on. Thank you for that advice. Because I completely agree with you, it is painfully obvious I need to improve.


I wasn't looking for sympathy when I talked about being defeated. I was just being honest; that doesn't mean I still don't want honest, brutal, and constructive criticism.


Just be careful with honesty about your feelings if that honesty can discourage others from wanting to give feedback.


It really is up to you how you want to do the talk show intro. We can give opinions, but we can't tell you how to write your story. On the subject of morning shows being boring... it's YOUR story, and you have godlike powers at your disposal to prevent YOUR morning show from being boring. Whoever said it has to be like all the others? Maybe your moderator / host is a colorful, amusing personality. Or he dislikes the person being interviewed, and is feeling cranky today, doing his best to get them out of their comfort zone and ask borderline inappropriate questions. Or...


Understood. Thank you again. I do appreciate you.


The reason I ask is because...well, it seems that whenever I change/rewrite something based on someone else's suggestions, someone else comes a long to identify how inadequate or "wrong" it is. So, you'll have to forgive my apprehensiveness to continue to put out the same chapter that just can never be "right". Does that make sense?


I feel like I should be teetering on "wanting to please everyone" or "do what I want". I'm kind of confused over here.


Feedback is subjective, and always optional.


Someone might come across and say it's too long, someone might say it's too short. You, as the owner and general orchestrator have the job of seeing which opinions you agree with the most, and implementing them in a way that works with what is ultimately your vision for the work.


But sometimes people's criticism of what someone told you to introduce isn't necessarily meaning it's worse than it was before, not at all. Nor does it mean the first piece of advice is redundant, just that it can be refined *further*.


In the end though: It's yours. Do what you want. You might have to ask yourself: Why are you doing this?


Are you writing because you find it fun? If so, do what you want, or you won't find it so fun.

Are you writing because you have a vision/work that you just need to get out there? Do it as you want, or you won't be satisfied/fulfil your vision.


Are you writing to build an audience (Ask yourself: would you write if no one read?) or with the view to generate an income (Wildbow style, or through, say, book sales as a professional author): Well. Now you need to think of a target audience.


The basic rule for a story is start as close to the action as possible. Vonnegut and Wildbow say that a lot and they're worth listening to. If the action takes place in June 2014 don't start in 1987 unless it is completely crucial to the structure.


My next suggestion is "have a structure." Have the beginning, middle and ending planned, know your plot arc. Characters might come to life on the journey but you need a destination.


My personal belief is that a serious writer should finish their first story before seeking an audience so they have the confidence to know they can see it through to the end - and not let that audience down. I finished NMAI before I ever posted chapter one, and Diggory might be on hiatus but that's after 10 completed books with their own arcs.


Until a story is finished, starting writers can benefit from writing groups, a first reader or editor, but seeking an audience will just cause anxiety.


In writing you have to be ruthless. Every scene and character needs to move the story forward or be cut. Bad things need to happen to characters even if you like them, for conflict. You can't react nnegatively to criticism because it is needed - writers have to grow skin thick enough to take it as a fact and not something personal about their baby. Then, does that fact help you towards the arc of the story? If yes, use it. If no, discard it.


If you need to explain what you are going for, you didn't write it well enough because it should be on the page.


"If you need to explain what you are going for, you didn't write it well enough because it should be on the page."


G.S. Williams, that last line there totally hit me like a snow shovel to the face. Well said. Thank you.


I've gotten other critiques on Chapter 1 as well from other sources, so I will be modifying it as I continue writing other chapters. I don't want to stop with the story progression to keep fixing 1 chapter...if that makes any sense.


Again, thanks to everyone that has taken the time to read it and comment here. Hopefully I can take what I've learned here and provide better content to readers.