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First Page Thoughts

5 months ago

Hello fellow Cystians! A year ago when I used this site, I published 2 what you guys would call “s%#tpost stories”. At this point, whatever I publish will actually be of some quality.


I want to know your thoughts on the rough first page of my current work-in-progress. I don’t really have anyone to give writer’s feedback over here at my end, so I guess I’ll turn to the next best thing. Here it is:


July 22nd, 2020

Darrin sat on his couch, watching the television with intent, yet troubled eyes. 

"Channel 7 News here, reporting live on the planet-wide event taking place since Joshua Calvin's anti-Magik protest in Washington D.C. yesterday afternoon. Violent riots have been erupting all over the country and are even starting across the sea, with hordes of protestors ridding our world of these dangerous people. Calvin's inspiring words last afternoon have awoken the people to the fact that these people are the scourge of the earth. Here is an excerpt recorded from his speech-"

Joshua Calvin's arrogant face appeared on the screen. Calvin was not some crazy old man foaming at the mouth in a sweat-stained t-shirt, far from it. He was barely 23, with a smooth shaven face, blindingly white teeth, and with every fiber of his black hair slicked back against his scalp. He wore a black three-piece  suit, and his words flowed like honey through the speakers.

"Since the beginning of time, the Magiks have plagued our beautiful world. You've seen how dangerous they are! Joey Malga, the Magik who torched St. Jude, with hundreds of American lives being lost! The lycanthropes who bite our children, turning them into monsters! We believed the Salem Witch Trials were unjust, but our ancestors knew that Magiks are a threat to our families, our country! We must snuff them out before they snuff out u-"

Darrin shut off the television before Calvin could finish the sentence the rest of the world was repeating. His wife Wynn walked in from the kitchen with a mug of strong coffee in each hand. Handing one to Darrin, she sat down slowly on the couch. 

"How bad is it?" Wynn asked quietly. 

"They're saying that the entire northeast has been purged, along with the south and the Florida Keys," Darrin answered placidly.

"Some of the neighbors have been getting suspicious too..."

"I know. We have to get out of here as soon as we can."

"What about Mira? Her ‘friends’ have been texting her hate since yesterday. She's so young for something like this to happen.."

Darrin glanced towards his teen daughter's bedroom.

"That's why we have to get out as soon as we can."



First Page Thoughts

5 months ago

'Channel 7 News' sounds implausibly biased. Even when news sources are biased, they generally try not to sound that way. I'd limit the 'scourge of the earth' rhetoric to Calvin.

Other than that, I think you've got a promising start here. Keep writing! ^_^

First Page Thoughts

5 months ago
Yeah this was my first thought. OP, if you're going to have it so even the news is pushing against magic users it needs to be in the usual, more subtle ways. 'ridding our world of these dangerous people' is immediately jarring and out of place and at best, takes away any idea that this is a near-future or almost-Earth setting.

The daughter having some little girls 'texting her hate' doesn't really underline any kind of real threat either. These days that phrasing could mean they were calling her fat.

I'd have had something about her literally not being allowed at school because she represents a danger to the others etc. if you want to underline how this is something even the government's a part of now.

Zake as usual has a bunch of good points too. Even if the authorities were fully against magiks they'd still be against random idiots rioting and lynching people on the level described, and would be couching the systematic whatever they were doing themselves in politically safer, more neutral terms.

First Page Thoughts

5 months ago
Commended by EndMaster on 10/15/2017 3:11:33 AM

Gonna give my thoughts on this. See if you can find something useful among it.

I see that in the near future people forget the word 'mages' exists and decide to use 'magiks' instead. Obviously calling them magiks is more original than mages, but seeing as the setting seems to be the near future I wonder why it's like that.
Actually this reminds me of how many zombie movies don't call zombies 'zombies', for some reason (or is it copyright? idk).

To be fair, this isn't really an issue as long as you are consistent with it. Come to think of it, it could be funny if one character insists they should be called mages but everyone laughs at them and says that's a stupid idea.
You don't have to do this, obviously such a thing might not fit within the story and what not. Do what works for you.

Moving on, I wonder if by overseas you mean everywhere overseas, since I mean not every country watches american tv, right?
However, again, this isn't really a issue, since to be fair if someone was preaching for killing magiks and a powerful country was listening others would probably do the same. Not to mention that big deals tends to be shown pretty much everywhere you got a tv.
Just I do wonder if some countries are going to be on the other side of the argument, maybe wanting to study the magiks and what not. Personally if you completely ignore scientists in a near future setting I will be wondering what happened to them. Heck I wonder if your magic has a scientific explanation.

Oh also is the police completely okay with people just killing those who they think are magiks? I mean the Salem trials weren't the only time in history people accused others of stuff and had them killed. Just wondering if this is happening again, since I feel people might have learnt that this isn't the best way of going about things by now... and, I feel, organised executions done by government officials only would make more sense, but that might just be me. Something for you to think about (don't necessarily need to change anything, just think about it a bit).

The writing itself looks good to me, but I am not the best judge on that sort of thing.
I feel you handled the exposition pretty well, it isn't mountains of texts, tells me what I need to know about the setting and establishes some main characters.

With that said, you have a lot of space to go with this. Heck some things I mentioned probably don't matter since there are explanations for them, and as long as you know what they are I've got no complaints (unless the reader not knowing hinders the overall reading experience).

So keep writing? I can't comment much more because nothing outside of setup, in the form of telling the reader about an important event, happens. However I can say I would keep reading, since my curiosity is piqued.
Also, just wondering, if this is your first page does that mean there is a choice at the end of this? Or is it just a 'continue' link? (Actually I guess it is also possible this is what will be on your first page, but not all of it.)

Looking good so far, nothing super amazing but the setting has a lot of potential. The writing itself looks good. I like how you handled exposition. And finally, where you go with this is what really matters, so hoping you manage to write something great.

I completely failed to talk about your introduction of who I am currently assuming is the antagonist, so here goes:
I like the way they aren't being portrayed as crazy evil (at least not right off the bat). They also seem to have good reasons for what they are doing, protecting the people. Obviously he could turn out to be evil, have motives he doesn't share on camera and what not, and that is fine, as long as you handle it well.
With that said I wonder if more antagonists will be introduced, since the setting could certainly allow for it. Like some crazy big bad magic guy or something (this is a poor example, hope it isn't this since it doesn't seem to fit, tho I guess it could fit, depends on how you write it). So again, lots of ways you can go with all this. Good luck!

First Page Thoughts

5 months ago

Thanks for the input! These are some great points you brought up!

First Page Thoughts

5 months ago
My comments follow. Please note, you asked for them. Also, please be aware they are likely worth exactly what you paid for them:

First sentence: I like it. The first sentence can really set the tone and in this case it sets the scene well. I’m not sure the first comma is needed there, but I imagine grammarians could argue that for weeks.

Next paragraph: I’m a little confused. It starts out talking about a protest. In my mind there’s just a few people, yelling and whatnot. Then in the next sentence there’s violent riots. Were these started by the protests? Most news stories are simplistic and would very clearly point out of they were. And in the next sentence a group of people are being exterminated from the planet! Wait, I thought this was just a protest? I would guess you’re working on building a theme here, but when reporters report news stories, they do the opposite – they report the biggest news first to suck people in. I’d almost reverse that entire paragraph with the news story starting out by reporting massive riots as people try to exterminate Magik in the world, inspired by Joshua Calvin, who made speeches here yesterday afternoon, or something like that.

Nice descriptions in the Joshua paragraph. The third sentence (Joey Malga…) is a fragment with no verb. So is the next sentence.

I like the setup. I’m not sure where Darrin, Wynn, and Mira live, but I’m guessing they’re not in the northeast or the south. I like the way the characters were introduced. I am curious about what’s going to happen next – but also about how this is going to work into a CYOA. I’m hoping my choices aren’t between staying (and dying on the next page) and going (the only way to progress in the story).

Good luck with it!

First Page Thoughts

5 months ago

Well the way it’s going to work (refer to story description on my profile) is that that is the first page of the Prologue, which will be completely linear. Then you can start making choices in the second chapter (which takes place 200 years after the Purge), and each choice will have major repercussions in the story. Most of them anyway.

There will be no choices that lead directly to “death”, but there will be “bad endings”.

First Page Thoughts

5 months ago
So the characters in the prologue will all be dead? If I'm following this right, I'm not sure if completely linear pages that then turn out not to be relevant and then introducing brand new characters because the ones we've been following died ages ago is the best approach for grabbing and keeping the reader's attention tbh.

I'd recommend starting with whoever the actual main character will be and including the important bits of whatever happened a couple centuries ago as background info, archives you can find as you play, a story shared by another character...there are lots of options really.

First Page Thoughts

5 months ago
Okay, so here is how to make that process absolutely amazing:

Have a prologue where the reader gets to make some choices. Then, go ahead and skip ahead -- but those choices that were made show up in the future significantly. Something like choosing to fight and kill some guy in the prologue leads to legends about the battle between the two in the future. Or choosing not to fight the guy leads to the survivors in the future being hidden in some hills.

Hey, I didn't say it would be easy.