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Intro to My Story (Sneak Peek)

3 years ago

This is basically just the first page of my story. Remember, it's not completed so as you may know there could be some spelling/grammar errors. Anyway, with that in mind, it's not much. It's barely enough to understand whats going on, but it's a good intro to my writing style and tone of the story. Let me know what you think and I'll add more to the story on this post...


You have awakened. Your body lays on the ground and does not have the desire to move. Your body feels numb. Glancing up at the sky, you squint due to the bright shining sun. As you check your surroundings you notice all the reds, oranges, and yellows in the sky. Now you feel the warm, crisp sand underneath you. 


Your hand reaches out at the sand and grabs a handful, then you let it fall through your fingers. The only noise that can be heard is the light breeze that blows across your face. 


A feeling of great thirst arises within you and suddenly panic to find a source of water. You stand up and look around. There is nothing but sand dunes for miles. Soon it will hit night time, and you will need to find shelter. Deserts get very cold at night, especially in Balfia. 


"Could I be in Balfia?" You question yourself. 


If you are in Balfia, then that is good news. Since Balfia is basically a planet of pure deserts, that means there should be many cities, trade stops, and more to find before nightfall. But being in Balfia can also be a bad thing. Balfia is home to the Hollowtooth. One of the biggest bandit groups in the entire Balfinar System. That won't be a problem though if you find some sort of civilization before nightfall. 

With this in mind, you start heading in a random direction hoping for something. As you are walking you try to remember why you are here. The clothes you are wearing are all ripped, and ragged, and can't remember a thing about who you are. Maybe later you will remember something. 

Your quench for thirst continues, but finally, you discover some sort of manmade structure. A hut, with a campfire, going. It's not much but it appears someone is living there...


You decide to raid the place. You need new clothing, and food and water. Sneakily, you make your way to the camp. It looks like only one person lives here. You will have to take him out. 


The sun has almost disappeared from the sky. Its the perfect time to steal some stuff. Laying against the hut is a spear and you grab it. As you grab the spear, you hear someone moving around inside the hut. You decide to wait until he exits the hut, then take him out. After only a minute or two of waiting the man leaves his hut, and you stab the man in the heart with your spear. He drops to the ground, dead with blood spilling out of his chest. Sometimes its either kill or be killed in life. 


The camp is all yours now. You raid the hut and find an extra pair of clothes, a pump shotgun, and a pistol with only one clip. The shotgun had no ammo except for what was already inside it. It was already loaded for someone like you if you were unlucky...


You decide to pack the pistol, a water bottle, and more spare clothes in a backpack, then leave the hut. Outside the hut was the campfire. Some delicious smelling meat was sitting over the campfire so you eat all of it. There was also a barrel tilted sideways with a spicket. Assuming that had water inside, you grabbed your water bottle, placed it under the spicket, turned it, and sure enough water came out. You filled it to the brim, then drank half of the water in your bottle, then filled it to the brim again. The refreshing taste of the water was too satisfying. So you drank some more. After filling it up again you placed your water bottle back in your bag. Then you use some water from the barrel to get rid of the fire from the campfire. After that, you take refuge in the hut. It was getting dark. This would be a good place to spend the night...


To be continued?

Intro to My Story (Sneak Peek)

3 years ago
The writing itself could use some fine tuning as far as sentence structure and word choice and the like; a lot of repetition with too many sentences starting with 'You', a few that are just worded strangely, possibly a case of words not meaning what you think they mean ('Your quench for thirst continues'), and in general just unneeded padding here and there that adds nothing to a sentence.

But you've got the basics down well enough and enough description and setting detail and the like that it kept my interest up until a point. There's a pretty good balance of description and action and exposition, and having a feel for the pacing and flow of a scene is one of the most important things. The rest is just polish.

Unfortunately, I then basically immediately lost any real engagement with this when the MC randomly murdered the old man. How to handle this situation would be a pretty obvious place to put a first choice, in fact, instead of completely taking it out of the player's control.

The problem is heightened somewhat by you going with a blank slate amnesiac for a protagonist; a cliche under normal circumstances, but it can work if the idea is to be a cipher for the player. Not however when you then go and give them character traits like 'casually does murders' without player input. You need to use an established character for that and strongly characterize them as that kind of person from the beginning for it to work or make any kind of sense. Even the weak explanation we get 'sometimes it's kill or be killed' doesn't fit the actual situation. The MC isn't being threatened or defending themself in any way.

Intro to My Story (Sneak Peek)

3 years ago

After re-reading I can agree with your recommendation of using "You" too much. In fact, back in the good old days (fifth grade), I remember my teacher saying "No 2 sentences should start with the same word." or something like that, and I have clearly ignored that rule when writing this story. 

Now about the thing with the MC killing the innocent old man. Yes, I guess you could say that was poor character development, and the reader should have been able to make a decision, BUT in my defense, there was actually an option I added that wasn't included in this "excerpt" from my story where you can walk over peacefully. The only thing is (yes I know this is dumb too and I should probably change it) you die if you enter peacefully because he kills you. I know it sounds dumb but I want the reader to learn early on to fend for themselves, because some characters may betray you later on. The reader should learn to not rely on others. The reader is in a different world, and the characters around him/her are not all who they really seem.

Like you said though, the MC wasn't really being threatened at all, so a little more information about the poor guy and who he was would help the reader make a better and more informed choice about the situation instead of just looking over at the hut and flipping a coin to see if the reader should kill the guy in there or not. I'll update the story so the reader has more control, and also update the part of the story so instead of randomly killing the man, the reader kills him out of self-defense or from finding out the man is a hallowtooth or something. (which are the bad guys of the story) 

Thanks for the feedback though. I'm a pretty noob writer so criticism always helps.  

Intro to My Story (Sneak Peek)

3 years ago
I think the way I'd handle a situation like that is to first do more to get across a sort lawless post apoc feel of the setting where encountering strangers can be deadly and that kind of thing just happens. (Although in that case I'd ask why even bother establishing there's a gang of bandits around if everyone else is pretty similar...)

Secondly, you could break up the actual confrontation with the old man into a few smaller pages to add more complexity to the choice and outcome. But whether you keep it simple or add more choices or not, I feel like you definitely do need to either establish the main character as an unpleasant cutthroat from the very beginning or else put him in direct danger to make the scene work. The latter preferable IMO because the former ties you to a certain kind of story and one that will need a lot more work to keep the reader identifying with the protagonist.

Just an example of what I meant by more pages though, you could structure the scene something like:

1.) Openly approach the hut to ask for help ---> Man confronts you with shot gun and warns you off --> Keep trying to talk to him and get shot OR run off and die of thirst/exposure in the desert. OR grab the gun --> if you grab the gun, shoot him OR tie him up OR let him run off before you loot the place.

2.) Sneak up and steal supplies --> Just take water and the meat from the fire and leave OR try to ambush the man or sneak inside when you think he's asleep and get shot.

Each of these pages could just be a couple of paragraphs but they add a much greater sense of control and immersion for the reader. And some of them could open up branches of their own if you felt like it. If you just take food and go off with no guns, maybe you run into a wild animal you have to outwit or fight with just a spear, or you come across some new encounter you wouldn't have otherwise. (It could even be something good, like a broken down vehicle you can try and repair.)

If you let him run off AND spend the night there instead of grabbing everything and leaving, let's say you get woken up by his buddies who turn out to be members of the Hollowtooth gang. (And that doesn't even have to be a dead could get captured and put to work and have to work out an escape plot with other prisoners, or hell, talk your way into joining them.)

That's both the most fun and most frustrating thing about CYOAs, there's endless places to branch new storylines off from, but you also have to work out which are the most interesting or most fit your vision for the story or there's no way to ever finish.

Intro to My Story (Sneak Peek)

3 years ago

Interesting input, that confrontation with the man is going to end up having lots of branching paths now. 

Intro to My Story (Sneak Peek)

3 years ago
First, the disclaimers: this is my review. It is likely not like anyone else’s. In fact, you probably couldn’t find anyone else who completely agrees with what I write here. But it’s my opinion. I’m also writing this as I read through this for the first time. These are my first impressions as I read it. I’m not saying they’re right, just what I’m thinking. This is written in the spirit of helping you see how others see your story and to perhaps give you ideas for improvement, and not to be mean or anything else. Please don’t take it personally. This review is likely worth exactly what you paid for it. Finally, you did ask.

Here we go:

The first three sentences are a little rough and feel disjointed. I’m awake, I’m lying on the ground, and clearly I’m tired because I don’t have any desire to move. But I’m also numb. So wait, am I paralyzed? Or am I numb because I’m tired from running a long time? I’m just not sure how I should feel because I can’t tell if the source of my lack of desire to move comes from exhaustion or some other external force.

The next sentence feels jarring to me as well. I’m lying on the ground, probably on my back. So how do you glance at the sky? I mean in reality if I’m lying on my back, I don’t see how I can glance at the sky when that’s quite literally all I can look at right now. But that’s okay, because my glance causes me to squint. In my mind those things aren’t really related. If I just glance, then I don’t need to squint because I’m no longer looking at the thing I glanced at. But if I need to squint, that’s only because I am still looking at the thing that’s causing me to squint? Then again, I may just be on drugs because the sky is filled with red, orange, and yellow that’s causing me to squint. I guess this is a fantasy setting with different rules, and that’s fine.

At this point, I have to ask, “What’s on my face?” I ask because the bit about the sand is nice; the feel of the sand running through my fingers, etc. is all good. But there’s apparently a light breeze blowing across my face, and it’s making noise. I’m sure that this could be a sci-fi story, but I’m just mentioning it because I don’t know about your human face, but my face is relatively soft and squishy, and when a breeze blows across it, it really doesn’t make any noise. In fact, about the only way I can get noise from my face related to wind is when there’s a strong wind blowing directly into my face and the wind tears past my ears.

But never mind my face, I’m thirsty! Suddenly! And I move from lying prone on my back to standing up right away, without getting to my knees or anything. I wonder if I did that ninja move where they kick back and go from lying down to standing. But hey, I’m in a desert, I’m so tired I don’t want to move, but I just jumped to my feet and I’m thirsty. Oh, and I’m talking to myself in the shadows of a world wrapped in yellow, orange, and red skies.

And… what? Balfia is a desert planet. And I might be inside it? Does that explain the strange skies? Are there holes in the planet surface for people to walk in and out of the planet? But hey, just because I’m on a desert planet, that doesn’t mean it isn’t heavily populated. After all, that’s what people do when they find desert planets – they run down and slap up cities all over the place! (Pro tip: No. No they do not. If this is a sci-fi story about people colonizing planets, desert plants are skipped and ignored more than even water-filled planets because you can’t live without water). At least there’s gangsters here inside the desert planet tourist destination hotspot.

I can see wandering and not knowing what’s going on. This section might be better if instead of just saying that the clothes are ragged, you actually could have the character look down and describe what they see. They could feel some of the edges of the clothes and use that to reveal that they’re torn. They could get up on one knee and feel the sand through a hole in the pants. If the breeze gets cooler, they could feel a chill through a hole in the side of the shirt or something like that.

I am most certainly on drugs. I have a quench for thirst. I don’t think that’s how that works. But hey, I guess when you have a quench, you have a quench, am I right? Anyway, the structure description is a little weird because it sounds like I notice there’s something there, then realize it’s a hut, then spot the fire. Unless I’m approaching from the rear with the sun in my eyes, I think I’m going to notice the fire first. But hey, I’m quenching, so I’m just going to raid the damn place. That seems a little forward of me, but quenching is quenching.

It would seem logical to me that I might simply ask for some aid here. For some reason, that thought never entered my mind as I walked up to the building. If that’s really the case, I think you need a lot more background here to explain why that would be the case. Sure, that could be, if all the people are used to violence all the time, or dangers, or mutants or something. But without any explanation at all, it really doesn’t make any sense, even if I am a super bad-guy, but especially since I seem to have some memory loss at this point.

Wait, there’s a sun in the sky? I thought the sky was a permanent rainbow of colored lines? But why is sunset the perfect time to take stuff? Does everyone here nap just before sundown or something? Are all the residents anti-vampires that are only out when the sun is up and won’t go out when the sun goes down? But hey, there’s a spear! That seemed rather random. Didn’t I notice the spear when I first spotted the hut?

The whole death scene takes me back…no wait, no it doesn’t! That doesn’t make a lot of sense to me, either. If this place is so violent that people just kill one another at random, why the hell would that guy leave his spear outside? What kind of moron is this guy? Or is it really just a safe place and I’m the random child-murderer who kills whenever and wherever he wants? Once again, if that’s the case, it’s fine, but you’ve really got to set the reader up with more information if that is the case. If it’s not the case, there’s no reason for that spear to be outside. And the loaded shotgun not being used by the guy inside makes even less sense. If the shotgun is there because he expected trouble, why didn’t he use it on me? Also, I don’t think it’s considered “raiding” a hut when all you do is walk over a dead body and step inside. I’d call that “walking into.”

Hey wait, where’d the backpack come from? If it is so significant, why wasn’t it in my list of loot from raiding the hut? Maybe I pooped it. What the hell is going on outside? Suddenly there’s tasty-smelling meat on the fire? Yeah, I’m not getting this scene at all. If there was such a strong smell, I should have noticed that before I ever spotted the hut, the mysterious spear, the fire, and the dead guy who didn’t even put up a fight or use his loaded shotgun. I’m glad I ate the meat directly off the fire in one sentence, but took eight sentences to fill my water bottle…especially since the whole reason I assassinated this guy was apparently because I was thirsty…

So hey, those are my thoughts as I read it through for the very first time. I hope that helps you in some way see how someone else might see your story. I do hope that you continue writing!

Intro to My Story (Sneak Peek)

3 years ago
> And the loaded shotgun not being used by the guy inside makes even less sense. If the shotgun is there because he expected trouble, why didn’t he use it on me?

The old man didn't know anyone was there, the MC waited outside and then ambushed him with the spear when he came out. The backpack was also implied to be from inside the hut. (Which is loaded with a surprising amount of useful supplies and weaponry for some grubby little hut in the desert but that's neither here no there...)

There's a lot of things I'm questioning about the logic of that whole sequence but those parts seemed pretty straightforward as to the how they happened, if not the why.

I was also wondering why a desert planet would be considered heavily populated *because* it's a desert instead of the opposite but forgot to ask. The best I could come up with would be that settlements would be easy to spot with everything so open, but it seems likely you'd be murdered for walking up to one if everyone is so casual about that here.

Intro to My Story (Sneak Peek)

3 years ago

First of all, thanks! These kinds of questions can really help improve my story and my writing in general. Now to clear up the colors in the sky thing. I was trying to explain the sunset you know? You know how sometimes you look into the sky and its red, and then maybe its pink during the sunset? Maybe I'm just really bad at describing things. By the time the reader arrives at the hut, the sun finally disappears over the horizon, but I guess I messed up on describing that too. 

Anyway, I'll try to incorporate this into my story! Thanks again!

Intro to My Story (Sneak Peek)

3 years ago
I guess the biggest piece that threw me off with the light was a sentence before I was looking at the bright sun. Since in my mind the sun's bright, there's no way that's near sunset or would have the yellow and orange of sunset! Descriptions can be really hard to get right.

Intro to My Story (Sneak Peek)

3 years ago

Yeah, that was bad describing by me I guess, I added so many details they canceled out each other.