Critique Group – Anti

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Is it really inconceivable? I’ll let you be the judge.

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This will be the final critique group post this year. Look for the next one on January 8, 2016.

Anti – by Leah and Adam

Year 2051

Entry 1

Chapter 1

Archer limped away from the vine covered alleyway, rain and sweat falling from his soaking mop of dirty blond hair. His eye was red, swollen, and puffy from his recent fight, one he had, thankfully, escaped from.

After knocking his opponents to the ground and off their feet, he had fled the scene. Archer left them lying motionless on the ground, not bothering to check if they were ‘okay.’

Mistakenly he had taken on a few 16 year old gangsters, and he wasn’t very fond of the consequences. Although he had, without a doubt, won the fight. The thought was basically the only thing that prevented him from collapsing onto the empty vine covered street.

Night had fallen over 3 hours ago, and Archer was just as lost as a pup away from its mother. If he couldn’t find to Bunker 12 before dawn, he would be a goner. Once the Waves catch you, there’s no going back, and he knew it.

He wandered the ruins of what used to be the city of Los Angeles. Archer, who was only 12 years of age, was half dead from the blood loss; and he needed help.

“Remember, it’s always darkest before dawn. Always darkest before dawn.” Archer reminded himself over and over. “Was it 6th? Or… maybe 7th. Or… 15th?”

He couldn’t get his head around anything tonight! This of course didn’t help when he tripped on one of the many vines that had destroyed every major city of the U.S.

Archer took in a mouthful of rocks, then spit it out, shaking his head in disgust.

“I give up, I can’t find the entrance, and it’s dark and really cold and–” Archer went on rambling to himself, a frown carved into his face.

He made no attempt to stand, only laid there on the rubble from some broken buildings, a part of his head beginning to trickle blood into the cracks of the ground.

After lying in the dirt, and almost bleeding to death, Archer blacked out; a scene with a young hooded girl was burned into his subconsciousness. She leaned in towards him, and as this faded away only one thing remained, two fluffy light gray wolf ears peeking out from the girl’s dark gray hood.

 

Archer sputtered awake as freezing water splashed over his body. He blinked it off, realizing that he was still alive, and he wasn’t bleeding anymore. Archer frowned skeptically, staring into the sky.

Then with a sudden leap he was on his feet, his former worry of finding Bunker 12 crawling back to his mind.

In an instant a strong grip pulled him back, dragging him into an alley. Archer, slightly confused, blinked and saw the girl from his mind leading him by the upper arm. She was muttering something about ‘completely Irresponsible’; he chose to ignore her.

Some vines on the walls curved into an open archway that brought them to a large plaza. In the center was a iron toilet. The green vines grew in a spiraling circle around the toilet.

The hooded girl lead him to the center of the vines, “Be extremely careful, I won’t try to save you if you get caught.” She warned. The vines themselves were moving, and seemed to radiate terrible power. It was an immense amount of power, but it was also… terrifying, in a way.

As they entered the circle, all thoughts cleared from Archer’s mind. She grabbed the flush and pulled upwards towards the sky.

Click Click Click, it sounded as if multiple locks were being undone. The toilet swung backwards onto its backside, revealing a street sewage pipe that was cleaned out. It had strong metal rungs leading down to the bottom, which was about fifty feet below; far enough to avoid the Waves and also close enough to the surface in time of emergency fast in emergency.

The girl turned to Archer and said, “Get in, unless you’d like to risk your chances out here with the Waves.” She gave him a little nudge to move him along. Archer gave no hesitation, quickly climbing in, her trailing after.

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7 replies

  1. I will try to comment on this early next week.

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  2. Leah and Adam, this is awesome! I was drawn in quickly by Archer’s fight and the suspense surrounding this post-apocalyptic sounding future. Great stuff!

    Just some quick points: perhaps you could replace a few of the uses of his name with “he”s as for a lot of the piece he is by himself/it is clear you are talking about him. I think this would help the flow of your work.

    I also think you could add another sentence or two for the description of the hodded girl. I *love* the idea of the wolf ears, but apart from that and saying that she was young, I found her description a little vague. I would understand Archer not taking in much just after he has come-to, but perhaps he might go on to guess her age, (I wasn’t sure how “young” you meant) or take a quick note of her physical apperance beyond what you have given? (Perhaps he tries to look for the ears again, questioning his memory?)

    Nevertheless, these are the only two points I thought I should mention. I would really love to read more; you did a great job at captivating your audience. Keep up the good work!

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  3. Really cool story guys! I especially like the wolf-eared girl. There’s just one thing I have to say. The beginning of your piece, where you tell about the fight, that seems super disjointed and weird. You might want to figure something out with that. Sorry I can’t help more.

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  4. Firstly, having him limp makes me feel sorry for him, so good job there.
    The next paragraphs are telling, however, jerking me out of the story. You immediately tell about the fight that already happened. If it’s that important, maybe you should start before the fight, or just not mention more about it than you need to. Your point of view also feels very distant. I feel like I’m a camera following Archer around, and thinking thoughts he wouldn’t think.

    Maybe something like this would be better if you want to go for a closer POV.

    Archer limped away from the vine covered alleyway, rain and sweat plastering his hair against his head. His face throbbed from the beating he’d taken. At least he’d won the fight. He leaned against the wall of a ruined building. Where was Bunker 12? With the darkness, he could have gotten turned around.
    He looked down at his pants. They’d been blue, but now, blood completely soaked one leg. He tried to find some landmark, perhaps the wrecked sign that used to say, “Los Angeles” before the killer vines covered half of it.
    He stumbled away from the wall and tripped over a vine. Had it gotten darker? Even the moon seemed to be fading. No, it wasn’t getting darker. That was his vision.

    I’m also a tad confused about how he goes from passing out to waking up and being perfectly healthy. It seems like he’s have quite the recovery period from his wounds.

    I like the girl with wolf ears.

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  5. This was a really interesting piece. I was dragged in right away. I think that I would like a bit of visceral emotion to visualize the emotions. But I really liked this and hope to read more some day 😀 Great job!

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  6. Leah and Adam,

    This is an intriguing story that will make your readers want more.

    My main concern is the distance of the point of view (POV). You appear to be writing from Archer’s POV, but, as Jessi noted earlier, you do some things that distance the reader and make it feel like we are viewing Archer through a camera that’s being held by someone else.

    I suggest employing a more intimate POV that shows everything through Archer’s eyes.

    For example, Archer can see rain and sweat falling from his head, but he likely wouldn’t notice the color of his own hair. Even if he did see it, he likely wouldn’t take note of the color. He certainly can’t see that his eye was red. He could tell it was swollen and puffy only if he touched it. He could certainly notice that it hurt.

    It’s usually not a good idea to start with an action paragraph and then take three or four non-action paragraphs to explain the past. That’s an information dump that halts your story right after it starts.

    I think I would start the story before the fight. Show Archer in his normal world in a way that will explain his situation so that his background can be understood through the action. Then bring in the fight scene.

    When you writer numbers that are less than 100, such as three, write the words, not the numerals. In dialogue, always write the words.

    “Once the Waves catch you, there’s no going back, and he knew it.”

    It is usually better to avoid using “you” unless this is his direct, quoted thought. If it is a quoted thought, you would write it in italics, and you would leave out “and he knew it.”

    “Archer took in a mouthful of rocks, then spit it out, shaking his head in disgust.”

    Why did he do this? I can see no motivation for trying to eat rocks.

    “a frown carved into his face.”

    If you use an intimate POV, you wouldn’t write this. He can’t see his own frown.

    “laid there on the rubble from some broken buildings, a part of his head beginning to trickle blood into the cracks of the ground.”

    Use “lay” instead of “laid.” Delete “there” and “a part of.”

    “ almost bleeding to death”

    He probably wouldn’t know how close to death he came. If he was close, why didn’t he die? Since he blacked out, he would just keep bleeding.

    “subconsciousness” I am not familiar with this word.

    “He blinked it off.”

    How can he blink water off his body?

    “Archer frowned skeptically, staring into the sky.”

    Why did he do this?

    “Then with a sudden leap he was on his feet, his former worry of finding Bunker 12 crawling back to his mind.”

    Since the worry about finding the bunker motivated him to leap to his feet, write the motivation first. Motivation precedes reaction.

    “In an instant a strong grip pulled him back, dragging him into an alley.”

    No need for “in an instant.” Dragging him into an alley occurred after pulling him back. “A strong grip pulled him back and dragged him into an alley.”

    “ Archer, slightly confused, blinked and saw the girl from his mind leading him by the upper arm.”

    Don’t tell us he is confused. Show the confusion. Delete “saw.” Archer blinked. The girl from his mind led him by the arm.

    “he chose to ignore her.”

    Why would he ignore her? That seems bizarre. She is the most interesting person in the universe at that moment.

    The hooded girl lead him to the center of the vines, “Be extremely careful, I won’t try to save you if you get caught.” She warned. The vines themselves were moving, and seemed to radiate terrible power. It was an immense amount of power, but it was also… terrifying, in a way.

    Use “led” instead of “lead.” Use a period after “careful” instead of a comma. Delete “she warned.” Delete the comma after “moving.” Show that he is terrified instead of just saying that the power was terrifying.

    “As they entered the circle, all thoughts cleared from Archer’s mind.”

    This is likely not true since he still knew where he was and that a girl was with him.

    “ She grabbed the flush and pulled upwards towards the sky.”

    I can’t picture this. Is “the flush” a dangling chain?

    “close enough to the surface in time of emergency fast in emergency.”

    I don’t understand this phrase.

    The girl turned to Archer and said, “Get in, unless you’d like to risk your chances out here with the Waves.” She gave him a little nudge to move him along. Archer gave no hesitation, quickly climbing in, her trailing after.

    No need for “and said.” Two uses of “gave.”

    With some polishing, this can be a great story.

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