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Hey guys, I've just written my first Nano Novel and I'm looking for a little bit of feedback as I work out some kinks and bugs.
Under the current working title Chrisse`, I have a fantasy/adventure story . If anyone is interested, I can leave some excerpts for people to comment on.
The basic summary is a little girl is shipwrecked. When she wakes up she finds herself on a mysterious island filled with magic where she learns that her destiny is greater than she ever could have imagined.
I'd really appreciate anyone willing to give me some feedback. Thanks!
Thanks! So here's the first excerpt, which is more or less where the storyline picks up.
The cabin lurched forward again, and Chrisse` was sure she was going to either throw up or die. The sky was the darkest shade of black she’d ever seen, only punctuated by green or blue shards of lightning. She rocked with the boat up and down and side to side and forward and back. Her face was pale with terror.
She took a deep breath, trying to calm her queasy stomach. Another sickening jolt sent her butterflies fluttering. She squeezed her music box like she was going to crush it.
“Mom,” she called nervously, fighting the ship’s movement and trying not to fall out of the bed, “Let’s go home. Please. I don’t want to be here!” She was almost in tears, but wouldn’t lose her dignity by crying in front of the older girls.
As if to prove her point, thunder clapped straight above their cabin as the waves flung the boat forward. The echo left Chrisse`’s ears ringing and her heart pounding.
“Go to sleep,” her exhausted mother ordered crankily.
Chrisse` stood, clutching her music box and one arm and using her free hand to keep her balance against a wall. An unexpectedly hard jolt knocked her off of her feet. Looking up from the hard, cold floor and through a porthole, she saw in a white-hot flash of lightning a wall of water washing over one of the decks. “Mom!”
The explosive thunder was accompanied by a different crack and another toss of the ship. “Mom! Mom, I won’t to go home!”
“This happens all the time on ships,” Trey mumbled without rolling over to face her.
“Go to sleep!” one of the girls yelled, hurtling a pillow at her younger stepsister.
Then came what Chrisse` had feared most of all. She remembered watching Titanic at home with the older two. They’d been focused on how romantic What’s-His-Name had supposedly been. Not Chrisse`. What was most impressed on her young mind was the flooding; the sinking; the death.
The entire cabin slid forward, almost bringing the wall low and straight enough to be a floor. In the ensuing panic, she heard her family landing with thumps behind her. Bags of luggage slid across the floor almost hitting her.
The door fell open forming a small shelf. In a frenzied attempt to escape, Chrisse` crawled onto it, not loosening her grip on the music box. Something heavy fell onto Chrisse`, sending her head spinning, her stomach churning, and the door falling. The last thing she was conscious of was swirling water rushing towards her.
Well don't just leave me here in suspense! This is good; I want to read some more!
The best image that I got from this excerpt was the wall of water illuminated by the "white-hot flash of lightning". This was really good with building suspense. My only question (probably because this is just an excerpt) is, Isn't there a captain or someone on the ship sounding an alarm? Anyway, can't wait to see what happens next!
Here's another excerpt I wanted advice on. It doesn't follow chronologically, but I wanted to know how someone else viewed the relationship between these two characters.
Sawyer lunged at a pair of glowing eyes, hoping to frighten the animals away.
“Sawyer, I think the proper response here would be to run and hide.” Randall started to back away but suddenly panicked. “What the heck? Something just ran by behind me. Who goes there? We come in peace.”
“This isn’t Narnia, if you’re expecting them to answer,” Sawyer let out. He turned to face the same direction as Randall. So they were surrounded. “Okay, it’s not as bad as it looks,” he tried to convince himself as much as Randall.
“No! It’s worse! We’re gonna die! I can’t die, Sawyer, I’m too young! I mean, I don’t know how old you are, but I don’t wanna go yet. It’s not my time!” Randall wailed.
“Would you just shut up and let me think?” He would have been able to think, too, if something warm and hairy hadn’t suddenly landed on him. He punched it to the ground and added a swing at its friend for good measure.
Randall was behind him trying to fight as hard. With his tazer in one hand and some electronic thing in the other, he took down a couple of wild dogs in a row. “I wish we had more than just these things,” he complained. “If one of us had a gun…though I don’t really know how to use one, so I guess it wouldn’t really help—“
“I have a flare gun at the grotto!” Sawyer heaved as he wrestled one growling beast to keep its jaws away from his throat. “If we can pull a Houdini on these guys for a few minute we might be able to get it. But how do we create a distraction?”
“A distraction?” he asked. “I don’t know. Maybe—“
The warning cry came just in time. Randall tazed the animal that could have shred him apart.
“Forget the distraction! Run!” Sawyer took off running, turning his head to make sure Randall was behind him. But these were dogs. They were too fast to outrun. He grabbed a rock wet with mud and flung it, smacking one of them to the slimy ground. Sawyer stumbled but kept his footing.
He opened the secret door and pulled the loaded gun out, leveling it at one of the dogs. Something white dashed by him—maybe one of the mountain goats—throwing him off balance. The gun rolled away and before he could grab at it, a hideous, drooling creature was at his throat.
This is it, then? he thought. Randall was right. This is how we die. At least we had a good fight with these canine monsters before they turned the tables on us.
Bang! The deafening explosion echoed as the monster was thrust from Sawyers chest by a flaming firework.
Sawyer looked up. The rest of the pack was scattering in fright. He looked at Randall, who held the gun with both hands. “Not bad.” He couldn’t help but laugh at the mingled fear and relief on Randall’s face, which his probably mirrored. “You know, I didn’t give you enough credit. You know, I don’t think you give you enough credit. That was really something.”
“Really? You think so?”
“I thought we’d become a canine banquet!” Sawyer slapped the younger boy on the back with pride. “I was wrong. It wasn’t over until you saved us!”
“Thanks, Sawyer. It was nothing, really. I mean, obviously it was something, but it was a nothing something.”
“No, that, kid, is called a something something.”
“I just found it there,” he pointed to a muddy little trench. “Actually, I think it found me. I thought I’d died when I opened my eyes. A sheep—no, it couldn’t have been a sheep—a goat, I guess, knocked me over and I landed in there with the flare gun right in front of me. Okay, it wasn’t right in front of me. More like in front of me and to the left.”
Sawyer laughed ridiculously.
Randall looked offended. “I really did find it. You saw yourself. I found the gun and shot the dog.”
“I know, I know.”
“Then what’s so funny?”
“Nothing. It’s just good to be alive.”
It was exciting and they definately had an enjoyable bromance going :) one thing that stood out to me though was all the conversation going on while they're battling for their lives.
Sawyer knocked another so-called warrior onto his back. “Anyone else dare fight the champ?” he called into the crowd of viewers as he rolled his sleeves further up his arms.
The crowd was silent, aside from the murmur that seemed to come from every direction. Sawyer laughed. He was a better fighter than any of these lousy soldiers. He was practically the Hercules of the island.
“No?” He turned around himself to study the watchers. “No one is brave enough to face the mighty Destroyer? What a bunch of chickens!” Still, not a single person spoke up.
He laughed. “That’s okay, you yellow bellies. None of you could bring me down anyway.” He dropped his Bo staff and pushed past the first row of observers.
The staff poked into his back. “I challenge you.”
He turned to see Chance. “You gotta be kiddin’ me. You? Is this a joke?” he chuckled.
Chance twirled it like a baton. “Is the great champion afraid to face off with me? I’d gladly let you back out.”
A few snickers from the crowd was all that Sawyer needed. “Bring it on, Top Hat,” he invited, taking another staff and backing into a ready position. This was going to be almost too easy.
When you mention the dialogue during the battle, did you mean it on a positive note, or do you think I may need to cut back?
Larke’s purple eyes traced the outline of the silhouettes she could see in the dark. Chance’s dark shadow lie sleeping against a tree, his hat in his lap.
She rolled onto her back, moving closer to the coals left from their fire. Their warmth just barely glowed onto her side.
She looked up at the stars insomnolently. Thoughts of Chance filled her head when they shouldn’t have.
She stood anxiously and wrapped herself tightly into her shawl, passing Chance’s sleeping figure as she wandered through the forest.
She couldn’t continue with this. She wanted to help Chance. Actually, she needed to, but was it worth the risk of being hurt again? She’d lost so many she cared about; dare she let herself have feelings for someone else?
Leaves rustled behind her. She whipped around in fear. “Chance,” she breathed. “You scared me.”
“Sorry,” he groaned sleepily. She hid a smile at his messy hair sticking up in every direction. “What are doing?”
“Nothing. I just couldn’t sleep.”
“Yeah, me neither. I had this strange sensation like someone was stepping on my foot. So I followed her out here.”
She smiled. “Sorry.” The smile fell from her face. She was not going to let this happen. She did her best to ice over her voice. “Just go back to sleep.”
She didn’t hear anything from him. She looked over her shoulder to check if he was even still there.
He moved toward her barely visible form. “You okay?”
She was glad that her face was away from the tiny candle left in the fire pit. He couldn’t see the silent tears streaming down her face. She nodded before realizing that he couldn’t see that either. “I’m fine.”
His cold hand brushed her face before finding her shoulder. “No you’re not. Is it about your mom?”
“No,” she whispered.
“It’s okay if it is. I still dream about mine.”
She turned back to the fire and started back to the small camping spot with him by her side.
They sat by the fire quietly. He breathed on the fire and poked at it until the flames grew up again. She looked through its orange arms at him. She slid onto his side of the fire and rested her head on his shoulder, unable to lie to herself about these new feelings.
She half expected him to move away or say something that would require an apology, but he didn’t. He took his stick into his right hand to fold his left arm around her cold body.
They sat together in perfect silence, staring into the reds and blues of the crackling fire until she fell asleep in his arms.
This is the newest romance in my novel. What's everyone think?
Congrats on finishing Nanowrimo. :D
“I have a flare gun at the grotto!” Sawyer heaved as he wrestled one growling beast to keep its jaws away from his throat. “If we can pull a Houdini on these guys for a few minute we might be able to get it. But how do we create a distraction?” - Interesting battle sequence, great characters, but it was kind of strange how Sawyer can have the presence of mind to talk to Randall while fighting for his life with a monster at his throat
Romance = Perfect!!!!
Thanks! This romance is frustrating me to no end, though, because I've been trying and trying to get these two to kiss and she up and decides that she's going to play hard to get, though, obviously by the end of this scene she'd worn down a bit haha.
Really intriguing! Love the concept.
As far as the dialogue during the fight goes, I think it fits for Sawyer, because he comes across as confident and self-assured. I'm sure there's more to his character, but from the little excerpt, I think it seems to fit. For Randall, I liked the "I'm too young to die" part at the beginning - the stuttering, fear-induced dialogue fits.
So, I can see where the dialogue could be a bit much, but personally I think it helps develop the character.
Thanks, Rains! =D
And actually, you're right. Though I see Maya's point and I may need to cut down on fight dialogue elsewhere in the story, I like the way it plays out between these two characters.
I wanted Sawyer to have that kind of personality: the guy whose dry humor doesn't even end when he'd in dire peril. I'm not sure if that's how it works, but that's how I intended it.
How does Randall come across as a character? I know I just have this scene with the fight, but I can post another if it's necessary.
By the way, any suggestions for romantic scenes/gestures that can bring Chance and Larke closer together?
Randall spotted Chrisse` and ran over. “Hi again!”
She turned around. Her face was pale and her eyes were wider than flying saucers.
“You look like you just saw a ghost,” he laughed.
She tried to laugh too. “The lightning. It just scared me.
He nodded. “Do you still want help looking for that book? Because I’m tired of waiting back at the cabin. Plus, since you don’t have any more books, I checked, the book thief has no reason to come back.”
“You know what, Randall? I think I could use some help.”
“Really?” he tried not to sound too shocked, but most people didn’t like him helping. They treated him like everything he got involved with would break. Unless, of course, it was with electronics. There, they agreed, he had real skill, but anywhere else and he was just a klutz.
“Yeah,” she nodded. “I need to find my books. My diary is missing, I guess, since you said there were no more books at the cabin. Dusty told me that if I found them I’d find something else that’s even more important to me.”
Dusty the saloon owner? She must be joking! But she didn’t look like she was. “Dusty’s not quite all right upstairs,” he cautioned.
“I think he seems fine,” she defended. “And right now he seems right, so I’m going to trust his directions.”
“Okay, it’s up to you,” he shrugged. “If I were you, though, I wouldn’t take him too seriously. I mean, one time he bit the head off of a pigeon. Or was it that he saw someone biting a head off a pigeon? I don’t know. Either way, he says really weird stuff.” She seemed impatient, but he needed to finish what he was saying. “Once he even tried to tell us that there’s a cave system right here on the island. Now, I’ve been living here as long as I can remember and I’ve never seen any caves.”
“Caves!” she shouted as though that were the answer to something.
“Yes,” he sighed, slightly irked at being cut off, “that’s what I said: caves.”
“That’s it!” She took off running.
“Wait! Where are you going?” This girl was crazy. Stryker was obviously mistaken about her. He ran to keep up with the apparently active girl, panting as he went.
She stopped in front of a bush.
“A shrub? That’s what we’re looking for? It’s not even a big shrub. I’ve seen much bigger. There are a few growing in town that are bigger than that. This is actually one of the smallest I’ve seen.”
She shook her head. “There’s this story about a cow that kept coming over to a bush.” She motioned for him to step closer and he did.
“Wow! It’s colder on this spot. Maybe you did see a ghost!”
“How does that make any sense?”
“Spirits lower the temperature around them and—“
“Anyway,” she continued, “this cow was always by a certain place. And so the owner discovered that a cave was just below the pasture.”
“That’s ridiculous. I already told you: I’ve lived here longer than I can remember. And there have never been any caves. I do wonder if there was alien activity, though, because this place is so strange.”
She pulled the bush out of the way, revealing a small vent of cool air. “But maybe there are caves.”
“I suppose it’s feasible,” he shrugged. “But what do the caves and cows have to do with anything?”
She sat on the muddy ground and eased herself into the stony tunnel.
“I don’t think this is such a good idea,” he cautioned, wondering again if she weren’t really insane. “I’ve heard stories about caves. They’re wet and slimy and they’re just full of creepy animals.” But she wasn’t listening. She was already on her way down into the darkness. “Chrisse`, I really don’t think this is smart. Maybe you should just forget about your book. There’s a bookshop in town full of the nicest little books that—Oh, forget it.” He sat in the muddy patch she’d left behind her and squeezed his eyes shut. With a deep breath, he shoved himself onto the wet, slimy slide of stone.
This is the first part of the cave scene with Randall and Chrisse`. I'm posting the next part too.
Okay, I know this scene is a bit longer, so I'm going to break it down into two posts.
This first one takes place after Chrisse` blows up with Randall about something and they get seperated.
Chrisse` backtracked. She’d gone the wrong way and she had to laugh at herself. No, wait. Maybe this was the right way. But it couldn’t be, right? Hadn’t she seen that rock before? It was a little hard to tell. All of the rocks did kind of look alike.
“Hello?” her echo returned.
“Is somebody in here?”
This couldn’t be good. Where there were caves, there might as well be cave dwellers. How was her book supposed to get down here without somebody to bring it here?
She heard something big splash down somewhere to her left. She thought she’d seen a lake in here.
She turned the flashlight across the surface of the water and thought she saw the last dying ripple of something’s dive.
Vaguely she remembered Randall mentioning cave animals. What could be down here? Her flashlight’s dying beam weakly tried to light the cave up for her, but it could only shine on so much at once. And then—poof!—total darkness.
“Randall!” she screamed. Please still be here. Please still be here. She shrieked when she turned around and ran into something.
“It’s me, it’s me,” he told her.
She was glad it was dark because he couldn’t see her blushing. “How did you find me in this underground maze?”
“Chalk,” he answered simply. They stood silently in the cold darkness.
“Chalk?” she asked, after waiting too long for him to elaborate on his own.
Just her luck. She couldn’t get him to say a word when just a few hours earlier he wouldn’t shut up. Then it dawned on her. He must still be mad. “Hey, Randall?”
She twisted her hair around her finger and would have found some distant object to stare at if they could see anything. “I’m sorry. About the whole blowing up at you thing.”
There was a silence before he answered. “It’s okay. Everybody thinks I’m annoying.”
She wanted to disagree but couldn’t find the best way to lie about it.
“But I know how we can get out of here. See? I have a watch light. If you push this button it glows.” She could see the excitement on his face in the dim light of his watch. “But the light only lasts for a few seconds. See? So I have to conserve battery by only using it when I have to. We’ll have to feel our way around the cave.”
“Wait, but how will we know where we’re going?” she wondered.
“Oh, that’s where my chalk comes in handy. I usually use it for when I’m building and stuff. Except for the time that I used it to draw a picture for the kids. They wanted a goat, but I don’t know how to draw those so I—“
“The chalk? What about the chalk?” She was being more patient with him this time. She’d gotten herself lost and he’d saved her. Maybe he deserved a little more respect than he got.
“Oh, yeah, chalk. My chalk isn’t made of the usual chemical—“
“Randall, I’m not going to know what any of this means,” she let him know before he went on a scientific babble of some kind.
“Sorry. Sometimes I get in a bad habit of talking. It’s like once I start it’s so hard to stop. There’s a lot to say, you know, and no one ever wants to let me say it. Oh, right, the chalk. Well I have it here in my toolbelt. It’s a good thing I never take it off, right? Or we’d both be doomed. Well, obviously I take it off when I’m sleeping. Or when I bathe. Because everything in here would get all ruined if It got wet.”
“Anyway, the chalk that I keep in my toolbelt, I’ve been using it to mark the walls. It’s a little wet, but it still mostly works. I check my watch and see the time and then write the numbers on the wall. Like, if I passed here at four forty-four, which I did, I write 444 on the wall and keep going. This way, I know which path I took and what direction I was going in. Oh, actually, I didn’t write the time on this wall yet, so I guess that would make us,” he paused to check his watch. “447. There.” He drew the number with a satisfied grin.
He took her arm with his cold hand and pulled her along the edge of the lake. They hurried along until they came to a wall. Randall marked it and they ran along the wall until the came to another curve. Before too long, they were climbing upwards, back toward the real world—if this strange little island could be called the real world.
“Whoa!” she exclaimed as she almost slipped on something. “Shine your light over here for a sec.”
“But the battery will die. And if the battery dies, we won’t be able to see where we’re going. And if we can’t see where we’re going, we’ll really be lost. And if we’re lost, we’ll probably just starve down here. I can’t starve!”
“Oh, hush up. Just shine the light here.”
He shined the light down and they both saw the piece of paper she’d almost fallen on. It was her father’s picture!
Here's the end to that scene. Again, I know it is a very long scene.
“It must have fallen out of the book!”
“This is what we were looking for? It’s a picture of some guy named Adam. I could have given you that. I had a friend named Adam once and I took a picture of him.”
“It’s not about his name.” She was slightly irritated with him again. Was he really this dense? Pictures are never loved for what they are; they’re loved for what they represent. “He was my dad. He died.”
“Oh, sorry.” He looked above them to a ledge. Between them and it was a steep slope with a lot of little foot- and handholds. “It must have fallen from up there. I mean, it could have fallen from up there. It’s not unlikely. Actually, it being here is kind of unlikely, but knowing that the thief did come down here, that might be a good place for him to hide. Or her. I guess the thief could be a girl. If I were a girl, I think I’d be capable of stealing books. But don’t get me wrong, I didn’t steal the book and offer to help you just to throw you off track. What kind of book was it? Was it poetry? Or maybe science fiction. I like science fiction. Was it science fiction?”
Chrisse` sighed. At least this was better than him not talking to her. “Let’s go,” she said as she started up from the cliff’s base.
“Look, there’s a light up ahead!” Randall pushed forward up the stony staircase. “We must finally be coming to the surface! And I thought I’d nearly forgotten what sunlight looked like!”
“That’s not sunlight,” she whispered. See the way it’s moving back and forth? I think it’s another flashlight.”
They scaled the wall in silence until the ground became level again. She paused to take a few deep breaths before continuing.
“Aaachooo!” The light vanished. They’d been seen.
Chrisse` stood still, hoping that whoever it was wasn’t a cannibalistic killer.
Randall lit his watch. “Sawyer?” he asked the boy in front of them in shock. Sawyer was a strong blonde man with deep green eyes, black jeans, and a leather jacket. “What are you doing here? In this cave? Did the cave people capture you? If they’re holding you captive, blink twice.”
Sawyer sighed and turned his own light back on. “How did you guys find me?”
“We weren’t looking for you. We were looking for my books,” Chrisse` told him, nervously playing with her fingers.
He shrugged and pulled out her poetry book from his stack. “Here ya go. Sorry about taking it.”
She felt so bad for him. Somehow it seemed like he needed it more than she did. “That’s okay. Keep it. I only wanted it because I was looking for this.” She showed him the picture she’d come for.
“You know, Chrisse`, I think maybe—“
“Of course. It’s all yours,” she cut Randall off. “Do you happen to know how to get out of here?” she asked when the question had occurred to her. He most likely did, considering that he’d gotten in here to start out with.
Randall nodded. “Yeah, we came in here through a little hole by a bush, but then we got lost. Well, Chrisse` got lost and I had to find her, because, naturally, I couldn’t leave her here all by herself, you know. But then she saw Adam’s picture (Adam is her dad), so we knew that you must be up here on the little ledge. Did you know there’s a lake down there?”
“No, I didn’t. But I can help you guys get out under one condition.”
“Please don’t be something gross,” Randall pleaded.
“What’s the condition?” she asked.
“We keep this whole cave thing between the three of us.”
She smiled. It was perfectly understandable. This was his perfect little place and he wanted to keep it that way. “I can do that,” she grinned.
“I could try,” Randall followed, “but I don’t know if I can keep a really good secret. I usually only keep small little secrets like Zoe broke the flowerpot that used to be by Myst’s window and Hanna and Bek are a secret couple.”
“How about we try?” Sawyer grouchily asked.
“Okay,” Randall agreed.
Sawyer pried open a hidden doorway to outside. The three stepped out into the rain and wind.
“Thanks,” Chrisse` laughed and she ran off, leaving Randall to talk Sawyer’s ear off.