New Approach -- Prologue Critique Please -- YA Fiction

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cjtrapp
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New Approach -- Prologue Critique Please -- YA Fiction

Post by cjtrapp » April 14th, 2010, 12:02 pm

PROLOGUE

A cauldron of blue light churned in the valley sky, casting a watery reflection over the surrounding mountains and a deep shadow over the valley floor. The town residents, tucked into their houses like rows of babies in nursery cribs, remained quiet—sleepily oblivious to the silent flurry above.

Max rumbled down the rutted plateau road in his pickup, cursing the mayor for consistently refusing to pave the steep mountain trail. After two minutes of jarring and bouncing, he reached the valley base and made a right turn up onto a nicely paved, lower road.

He sped down the centerline keeping an eye on the sky, which finally returned to its usual, starry black. As the road curved around the factory building, he saw the crossing signals for the train tracks flashing. Max checked his watch. 11:00 p.m. was a little late for the weekly arrival.

After another glance at the sky, he turned right into the factory parking lot. With his tool belt over his shoulder, he entered through a side door that led to the factory's basement.

Inside, light from the open control room illuminated the corridor. Max walked to the doorway and leaned against the frame. He opened his lockblade, taking a moment to clean his fingernails. On the far side of the room, in front of the relay panel, the harebrained town doctor stood with a clipboard, sporting a dingy lab coat over what looked like his pajamas. On the left side of the room, the factory manager sat at a computer terminal in his Indiana Jones style leather hat, scrolling studiously through pages of text.

Random red and white lights flashed throughout the room. On the relay panel, the needles of the four main gauges bounced back and forth like windshield wipers.

Max loudly clicked his knife closed. “You two geniuses want to tell me what’s going on?”

The manager removed his hat and stood. “We’re not exactly sure, Max. There was some sort of power spike, possibly due to a signal interruption. It seems to have stabilized. There was no need for you to come down.”

“Stabilized? Did you see the light show a minute ago?”

The doctor scribbled some numbers on his clipboard. “It happened just as the train arrived,” he said without looking up. “It’s possible the engineer forgot to turn his radio off again when he entered the tunnel.”

“That idiot,” Max said. “And what was that blue glow, anyway? You told me this thing was safe.”

“It’s harmless Max,” the doctor said, finally making eye contact. He slid his reading glasses to the end of his nose. “Everyone in Sleepy Valley is just that--asleep--and clueless, as usual.”

“And what about my people up on the plateau? We don’t drop unconscious at 9 PM like you Sleepies.”

The manager stuck out his chest and moved forward. “Just tell them it was a message from one of your spirit warriors.”

Max sniffed and looked up to the ceiling, his fingernails digging into his palms. He knew better than to take a swing at the manager. He breathed in deeply through his nose and decided to change the subject. “Did either of you look at the analysis I gave you the other day?”

The doctor resumed speaking toward his clipboard. “Yes Max, we reviewed it. It was very well presented. Very professional indeed.”

“Don’t patronize me. Just tell me what you think.”

“I think your data is flawed,” the doctor said sharply.

The manager spoke up. “We still believe the assembly line’s vibration issues are due to normal wear and tear, not ground tremors, as you hypothesize.”

“But what if I’m right?” Max said.

“What if you’re wrong?” the manager replied.

“If I’m wrong, then I’m wrong. If I’m right, then we’ll have more than flashing blue lights to worry about.”
Last edited by cjtrapp on April 27th, 2010, 8:51 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Prologue Critique Please -- YA Fiction

Post by kenpochick » April 14th, 2010, 3:09 pm

It sounds interesting so far. I'd keep reading. I don't see anything young adult about it yet but I'm assuming that's just because it's the prologue.

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Re: Prologue Critique Please -- YA Fiction

Post by Emily J » April 14th, 2010, 6:57 pm

cjtrapp wrote:PROLOGUE

A cauldron of blue light churned in the valley sky, casting a watery reflection over the surrounding mountains and a deep shadow over the valley floor. i like your opening sentence, good imagery The town residents, tucked into their houses like rows of babies in nursery cribs, remained quiet—sleepily oblivious to the silent flurry above. This simile feels a bit heavy handed to me

Max rumbled down the rutted plateau road in his pickup, cursing the mayor for consistently refusing to pave the steep mountain trail. After two minutes of jarring and bouncing, he reached the valley base and made a right turn up onto a nicely nicely is a weak adverb, cut it paved, lower road.

He sped down the centerline keeping an eye on the sky, which finally returned to its usual, starry black. As the road curved around the factory building, he saw the crossing signals for the train tracks flashing. Max checked his watch. 11:00 p.m. was a little late for the weekly arrival.

After another glance at the sky, he turned right into the factory parking lot. With his tool belt over his shoulder, he entered through a side door that led to the factory's basement.

Inside, light from the open control room illuminated the corridor. Max walked to the doorway and leaned against the frame. He opened his lockblade, taking a moment to clean his fingernails. this action seems a bit strange, is this a habit of his? the blade almost to me implied some sort of violence was approaching. Not sure what the intended use if here On the far side of the room, in front of the relay panel, the harebrained town doctor stood with a clipboard, sporting a dingy lab coat over what looked like his pajamas. On the left side of the room, the factory manager sat at a computer terminal in his Indiana Jones style Indiana-Jones-style leather hat, scrolling studiously i think we can imply studiously here, again I think generally your adverbs aren't adding anything through pages of text.

Random red and white lights flashed throughout the room. On the relay panel, the needles of the four main gauges bounced back and forth like windshield wipers. this simile works for me

Max loudly clicked his knife closed. “You two geniuses want to tell me what’s going on?”

The manager removed his hat and stood. “We’re not exactly sure, Max. There was some sort of power spike, possibly due to a signal interruption. It seems to have stabilized. There was no need for you to come down.”

“Stabilized? Did you see the light show a minute ago?”

The doctor scribbled some numbers on his clipboard. “It happened just as the train arrived,” he said without looking up. “It’s possible the engineer forgot to turn his radio off again when he entered the tunnel.”

“That idiot,” Max said. “And what was that blue glow, anyway? You told me this thing was safe.”

“It’s harmless Max,” the doctor said, finally making eye contact. He slid his reading glasses to the end of his nose. “Everyone in Sleepy Valley is just that--asleep--and clueless, as usual.” be sure to actually use a dash not a double hyphen

“And what about my people up on the plateau? We don’t drop unconscious at 9 PM like you Sleepies.”

The manager stuck out his chest and moved forward. “Just tell them it was a message from one of your spirit warriors.”no idea what this means, I'm assuming thats the point

Max sniffed and looked up to the ceiling, his fingernails digging into his palms. He knew better than to take a swing at the manager. He breathed in deeply through his nose and decided to change the subject. “Did either of you look at the analysis I gave you the other day?”

The doctor resumed speaking toward his clipboard. “Yes Max, we reviewed it. It was very well presented. Very professional indeed.”

“Don’t patronize me. Just tell me what you think.”

“I think your data is flawed,” the doctor said sharply.

The manager spoke up. “We still believe the assembly line’s vibration issues are due to normal wear and tear, not ground tremors, as you hypothesize.”

“But what if I’m right?” Max said.

“What if you’re wrong?” the manager replied.

“If I’m wrong, then I’m wrong. If I’m right, then we’ll have more than flashing blue lights to worry about.”
I like this, it certainly makes me want to read more. I thought the dialogue was good and the writing excellent. Just make sure your adverbs are earning their keep and that the details you include add to the story.

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Re: Prologue Critique Please -- YA Fiction

Post by GeeGee55 » April 14th, 2010, 10:35 pm

Hi, CJ:

It's interesting. It's my sense that it begins in the wrong place, see below
cjtrapp wrote:PROLOGUE

A cauldron of blue light churned in the valley sky, casting a watery reflection over the surrounding mountains and a deep shadow over the valley floor. The town residents, tucked into their houses like rows of babies in nursery cribs, remained quiet—sleepily oblivious to the silent flurry above.

Max rumbled down the rutted plateau road in his pickup, cursing the mayor for consistently refusing to pave the steep mountain trail. After two minutes of jarring and bouncing, he reached the valley base and made a right turn up onto a nicely paved, lower road.

He sped down the centerline keeping an eye on the sky, which finally returned to its usual, starry black. As the road curved around the factory building, he saw the crossing signals for the train tracks flashing. Max checked his watch. 11:00 p.m. was a little late for the weekly arrival.

After another glance at the sky, he turned right into the factory parking lot. With his tool belt over his shoulder, he entered through a side door that led to the factory's basement.

Inside, light from the open control room illuminated the corridor. Max walked to the doorway and leaned against the frame. He opened his lockblade, taking a moment to clean his fingernails. This is where I'd begin, the other stuff isn't as captivating and it wouldn't take much to work the above things in later On the far side of the control room, in front of the relay panel, the harebrained town doctor stood with a clipboard, sporting a dingy lab coat over what looked like his pajamas. - this is a great sentence On the left side of the room, the factory manager sat at a computer terminal in his Indiana Jones style leather hat, scrolling studiously through pages of text.

Random red and white lights flashed throughout the room. On the relay panel, the needles of the four main gauges bounced back and forth like windshield wipers.

Max loudly clicked- perhaps, closed the knife with which he'd been cleaning his fingernails - as an example of how you could work it in, if you choose his knife closed. “You two geniuses want to tell me what’s going on?”

The manager removed his hat and stood. “We’re not exactly sure, Max. There was some sort of power spike, possibly due to a signal interruption. It seems to have stabilized. There was no need for you to come down.”

“Stabilized? Did you see the light show a minute ago?”

The doctor scribbled some numbers on his clipboard. “It happened just as the train arrived,” he said without looking up. “It’s possible the engineer forgot to turn his radio off again when he entered the tunnel.”

“That idiot,” Max said. “And what was that blue glow, anyway? You told me this thing was safe.”

“It’s harmless Max,” the doctor said, finally making eye contact. He slid his reading glasses to the end of his nose. “Everyone in Sleepy Valley is just that--asleep--and clueless, as usual.”

“And what about my people up on the plateau? We don’t drop unconscious at 9 PM like you Sleepies.”

The manager stuck out his chest and moved forward. “Just tell them it was a message from one of your spirit warriors.”

Max sniffed and looked up to the ceiling, his fingernails digging into his palms. He knew better than to take a swing at the manager. He breathed in deeply through his nose and decided to change the subject. “Did either of you look at the analysis I gave you the other day?”

The doctor resumed speaking toward his clipboard. “Yes Max, we reviewed it. It was very well presented. Very professional indeed.”

“Don’t patronize me. Just tell me what you think.”

“I think your data is flawed,” the doctor said sharply.

The manager spoke up. “We still believe the assembly line’s vibration issues are due to normal wear and tear, not ground tremors, as you hypothesize.”

“But what if I’m right?” Max said.

“What if you’re wrong?” the manager replied.

“If I’m wrong, then I’m wrong. If I’m right, then we’ll have more than flashing blue lights to worry about.”
The dialogue is good and my sense of the kind of guy Max is. Good luck with it.

cjtrapp
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Re: Prologue Critique Please -- YA Fiction

Post by cjtrapp » April 16th, 2010, 11:43 am

PROLOGUE

A cauldron of blue light churned in the valley sky, casting a watery reflection over the surrounding mountains and a deep shadow over the valley floor. Max rumbled down the rutted plateau road in his pickup, cursing the mayor for refusing to pave the steep mountain trail.

After two minutes of jarring and bouncing, he reached the base and made a right turn onto a newly paved, lower road. He sped down the centerline to the old lake, stopping just short of the dried-up lakebed. He took his utility light and laptop and hiked to the base of the canyon. At his makeshift testing sight, he connected his computer to the seismograph and studied the data as it streamed into the analysis app.

The software beeped to signal the completed download. Max almost dropped his computer on the canyon floor when the results posted. He scrolled up and down in disbelief. Finally, he had the evidence he’d been searching for.

The sky returned to its usual, starry black on his way over to the factory. As he came around to the parking lot, he spotted the crossing signals for the train tracks flashing in the distance. 11:00 p.m. was a little late for the weekly arrival.

With his tool belt over his shoulder, he entered through a side door leading to the factory’s basement.
Inside, light from the open control room illuminated the corridor. Max walked to the doorway and leaned against the frame. On the far side of the room, in front of the relay panel, the harebrained town doctor stood with a clipboard, sporting a dingy lab coat over what looked like his pajamas. On the left side, the factory manager sat at a computer terminal in his Indiana-Jones-style leather hat, scrolling through pages of text.

Max opened his lockblade and picked at his fingernails, watching his colleagues scurry as random red and white lights flashed throughout the room. On the relay panel, the needles of the four main gauges bounced back and forth like windshield wipers.

Max clicked his knife closed. “You two geniuses want to tell me what’s going on?”

The manager removed his hat and stood. “We’re not exactly sure, Max. We had a power spike, possibly due to a signal interruption. It seems to have stabilized. You didn’t need to come down.”

“Stabilized? Did you see the light show a minute ago?”

The doctor scribbled some numbers on his clipboard. “The anomaly occurred when the train arrived,” he said without looking up. “The engineer probably forgot to turn his radio off again when he entered the tunnel.”

“That idiot,” Max said. “And what was that blue glow, anyway? You told me this thing was safe.”

“The machine is harmless Max,” the doctor said, making eye contact. He slid his reading glasses to the end of his nose. “Everyone in the Sleepy Valley is just that—asleep—and clueless, as usual.”

“And what about my people up on the plateau? We don’t drop unconscious at 9 PM like you Sleepies.”
The manager stuck out his chest and moved forward. “Why not them it was a message from one of your ancient spirit warriors.”

Max sniffed and glanced to the ceiling, his fingernails digging into his palms. He knew better than to take a swing at the manager. He breathed out through his nose. “Did either of you review the analysis I gave you the other day?”
The doctor resumed speaking toward his clipboard. “Yes Max. It was well presented. Very professional indeed.”

“Don’t patronize me. Just tell me what you think.”

“I think your data is flawed,” the doctor said sharply.

“Well my alarms up on the plateau went off tonight again, right about the time the lights started. These are tonight’s readings from my equipment down in the canyon.” He set his laptop down and punched up the analysis. “You can check the data yourselves.”

The manager glanced over casually. “I’ll look at it later.”

“Later might be too late.” Max scrolled through and pointed to the screen. “Do you think it’s a coincidence your so called power spike coincided with these readings?”

“Maybe the spike tripped the sensor,” the doctor said. “That homemade contraption you call a seismograph is nothing more than an old mattress spring inside a soup can.”

“Do you think I would be stupid enough not to shield the casing? Would you at least consider the data? Now we are getting Raleigh Waves—and the P and S waves are masked.”

The manager’s eyes shot to the doctor, who Max caught trying to hide his concern. The manager spoke up. “Max, we understand your concern, but we still believe the assembly line’s vibration issues are due to normal wear and tear, not ground tremors, as you hypothesize. Just do your job maintaining the factory machines. That’s what we pay you for.”

Max folded up his laptop. “Do I have to spell everything out for you? You know as well as I do that the absence of P and S waves means there is water between the epicenter and the surface. Based on the strength of the readings, it’s more than a little.”

“So we’ll enjoy the return of the old lake,” the doctor said flippantly.

“Will you enjoy 2.7 billion gallons of mud flooding the entire valley?”

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Re: Prologue Critique Please -- YA Fiction

Post by Joel Q » April 16th, 2010, 9:39 pm

cjtrapp wrote:PROLOGUE

A cauldron of blue light churned in the valley sky, casting a watery reflection over the surrounding mountains and a deep shadow over the valley floor. Max rumbled down the rutted plateau road in his pickup, cursing the mayor(I say city or county instead of a person, because the mayor is not important at this time or maybe not at all) for refusing to pave the steep mountain trail. (paving a trail...I get is a bumpy road, but maybe trail is not the best word, but if it is, you don't pave trails)

After two minutes of jarring and bouncing, he reached the base and made a right turn onto a newly paved,(pave is an echo word, if the paving is not important, use smooth or something else.) lower road. He sped down the centerline to the old lake, stopping just short of the dried-up lakebed.(lake is echo) He took his utility light and laptop and hiked to the base(echo) of the canyon. At his makeshift testing sight, he connected his computer to the seismograph and studied the data as it streamed into the analysis app.

The software beeped to signal the completed download. Max almost dropped his computer on the canyon floor (echo) when the results posted. He scrolled up and down in disbelief. Finally, he had the evidence he’d been searching for.(cliche sentence)

The sky returned to its usual, starry black on his way over to the factory. As he came around to the parking lot, he spotted the crossing signals for the train tracks (I'd move to in front of "crossing" to keep the "signals" next to "flashing") flashing in the distance. 11:00 p.m. (spell out the time) was a little late for the weekly arrival.

With his tool belt over his shoulder, he entered through a side door leading to the factory’s basement. (what kind of factory?)
Inside, light from the open control room illuminated the corridor. Max walked to the doorway and leaned against the frame. On the far side of the room, in front of the relay panel, the harebrained town doctor (what does a town doctor have to do with this? seems out of place) stood with a clipboard, sporting a dingy lab coat over what looked like his pajamas. On the left side, the factory manager sat at a computer terminal in his Indiana-Jones-style leather hat,(Indi's hat was felt) scrolling through pages of text.

Max opened his lockblade and picked at his fingernails, watching his colleagues scurry as random red and white lights flashed throughout the room. On the relay panel, the needles of the four main gauges bounced back and forth like windshield wipers. (nice)

Max clicked his knife closed. “You two geniuses want to tell me what’s going on?”

The manager removed his hat and stood.(get more creative with motion) “We’re not exactly sure, Max. We had a power spike, possibly due to a signal interruption. It seems to have stabilized. You didn’t need to come down.”

“Stabilized? Did you see the light show a minute ago?”

The doctor scribbled some numbers on his clipboard. “The anomaly occurred when the train arrived,” he said without looking up. “The engineer probably forgot to turn his radio off again when he entered the tunnel.”

“That idiot,” Max said. “And what was that blue glow, anyway? You told me this thing was safe.”

“The machine is harmless Max,” the doctor said, making eye contact. He slid his reading glasses to the end of his nose. “Everyone in the Sleepy Valley is just that—asleep—and clueless, as usual.”

“And what about my people up on the plateau? We don’t drop unconscious at 9 PM (spell out) like you Sleepies.”
The manager stuck out his chest and moved forward. “Why not them it was a message from one of your ancient spirit warriors.” (I don't get this sentence/ why not them what?)

Max sniffed and glanced to the ceiling, his fingernails digging into his palms. He knew better than to take a swing at the manager. He breathed out through his nose. “Did either of you review the analysis I gave you the other day?”
The doctor resumed speaking toward his clipboard. “Yes Max. It was well presented. Very professional indeed.”

“Don’t patronize me. Just tell me what you think.”

“I think your data is flawed,” the doctor said sharply. (see below)

“Well my alarms up on the plateau went off tonight again, right about the time the lights started. These are tonight’s readings from my equipment down in the canyon.” He set his laptop down and punched up the analysis. “You can check the data yourselves.”

The manager glanced over casually. “I’ll look at it later.”

“Later might be too late.” Max scrolled through and pointed to the screen. “Do you think it’s a coincidence your so called power spike coincided with these readings?”

“Maybe the spike tripped the sensor,” the doctor said. “That homemade contraption you call a seismograph is nothing more than an old mattress spring inside a soup can.” (nice)

“Do you think I would be stupid enough not to shield the casing? Would you at least consider the data? Now we are getting Raleigh Waves—and the P and S waves are masked.”

The manager’s eyes shot to the doctor, who Max caught trying to hide his concern. The manager spoke up. “Max, we understand your concern, but we still believe the assembly line’s vibration issues are due to normal wear and tear, not ground tremors, as you hypothesize. Just do your job maintaining the factory machines. That’s what we pay you for.”

Max folded up his laptop. “Do I have to spell everything out for you? You know as well as I do that the absence of P and S waves means there is water between the epicenter and the surface. Based on the strength of the readings, it’s more than a little.”

“So we’ll enjoy the return of the old lake,” the doctor said flippantly.(second adv on the dialogue tag, I'd try to come up with showing instead of telling on these.)

“Will you enjoy 2.7 billion gallons of mud flooding the entire valley?”

You have a good start.
Dialogue works well.


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Robin
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Re: Revised -- Prologue Critique Please -- YA Fiction

Post by Robin » April 17th, 2010, 11:20 pm

cjtrapp wrote:PROLOGUE

A cauldron of blue light churned in the valley sky, casting a watery reflection over the surrounding mountains and a deep shadow over the valley floor. The town residents, tucked into their houses like rows of babies in nursery cribs, remained quiet—sleepily oblivious to the silent flurry above. nice opening.

Max rumbled down the rutted plateau road in his pickup, cursing the mayor for consistently refusing to pave the steep mountain trail. After two minutes of jarring and bouncing, he reached the valley base and made a right turn up onto a nicely paved, lower road.

He sped down the centerline keeping an eye on the sky, which finally returned to its usual, starry black. As the road curved around the factory building, he saw the crossing signals for the train tracks flashing. Max checked his watch. 11:00 p.m. was a little late for the weekly arrival.

After another glance at the sky, he turned right into the factory parking lot. With his tool belt over his shoulder, he entered through a side door that led to the factory's basement.

Inside, light from the open control room illuminated the corridor. Max walked to the doorway and leaned against the frame. He opened his lockblade, taking a moment to clean his fingernails. On the far side of the room, in front of the relay panel, the harebrained town doctor stood with a clipboard, sporting a dingy lab coat over what looked like his pajamas. On the left side of the room, the factory manager sat at a computer terminal in his Indiana Jones style leather hat, scrolling studiously through pages of text.

Random red and white lights flashed throughout the room. On the relay panel, the needles of the four main gauges bounced back and forth like windshield wipers.

Max loudly clicked his knife closed. “You two geniuses want to tell me what’s going on?”

The manager removed his hat and stood. “We’re not exactly sure, Max. There was some sort of power spike, possibly due to a signal interruption. It seems to have stabilized. There was no need for you to come down.”

“Stabilized? Did you see the light show a minute ago?”

The doctor scribbled some numbers on his clipboard. “It happened just as the train arrived,” he said without looking up. “It’s possible the engineer forgot to turn his radio off again when he entered the tunnel.”

“That idiot,” Max said. “And what was that blue glow, anyway? You told me this thing was safe.”

“It’s harmless Max,” the doctor said, finally making eye contact. He slid his reading glasses to the end of his nose. “Everyone in Sleepy Valley is just that--asleep--and clueless, as usual.”

“And what about my people up on the plateau? We don’t drop unconscious at 9 PM like you Sleepies.” oohh!

The manager stuck out his chest and moved forward. “Just tell them it was a message from one of your spirit warriors.”

Max sniffed and looked up to the ceiling, his fingernails digging into his palms. He knew better than to take a swing at the manager. He breathed in deeply through his nose and decided to change the subject. “Did either of you look at the analysis I gave you the other day?”

The doctor resumed speaking toward his clipboard. “Yes Max, we reviewed it. It was very well presented. Very professional indeed.”

“Don’t patronize me. Just tell me what you think.”

“I think your data is flawed,” the doctor said sharply.

The manager spoke up. “We still believe the assembly line’s vibration issues are due to normal wear and tear, not ground tremors, as you hypothesize.”

“But what if I’m right?” Max said.

“What if you’re wrong?” the manager replied.

“If I’m wrong, then I’m wrong. If I’m right, then we’ll have more than flashing blue lights to worry about.”
I really enjoyed reading this prologue. You have my attention and have set up a mysterious and seemingly complex plot/ conflict. I cant wait to read more.
Robin
"A glass slipper is only a shoe. Dreamers who only dream never have their dreams come true."

http://www.RobynLucas.com/

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Re: Prologue Critique Please -- YA Fiction

Post by A.M.Kuska » April 25th, 2010, 2:02 pm

I meant to respond to this the first time I read it, but always seemed to run out of time. I'm glad I waited. This newest revision is greatly improved.
cjtrapp wrote:PROLOGUE

A cauldron of blue light churned in the valley sky, casting a watery reflection over the surrounding mountains and a deep shadow over the valley floor. Max rumbled down the rutted plateau road in his pickup, cursing the mayor for refusing to pave the steep mountain trail.

After two minutes of jarring and bouncing, he reached the base and made a right turn onto a newly paved, lower road. He sped down the centerline to the old lake, stopping just short of the dried-up lakebed. He took his utility light and laptop and hiked to the base of the canyon. At his makeshift testing sight, he connected his computer to the seismograph and studied the data as it streamed into the analysis app.

The software beeped to signal the completed download. Max almost dropped his computer on the canyon floor when the results posted. He scrolled up and down in disbelief. Finally, he had the evidence he’d been searching for.

The sky returned to its usual, starry black on his way over to the factory. As he came around to the parking lot, he spotted the crossing signals for the train tracks flashing in the distance. 11:00 p.m. was a little late for the weekly arrival.

With his tool belt over his shoulder, he entered through a side door leading to the factory’s basement.
Inside, light from the open control room illuminated the corridor. Max walked to the doorway and leaned against the frame. On the far side of the room, in front of the relay panel, the harebrained town doctor stood with a clipboard, sporting a dingy lab coat over what looked like his pajamas. On the left side, the factory manager sat at a computer terminal in his Indiana-Jones-style leather hat, scrolling through pages of text.

Max opened his lockblade and picked at his fingernails, watching his colleagues scurry as random red and white lights flashed throughout the room. On the relay panel, the needles of the four main gauges bounced back and forth like windshield wipers.
Please don't be too angry at me for mentioning this, but I think you may want to rework your beginning a little bit. My reason for suggesting this is that I don't feel hooked at all, and we are six paragraphs in. I'm not criticizing your writing here, as your descriptions are beautiful and I have a very vivid picture of what's going on in my head. The problem is that while I'm visualizing this, I find myself thinking, "Yeah. So what?"

You mention a light show, but from my perspective as a reader not knowing what you're about, it could just be aurora borealis. Our MC thinks it's important enough to take a reading, but maybe he's grumpy because he has a sore bum from the trip down. Maybe he had a few wires rattled loose from the ride.

Were I in a store and reading this, I'd put the book down when I've read half a page and find my bold hero who I will be with through the whole book cleaning his nails. -.-

Please don't take this the wrong way. You've got a great voice, it's clearly polished, and the descriptions are beyond anything I can do with my own poor writing skills. It's just lacking in questions that have me wanting more.
Max clicked his knife closed. “You two geniuses want to tell me what’s going on?”

The manager removed his hat and stood. “We’re not exactly sure, Max. We had a power spike, possibly due to a signal interruption. It seems to have stabilized. You didn’t need to come down.”

“Stabilized? Did you see the light show a minute ago?”
This where you hooked me. Obviously there's a reason for that light show, and it's not a big football game celebrating with colored spotlights. Cool! What is it?
The doctor scribbled some numbers on his clipboard. “The anomaly occurred when the train arrived,” he said without looking up. “The engineer probably forgot to turn his radio off again when he entered the tunnel.”

“That idiot,” Max said. “And what was that blue glow, anyway? You told me this thing was safe.”
The hook sinks in more firmly. Why is turning the radio off important?
“The machine is harmless Max,” the doctor said, making eye contact. He slid his reading glasses to the end of his nose. “Everyone in the Sleepy Valley is just that—asleep—and clueless, as usual.”

“And what about my people up on the plateau? We don’t drop unconscious at 9 PM like you Sleepies.”
The manager stuck out his chest and moved forward. “Why not them it was a message from one of your ancient spirit warriors.”
I think you're missing the word "tell".

I'm envisioning them just sort of dropping dead at 9 PM ala "Sleeping Beauty." It might have worked in the fairy tale, but I'm envisioning dropped babies, black eyes and broken bones. I think people would definitely start to question why Junior has a broken nose for the third time in a row, or dad was found floating in the pool.

Or do they just get really tired? And if they do, would Red Bull help? Are caffienated substances banned to prevent them waking up?

Nothing you need to explain in the prologue, but it did make me wonder.
Max sniffed and glanced to the ceiling, his fingernails digging into his palms. He knew better than to take a swing at the manager. He breathed out through his nose. “Did either of you review the analysis I gave you the other day?”
The doctor resumed speaking toward his clipboard. “Yes Max. It was well presented. Very professional indeed.”
Might want to keep an eye on how many times you describe his emotions through his fingers. I do this myself by overusing mouth/eye expressions (oh, and "frowned" appears way too many times in my book...need to replace some.
“Don’t patronize me. Just tell me what you think.”

“I think your data is flawed,” the doctor said sharply.

“Well my alarms up on the plateau went off tonight again, right about the time the lights started. These are tonight’s readings from my equipment down in the canyon.” He set his laptop down and punched up the analysis. “You can check the data yourselves.”

The manager glanced over casually. “I’ll look at it later.”

“Later might be too late.” Max scrolled through and pointed to the screen. “Do you think it’s a coincidence your so called power spike coincided with these readings?”

“Maybe the spike tripped the sensor,” the doctor said. “That homemade contraption you call a seismograph is nothing more than an old mattress spring inside a soup can.”

“Do you think I would be stupid enough not to shield the casing? Would you at least consider the data? Now we are getting Raleigh Waves—and the P and S waves are masked.”

The manager’s eyes shot to the doctor, who Max caught trying to hide his concern. The manager spoke up. “Max, we understand your concern, but we still believe the assembly line’s vibration issues are due to normal wear and tear, not ground tremors, as you hypothesize. Just do your job maintaining the factory machines. That’s what we pay you for.”

Max folded up his laptop. “Do I have to spell everything out for you? You know as well as I do that the absence of P and S waves means there is water between the epicenter and the surface. Based on the strength of the readings, it’s more than a little.”

“So we’ll enjoy the return of the old lake,” the doctor said flippantly.

“Will you enjoy 2.7 billion gallons of mud flooding the entire valley?”
Nothing to criticize here. Great ending quote.

I hope you don't feel I've been overly critical. I enjoyed your prologue. I just don't want you to send this out to an agent and have them ask the same questions I have. We only get one chance to shine in front of each agent, and there's a limited amount of agents. You know?

Best of luck, and I hope this helps you.

Petronella
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Re: Prologue Critique Please -- YA Fiction

Post by Petronella » April 25th, 2010, 4:28 pm

cjtrapp wrote:PROLOGUE

A cauldron of blue light churned in the valley sky, casting a watery reflection over the surrounding mountains and a deep shadow over the valley floor. Max rumbled down the rutted plateau road in his pickup, cursing the mayor for refusing to pave the steep mountain trail.


A good opening but the cauldron bothers me. Is there another meaning for cauldron beside cooking pot, which is the only meaning I know for it, and the only one in my dictionary. Anyway, it makes it difficult for me to get the exact picture in my mind.


After two minutes of jarring and bouncing, he reached the base and made a right turn onto a newly paved, lower road. He sped down the centerline to the old lake, stopping just short of the dried-up lakebed. He took his utility light and laptop and hiked to the base of the canyon. At his makeshift testing sight, he connected his computer to the seismograph and studied the data as it streamed into the analysis app.

The software beeped to signal the completed download. Max almost dropped his computer on the canyon floor when the results posted. He scrolled up and down in disbelief. Finally, he had the evidence he’d been searching for.

I'm getting interested here and want to know what the evidence is.

The sky returned to its usual, starry black on his way over to the factory. As he came around to the parking lot, he spotted the crossing signals for the train tracks flashing in the distance. 11:00 p.m. was a little late for the weekly arrival.

With his tool belt over his shoulder, he entered through a side door leading to the factory’s basement.
Inside, light from the open control room illuminated the corridor. Max walked to the doorway and leaned against the frame. On the far side of the room, in front of the relay panel, the harebrained town doctor stood with a clipboard, sporting a dingy lab coat over what looked like his pajamas. On the left side, the factory manager sat at a computer terminal in his Indiana-Jones-style leather hat, scrolling through pages of text.

Max opened his lockblade and picked at his fingernails, watching his colleagues scurry as random red and white lights flashed throughout the room. On the relay panel, the needles of the four main gauges bounced back and forth like windshield wipers.

Max clicked his knife closed. “You two geniuses want to tell me what’s going on?”

The manager removed his hat and stood. “We’re not exactly sure, Max. We had a power spike, possibly due to a signal interruption. It seems to have stabilized. You didn’t need to come down.”

“Stabilized? Did you see the light show a minute ago?”

The doctor scribbled some numbers on his clipboard. “The anomaly occurred when the train arrived,” he said without looking up. “The engineer probably forgot to turn his radio off again when he entered the tunnel.”

“That idiot,” Max said. “And what was that blue glow, anyway? You told me this thing was safe.”

“The machine is harmless Max,” the doctor said, making eye contact. He slid his reading glasses to the end of his nose. “Everyone in the Sleepy Valley is just that—asleep—and clueless, as usual.”

“And what about my people up on the plateau? We don’t drop unconscious at 9 PM like you Sleepies.”
The manager stuck out his chest and moved forward. “Why not them it was a message from one of your ancient spirit warriors.”

Missing a word in the last sentence.

Max sniffed and glanced to the ceiling, his fingernails digging into his palms. He knew better than to take a swing at the manager. He breathed out through his nose. “Did either of you review the analysis I gave you the other day?”
The doctor resumed speaking toward his clipboard. “Yes Max. It was well presented. Very professional indeed.”

“Don’t patronize me. Just tell me what you think.”

“I think your data is flawed,” the doctor said sharply.

“Well my alarms up on the plateau went off tonight again, right about the time the lights started. These are tonight’s readings from my equipment down in the canyon.” He set his laptop down and punched up the analysis. “You can check the data yourselves.”

The manager glanced over casually. “I’ll look at it later.”

“Later might be too late.” Max scrolled through and pointed to the screen. “Do you think it’s a coincidence your so called power spike coincided with these readings?”

“Maybe the spike tripped the sensor,” the doctor said. “That homemade contraption you call a seismograph is nothing more than an old mattress spring inside a soup can.”

“Do you think I would be stupid enough not to shield the casing? Would you at least consider the data? Now we are getting Raleigh Waves—and the P and S waves are masked.”

The manager’s eyes shot to the doctor, who Max caught trying to hide his concern. The manager spoke up. “Max, we understand your concern, but we still believe the assembly line’s vibration issues are due to normal wear and tear, not ground tremors, as you hypothesize. Just do your job maintaining the factory machines. That’s what we pay you for.”

Max folded up his laptop. “Do I have to spell everything out for you? You know as well as I do that the absence of P and S waves means there is water between the epicenter and the surface. Based on the strength of the readings, it’s more than a little.”

“So we’ll enjoy the return of the old lake,” the doctor said flippantly.

“Will you enjoy 2.7 billion gallons of mud flooding the entire valley?”

I would read your book because this prologue has caught my interest.

cjtrapp
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Re: New Approach -- Prologue Critique Please -- YA Fiction

Post by cjtrapp » April 27th, 2010, 8:56 pm

I decided to take my opening in a different direction. Thanks to all who've commented. My book is complete except for the prologue. I need the perfect setup, and then its off to the submission races...


UNITED NATIONS COMMISSION ON THE PEACEFUL USES OF TECHNOLOGY

INFORMATION PROVIDED IN CONFORMITY WITH GENERAL ASSEMBLY RESOLUTION
5654B (XVI)

PURSUANT TO THE CONVENTION ON
REGISTRATION OF BEHAVIOR CONTROL DEVICES

OSLO UNIVERSITY, NORWAY


Ceril read the program cover while the armed UN Peacekeeper checked his credentials. He’d never been so close to a real machine gun—it was a bit unnerving. A second guard stood by the entrance wearing the same, baby blue beret. He tapped the muzzle of his gun on the door, allowing Ceril into the auditorium.

Inside, the lights were dim over the seating area, where fifty diplomats and a hundred private security agents sat in silence. Ceril moved slowly along the rear wall. Eyeballs with earpieces tracked his every movement.

Peaceful uses of technology? Yeah right.

Down on the floor, wearing his crispest, cleanest lab coat was Ceril’s mentor, the gifted but unknown Dr. James Kilman, already five minutes into his presentation. “Our prototype amplifier contains a thirty pound section of a stone known as lurecite,” the doctor said, pointing to the soundproof booth behind him. “It is a unique composite extracted from an ancient impact crater located in the northwestern United States.”

Ceril buttoned his lab coat and tried to flatten out the wrinkles. He walked down the side aisle, staying close to the perforated acoustical panels that lined the walls.

The doctor glanced at him, then back to the audience. “The lurecite stores and releases infrasonic sound waves in the same way an electrical capacitor stores and releases electricity. If properly regulated, the stones can be used to create a sound field that maintains a constant level below 10.0 Hz.”

Ceril shook his head. Too technical, Doc. These are delegates, not scientists.

The doctor paused and scanned his note cards. “Think of it as a pressure washer,” he continued. “But instead of water, the stone releases a burst of sound waves undetectable to human ears.”

Good save.

“For today’s demonstration, we are using chimpanzees, since their range of hearing is similar to ours. At this time, I ask that you power down all cell phones and other electronic devices.”

While the patrons rummaged through pockets and purses, Dr. Kilman went to Ceril. “How on earth could you be late for this?” he whisper-yelled.

“I’m sorry.”

“Look at you, you’re a mess. Didn’t I instruct you to go back to the hotel and change?”

Ceril smiled toward the audience. “I got sidetracked,” he said without moving his lips. “I’ll explain later.”

The doctor turned away and flipped on his mic. “Ladies and gentleman, thank you for your patience. Are control group today will consist of six cloned chimpanzees with identical DNA. As you can see behind me, we’ve divided them into two groups, one with red scarves tied around their necks, and the other blue.”

Ceril walked to the wall and dimmed the lights while a young UN volunteer passed out safety glasses to the audience. The University’s animal control team checked the chimpanzees’ vital signs one last time.

The doctor put his eye gear on over his glasses. “Please be assured that this is a harmless demonstration of our system. The blue lights you are about to see are completely benign. The eye protection is for your viewing comfort.”

Ceril handed the doctor the remote control, then took a seat on a metal stool against the wall. The doctor punched in the startup sequence, then stepped aside.

The machine gave off a few quick bursts, like a camera flash. The chimps became restless. A brilliant, blue light filled the room agitating the blue group and causing them to bang on the glass and fight wildly with one another.

No one in the audience flinched.

“What you are seeing now is a known side-effect of the startup sequence,” the doctor said. “When the system is first activated, the infrasound can cause emotional swings from agitation to nausea and even loss of consciousness.”

Ceril checked his watch.

The lights dissipated and the blue chimps began to calm down. After fifteen seconds, they appeared almost catatonic. The red group was noticeably subdued as well.

Ceril turned up the lights and wheeled out a large metal bin. Similar bins sat inside the chamber, one for each test group.

The doctor removed his safety glasses, and the audience followed suit. “Inside those walls is a continuous field of infrasonic sound.” He pointed to the digital display mounted above the booth. “As you can see by the Hertz monitor—the frequency is constant at 7.4Hz, which undetectable to the chimps, and would be to you if you were inside with them. Do I have any volunteers?”

The crowd laughed politely. The good doctor was on today.

“My assistant will now perform some simple tasks in front of the test subjects.”

Ceril stacked a several large cardboard blocks in the shape of a pyramid. Within seconds, the blue group of chimps worked together to mimic him with the blue blocks on their side of the chamber. The red-group copied him as well using their red blocks, but it took them much longer as they frequently paused to bicker and jostle for control.

When they were finished, Ceril took a slight bow, and the chimps mimicked him. The crowd applauded.

“As you can see, the group with the blue scarves behaved in a predictable, orderly manner because they received a special vaccine that interacts with the sound waves, The red control group, although more compliant than normal, was less efficient due to not having received the biological agent.”

Murmurs erupted throughout the room.

“Are there any questions?” Dr. Kilman said, but the crowd did not respond. Ceril shrugged as the murmuring elevated to panic. Ceril turned and saw the blue chimps hurling themselves against the glass walls. The red chimps screeched as their brothers went bezerk. The frequency on the Hertz monitor rose rapidly—flying past 300Hz.

The chimps fell on the floor, writhing and gasping for air.

“They’re suffocating!” a woman screamed.

A security agent pulled out his weapon as the machine discharged another round of blue light. Ceril waved his hands shouting “No!” But the agent fired anyway.

The glass wall shattered and a wave of gut-wrenching resonance poured out like water out of a fish tank. Dr. Kilman and Ceril dropped to the ground and the audience went clamoring toward the exit.

After a few moments, the resonance subsided. Animal Control rushed to the chimps. Ceril saw the doctor sag as the last of the sponsors left the room.

“Three subjects deceased, three are stable,” the Animal Control leader called to them. Ceril turned. The blue chimps were all dead.

“What in the world happened?” the doctor said.

“I—I don’t know. I’ll have to run diagnostics.”

The doctor sent his note cards fluttering through the air. “Well, we blew it. This was our big chance.”

“But what about the chimps?” Ceril said.

“I don’t care. Just deal with it.”

“That’s not what I mean, until we find out what killed them, shouldn’t you consider shutting down—”

The doctor held up his hand. “Don’t say it. Don’t even think it. That project has been operating for a dozen years without any problems. I’m not giving up because of a few defective clones.”

“Heh-hem,” Ceril said, motioning behind the doctor.

A tall woman with jet-black hair cropped at the ears and a tight, grey skirt and matching jacket walked toward them. A shorter man in a leather trench coat accompanied her. The man stopped at the bottom row while the woman approached, the clack of her heals echoing through the room. Ceril stepped aside.

“Doctor Kilman,” she said with a French accent. “I am Tatiana Rousseau. I was quite impressed by your presentation.”

“Seems you’re the only one,” the doctor said, feeling his voice crack. “I’m sorry, what country did you say you were with?”

“I didn’t,” she said brashly. “Tell me, doctor. How much of this rock you call lurecite do you have in your asteroid crater?”

“Hard to say since a town’s been built over top. But I’d say we have a million tons beneath the valley floor, at least.”

Her eyes brightened. “And what about this town. Will they let you extract it?”

“Maybe—I mean, yes, I suppose. Why?”

The woman glanced over to her companion who turned his arm and tapped his wristwatch. “Is it possible?” she said, turning back.

“Depends how much do you want.”

She nodded to her associate, who hurried to her with an overstuffed envelope. “All of it,” she said, handing the package to the doctor. “I will contact you in a month. You will tell me that the Lurecite is mine, and I will make you a very wealthy man.”

She spun around and walked up the aisle.

Ceril saw the doctor weigh the contents of the envelope.

“Wait,” the doctor said as the woman reached the top row. “What if I can’t convince the town to export it?”

She turned with a disturbing smile. “Then I’ll notify your country’s FCC, the FDA and the FBI about that little human science experiment you’ve been conducting.”

The heavy door slammed behind her and her associate.

“How could they know about Sleepy Valley?” Ceril said.

The doctor didn’t answer.

He dipped his head in front of his boss. “So what do we do now?”

“We give them what they want,” The doctor said.

“But what about the townspeople They’ll never agree.”

The doctor brushed him aside. “How would you know? You’ve never even been there.”

“I know what you’ve told me.”

“Just go back to the lab in Seattle and run that seismic data I sent you. The results could really help us out of this jam.”

“What are you going to do?” Ceril said, glancing at the unopened envelope.

“I’m going back home.” The doctor slid the envelope into his side pocket. “I’ve been making house calls in Sleepy Valley far too long. It’s time I gave them a wakeup call.”

lmitchell
Posts: 30
Joined: February 19th, 2010, 6:07 pm
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Re: New Approach -- Prologue Critique Please -- YA Fiction

Post by lmitchell » May 10th, 2010, 3:28 pm

Ceril read the program cover while the armed UN Peacekeeper checked his credentials. He’d never been so close to a real machine gun—it was a bit unnerving. A second guard stood by the entrance wearing the same, baby blue beret. He tapped the muzzle of his gun on the door, allowing Ceril into the auditorium. "read the program cover"--I might try "scanned the program cover"

Inside, the lights were dim over the seating area, where fifty diplomats and a hundred private security agents sat in silence. Ceril moved slowly along the rear wall. Eyeballs with earpieces tracked his every movement. Dim lighting washed over the seating area where fify diplomats and a hundred private security agents observed in silence.

Peaceful uses of technology? Yeah right. love the way this reads!

Down on the floor, wearing his crispest, cleanest lab coat was Ceril’s mentor, the gifted but unknown Dr. James Kilman, already five minutes into his presentation. “Our prototype amplifier contains a thirty pound section of a stone known as lurecite,” the doctor said, pointing to the soundproof booth behind him. “It is a unique composite extracted from an ancient impact crater located in the northwestern United States.”

Ceril buttoned his lab coat and tried to flatten out the wrinkles. He walked down the side aisle, staying close to the perforated acoustical panels that lined the walls. "that lined" lining the walls.

The doctor glanced at him, then back to the audience. “The lurecite stores and releases infrasonic sound waves in the same way an electrical capacitor stores and releases electricity. If properly regulated, the stones can be used to create a sound field that maintains a constant level below 10.0 Hz.”

Ceril shook his head. Too technical, Doc. These are delegates, not scientists.

The doctor paused and scanned his note cards. “Think of it as a pressure washer,” he continued. “But instead of water, the stone releases a burst of sound waves undetectable to human ears.”

Good save.

“For today’s demonstration, we are using chimpanzees, since their range of hearing is similar to ours. At this time, I ask that you power down all cell phones and other electronic devices.”

While the patrons rummaged through pockets and purses, Dr. Kilman went to Ceril. “How on earth could you be late for this?” he whisper-yelled.

“I’m sorry.”

“Look at you, you’re a mess. Didn’t I instruct you to go back to the hotel and change?”

Ceril smiled toward the audience. “I got sidetracked,” he said without moving his lips. “I’ll explain later.” I can see Ceril's nervous, fake smile...excellent.

The doctor turned away and flipped on his mic. “Ladies and gentleman, thank you for your patience. Are control group today will consist of six cloned chimpanzees with identical DNA. As you can see behind me, we’ve divided them into two groups, one with red scarves tied around their necks, and the other blue.” "Are control group" change it to "Our control group"


This is all I look through right now. I am "green" at critiquing posts...hope this helps.

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