Re: Would anyone beta read a prologue for me?

#1
As of now, it's short and pretty matter of fact, only about 300 words. It's been a while since I've written something that I intend to post online that's not fanfiction, and I know one of the hardest parts of original fiction is getting an audience to both know and get invested in your characters. Heck, considering all of reboots and nostalgia baiting, I think even a lot of giant industry pros have given up on it. That plus knowing that the prologue will be the first thing a person reads of my story and that most people will click away afterwards instead of reading more... I just really want this to be economically short and polished and interesting and give insight into the personality of the main two characters. 

Which, like, obviously I have not done, so I'm hoping someone or a few someone's would be willing to give me feedback. I could post it here on the forums if that's not considered pushy, or I could DM a google docs link to anyone who agrees? Idk. Thanks in advance for anyone's help, and I am willing to return the favor if you'd like. 

Posting it here:


Quote:“Ah, I see it is the spare.” A crackling baritone voice puts emphasis on the last word, a note of amusement or maybe disgust, and Mia feels her body freeze and twist. It is as if her muscles are moving of their own accord, and the dark mist invades her person. In through her nostrils, her mouth, her eyes. There's a squelch she cannot place and the smell of burning hair. “Do you not have any negotiations for one such as I?”


If this is some test of wills, she's failing. Her only answer is to fall forward, twitching and sightless. “Fine,” it says, “I will choose for you.”

Colder and colder.

“You've been nothing but a disappointment so far,” the voice says, and she feels the reproach in her blood. It's a sentence that would make any good kid flinch on impact, after all. Then the voice turns serious: “Take care of your little brother.”
...


Mia was preparing to take the bin of lunch boxes to the camp's industrial freezer when her senior counselor poked her shoulder for a much more important job. "Elliot ran off."

There was little more to say. "Which direction?"

Her senior pointed towards the chain link fence or the wooded area behind it. She put down the bin and set off immediately. It only made sense for her to go. He needed to stay with the rest of the group. 

No runner goes very far. They only want to throw a bit of a fit. Still, not seeing Elliot immediately unsettled her. As she went deeper, she could only worry more. Were all the lunch boxes back where she left them? Would they get back in time before classes changed? Had Elliot made it to the road? He wouldn’t, right? The image of him getting hit by a car out of spite put a crack of helplessness in her steps. All she could do is call his name and search for any sign of bright orange.

When she finally found it, that wisp was walking into an inky black mist.




I want the leads to have a Stephanie Brown & Damian Wayne sort of thing going... 

Re: Would anyone beta read a prologue for me?

#4

Twinkle Wrote:
eric_river Wrote: i have time to read three hundred words or so today
i think if you post it here, then that should be ok(?)

Thank you very much. I'll edit the original post then

The first half of that prologue was authentic poetry
Visceral and rhythmic and i mean that sincerely
It’s disorienting but concise, and drew me in
Trying to discover what events would soon begin

The way you switched from present tense to past in the next half
Really helped to set the mood for the next paragraph
The words you use are chosen well, i’m honestly inspired
Regardless of what happens next, you’ve got the reader wired

Honestly, it’s hard to think of how it could improve
Despite the lack of physical descriptions, there’s a groove
I’m afraid to tell you to adjust a single thing
I think maybe all that’s left is to try publishing

Re: Would anyone beta read a prologue for me?

#5
I can't really help with beta reading that much since I am neither writer or native English speaker but maybe I can give a bit of advice. There is a 500 words limit for a chapter length when you publish chapters on RR, at least FAQ says so. I don't know if the first chapter/prologue can be exception from the rule, since it is published with the fiction and goes trough approval process.

Re: Would anyone beta read a prologue for me?

#6

eric_river Wrote:
Twinkle Wrote:
eric_river Wrote: i have time to read three hundred words or so today
i think if you post it here, then that should be ok(?)

Thank you very much. I'll edit the original post then

The first half of that prologue was authentic poetry
Visceral and rhythmic and i mean that sincerely
It’s disorienting but concise, and drew me in
Trying to discover what events would soon begin

The way you switched from present tense to past in the next half
Really helped to set the mood for the next paragraph
The words you use are chosen well, i’m honestly inspired
Regardless of what happens next, you’ve got the reader wired

Honestly, it’s hard to think of how it could improve
Despite the lack of physical descriptions, there’s a groove
I’m afraid to tell you to adjust a single thing
I think maybe all that’s left is to try publishing

Awwwwww! That's so sweet, and very cute. I'm surprised to hear you think it's ready to go as is. 

Re: Would anyone beta read a prologue for me?

#7

Artim Wrote: I can't really help with beta reading that much since I am neither writer or native English speaker but maybe I can give a bit of advice. There is a 500 words limit for a chapter length when you publish chapters on RR, at least FAQ says so. I don't know if the first chapter/prologue can be exception from the rule, since it is published with the fiction and goes trough approval process.



Ah really? I hope that doesn't go for prologues. I'd hate to add words just to up the count. Then again, maybe as it is is too short?  

Re: Would anyone beta read a prologue for me?

#8

Twinkle Wrote:
Artim Wrote: I can't really help with beta reading that much since I am neither writer or native English speaker but maybe I can give a bit of advice. There is a 500 words limit for a chapter length when you publish chapters on RR, at least FAQ says so. I don't know if the first chapter/prologue can be exception from the rule, since it is published with the fiction and goes trough approval process.



Ah really? I hope that doesn't go for prologues. I'd hate to add words just to up the count. Then again, maybe as it is is too short?

maybe it's an opportunity to set the scene
maybe mention whether skies are blue and trees are green?
just a little exposition after the first part
then you meet the word count and the story still can start

Re: Would anyone beta read a prologue for me?

#9
Yes. It is too short for Royal Road, if this is what you're planning to post. Royal Road does have a 500 word limit, to get people to post longer chapters. You will see -- if I may -- that though what you have written is beautiful (and yes! It really is!) it suffers a bit from passive writing. It also has a few syntax errors, mostly mixing dialogue with narrative, but your big problem is the passive voice.

You see, when you write in the present tense, action becomes so intense. It's the best part about stories written that way! And when you say things like MIA FEELS HER BODY FREEZE, instead of MIA'S BODY FREEZES, the extra words pull the reader away from the immediacy.

Also, Mia's body can't FREEZE and TWIST at the same time. It must do one or the other. But that isn't what's important. The lack of an active voice matters most.

So, again, if I may...


“Ah, I see it is the spare.” A crackling baritone voice puts emphasis on the last word, a note of amusement or maybe disgust, and Mia feels her body freeze and twist. It is as if her muscles are moving of their own accord, and the dark mist invades her person. In through her nostrils, her mouth, her eyes. There's a squelch she cannot place and the smell of burning hair. “Do you not have any negotiations for one such as I?”

If this is some test of wills, she's failing. Her only answer is to fall forward, twitching and sightless. “Fine,” it says, “I will choose for you.”

Colder and colder.

“You've been nothing but a disappointment so far,” the voice says, and she feels the reproach in her blood. It's a sentence that would make any good kid flinch on impact, after all. Then the voice turns serious: “Take care of your little brother.”
...

Mia was preparing to take the bin of lunch boxes to the camp's industrial freezer when her senior counselor poked her shoulder for a much more important job. "Elliot ran off."

There was little more to say. "Which direction?"

Her senior pointed towards the chain link fence or the wooded area behind it. She put down the bin and set off immediately. It only made sense for her to go. He needed to stay with the rest of the group. 

No runner goes very far. They only want to throw a bit of a fit. Still, not seeing Elliot immediately unsettled her. As she went deeper, she could only worry more. Were all the lunch boxes back where she left them? Would they get back in time before classes changed? Had Elliot made it to the road? He wouldn’t, right? The image of him getting hit by a car out of spite put a crack of helplessness in her steps. All she could do is call his name and search for any sign of bright orange.

When she finally found it, that wisp was walking into an inky black mist.



“Ah, I see it is the spare.” 

A crackling baritone voice puts emphasis on the last word, a note of amusement or maybe disgust. Mia's body freezes and the dark mist invades through her nostrils, mouth and eyes. There's a squelch she cannot place and the smell of burning hair as her muscles move of their own accord, and she twists. 

“Do you not have any negotiations for one such as I?” the voice asks. If this is some test of wills, she's failing. Her answer is to fall forward, twitching and sightless. “Fine,” it says. “I will choose for you.”

Colder and colder. She feels reproach in her blood.

“You've been nothing but a disappointment so far,” the voice says, in a way to make any good kid flinch on its impact. It then turns serious. “Take care of your little brother.”

...

Mia prepares to take the bin of lunch boxes to the camp's industrial freezer when her senior counselor pokes her shoulder to announce a more important job. 

"Elliot ran off."

There is little more to say. "Which direction?"

Her senior points towards the chain link fence and the wooded area beyond. Mia puts down the bin and sets off. It makes sense for her to go, as he needs to stay with the group. No runner goes very far. They only want to throw a small fit. Still, not seeing Elliot immediately unsettles her. As she goes deeper, she worries more. Were all the lunch boxes where she left them? Would they get back in time before classes change? Has Elliot made it to the road? He wouldn’t go further, right? 

The image of a car hitting him put a crack of helplessness in her steps. She calls his name and searches for a sign of bright orange. When she finds it, the wisp is walking into an inky black mist.


This is really very good writing, once the syntax and passive voice is fixed. Keep up the good work, and good luck with your story.

❤😸❤

Re: Would anyone beta read a prologue for me?

#10

ArDeeBurger Wrote: Yes. It is too short for Royal Road, if this is what you're planning to post. Royal Road does have a 500 word limit, to get people to post longer chapters. You will see -- if I may -- that though what you have written is beautiful (and yes! It really is!) it suffers a bit from passive writing. It also has a few syntax errors, mostly mixing dialogue with narrative, but your big problem is the passive voice.

You see, when you write in the present tense, action becomes so intense. It's the best part about stories written that way! And when you say things like MIA FEELS HER BODY FREEZE, instead of MIA'S BODY FREEZES, the extra words pull the reader away from the immediacy.

Also, Mia's body can't FREEZE and TWIST at the same time. It must do one or the other. But that isn't what's important. The lack of an active voice matters most.

So, again, if I may...


“Ah, I see it is the spare.” A crackling baritone voice puts emphasis on the last word, a note of amusement or maybe disgust, and Mia feels her body freeze and twist. It is as if her muscles are moving of their own accord, and the dark mist invades her person. In through her nostrils, her mouth, her eyes. There's a squelch she cannot place and the smell of burning hair. “Do you not have any negotiations for one such as I?”

If this is some test of wills, she's failing. Her only answer is to fall forward, twitching and sightless. “Fine,” it says, “I will choose for you.”

Colder and colder.

“You've been nothing but a disappointment so far,” the voice says, and she feels the reproach in her blood. It's a sentence that would make any good kid flinch on impact, after all. Then the voice turns serious: “Take care of your little brother.”
...

Mia was preparing to take the bin of lunch boxes to the camp's industrial freezer when her senior counselor poked her shoulder for a much more important job. "Elliot ran off."

There was little more to say. "Which direction?"

Her senior pointed towards the chain link fence or the wooded area behind it. She put down the bin and set off immediately. It only made sense for her to go. He needed to stay with the rest of the group. 

No runner goes very far. They only want to throw a bit of a fit. Still, not seeing Elliot immediately unsettled her. As she went deeper, she could only worry more. Were all the lunch boxes back where she left them? Would they get back in time before classes changed? Had Elliot made it to the road? He wouldn’t, right? The image of him getting hit by a car out of spite put a crack of helplessness in her steps. All she could do is call his name and search for any sign of bright orange.

When she finally found it, that wisp was walking into an inky black mist.



“Ah, I see it is the spare.” 

A crackling baritone voice puts emphasis on the last word, a note of amusement or maybe disgust. Mia's body freezes and the dark mist invades through her nostrils, mouth and eyes. There's a squelch she cannot place and the smell of burning hair as her muscles move of their own accord, and she twists. 

“Do you not have any negotiations for one such as I?” the voice asks. If this is some test of wills, she's failing. Her answer is to fall forward, twitching and sightless. “Fine,” it says. “I will choose for you.”

Colder and colder. She feels reproach in her blood.

“You've been nothing but a disappointment so far,” the voice says, in a way to make any good kid flinch on its impact. It then turns serious. “Take care of your little brother.”

...

Mia prepares to take the bin of lunch boxes to the camp's industrial freezer when her senior counselor pokes her shoulder to announce a more important job. 

"Elliot ran off."

There is little more to say. "Which direction?"

Her senior points towards the chain link fence and the wooded area beyond. Mia puts down the bin and sets off. It makes sense for her to go, as he needs to stay with the group. No runner goes very far. They only want to throw a small fit. Still, not seeing Elliot immediately unsettles her. As she goes deeper, she worries more. Were all the lunch boxes where she left them? Would they get back in time before classes change? Has Elliot made it to the road? He wouldn’t go further, right? 

The image of a car hitting him put a crack of helplessness in her steps. She calls his name and searches for a sign of bright orange. When she finds it, the wisp is walking into an inky black mist.


This is really very good writing, once the syntax and passive voice is fixed. Keep up the good work, and good luck with your story.

❤😸❤



Thank you so much for such a detailed response as well as confirmation to the word limit issue. I'll implement all the changes you mention.
(As for the freeze and twist thing, I meant more like she feels freezing cold and is convulsing. But that not coming across just tells me I need to reword it.) 

Re: Would anyone beta read a prologue for me?

#11
The switch in perspective between the two parts is jarring.  Is Mia the person in the first part, or is it someone else being told to care for his brother (Note that I said 'his' while Mia clearly a girl).  A mistake many authors make is not making it clear who the viewpoint is.  In a prologue it is common to have a viewpoint of some characters that don't appear in the book, so this is important to make clear.

That said, when I reached the end I felt disappointment that there wasn't more to read.  So take that as a good sign.  Everyone has room for improvement, but you have made at least me want to keep reading which is arguably the most important thing for a writer.

Re: Would anyone beta read a prologue for me?

#12
I quite like what you've written, particularly the first part. However, I do agree with ArDeeBurger about the use of passive voice. To me, the second section at the camp lacks description. You don't need to add a lot, but some would help readers better see your world. For example, did Mia run to the fence and does the fence have a gate or did she have to climb over it? Does she have to push branches aside as she moves into the forest? Are there any unusual sounds? Adding little details like this can really help readers visualize what's happening. You don't need a lot, just a sentence here and there. Overall, I think it's a good introduction to your story.

Re: Would anyone beta read a prologue for me?

#13

hank Wrote: The switch in perspective between the two parts is jarring.  Is Mia the person in the first part, or is it someone else being told to care for his brother (Note that I said 'his' while Mia clearly a girl).  A mistake many authors make is not making it clear who the viewpoint is.  In a prologue it is common to have a viewpoint of some characters that don't appear in the book, so this is important to make clear.

That said, when I reached the end I felt disappointment that there wasn't more to read.  So take that as a good sign.  Everyone has room for improvement, but you have made at least me want to keep reading which is arguably the most important thing for a writer.

My intention between the two parts is that the second says what happened directly beforehand to land her in the first. If it made things only less clear instead, well, that sucks. I'll use her name more in the first half. 


I am excited to hear it was enough of a hook for you to want to read on. It makes me all the more impatient for the 48 hour submission review to go through so I can post chapter 1 and start comment swapping with people. 

Re: Would anyone beta read a prologue for me?

#14

parkertallan Wrote: I quite like what you've written, particularly the first part. However, I do agree with ArDeeBurger about the use of passive voice. To me, the second section at the camp lacks description. You don't need to add a lot, but some would help readers better see your world. For example, did Mia run to the fence and does the fence have a gate or did she have to climb over it? Does she have to push branches aside as she moves into the forest? Are there any unusual sounds? Adding little details like this can really help readers visualize what's happening. You don't need a lot, just a sentence here and there. Overall, I think it's a good introduction to your story.

Thanks for the answer. Yeah, ArDeeBurger really reminded me that the passive voice is to be used with intention or not at all. 

I have a bad habit of leaving out environmental description just because I don't like reading it and end up assuming it would come across as padding to anyone else. Given the word count requirement, I did end up hitting 500 in part because I added description to the camp area and searching it. Your comment is a good reminder to me that that's not necessarily filler and is actually something needed that I tend to neglect. I'll keep it in mind, too. Thank you for your response.