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Anyone can edit, add ideas, or just give advice

WriteFreakThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. posted this thread...
Aug. 9 at 9:59 am

This is an idea for a story about a young boy who's father gets killed by his nemesis. Later, the boy learns that his father's killer is destroying the entire forest. He is the only one who can stop him. 

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WriteFreakThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. replied...
Aug. 9 at 10:06 am

I've written this much:
 
Just yesterday, I still had a dad. Yesterday, I had a loved one. Just yesterday, I was camping with my dad in the wilderness, having loads of fun. Yesterday, I didn’t feel a heavy weight upon my soul.

Yesterday.

My dad and I lived in the woods. We hunted together and found food, we built fires out of wood and twigs. We liked relying on nature.

We were roasting marshmallows, and singing songs on Dad’s ukulele. We were horrible singers, but I didn’t care. We were all happy. I never thought my life could change so much in one day. I remember it so clearly.

My dad was smiling at me, telling me to stop eating chocolate. I was having a great time.

“Roken. No more marshmallows!” my dad said, and burst out laughing.

“I’ll stop eating marshmallows when I become one!” I replied, grinning. My dad was laughing hysterically at my joke. The moon glowed in the sky. The stars were twinkling.

Suddenly, a slender silver silhouette appeared in the distance. It was odd, but I wasn’t concerned. I knew that there were other campers here.

The silhouette kept coming closer and closer. He drew nearer and nearer, until he was right in front of us, looking me in the eye.

Hatred burned in his eyes. He was filled with anger as he stared at us. The person wore ripped jeans and a cargo jacket, trying to look intimidating. He was succeeding.

He stared at my dad.  The man drew a knife from his sheath, similar to mine.

“You,” he breathed. The man gripped his knife - and plunged it into my dad’s chest.

“Dad!!!” I cried out, trying to understand the situation. “What’s going on?”

“Roken, I’m sorry. I should have told you!” he yelled as he fell to the floor. Then, the man gripped his knife even tighter.

This time, I was cut by the knife. The man stabbed it into my forearm, leaving a deep slit. I instantly sheathed my own knife and made a cut in the man’s leg. He remained unfazed by the cut, and limped off, his eyes still full of hatred.

“Dad!” I yelled again. I grabbed some leaves from a nearby tree and applied them to his chest.

“Who was that?” I asked, trying to remain calm.

“You don’t need to know,” he said feebly. I carefully scooped up his limp body and submerged him in the creek. He let out a low moan of relief.

“How can I cure you?” I asked. My dad knew every medicinal herb, every natural remedy.

“You can’t, Roken. I am dying. We both know that,” he replied calmly.

“No,” I said. “Don’t die, Dad. I can’t lose you!” I cried.

“Roken, there is only one thing you can do.” Dad said.

“What is it?”

“Help me to the Overworld.” he told me.

I am a spirit of the wilderness. So is my dad. We believe that we can guide a person to a better life after death. Spirits greet you when you die. They can see through your soul, and decide whether you deserve paradise or punishment. To make your soul more vulnerable and open to the spirits, we etch symbols into the deceased body. They help spirits accept you as one of them, and not a stranger. But I couldn’t do that to my dad. That would mean I accepted the fact that he was dying.

“Dad. I won’t help you to the Overworld unless you tell me who that man was.” I said, careful to keep my voice polite, yet firm.

“You really want to know?”

“Yes. Tell me.”

My dad sighed. “Many years ago, I was a survivor, living out in the woods. Just like we are now,” he said. “He was struggling to find food. So he came to me, and attempted to kill me. But he failed, obviously.”

“What happened next?”

“He left me in a state of weakness I never thought was possible. I nearly died of disease and starvation.” Dad took a small sip of water. “Later, I decided to get my revenge. When he was asleep, I came to him and etched the mark of Besiren on his heart.” I gasped.

The mark of Besirin is the mark of evil. It signifies that you committed mass destruction. If it is etched onto a person's body, spirits automatically assign him eternal punishment.

“You really drew the mark?” I asked. As horrid as the man’s actions were, the mark

of Berisen was something only the worst of people deserved. They would have to be demons, or completely possessed murdering machines. 

“I was drunk on my own rage. He had nearly killed me. I was furious, and I spiraled out of control.” he sighed. “I never wanted to tell you. I feared that if you knew, you might try to get revenge. Your rage could have killed you if I told you. I only kept it a secret for your protection. “

“Now, please, help me on the Journey.”

“You want me to be your Marker?” I asked. The Marker was the person who decided what to etch on the dead body. It essentially determined your situation in the Overworld. It was a great honor.

“Please.” He gasped, and he fell backward. His eyes were still open, but they were lifeless.

I proceeded with the Marking Ritual. I grabbed a piece of flint and started to etch symbols into the skin.

The first symbol that I drew was the mark of Fatherhood. It symbolized that he was a father. It normally helped you get a better Overworld situation.

Then, I drew the mark of the Hunter. It proved to the souls that my father was a skilled hunter, and could kill anything with any weapon. Helpful when you get a trial.

I was about to draw the mark of Peace on my dad’s forehead when I hesitated. Was he really peaceful? Is granting someone eternal punishment because they were driven mad by starvation peaceful? I knew that after all he’s done for me, I should draw the mark. Yet I couldn’t.

But I did draw the mark of Wisdom. My father was smart.

Then came the final mark: the mark of Honesty.

Rage washed over me. This man was being kept secret from me for my entire life! He didn’t tell me! I had a sneaking suspicion that there were more secrets. He said that they were for my own good. For some reason, I didn’t believe him. The truth was now all in front of me. My father was a murderer, a person who caused another pain and torture. Worst of all, he was a liar.

I couldn’t control my rage. I grabbed the flint… and etched the mark of Berisen.

My first thought was, what have I done.  My father, who raised me, who made me into who I am today, is now getting eternal punishment because of my rage? I knew that what I had done would haunt me for the rest of my life.

Yet I felt right about my choice. Deep inside me, a voice was telling me, this is the right decision.  I knew that he didn’t deserve punishment.

  In my eyes, he did.
As I woke up the next day, loneliness washed over me. It was the first time I had woken up without my dad right beside me, polishing the knife that lay by me.  It was the first time that my father was not by my side, telling me our hunting plan for the day. Slowly, the realization washed over me.

The forest was my only family.

It was a scary thought. I had only the forest to rely on. Not just for survival, but for comfort. I knew that I would have to adapt my life around the forest. The sound of birds humming their morning tune would be the only noise to wake me up. The howl of a lonely wolf would be the only thing to guide me to sleep. The creatures of the forest were now my only chance of eating dinner. If I failed to hunt, then I would die.

No more gloom, Roken, I told myself. Time to hunt.

I stood up and glanced at the knife right beside me. Dad’s knife. It was crafted my his father, a skilled hunter and blacksmith. The blade was made from flint and various types of medal. The handle was the bone of a seal, wrapped in reindeer hide. 
 
Ideas, anyone?
 
 
 

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Aug. 9 at 12:10 pm

1. If this is your first chapter, then bear this in mind: the readers do not care about Roken or his father yet. As much as I dislike the series, I think the beginning scene in L.A. for City of Heavenly Fire does a pretty good job of making you see what the characters feel and feel a bit of sympathy for them despite only getting one chapter.
 
2. The beginning conveys nothing but sorrow for his father, despite the fact that he later carves the mark on his father's chest out of anger.
 
3. Asking what's going on as you watch your father being murdered is not the typical reaction.
 
4. It might help your story as a whole if we understand that Roken is bitter, sad, and angry because of his father, but if we don't see his murder scene until later. As I said, readers haven't had a chance to care about Roken yet. 
For instance, if Roken was facing off against his father's killer, and he couldn't help but feel nauseous since the last time he saw this man, he was plunging a knife in his father's chest. By that point, readers would care and it adds some extra punch to a scene like that.
 
5. Why did this man not finish off Roken? I could understand if he stabbed Roken's father in the stomach and left him to die slowly, but Roken-- there's no reason for him to have spared Roken, is there? Especially if the character is hate-filled and driven only by anger, this seems odd.
 
6. The paragraph that begins with "I am a spirit of the wildnerness": this is a bit of exposition that drags you out of the story, and also makes no sense, as a boy whose father is dying would not care to explain this. It might add a bit of mystery if Roken carved marks without having told us why yet.
 
7. Bartering with his dying father about not helping him to the Overworld unless he gives information is a cold, almost callous move. It makes Roken come off as a much darker character than you might intend, especially considering the marshmallow scene. 
 
8. I like the idea of the Mark of Besiren and the religion of the Overworld. It shows that the spirits of the above are letting humans (or in this case, living spirits) judge, and then choosing accordingly, which is unique. I also like that one doesn't have to be honest with their marks-- you could carve the equivalent of Virtue onto a mass murderer or Hateful onto a nice person you just didn't like.
 
9. While it does say something interesting about society that Hunter is favored well by the Overworld, the meaning of marks is a bit of exposition that does not belong in the scene of a death.
 
10. It makes Roken much more interesting when he decides to carve the mark on his father. But while it does fit with the version of him that bartered for information with a dying man, it does not fit with the boy who was laughing and joking with the same man. 
 
11. He comes to the Mark of Honesty as if it is required for a dead person. Is it? Or is it just something he would consider for his father until he found out that his father was a liar?
 
12. "Worst of all, he was a liar": again, this lends to an almost sociopathic Roken. He does not care as much that his father was a killer, he cares that he lied to him. And his immediate reaction to it is violent and cruel.
 
13. The Mark of Berisen creates a bloodthirsty, vengeful version of the starving man. It does nothing to the corporeal version of Roken's father. Does Roken's father's mark only apply on his spirit? If so, does the same happen to the starving man? Or will Roken's father become almost a zombified version of himself, out for revenge against his own son?
 
14. I like the "forest is my only family" part.
 
15. Why is the starving man out to destroy the forest? His vengeance is against Roken's father. If he's just blindly killing, then Roken should not have been spared when the man killed his father.
 
16. I don't know what you intend for Roken and his father, but here's my thoughts: Roken as a borderline-sociopath character is much more interesting. We've all seen books where the adults just hide things from kids and the kids are a bit angry but move on soon enough (Harry Potter, Divergent, and the Mortal Instruments come to mind).
But given that Roken's father a) has the capacity to carve the mark on a starving man and b) is willing to lie to his son and only companion about everything, he is definitely not such a nice guy himself. 
I think it'd be really interesting to see the bond between two people who are as callous and cruel as these two come off, especially since they travel together as father and son that-- to some extent-- genuinely care for each other. For example, if Roken's father mentions that they're moving camps again because he knows the man is hunting them, Roken asks why, and his father shuts him down by telling him he's protecting him.
 
I don't know if that's your intention for the characters, I just thought it was interesting.

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WriteFreakThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. replied...
Aug. 9 at 2:02 pm

First of all, this is some of the best constructive criticism I’ve ever seen. I’ll answer each of your points one by one.
1. I haven’t read the City Of Heavenly Fire, so I can’t really answer that. I agree with your point, though.


2.I guess that’s because the information changed him. I think the entire story sort of revolves around that - his father’s death changes Roken’s personality, and who Roken is as a person.
 
3. You’re right about that. Maybe he should have asked about who the man is, or something related to that.
 
4. I agree. Maybe he could first get over his shock and sadness on the matter, then realize that his father is a liar. Keep in mind that the Mark of Berisen does not kill a man.
 
5. I guess that’s because the killer’s main intention was revenge. For Roken, he has a much bigger, sophisticated plan. That comes later on.
 
6. Yeah. I’d change that to something that explaining that his dad believes in the afterlife, and then he says that his father taught him his ways.

 
7. It does come of as a bit too evil. There’s a reason for that, though. As you said in point 10, it fits with him drawing the mark. I might change that to, “First tell me who that man was.”
 
8. Thanks. Another purpose of that is to emphasize the contrast between Roken and a normal boy.
 
9. Good point. The name says it all.
 
10.Again, it shows that he is changing. His father’s death will change who Roken is as a person, and this is introducing you to that.
 
11.It’s not. He just said it’s the final mark. Although, would a spirit give you paradise if you lied in your life?
 
12. I don’t think it shows that he is sociopathic. He’s confused! Also, it reveals a bit about what he values as a person.
 
13.When Roken’s father draws the mark of Berisen on his killer, that has nothing to do with what he gets in the afterlife at that moment. His Marker determines that. If the Marker knows about this, he will draw the marks he sees fit.
 
14. Thanks.
 
15. He is not blindly killing. Destroying the forest does 2 things. a) It shows that he is driven insane by anger. b) It could be used as a part of his plan to destroy Roken.
 
16. I think I will make Roken a bit crazy. After all, his dad’s death will leave him confused for at least some amount of time. Maybe he starts interacting with the animals?
Let me know what you think. Sooner or later I’ll make another draft.

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WriteFreakThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. replied...
Aug. 9 at 2:09 pm

Btw, how old are you? I'm 15. 

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Aug. 9 at 3:24 pm

16.
 
Continuing on this, the thing on Roken's character is that it changes quite a lot in one chapter. He starts off with mourning his father to a flashback where it shows them having fun together-- that makes sense; you'd mourn a man like that. Then it goes to how angry he is that his father is a liar, angry enough to condemn him forever. It's one thing to carve the truth (Father, Liar, Hunter, Smart, Vengeful, Caring) and let him be judged by the truth, like the Speaker for the Dead introduced in Ender's Game, but to carve a mark like that is incredibly cruel.
 
I'm sure I do the same with my own characters, but how you think of Roken and how a reader thinks of Roken might be very different. In the part after his father dies, he comes off as so cold and heartless-- now, I like characters like that. They can be interesting. But if your intention is 'confused', that is not how it seems to me. Regardless of how he says it, he refuses to give a dying man peace without information first and then condemns him after he is dead. If this were someone he'd met on the roadside, it wouldn't be nearly as bad as his father. But it is, and for someone you care about... let's say that you found out your father hid something from you. He beat someone badly enough to hospitalize them, and they were scarred for life. He feels guilty about it now, so guilty that he tries to save you from acting like him. Would you basically sentence him to eternity in h.ell for that?
 
As for your starving man (does he have a name?), I as the reader do not know that he's not attacking blindly. He goes after the one who marked him, but then after that, destroys the forest and makes plans for Roken. This character came off as more zombie-like than a planner, but if I saw more than one interaction, I'd probably adjust that opinion.
 
Final thing: you can carve marks on someone living or dead. If they're dead and you aren't their Marker, it does nothing. But if they're alive... well, clearly that has effect, given the actions of your starving man. It'd be interesting to see how that could work. You could carve someone with a Loyal mark to force them to serve you, an Honest mark to ask and get information... it seems like that could be really dangerous, which is a good thing for this novel.
 
Ah-- final thing, sorry: if for whatever reason you do decide to make Roken more callous, you can get some inspiration from a few characters: Peter Wiggin (Ender's Game), the Jackal (Red Rising), Jorg Ancrath (Prince of Thorns), and Joffrey Baratheon (A Game of Thrones). Given their natures... some caution advised, especially for the last two.

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WriteFreakThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. replied...
Aug. 9 at 6:03 pm

You are right that Roken does not appear as a confused character.
 
As for the starving man, you are probably right. More interactions with him could most likely be beneficial. Keep in mind that the reader does not yet know that the starving man (I don't have a name for him, maybe Roken could make up a nickname for him.) is going to attack again. I'm thinking Roken should have another sighting of him, seeing the starving man planning. 
 
Thanks for the inspiration and advice!

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Aug. 9 at 6:17 pm

Sure. If you have a plotline or need world building help, let me know.

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bo_olsenThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. replied...
Aug. 9 at 9:40 pm

I like this story. There are a few issues with grammar and spelling, and it seems kind of rushed to me.

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WriteFreakThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. replied...
Aug. 10 at 3:05 am

The grammar and spelling is mainly because I copied and pasted this from Google Docs. When you do that it doesn't copy perfectly. 
And I didn't edit this yet. 

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