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*Sneak Peek* First Attempt


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Don't be scared.  I love it!  I'd go back and minimize my details on the living quarters. JMO.  Some may not feel that way.  But, the plot and your writing?  Keep writing.  It's great.  I think It will be well received.  Now, go start writing! :)

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I really enjoyed this and would love to read more.  Getting an editor and beta will help you refine it even more.  Don't be scared. This is a great, supportive community here. 

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I'm not one of those folks averse to the spilling of details but there is a lot of telling going on, Carlos. Rather than say this is here, and that is there, and this is how that is, why not let the details unfold naturally through discovery as the story unfolds. Show, either through the characters actions or through dialogue, some of the facts that are now just laid out for us. Right now the story reads a bit on the dry side, so perhaps some emotion in the narrative would be great, and be careful not to distance the narrator too far from the story. These are snap judgements based on a quick read but I hope they may be helpful to you.

 

It's a nice beginning and there is much with which to build upon. I would definitely keep working with this story if it were mine, Carlos.

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Definitely lots of signs of promise :) I didn't see a lot that bothered me, just a few points.

 

One was the repeated thoughts of the father about how good looking his son is. Unless the father is also gay, I would suggest either ditching some of them, or adding a comment about how the son must be fending off the girls. Otherwise, the comments give the wrong impression -- that the father is fascinated by his son's looks.

 

In the opening is the following sentence: "However, what a difference from what the boy had looked like last Thanksgiving when they had last seen each other."

 

It's a personal peeve of mind, but repeated use of words tends to jump out at me, and in the above it's the word "last". I'd suggest changing the first one to "the previous" to avoid that. It's not a big deal -- just something I noticed.

 

As Ron said, try to change some of the background to being part of the story, rather than as narration. For example:

 


César Marcos Abelló, Jr. was a fairly typical teenager until two days before when the shit hit the fan at home and his life had been turned upside down. Born in Miami, the lad moved to Germany at 3½ years old, when his stepfather was transferred to Ramstein Air Base, returning to South Florida in 2009. A friendly but reserved kid, CJ made friends easily and had no problems adjusting to life back in the United States.

 

A straight A student, the teen also participated in several athletic endeavors, both individual and team sports; his favorite activity however, was spending time with his younger brother Ritchie. The five-year age difference was never an issue and the older boy delighted in having the younger kid tag along with him.

A lot of this information could be given to the reader as part of a largely one-sided conversation between the father and son. For example, the father asks after the mother and her new husband, asks if the air force is going to shift the step-father again, says something about Germany, mentions that how proud his mother is of him being a straight A student, and doing well in sport. The son could then grunt, or give back a sarcastic "Proud. Yeah, right." That gives the reader the fact that there's something going on, and how it's probably very recent. Things like that can portray a lot of back story without using narration. You'll still need to use narration at times, but you can get rid of some it with the right conversation :)

 

Good luck! I like your writing style. :boy:

Edited by Graeme
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Don't be scared.  I love it!  I'd go back and minimize my details on the living quarters. JMO.  Some may not feel that way.  But, the plot and your writing?  Keep writing.  It's great.  I think It will be well received.  Now, go start writing! :)

Thanks... As I told you, I've got more in the hopper and will be looking for help!

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Definitely lots of signs of promise :) I didn't see a lot that bothered me, just a few points.

 

One was the repeated thoughts of the father about how good looking his son is. Unless the father is also gay, I would suggest either ditching some of them, or adding a comment about how the son must be fending off the girls. Otherwise, the comments give the wrong impression -- that the father is fascinated by his son's looks.

 

In the opening is the following sentence: "However, what a difference from what the boy had looked like last Thanksgiving when they had last seen each other."

 

It's a personal peeve of mind, but repeated use of words tends to jump out at me, and in the above it's the word "last". I'd suggest changing the first one to "the previous" to avoid that. It's not a big deal -- just something I noticed.

 

As Ron said, try to change some of the background to being part of the story, rather than as narration. For example:

 

A lot of this information could be given to the reader as part of a largely one-sided conversation between the father and son. For example, the father asks after the mother and her new husband, asks if the air force is going to shift the step-father again, says something about Germany, mentions that how proud his mother is of him being a straight A student, and doing well in sport. The son could then grunt, or give back a sarcastic "Proud. Yeah, right." That gives the reader the fact that there's something going on, and how it's probably very recent. Things like that can portray a lot of back story without using narration. You'll still need to use narration at times, but you can get rid of some it with the right conversation :)

 

Good luck! I like your writing style. :boy:

I should have probably posted the first five "chapters" together. The fascination with the looks would have probably been clearer.

 

As for word repetition, one of my pet peeves also; along with he said, he,replied, he exclaimed, etc. I have a list of certain words that I plan on running through search so I can diminish that problem.

 

Thank you!

 

Oh, and the detailed description of the house will definitely be something I address. This was written about six months ago and by now I feel a bit more comfortable and would hopefully not repeat the same mistake.

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Thanks Ron. Noted and appreciated. Something to revise before going public. As I mentioned in a different reply, my first five "chapter" should probably be read together but moving bits around would probably make for a better read.

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Some good advice above about revealing details as the story flows, for a minute I thought a realtor had entered the story.  Also, I like a few flaws in characters, though I tend to love my own characters too much.

 

There is a vector to the plot that I like very much, particularly the last line that will reveal so much.  Please keep going.

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As for word repetition, one of my pet peeves also; along with he said, he,replied, he exclaimed, etc. I have a list of certain words that I plan on running through search so I can diminish that problem.

Carlos, there is a free software program called SmartEdit Lite that will track: Cliches, Dialogue Tags, Repeated Words and Phrases, Adverbs, and any words you would like to list as Monitored Words. There is a full version for purchase that does more and the link will show you the differences between the two. Louis Harris (LJH) recommended the program as a helpful tool, and it is--if you treat it as just another tool, and not as gospel for what you should and shouldn't include in your writing. 

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I knew you'd get a ton of good feedback. No one mentioned it, so I thought I'd mention character vs. author voice. For me, unless there is a point to having a narrator that is separate from the characters (Much like the old Rooster in the Disney's Robin Hood, voiced by Roger Miller) I prefer for the 'voice' in the story to come solely from the character. That, however, can be tricky and definitely affects both what you share and how you share it.

 

Here's an example of author voice in your story, since the character wouldn't think of himself as 'the man':

 


The man kept looking over at his son marveling at the physical change in the boy.  Also: The father wondered if he was sexually active and whether that was why he had been sent north. Could he have gotten in some sort of trouble with a girl? He would wait until they got home (here it reads more as character pov with 'he'), hopefully the youngster would relax, and then they could chat about whatever had transpired back in Miami.

 

Your story is actually employing the character voice simultaneously from both characters, Cesar as the dad and the son, CJ, as well as author voice. We're getting information from them both that the other can't know, as well as seeing inside their thoughts. If you continue the omniscient POV, you need to be doubly sure you keep their voices distinct so it's easy to tell who we are getting the story from. I personally prefer Limited POV from one character at a time, sometimes alternating between my two main characters, and sometimes just using one POV through the whole story.

 

However, no matter which character's voice you're using, you need to ensure you only share what makes sense from their POV. The run down on the house really doesn't make sense, because if CJ's been there before, he's not seeing it for the first time. Do you walk into your house and categorize how many rooms it has or how it looks, even if you've been gone a while? You always have to ask yourself 'Does it make sense for this character to be thinking/talking about this information right now in the story?'

 

It's easier to share a setting description, like a house, on a first visit. I agree on the comments to tone it down no matter what you do regarding the POV, though there are a few ways to give readers a visual still. You could have CJ glance around the living room/hallway as he comes inside and describe his room/bathroom being exactly the same, if he's been there before. Or, if he was new to the house, his dad could give him a quick tour. Those options would allow you to share some of what the house looks like, without it just being because you want to add it as the author--it would then make sense to the reader to get that information at that time and place in the story from the character.

 

Oh, and speaking of pet peeves... Mom and Dad vs mom and dad is a big one of mine. When being used as a name, they should be capitalized. If being used to describe the person, 'my mom' or 'his dad' then you do not capitalize them.

 

 


Yes: CJ looked up at his dad (describing him)

 

No: “OK dad,” mumbled the boy. (being used as his name, so it should be capitalized)

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Thank you all! I'm sitting here smiling. I need to describe the house so certain things make sense later but it will be changed, Seems that's a unanimous comment and rereading I do sound as a rep for Caldwell Banker. In order...

 

Roland! Glad you picked up on the last line. Trying to use a hook and provide some levity at the same time..... and yes it is a sign of things to come.

 

Ron... Thanks for the heads up. Just downloaded and ran a few chapters through it. I think it will be a big help. While reviewing the instances for the most used word [probably] I found other things that needed tweaking..... and that word is only used half as much after the review :-)

 

Cia.... good catch on the Dad vs dad and similar other usages. Something I have on my list of things to review before I submit and I think the software will help a bit with that.

 

On the POV issue we're not on the same page. I hate when authors caption chapters as CJ's POV or Brett's POV so I won't be doing that.I also don't see how the main character, CJ by the way, can be everywhere and know everything so I will definitely follow the hardest route. In dialog form I try to make clear who's speaking without repeating the he said, he asked etc constantly. The same for narrative, I hope to make clear whose POV it is without constantly attributing it to a character. One main character, three primary ones, twelve secondary, about 40 supporting ones so far and a  DeMille cast of thousands for extras. It will get tricky and I will definitely miss the mark now and then. Hoping an editor and a couple of Beta readers can help catch those.One device I'm using is accents. A couple of Aussies, a couple of Southerners, some military personnel, a few words in other languages. Not going overboard with those but if somebody says "Bloody Hell" and there's one Brit in the group at the time, I'd put my money on him.

 

Y'all are amazing! The fear I felt yesterday when I spoke with Cia and then posted here is mostly gone. Now I'm just trying to restrain myself and take baby steps. JoAnn is my next target in the next day or so. Head up!

 

Best from muggy Fort Lauderdale....

 

PS.... Someone asked in a PM so I'll share this here..... this is NOT autobiographical. There are bits and pieces of me and my experiences in a bunch of different characters but a lot of them are based on friends At my age I've met a couple of people over the years ;-).

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Oh, I agree with not heading chapters with the name of the character whose POV I'm using. That annoys me, as well. I simply ensure that the voices for each of my characters is separate enough that when I change, it's not confusing for the reader. Sometimes, though, I'll use more than one POV for a chapter. That means I have to create their personalities and way of seeing the world to create distinct 'voices' for each pov character, though I always make sure I only change during a scene break. For me, it's just less confusing when sharing a scene to make sure the reader knows exactly whose thoughts they're reading by not including thoughts of more than one person at a time, so I use the Limited POV style. But often I want to share the story from more than one character's POV. This is harder to do with gay fiction, imo, as the main characters are both men.

 

I'm so glad you're not scared to share your work here now. GA is a great place for new authors to wet their feet.

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Thank you all! I'm sitting here smiling. I need to describe the house so certain things make sense later but it will be changed, Seems that's a unanimous comment and rereading I do sound as a rep for Caldwell Banker. In order...

If it's necessary to the story, then don't change it too much. What you're receiving here are our impressions based on what you've supplied. For example, I mentioned about the father's frequent thoughts on his son's appearance. If that was accidental, you could fix it. You've indicated it's not accidental, so it should stay. :) If there's a reason the house needs to be described as it is, then so do. If it's particular details, then maybe rearrange it so those details are dropped in at appropriate times in the story. For example, as a character enters a particular part of the house, that's the time to mention it (maybe, taking Cia's comment on board, with a note that the character no longer notices the <<insert appropriate detail>>).

 

 

On the POV issue we're not on the same page. I hate when authors caption chapters as CJ's POV or Brett's POV so I won't be doing that.I also don't see how the main character, CJ by the way, can be everywhere and know everything so I will definitely follow the hardest route. In dialog form I try to make clear who's speaking without repeating the he said, he asked etc constantly. The same for narrative, I hope to make clear whose POV it is without constantly attributing it to a character. One main character, three primary ones, twelve secondary, about 40 supporting ones so far and a  DeMille cast of thousands for extras. It will get tricky and I will definitely miss the mark now and then. Hoping an editor and a couple of Beta readers can help catch those.One device I'm using is accents. A couple of Aussies, a couple of Southerners, some military personnel, a few words in other languages. Not going overboard with those but if somebody says "Bloody Hell" and there's one Brit in the group at the time, I'd put my money on him.

The authors that caption their chapters or scenes are authors writing in first person. That is, who is the "I" who is narrating. You're writing in third person, so that's unnecessary.

 

There are multiple styles of third person, such as:

 

Third person omniscient: The narration is from the point of view of someone able to see anything. They can see inside the heads of any character

Third person limited: The narration is from the point of view of one person. It's still written as third person, but the only character whose motivations and thoughts the reader sees in narrations is that one characters. Everyone else's thoughts are invisible -- the reader only gets to see what the main character sees.

Rotating third person limited: Same as third person limited, but different scenes can have different main characters. However, within a scene, there's one main character.

 

Third person limited and rotating third person limited are the most common forms used in storytelling. Third person omniscient is what you're using, and the danger there is giving the reader mental whiplash by jumping around between the thoughts of different characters. A lot of readers will find that jarring unless it's done carefully. The recommendation I received when I started writing was to try to limit the switch to once a scene. That is, start the scene 'inside' the head of one character and transition to 'inside' the head of another character, but only do that once, usually near the start or end of the scene.

 

Just something to watch out for :)

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I dont know if I'm the right person to say this as my first lot of stories on this site was shocking and terrible, but when I write I dont like cramming a lot of information in to one paragraph or chapter I like to spread it out giving the reader more chance to take it in. As I was reading the description of the house I got kind of bored because there was so much but when I got passed that paragraph I started enjoying the story keep it up and I feel you have a very good story in the works if you need a beta reader there is a forum for it but I'm available as I am loving the story from what I have read.

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Hey Scotty!

 

Thanks for the response and the offer. IMO everyone is the right person to comment, that's why I posted the sneak peek; I may not always agree with what is expressed but I will always welcome it. I'm still a bit away from posting and I need to do some self editing and tweaking before I go to edit and beta reading but I shall keep you in mind. Just sent a message to one of the gurus in that department and hopefully will lay the groundwork for the next step

 

I'll be in touch!

 

Carlos

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