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#1 momandsam


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Posted 26 January 2017 - 09:12 PM

My 12 year old (6th grade) loves to write stories in his free time.  He has very complex ideas in his head and sometimes forgets to explain everything in his writing.  He is very passionate about his stories, but often takes offense at my critique.  He would like some advice from others on his writing.  He is not focusing on paragraph or sentence structure right now. This is chapter 1. It's a little long, but he would love any input on his ideas and clarity.


Owen woke up suddenly, and darkness went on from every direction to infinity. He was surrounded by a greenish glass, a test tube to be exact. Just then, light poured in and he could see more clearly. He was in a lab of some sort. White and purple seemed to be all the colors. The glass suddenly faded as if it just stopped being there. A voice came across the room and asked Owen a question. "Owen, can you hear me?" Owen hesitantly replied "uh, yes." He could see the speaker behind a window. It was a male in a white lab coat with curly chocolate brown hair. "Where am I?" asked Owen. "You're in a laboratory, deep beneath the surface to keep us away from the toxic virus upside" said the lab boy. A door slid open to the right of the chamber. "Head down the hall and to the left. You can pick up something to eat there. Then I'll show you to your room." Owen nodded and headed to the mess hall. There were other men, all in white lab coats, eating, talking, playing cards, and whatnot. Owen loaded up his tray with rice, beans, and a grilled cheese sandwich. The rice was dry, but the beans and sandwich weren't that bad. The lab boy from earlier sat down next to him and talked. "Excuse me, um..." "Eric" said the lab boy. "It's Eric. But my friends here call me Kix." "Um, Kix, can you tell me what I'm doing here, who you are, and what's this virus you talked about?" Kix took a bite from his sandwich. "Eight years ago, there was a containment breach during an experiment. One virus escaped and started infecting people, taking control over them, giving them superhuman strength, things like that. The world was over turned and the only survivors came down here and started finding a way to cure the infected people." "So these people," asked Owen, "are basically zombies?" Kix shook his head. "No. Worse. They are terrible to the max." Owen was confused. "We were still trying to figure out a way to cure the virus when scientists discovered a substance called Mycellsheet. It was extremely high in radiation, more than nuclear material times ten. We found that if we combined it with water, carbonic acid, and liquid plastic, it will create what we call Mycofluid. We have tested it with every imaginable base or acid and it completely reversed it! Let's say you've got a level 4 acid. Now, it will become the complete opposite and be a level 10 base!" Owen's brain processed like a computer with no mother board. "What does this have to do with me? After all, my memory only started an hour ago. Yet it looks like I am in my late twenties" Kix thought. "We finally came to the stage where we had five infected people try the serum of Mycofluid." Kix's face turned sad. "Only one fifth lived. The survivor was left unharmed by the virus, yet extremely sick. He died one month later with the latest medical help. We decided it was too risky to do this to the whole world. About a year later, we discovered another use for Mycofluid. If added with more Mycellsheet, it can cause an extremely dangerous and powerful liquid called Cyriptariac Gas. If sparked, or reached at a heat level of 72 degrees Fahrenheit or more, it will cause an explosion, which we can control by using a metal made from the core of the earth and create a small portal, capable of sending one to the past." Owen just realized that his mouth was wide open, some of his beans falling out. He quickly shut it. "So you mean...you mean you created a time machine?!" Kix nodded. "We started, right after time travel was discovered, on project A132B6C: The Alpita Project. We plan to send him pack to the past, eight years ago, to stop this mess." Owen realized his mouth was open again. "Can I see this, A132 what's-his-name?" Kix smiled. "You're him." Just then, Owen passed out on the floor, right in front of Kix.

#2 freelylearned


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Posted 31 January 2017 - 07:54 PM

I think it is great that your son is into writing. My 12 year old likes to write also. Here are my thoughts:


He started off the story in the middle of the action, which is just where a story should start!


Sci-Fi is tricky to write because the author have to create a world and make it believable and understandable. When Kix is explaining some of the science behind what is happening, I can see that your son has thought through making a plausible sounding scientific explanation for what is going on. I like the part where Owen translates the last part of Kix's explanation and says, "So you mean...you mean you created a time machine?!" It shows that Owen is smart and it also helps the reader understand what Kix is talking about. My best piece of advice is to add in more to the exchange between Kix and Owen where Owen restates what Kix is saying in terms understandable to an average person. That type of clarification is super helpful to readers and makes the dialogue really interesting.


I know that you aren't focusing on paragraph and sentence structure right now so you can get the plot on paper, and that is exactly what writers do--write first, edit later. That being said, your son may want to try adding paragraphs as he goes. It won't be long until it is natural. Having paragraphs is important is helpful to see the structure of the story. At a glance, he would be able to look at his story and see if he has too many long descriptive paragraphs in a row or if he has too many pages of dialogue without any description of what the characters are doing while they speak.


Don't worry about getting the first chapter completely right before moving on to the next one. Let him write as much of the story as he can. I'm sure he's itching to get to the time travel part with the superhuman zombieish creatures. Sounds exciting! When he has writer's block and isn't sure how to proceed to the next plot point, that is the time that he can go back and fiddle with grammar and style.

#3 momandsam


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Posted 03 February 2017 - 06:37 PM

Thank you for your comments. He has the story all set in his mind, but sometimes forgets that the reader won't understand what's going on unless he explains it all. Working on the dialogue to explain it is a good place to start. He often won't take my advice just because I'm his mom and he sees it as criticism, regardless of how positive I can be. I will pass along your comments to him. Thanks again!
  • freelylearned likes this

#4 Farrar


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Posted 10 February 2017 - 10:29 PM

So... I'll go the other direction. I know you're focused on getting him to make the story be clearer and make sense and that's often a problem for a lot of kids this age in writing fiction, but I think it's very expository. There's a lot of telling instead of showing in this passage. Which... it's a challenging thing to write.


But... that said, I wouldn't be critical of it at all. Mostly I'm just telling you that because you're obviously very focused on getting him to explain, explain and lots of explaining can drag down a story. He's obviously got a detailed and interesting imagination. He used cool metaphors. He dreamed up awesome specific names for things. He started the story in an interesting place. He should write more and have fun with it and you should encourage him and ask questions and enjoy it.

  • Runningmom80 likes this