Chapter 1: Lost in the Desert

Chapter 1: Lost in the Desert

A Chapter by StarNinja
"

An adventure begins.

"

A warm breeze blew sand across the boy’s face, filling his ears and nose with grit. He swiped at the air, hoping to banish the source of his discomfort, but the wind stubbornly refused to stop. He opened his eyes. The effort felt like lifting a mountain over his head. Where was he? What had happened? The world was spinning. On its axis, of course, but also relative to him or so it seemed. He tried to sit up but failed. Still too dizzy. His head hurt. His back hurt. Had he eaten it after attempting a gnarly jump off the swings? He might have thought before he noticed he was surrounded by sand and dirt, not playground mulch.

The world came more into focus as he blinked. The setting sun beamed right in his face. At least, he assumed the sun was setting on account of how orange everything looked. The sky, the clouds, the dirt, the mountains in the distance, everything orange.

He tried sitting up again. This time he was a little more successful. He appeared to be atop a steep hill littered with jagged rocks. It was quiet here, absent of the familiar suburban buzz. No cars. No planes. No birds or animals or insects. Just the whisper of wind kicking up sand.

Was he dreaming? He didn’t remember falling asleep on top of a hill. It didn’t make sense. Why had he ended up here on a hilltop? Then again, it was a nice view from up here. He could see out quite a distance, maybe a few miles. Though there wasn’t much to see other than sand, rocks and tiny patches of vegetation dotting the landscape. It was like a desert here, now that he thought about it. Hot and dry. But not Saharan. No sand dunes or anything like that. More like the Mojave. He couldn’t see any buildings or roads. Where was he again?

He tried to stand. It hurt a ton, so he stopped doing that in a hurry. He wasn’t hurt anywhere else other than bruises and scratches on his knees and elbows, but his head… A sharp pain radiated right above where his skull met his neck. Touching the spot hurt like hell. What had happened to him? Then he saw blood. On his hands. On the ground. Blood? Blood! From where? The answer was dripping down his neck and back. He reached for the back of his head again. His hair was slick and matted with the stuff, as was his neck and shirt.

He panicked. He didn’t know first aid! Was he going to die? He looked around for something to stop the bleeding. The only things he had on him were his clothes and a pocketknife. His t-shirt would have to do for now. He took it off and pressed it to the wound. Luckily the shirt was red so the blood wouldn’t show. He remembered his sister telling him once that pressure was the best thing to stop bleeding. Pressure and something else. Elevation? He couldn’t remember.

He had to find help. He started to get up, then paused. Wasn’t he supposed to stay in one location and wait for help? He swore he heard that in a TV program once. He just had to be somewhere visible enough for his rescuers to…

The boy felt a fuzzy feeling sweep over him. He didn’t live anywhere near a desert. It was summer right now, but it never got this hot. Where was he? He surveyed the area again. He’d seen skies like this before. From his bedroom window he liked to watch the sun set, changing the sky from its normal hues to the kinds of colors he was seeing now. Except this was even more different than that. The whole sky from horizon to horizon was as orange as rust. And the nearby bushes were blue and purple and didn’t really look like bushes now that he got a better look at them. In fact, since when were bushes purple?

He had to snap out of it. His head was bleeding and he had to find help. He got to his feet. Someone would be looking for him. His parents, his sister, his friends… he couldn’t remember their names. What were their names? What was his name? The realization hit him like a brick. Why couldn't he remember his own name? Was it amnesia? Had he really hit his head that hard? He tried to do a memory inventory on himself. He was a boy. That was a start. He was thirteen years old. He had brown hair. He liked video games. His favorite color was… He couldn’t recall. He had two parents and one sister. No pets. Was that it? It couldn’t be.

He started running down the hill, screaming for his mom and dad as he went. No response but his voice echoing off the nearby hills. He wasn’t paying attention to where he was going, and a loose rock caught his foot. The boy tumbled over himself and he landed in a purple thicket. He laid there, feeling numb from pain, tears flowing freely down his face. The idea that this wasn’t real quickly left him. He wasn’t going to suddenly wake up. He had dreams that seemed real before. This was nothing like those. This world, this pain, all of it was happening to him right now. But how had he gotten here to this orange desert under and orange sky? He tried to remember the last thing he’d done before blacking out. The memory came to him in bits and fragments. He he'd been outside. Where? The old swing set in the park. He used to swing on it when he was little but lately, he went there when he needed time alone to think. After that, everything went blank.

A stone rolled down the hill which surprised Phillip. He got to his feet and readied himself for anything and everything. Wait. That was his name! Phillip! Felipe to his familia. A soft whistling sound, like a soft exhalation brushing against his ear, snapped him back to reality. He searched frantically for the source of the breathing sound, but just as quickly as it had come, the sound was gone. Had it been the wind, or…?

He picked up his dirty, bloody shirt from the thicket and continued navigating his way down the hill, ears on high alert. In the silence of the early morning (or late afternoon, he wasn’t sure if the sun was setting or rising) every footstep amplified a hundred-fold. He could even hear his heart beating in his ears.

When the hill lost its incline and Phillip found himself was walking on flat, cracked earth he sprang into a quick jog and hurried away from the hill without any idea where he was going. He ran for about a minute before the adrenaline passed and the pain in his head returned. He sat down and tried rubbing away the aches and pains all over his body. He dried his eyes with his arm, but the tears just kept coming. He didn’t know where he was. He didn’t know how he’d gotten here. What he did know was that he wasn’t on Earth anymore.

It was impossible, of course. People didn’t just wake up on other planets. And yet here he was. Nothing but alien vistas as far as the eye could see. He wanted to keep denying it; keep telling himself it was a dream. For starters, what were the chances that he’d found himself on another planet with a breathable atmosphere and similar gravity to his own planet? If he’d been abducted by aliens, why had they dropped him here?

Phillip sat for a long time. The reality of his situation hadn’t sunk in quite yet, or he would have been curled up in the fetal position with no thought in his head but despair. He couldn’t think about his situation. Not about where he was, not about the fact that rescue was basically impossible, not about any of it. What mattered now was survival. Unfortunately, Phillip didn’t know the first thing about survival. What was he going to eat? Where was he going to sleep? There weren't any trees to cut down for firewood or to build shelters with. Yeah, like he knew how to do any of that. He didn’t even have any tools with him other than his pocketknife and that wouldn’t serve him well in the tree cutting department.

Breakfast had been hours ago, his stomach reminded him. The patches of yellow “grass” directly in front of him didn't look that tasty, dry as they were. The “flowers” of various plants nestled between the patches of grass were thorny and bristly and it hurt to even look at them. He decided he would find something to eat. It was easier to worry about that than anything else at the moment. He wrapped his shirt around his head to keep his hands free and made sure it was good and tight even though it stung to do so.

Phillip didn’t know where he was going. There wasn’t anywhere to go. Other than the hill behind him, the world was devoid of landmarks. He walked for a long time. He wasn't sure how long. His watch was sitting on his dresser at home. Mom always told him not to leave it behind and now he’d have to find some other way to tell time. Not that it really mattered on an alien planet. He'd often imagine himself in these kinds of scenarios, mentally preparing for things that would never happen. What would he do if monsters suddenly attacked his school? Or zombies? He hadn't thought much about surviving on an alien planet though. His latest daydreams involved defending his home town from a Soviet invasion. He was totally unprepared for this. Survival was more his sister’s deal. She loved camping and wilderness expeditions. She said she wanted to become a survivalist when she grew up and explore the Amazon. Katie. That was her name. Good old Kay Kay. She was at summer camp right now, probably learning how to tie knots and make canoes. Phillip wondered how she was doing.

Eventually he came across a ridge that dropped off sharply into a valley hundreds of feet below. From the top of the ridge, he could see that the whole of the valley was carpeted with patches of dull yellows and purples. Probably more plant life. No sign of civilization anywhere. He sat on the edge of the ridge, hanging his aching feet over the side. He sat there for a while, taking in the view. In a way, he was kind of like a pioneer. He might very well be the first human being on this strange new world. Heck, he was the first boy to ever travel to another planet. He couldn’t help but smile at the thought of it. When he found his way home, he would be a hero! Boy discovers alien world; the newspapers would read. When he got home… if he got home... Phillip shook his head to dispel the negative thoughts, but it only made him dizzy. He steadied himself and took a deep breath, coughed thanks to some errant sand flying in the wind, and wondered why his breath sounded so weird and whistley.

Then, something behind him moved. He jumped in his skin and whirled around. Scarcely feet away, stood an alien creature. It was vaguely humanoid in shape, with faded blue scaly skin and a potato shaped head attached to a muscular neck. Where its eyes should have been there was instead a metal visor. It wore a ratty, grey military uniform and was shorter than him by about a head. It was fat and stubby and holding a golden rod by its side which had a familiar shape to it. The creature tilted its head one way and then the other, making a distinct whistling sound as it breathed through its weird looking mouth parts, which looked like blue spaghetti coming out of a blue cheese grater.

Phillip recognized the sound right away. This thing had been on the hill. It had been following him this whole time. This thing had been following him! The creature farted. Phillip would have laughed if he wasn’t absolutely terrified. It farted again, and Phillip realized that it was actually talking to him. With farts. Mouth farts. It pointed a stubby sausage finger at Phillip’s face. Phillip had no idea what to do or if he should do anything at all. After a minute of trying to communicate in its whistling whoopee cushion language, the alien stomped the ground in frustration and pointed its golden rod directly at Phillip’s chest.

“What do you want? I don’t know what you’re saying,” Phillip said.

The alien poked Phillip in the chest with its rod, making wet smacking sounds as it did. Annoyed, Phillip swatted the rod away. The alien fired a warning shot in the air. The sound was deafening. That’s when Phillip noticed the pistol grip at the end of the rod. It wasn’t a poking stick after all. It aimed the rod at Phillip’s face and his hands reflexively shot up above his head.

“Wait, don’t shoot! I… I come in peace!”

The alien eyed Phillip, or it would have if it had eyes. It seemed to be contemplating its next move. After what seemed like an eternity, the alien lowered its weapon. It pressed the side of its neck with a fat stubby finger, of which it only had four. It made more sounds like it was totally beefing it, but they weren’t directed at Phillip this time. It seemed distracted now. Phillip slowly backed away. Before he could get far, a thunderous sound echoed in the distance. He turned to see a great cloud of dust rising from the ground and getting closer. A black vehicle: dirty, dented and belching black smoke from several crevices along the side of its frame, came roaring over a small embankment and landed several yards from Phillip’s position. It was loud, it was smelly, and its edges were jagged and sharp. Sitting in and around the vehicle were a dozen other short blue aliens, hollering and whooping and waving their golden guns in the air. Were they angry? Happy? Phillip couldn’t tell.

They all looked like the first, though not all of them had visors. Instead, they watched Phillip with shiny, pupil-less black eyes. They all wore the same ratty, grey military uniforms. It was a mind-boggling sight and it took him a few seconds to comprehend what he was seeing. The first alien poked Phillip in the arm to get his attention and pointed to the back of the vehicle, which was shaped like a cage. Phillip made the perfectly reasonable assumption that the alien was telling him to get in the cage.

He looked for a means of escape. The closest bit of cover, a big boulder, was within sprinting distance. After that it was nothing but flatlands and hills for miles around. He could jump over the ridge and tumble down into the valley below. It would hurt a heck of a lot but the vehicle (which kind of looked like a pickup truck now that he thought about it) wouldn’t be able to follow him down without crashing and burning. He realized how stupid that idea was the moment he turned to look at the sheer cliff face behind him. It was one long meat tenderizing ride all the way down. The alien was getting impatient, and Phillip could tell, because it started poking him again.

Phillip stared at the waiting black cage. No way out. No escape. He sucked in a breath and stepped forward. Before he could take another step, the alien vehicle exploded in a flash of green and blue. Phillip was knocked back by the blast and just managed to avoid falling over the cliff. The alien next to him wasn’t so lucky, and it whistle farted all the way down. The survivors of the explosion quickly regrouped behind the smoking wreckage of their vehicle and started firing their weapons wildly. One of them accidentally shot another in the head. Apparently, they didn’t teach basic marksmanship at the Alien Military Academy. The salvo of gunfire was so loud that Phillip thought his eardrums would burst from the sound of it.

Another explosion from the vehicle. An interior compartment burst and perforated another two aliens standing close together with hot shrapnel. Another alien died when its gun blew up in its hands which killed it and a second alien that was kneeling nearby. There were only two left now. They looked at each other. Then they looked at Phillip. He ran for the boulder as fast as his legs could take him. Gunfire went zipping past his head, kicking up dirt around his feet, hitting basically everything else but him. He dove behind the boulder and landed hard on his bare stomach.

Everything got quiet after that. No sound except the ringing in his ears and the crack and pop of burning wreckage. Phillip knelt behind the boulder for what seemed like ages waiting for the approach of the last two aliens. He strained to listen as hard as he could. He heard nothing at first. Then footsteps. Quiet. Deliberate. They were trying to sneak up on him.



© 2021 StarNinja


Author's Note

StarNinja
Look for typos, plot holes, anything. I accept the challenge! Bring it on! Rip into this book and tell it like it is!

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"Nothing mattered in this place. Nothing was the point of it all in the end anyway. Nothingness in its purest form, and he was staring it right in the face. But if nothing mattered, and if nothing is everything there is, didn’t that mean everything mattered?" I understand the idea here. The problem is this first sentence I've pasted. It's important to highlight "nothing MATTERS" as opposed to NOTHING matters. Because if there is nothing that matters, than everything will not matter. However, if even no thing matters, than everything including no thing matters. I'm pretty sure I know what you're going for in terms of word play and a bit of a philosophical paradox, but I just thought I'd warn to be very clear with this section.

"The world outside was different than he remembered it." This is definitely the kind of good opening sentence for any longer work. With this sentence you've set the reader up to wonder what has changed, what's different, and how the character is going to respond to it?

Your character and narrator's thoughts early on are quite interesting. They are very scattered, short bursts of thought and response to surroundings. I think it is good in giving the narrator/main character a unique voice.

The back and forth between somewhat of a omniscient 3rd person, disconnected from the character describing the scene and what the boy sees and the narrative voice that is almost an extension of the boy's thoughts is a unique contrast. I just think you'll need to be careful with this. This section highlights the sudden jump from a simple 3rd person scene to almost a first person shift:

"A stone rolled down the hill. Phillip jumped up and readied himself for anything and everything. It took what seemed like several seconds for him to land. Hey that was his name. Phillip!"

The narration is setting a scene then a couple sentences later it jumps to "Hey, that's his name," which makes the narration of the story a limited 3rd person. I don't think a 3rd person limited POV is being undermined by your story or is impossible, but it's a trick perspective that means the narrator really only knows the things characters could know, usually only the main character. Just something to consider.

"He hadn't brought any food with him, but then he didn't know he'd need any." I really think there should maybe even be a sentence that says, "He didn't even know he'd be in this situation." I mean, it seems he has no idea where he is, what has happened, or what his situation is right now, other than this somewhat different world that seems like a dream and this pain in the back of his head that has led him to believe this is actually quite real.

This is another difficult concept to work with: having a main character wake up in a foreign place with pretty much no idea what's going on. It's very difficult to have voice the feelings of a character that has no idea where he is. In fact, the problem with this scenario is anything very realistic would be pretty boring. Most people would probably sit and wonder for quite a long time. Where could they be? What was the last thing they remembered? Am I alone? Am I in danger? Should I look/yell for help? Having a character go through all these questions in a story is a little dull. I feel like often times, in story scenarios like waking up in a foreign place, usually somebody or something comes along somewhat soon to help the main character. Not just for the purpose of the main character but for the audience. The longer the audience has no idea what's going on, the more they may start to lose interest. Even if some character comes by, says what the situation is, and is completely lying, at least the reader has something to grasp on to as to what is going on. Without concrete things to envision and imagine, it's hard for the reader to get into the story. I even think having something like a small animal or creature come along and letting Phillip voice his concerns to an unresponsive animal might be an interesting idea. As the creature only returns blank stars, Phillip may begin to imagine what he thinks the animal is saying to him or something.
"Heck, was the first boy to ever travel to another planet." Is this something a person would be sure of if they woke up in a weird place? Wouldn't most people try to come to a more logical conclusion or something? There's also nothing up to this point that convinces me that Phillip actually thinks this is different from his home planet. In fact, the line in the first paragraph I liked so much, "The world outside was different than he remembered it," made me think some catastrophe had taken place on his home planet, not that he was somehow relocated to an alien world.

"This thing had been on the hill. It had followed him for almost ten minutes without him noticing. This thing had been following him! The creature made a noise at Phillip, like a wet fart. He would have laughed if he wasn’t absolutely terrified. It made more wet farting noises at him" I think using the term wet fart to describe the noises undermines the tension and concern the reader should be feeling during this scene. Pointing out that the noises might be funny if it weren't so terrifying takes the reader out of what should be a fearful moment. Having been followed by a strange creature for the last 10 minutes without noticing should have the reader on edge. Why hadn't this creature attacked? Is it going to attack now? I would suggest describing the noises some other way if you can, or if you are going for a lighter tone, maybe even a bit of humorous one in the story, stick with what you have.

After a few more paragraphs and a couple more references to "whistle fart" as a language, I get the feeling this is a bit more of a light and comedic story. So while you may still take my previous paragraph into consideration, I don't have any problem with the way the story is so far.

"It was more like if you lit green fire on fire." Haha, I know the image you're going for here. Would it be more like lighting fire, green?

The interaction between Phillip and the boy is well done. The language translator CommCod is a pretty cool and unique piece of technology. I'm feeling that the story is starting to pick up here and I'm beginning to get into the vibe of the story now that there's something solid to grasp onto. I don't suggest going back and making the beginning of the story less chaotic. In fact, I don't think from the beginning of the story to the point where Phillip meets the boy is that far apart. The chaos and unknown that the reader would feel for the first half of the story is similar to what Phillip would be feeling, so in that regard, I think you've done a good job in making the confusion and chaos last up to a certain point before giving the reader a grounding point where they can feel they'll start understanding what's happening.

"He had dark skin, like a Middle Eastern or Indian guy." Just pointing out that if Phillip is not from Earth, this comparison cannot work. If he is, no problem.

I also think after the first few paragraphs where the narrative voice sort of talks directly to Phillip a bit has pretty much settled into a fine and working 3rd person POV by the time the blue creatures and Omar shows up.

It works as a first chapter, provided the second chapter will continue to elaborate on some backstory. While maybe I should assume that it's obvious Phillip is from Earth, there's no mention of Earth while he's talking with Omar. Maybe having Omar ask Phillip where he's from and having Phillip say Earth and then either Omar knowing about it or not would make for some interesting dialogue. Of course, this may occur in your 2nd chapter, so if it does, just ignore this suggestion. The second half is really strong, intriguing, and solid in setting up the contrasts between Phillip's and Omar's planets and home life. It's just maybe the first quarter that is a bit shaky due to the fact both Phillip and the reader are completely in the dark with what is going on. I do think that's the purpose and since that's what is happening, it really couldn't be any other way, but there still may be really small ways to clear things up early on. Maybe small internal conflicts in the mind of Phillip to keep things tense and keep the reader wondering how a conflict might be solved. More reference to the head wound. Phillip debating whether to get up and look for help or stay where he is. Things like that.

Posted 10 Years Ago


2 of 2 people found this review constructive.




Reviews

• Cold. Quiet. Wet. Pain. And yet dry also? Too dry. And warm. Nothing was making sense right then for the young boy.

Seriously? First you give effect, “cold, quiet, etc.” without even a hint of who or what the effect is being noted by, THEN, you tell the reader who the effect happens to, WITHOUT even a hint as to the cause? And when you do get around to telling the reader who the effect happens to, he’s not important enough to have a name?

Yes, I know you later explain that he doesn’t remember who he is, but by then it’s far too late. Were this a submission to agent or acquiring editor, here is where the rejection comes. And I say that as someone who owned a manuscript critiquing service, not as personal opinion.

The problem, is that YOU, the narrator are reporting and explaining, in the format: This happens…then that happens…and here’s why that matters…and after that…” We’re not with that character, in that setting, living the adventure in real-time as him, we’re hearing about it second hand, from someone not in the story or on the scene. And that would change not at all if you changed the personal pronouns to make it first person.

When you say, “he realized” it’s not him reacting, or realizing. It’s you explaining, at a distance. When you say,
- - -
“Is there any way for you to get home?” Phillip asked.
- - -
First Philip, whose turn is it to speak, asks the question, identified as such by both the wording, and, the question mark. Then you, who ARE NOT THERE, step on stage and explain that it was a question, as if the reader is too dumb to know. Why?

Because you’re reporting and explaining, as if you’re seeing it on a mental video screen and telling the reader what you see, and what you believe it means in terms of story. And that’s every bit as exciting as reading any other chronicle of events.

The thing you miss is that our goal isn’t to make the reader know what happened. As E. L. Doctorow so wisely put it: “Good writing is supposed to evoke sensation in the reader. Not the fact that it’s raining, but the feeling of being rained upon.” But...you didn’t make the reader feel that cold, wet, and pain you open with, you dispassionately mentioned it from the author's viewpoint—which is why it’s a rejection-point.

At the moment, you, like most hopeful writers, are using the writing skills we’re given in our school days. But the word “writing” that’s part of the profession, Fiction-Writing, does NOT point to that skill because its techniques are nonfiction, meant for writing the endless reports and essays we were assigned there, as they prepared us for the needs of our future employers.

Nonfiction’s skills are fact-based and author-centric, as those used in this chapter are. They’re by nature dispassionate because the only emotion in the narrator’s voice is what punctuation suggests, not what you would place there. So first, we read a list of what the protagonist feels. Then we’re told that someone unknown believes that what they’re feeling makes no sense.

Put yourself in his place. He’s brought abruptly awake, feeling wet, cold and the opposite at the same time. And, he has a significant wound. Do you, a) dispassionately analyze the situation? b) Shout, “Holy s**t!” as you open your eyes and take instinctive action to protect yourself, while analyzing the situation in terms of self-preservation? I know I sure wouldn’t lay there calmly thinking about a situation that just might kill me.

If I woke in an unfamiliar place, the first thing I’d do is get to my feet and scan 360° for potential threats, And so would your protagonist. Instinct protects us, so we obey that first. “Force” his eyelids open? Hell no. His body would open them FIRST, without asking his permission.

Would he care that his muscles were sore or that his ribs ached? Hell no. Not till safety was assured and he had his personal environment under HIS control. And that matters to the reader, because as he scans for threats we learn about where WE are, and what we need to do. Readers don’t want to hear about the story, second hand. They want to live it, in the moment he calls "now," with the protagonist our avatar. We don’t want to be told what he does and says, we want to do it, vicariously, as him. But we can’t do that unless we know his situation as-he-perceives it. Is his analysis of the situation wrong? Then ours must be as well, so when he learns of his mistake, we will react AS HIM. And how much time did your teachers spend on how to do that? None, right? No one told you of the three issues we must address quickly on entering any scene, so as to give the reader context, so you didn’t. No one talked of the short-term scene-goal, and how important that is so, you provide none.

It’s not your fault, nor is it related to your talent or how well you write. It’s that you, like all hopeful writers, have missed a critical point: Professions are acquired IN ADDITION to our school-days skill-set, and fiction-writing is not all that easy a profession to master It's techniques are very different from fiction, Emotion,not fact-based, and character, not author-centric. Remember, since you began reading, you’ve chosen only books created with that professional skill set. And you’ll know, in a paragraph if something you’re reading was created without them. Of more relevance, your reader will know—which is the best argument I know of for spending some time, and perhaps a few coins, acquiring your writer’s education.

There are lots of way to do that. Obviously, you could work to get a degree in commercial fiction writing. Creative writing courses, while they sound like a path to success, are useless, for reasons too long to go into here. There are workshops, writing conferences, retreats, and more, even cruises (When cruises become a thing, again). But first, a grounding in the basics is a necessity. And the best book I’ve found on the nuts-and-bolts issues of creating scenes that sing to the reader, and linking them into an exciting whole, is Dwight Swain’s, Techniques of the Selling Writer. It’s an older book, but I’ve found none better, and it’s the book that resulted in my first contract offer from a publisher after having written six many-times submitted, but always rejected, novels. I wish you the same. The link to a site that is supplying free downloads is just below.
https://ru.b-ok2.org/book/2640776/e749ea

You’ve worked hard on this, apparently, for quite a few years, and have invested a lot of yourself in it. But you cannot fix the problem you don’t see as being one, or use the tool you don’t know exists. As Mark Twain so wisely put it: “It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.” So...you need to get rid of all that “just ain’t so,” left over from your school-days. Trade in that dray-horse we’re given in school for Pegasus and who knows where you’ll fly to?

For a kind of preview of what Mr. Swain has to say, the articles in my WordPress writing blog were based, in large part, on his teachings. So you might dig through a few. There’s also an audio boil-down of his all day workshops on writing and character generation on Amazon, under the title, Dwight Swain, Master Writing Teacher, for about $6. It’s worth the price to hear what he says about editors, other writers, and killing someone with a doorknob.

So dig in. It won’t make a pro of you. That’s your job. But it will give you the tools with which to do that if it’s in you. And like the proverbial bowl of chicken soup for a cold, it certainly can’t hurt.

Jay Greenstein
https://jaygreenstein.wordpress.com/category/the-craft-of-writing/the-grumpy-old-writing-coach/

Posted 5 Months Ago


0 of 1 people found this review constructive.

StarNinja

5 Months Ago

Hey, my bad writing was self-taught, thank you very much. No teacher ever showed me how to do dialog.. read more
This comment has been deleted by the poster.
JayG

5 Months Ago

• Hey, my bad writing was self-taught, thank you very much.

First, it’s not bad w.. read more
Well, I have to be honest I see no issues whatsoever. Great description, crisp flow, and excellent dialogue. No mechanical issues, very few typos, if any.

Great job! Definitely has potential, and the setting and situation contain enough mystery to keep the audience intrigued.

I know most the reviews are from three years ago, but, after seeing it for the first time, it definitely has great potential.

Posted 6 Years Ago


StarNinja

6 Years Ago

I appreciate the feedback, ArcaneEagle. It's taken a lot of rewrites to get it where it is now and I.. read more
I was too immersed in the story to look for typos or plot holes, a good read is hard to come by, thank you. A question is where does your fiction end and this reality begin?! I've really enjoyed a solid tale which incorporates many fascinating concepts, and to my amateur eye looks crafted with care and love, an occasional pinch of humour, and intelligence, thank you again. The beginning is great, best foot forward - and you continue that way. If this is a completed book/manuscript, are you planning on sending this to publishing agents? Maybe you should if you haven't already.

Posted 7 Years Ago


StarNinja

7 Years Ago

Thanks for the review, and no it's nowhere near completed. But hopefully someday it will be. Thanks .. read more
Since you've kindly taken a look at my latest prose, I thought I'd check out the book you've featured on your own profile.

“How are you… what…? Never mind. Listen..."... Haha that was probably the funniest part in the first half I finished reading. Asking a potentially dangerous stranger about how they're doing is an obvious sign of distortion and I guess Phillip was this close to losing what remained of his mind. Poor thing.

Once I began to grasp that Phillip's assumptions about alien abduction and foreign planets were true, I had a strange feeling about reading a Space Adventure from the point of view of a young boy, because one normally expects more complicated diction and a larger focus on military background. But this is enjoyable BECAUSE of the fact that we get to see the world through a child's eyes. The brief descriptions and your employment of plain, clear adjectives allows more room for imagination. The desert seemed like a painfully silent barren land. Absolutely NOT a place I'd want to wake up in.

Your version of 'aliens'could have been more original, but who am I to tell after just reading one chapter? I LOVED your final addition of Omar to the story after so many paragraphs of wondering 'WHERE THE F**K WAS PHILLIP?' Their meeting was strange and nerve-pulling, and the conversation sounded very natural, like that of real people. And I also LOVE the fact that they're both boys AND alone in this vast nowhere. *raises eyebrows* I tend to fantasize about further development between characters of the same gender. Hopefully, but not nessesarily, there would be more obvious tension and 'aww' moments between the boys, and hopefully, they will get the F**K outta there alive.

You got me interested! Reading on.

Posted 7 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

StarNinja

7 Years Ago

Wow, thanks for the glowing review! I'm really glad you liked it. It sounds like you got what I was .. read more
"Nothingness in its purest form, and he was staring it right in the face. But if nothing mattered, and if nothing is everything there is, didn’t that mean everything mattered?" - Now, this phrase has a captivating element. It draws excitement. I cannot describe it. I just really like it.
In regards to the opening paragraph, I would change the action description "The darkness was all encompassing" and "he was staring it right in the face", for example, to something more descriptive.
"Upside down. Gravity was pulling his feet toward the ground above his head. Cold. Barely any feeling in the arms and legs. Pain. So much pain! Skull fracture? Concussion? Felt wet, no longer warm. Ribs ached. Did he fall? Was he dead?" - These short phrases seem to work well. Well done, here.
"his sister was still at summer camp so nobody knew where he was" - Check punctuation. I think you're missing a comma after "camp".
"In fact he wasn’t wearing any pajamas which he usually did" - May also need a comma after "In fact".
"The boy stood not much taller than Phillip." - I kind of understand what this means, but you may want to reconsider the word "stood".

Phillip seems like a brave, bold young character. It will be interesting to see what Omar develops into. "Oh, my religion!" I like that quote a lot.
"“Okay, so you’re looking for eatable stuff." - "Eatable", or "edible"? Does Phillip say "Eatable because he's a kid?"
Great second version. I found some parts dry, but the story flowed pretty well for the most part. How did Phillip feel? I got that he was all alone on a strange planet, but allowing us to share the emotions of how he felt (in some form) may make your reader feel more connected to the characters. I find that bringing a character out from one dimension to three dimensional is quite a feat. That along with your environmental descriptions could be breath-taking. You may need to review a few more sentences and add commas; a small detail. Great work second time around.





Posted 9 Years Ago


Liking your positive comment there. hmm well i definately loved the plot! bring on the freaky aliens!! i didnt like the start too much, it was all serious and not making sense poetic but then later on its nothing like that. it seems really...disjointed? too. mainly in the begining but throughout too. its really a bit like random information or something, try to flesh it out to make it better. not so good with the descriptions, i like the sort of informal narrative stuff but try smarting it up just a bit when it comes to description. also your only slightly falling into the classic sci-fi trap of sort of just adding in freaky stuff in a 'right, ill shove this in here' way when you should plan it out to make it make sense. good chapter though: i read on!

Posted 9 Years Ago


I found this story flowed very well. I found it very easy to read. Compelling first sentence. It drew me in instantly. You have a simple and concise writing style which makes your plot clear and easy to grasp. Philip is a great character. It's really easy to get that he's a normal boy from our planet. It's easy to get that and he's easy to relate to. Great job so far!

Posted 10 Years Ago


I enjoyed the reading. Focus on what we talked about today.

Posted 10 Years Ago


I think this is quite a brilliant first chapter...I love the opening paragraph which made me think since it is breakfast time here. All right, I like Philip, alot, actually. I have read several books on here the past two days, and this is one of the main characters that I am actually rooting for. Several other books, the hero/heroine seemed a bit too perfect for my taste, and I had trouble identifying with them. As you can probably guess I love scifi so this was right up my alley! The setting reeled me in and made me wonder how Philip got there in the first place. Displacement is definitely a hard thing to deal with and Philip is dealing with it better than I would...I would be freaking out, but anyway. This was well written and interesting. i would write a lengthier review but my toddler wants to watch leapfrog on netflix. I will be continuing on to chapter 2 this afternoon! Great job you kept me entertained!

Posted 10 Years Ago


This is absolutly awesome. I have happily paid for and read FAR worse stuff. When I get the time I will definetly read the rest.

Posted 10 Years Ago



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Added on July 1, 2010
Last Updated on May 27, 2021
Tags: sci-fi, fantasy, project, lost, desert, alien, Phillip, warp


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StarNinja
StarNinja

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