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Chapter 1 Book 1: The Ferriers

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Old 08-14-2012, 03:24 PM
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Default Chapter 1 Book 1: The Ferriers


Here's the first chapter of a book I'm working on. Any comments, suggestions, or critiques would be very helpful!

Chapter 1
The waves are tall and choppy as the wind whips them into a frothy frenzy. A storm is brewing, the black clouds racing across the sky, an ominous sign of the fury wanting release.
“Well, so much for sunny skies today.....stupid weatherman never getting anything right. I swear they’d do better just sticking their heads out the window instead of all those techno thingies they use.” Grumbling, Charlie closed the ferry booth. There would be no ferrying passengers to mainland today, which meant another day without pay.
“Excuse me! Excuse me, miss! I’m so sorry, but I desperately need to get to the mainland. Will you please take me over?”
“I’m sorry lady, but I’m closing up for the day. See those big ugly clouds? That means everybody off the water.”
“Please! I have to get to my daughter. She’s just a child and she’s about to give birth! I left her early this morning to come get her a few things and I NEED to get back to her! She’s only 15! She can’t do it alone!”
“I’m sorry. Really. But the water is just too rough and is getting worse. My little ferry boat would be drowned before we made it halfway across.”
“I’ll pay you! I’ll pay whatever you ask, just please get me across!” Her look of discomfort showed Charlie that this lady was not used to asking, and definitely not accustomed to begging. She didn’t know if it was the lady’s Dior handbag, the flowery perfume, or the Chanel dress, but Charlie decided the money was worth the risk. At least with this I’ll be able to get dinner and maybe a pint for a few nights. Better than starving to death. “Ok, but we have to hurry.” She reached in the door and grabbed the boat keys before turning her back resolutely to the sky and ignoring the foreboding boiling through her.
The little boat and its two passengers were waterlogged before they reached the half way mark, and completely drenched by the time they reached the far shore. Teeth chattering louder than the thunder above, the lady threw a wad of cash in Charlie’s hand and hurried to the cab waiting by the dock. Charlie followed the back of the lady’s cab until it disappeared around the corner before slowly counting out the money. Five thousand dollars lay nestled in her rough, callused hand. She debated on whether she could make it home before the storm hit and decided that getting dinner would be a better idea. She quickly ducked into the nearest pub for a bite and a drink as the ricocheting thunder blasted her ears and the rain began pelting her.
An hour later, the thunder died off and Charlie staggered out of the pub, reeking of cheap ale and heavy, fatty meat. Well, it wasn’t dinner at a palace, but it was filling and cheap. “Charlie, old girl, I think maybe you had a pint too many. Ah well, time to get the boat and my stupid self home!” She glanced at the sky, but it was too dark to tell if the clouds had rolled on or if it was just a moonless night, Judging from the lack of thunder, she assumed it was the latter.
Twenty minutes later, cursing her own stupidity, Charlie clamped her hands tight on the wheel, fighting to keep her tiny boat steady as she bounced around like a cork. Wave after wave slammed the vessel, rain lashing her skin, sharp as ice. The eye of the storm had passed, and with it the momentary peace that had convinced her to try the crossing in the dark.
The pitch of night surrounded her as she fought the wheel, trying to save herself and her vessel from being consumed by the sea. “Just a bit further, girl. I swear I can see the other dock!” Teeth chattering as much from fear as the cold, this repetition helped steady her nerves and hold the all-consuming dread at bay. Suddenly, a massive wave crashed into the boat, cracking planks of solid wood like toothpicks.

She awoke some time later, confused and dazed. “Christ Almighty!” She tried to think of other blistering words but the pain in her head prevented anything more than her heaving her guts out onto the sanded floor.
“Well it’s a good thing I threw down fresh sand today or that would be a right royal mess ta clean up. I’ll sweep it out while yer at dinner. I bet your head feels like you fell into a vat of poitin and couldn’t crawl out. Here’s some feverfew and skullcap tea. It’ll help the head and even the stomach seein’ as I threw in some ginger for flavor. Better drink it all, though, or the pain is only goin’ ta get worse.” Looking up towards the voice, Charlie was hit with a strange sensation of déjà vu coupled with a sort of double vision. The old man’s face looked….well, just wrong. It was like lumpy clay someone molded into a face, smashed it, and tried to make another, stopping halfway through. “Quit staring and drink! Then we’ll talk.”
The warm tea made its way down to Charlie’s stomach, filling her body with heat. As it worked its magic, soft snores crowded the little room as the old man smiled and quietly stepped out the door.

The windowless room didn’t give any hint on the time, nor did Charlie know how long she’d been sleeping. Inching herself off the bed, she stumbled to the door. “Hey! Can someone tell me where the bathroom is? I gotta go!” No answer. Well, either I stand here and piss on the floor, or I check every door until I find the damn thing.
By the third door, she began wondering where in creation she was. None of the rooms had windows, or any sort of openings other than the main entryway. She dubiously eyed the staircase, wondering if she’d make it down before going all over the floor. Wait! There was a chamber pot in my room! Cursing her own stupidity, she shuffled back. She had barely finished her business when there was a knock. In walked the old man, his face even lumpier than before, yet still warm and open. A blue eye sparkled with humor at her disgruntled face. “Well lassie, looks like you’re feeling a bit better! Though still less on the friendly side, judging by your face. Now, would you like clothes and food or explanations first?” The rumble of Charlie’s stomach was all the answer the old man needed. Laughing, he laid a pair of jeans and a rough spun shirt on the bed. “Dress and come downstairs. There’s plenty of food and we’ll talk over dinner.”

Wandering down the large wood stairs, she marveled at how rough-hewn the steps and banisters were. It looked as if people had just chopped down the trees and fashioned them into a vague resemblance of a staircase. Thinking about odd anachronisms, she wondered at the chamber pot and sand/rushes on the floors. Didn’t these people know about brooms and vacuums? What about carpet and tile? She was all for wooden floors, but this was getting a little ridiculous and too rustic. She was poor, but this just took the cake.
“Ah, Charlie my dear! Come, eat! You’re gonna need your strength.” Torn out of her musings, she glanced up to see a table full of people, several dressed like her and looking just as confused, while the old man took the seat of honor at the head.
A man on his right stood, his silk suit well fitted over his muscular physique. Dark eyes were surrounded by sandy lashes, his voice rang out. “Now, my children…” “Excuse me sir, but we are not your children. We don’t even know what we’re doing here! The last thing I remember was a MAC truck heading straight for me and then I woke up here.” The man who spoke had blazing red-gold hair, a mini sun in its own right. His dark green eyes were shadowed with fear, uncertainty, and confusion. The rest of the gathering nodded in agreement, having similar situations.
“Well, if you would give me a moment, I’d answer your questions. If you don’t mind, I’d like to finish now.” He looked patiently around the room. Everyone stared, waiting for him to get to the point. Many looked as if they’d walk out if they could figure out where they were and where to go.
“Now, all of you have died.” The table erupted, each person taking the news in their own way. Some shouted, some cried, some just looked floored, and some as if they wanted to sink through the floorboards or wake up from a very bad dream. “At the time of your death, your soul cried out and I made a deal with you. In return for a new life, you will become my couriers, in a manner of speaking. When a person passes, you are to take their souls to the afterlife, whichever afterlife it may be. This, of course, varies on religion and basic beliefs. The world has gotten larger, and I have need of more ferrymen. If you refuse, being in possession of your full faculties and no longer a distressed soul, you can pass on to your afterlife, or in the case of you younger souls, the Hall of Souls, to be reborn. Some of you will become the ferrymen for the Hall, a most prestigious position in our world. After you eat we’ll discuss your assignments, if you choose to accept them.” Unbelievably, everyone started eating. The sudden urge to pick up her fork flowed over Charlie, who looked at the hand clutching the offending utensil like it was possessed. She pushed back from the table so hard her heavy chair boomed as it landed on the floor. The only one who bothered to notice was the old man, who just smiled lopsidedly. She ran up to the room she woke in and slammed the door, sitting heavily on the bed. Holding her head in her hands, she wondered absently what strangeness she had fallen into.

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Old 08-15-2012, 04:59 AM
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This was actually a really interesting story. No problems jumped out at me, be they logical or grammatical. However, the main character's name, Charlie, was a bit odd to understand at first. (I thought for a while that you were mixing her actions with the actions of the woman who was paying her).

I'd really like to see more of this story. If you'd like, shoot me a PM and I'll try my hand at critiquing it in full.

EDIT: On a second reading, I noticed a few issues.

In the first bit of Charlie's dialogue, you misused the "..." thingy (I have no clue what it's called). There should be either one, or three, and there should be a space after it.

Also, some of the dialogue sounds a bit contrived. There's nothing I can really point out as a definitive example, but the first part of the story has some odd word choices.

Maybe one example is this sentence: “I’m sorry. Really. But the water is just too rough and is getting worse. My little ferry boat would be drowned before we made it halfway across.”

In that red area there, the dialogue kind of breaks from the way the character speaks in the rest of the story. Maybe instead you could say "...too rough and it's just going to get worse" instead. The use of the word "is" twice, so close together in the same sentence, sounds really odd just reading it in my head.

But still, it was a very nice story.

Last edited by NickTrano; 08-15-2012 at 05:31 AM..
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Old 08-15-2012, 08:13 AM
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That's actually really helpful. Charlie's whole demeanor changes throughout (I actually have about 3 chapters done) so I'm struggling to keep her cohesive. I'd be happy to share more if you're still interested...if I figure out how to do the messaging on here. I just joined the other day, so I'm still navigating.
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Old 08-15-2012, 09:21 AM
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Sure, click my name and it should give you the option to send a private message. I'll try to give some pointers but I'm quite the novice myself.
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Old 08-15-2012, 04:51 PM
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. She didn’t know if it was the lady’s Dior handbag, the flowery perfume, or the Chanel dress, but Charlie decided the money was worth the risk. At least with this I’ll be able to get dinner and maybe a pint for a few nights. Better than starving to death. “Ok, but we have to hurry.” She reached in the door and grabbed the boat keys before turning her back resolutely to the sky and ignoring the foreboding boiling through her.

I don't know about the whole, "better than starving to death thing." I don't think anyone would say that unless they were in desperate need of employment or better pay.



She awoke some time later, confused and dazed. “Christ Almighty!” She tried to think of other blistering words but the pain in her head prevented anything more than her heaving her guts out onto the sanded floor.
“Well it’s a good thing I threw down fresh sand today or that would be a right royal mess ta clean up. I’ll sweep it out while yer at dinner. I bet your head feels like you fell into a vat of poitin and couldn’t crawl out. Here’s some feverfew and skullcap tea. It’ll help the head and even the stomach seein’ as I threw in some ginger for flavor. Better drink it all, though, or the pain is only goin’ ta get worse.” Looking up towards the voice, Charlie was hit with a strange sensation of déjà vu coupled with a sort of double vision. The old man’s face looked….well, just wrong. It was like lumpy clay someone molded into a face, smashed it, and tried to make another, stopping halfway through. “Quit staring and drink! Then we’ll talk.”

You might wanna break up that wall of text. And rearrange it a bit as well. I thought Charlie was talking at first.




This is a really good start. Cool franchise for the charecter if Charlie excepts. It will be interesting to see if she can go back to her old life, which was also pretty cool, or if she only lives as a ferrymen. ferrywoman?

Awesome job. What's with the blue text though?
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Old 08-15-2012, 07:08 PM
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I just liked the blue. No other purpose than that.

i didn't realize how confusing that bit of story was. Thanks for pointing it out!
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Old 08-15-2012, 10:15 PM
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Great story The only thing that jumped out at me was that in the beginning you were using the present tense ("The waves are" and "A storm is" etc.) but then you switch to past tense ("Charlie closed" and "There would"). Not sure if this was intentional or not, but my over-analysing brain stumbled over it a bit
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Old 08-17-2012, 04:29 PM
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I hadn't realized I did that. I'm making the changes now where they're needed. Thanks!
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Old 08-20-2012, 06:49 AM
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Icon6 bmj851 - The Ferriers

Well written - your word pictures are very effective.
I do find the use of the name "Charlie" a bit of a distraction. You definitely give clues that you're main character is female; however, since the profession of ferryman is usually male and "Charlie" makes me think of a male it was a bit distracted until I had enough word clues to satisfy the issue. Perhaps the remainder of the story brings to light the choice of the name. Keep up the good work!
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Old 08-20-2012, 11:50 AM
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The waves are tall and choppy as the wind whips them into a frothy frenzy. A storm is brewing, the black clouds racing across the sky, an ominous sign of the fury wanting release.
“Well, so much for sunny skies today.....stupid weatherman never getting anything right. I swear they’d do better just sticking their heads out the window instead of all those techno thingies they use.” Grumbling, Charlie closed the ferry booth.
You start off in present tense then end up in past tense. A bit jarring.


“Excuse me! Excuse me, miss! I’m so sorry, but I desperately need to get to the mainland. Will you please take me over?”


When we hear 'miss' we realise the ferry-driver is female, which is interesting in the way it bucks what would be most of our expectations-especially after hearing the name Charlie, which can be short for Charlotte, but is more often used as a dimunitive of Charles.

She reached in the door and grabbed the boat keys before turning her back resolutely to the sky and ignoring the foreboding boiling through her


'Boiling' is interesting, as we tend to use metaphors of cold or coolness in relation to fearful feelings. I'm not knocking you being creative in that way, but I think, with relatively low-level fear, as denoted by the term 'foreboding' it might be better to talk of it 'simmering' not 'boiling' which could be used for full-on fear.

The little boat and its two passengers wer
e waterlogged before they reached the half way mark, and completely drenched by the time they reached the far shore.


Description of the journey is a little perfunctory.

Teeth chattering louder than the thunder above


I think you should say that it sounded that way to the lady whose teeth were chattering-and perhaps to Charlie-as otherwise, it seems like you're stating it literally, which is absurd.

Charlie followed the back of the lady’s cab until it disappeared around the corner before slowly counting out the money


It must have been driving very slowly.

Five thousand dollars lay nestled in her rough, callused hand.


'Calloused' is the right spelling.

the rain began pelting her.


We normally say 'pelting down' for rain. It's a variation that sounds interesting, and not awkward, though.

It was like lumpy clay someone molded into a face, smashed it, and tried to make another, stopping halfway through. “Quit staring and drink! Then we’ll talk.”
You don't need 'it' after 'smashed'. Should be a new line for the quoted speech.

In walked the old man, his face even lumpier than before, yet still warm and open. A blue eye sparkled with humor at her disgruntled face. “Well lassie, looks like you’re feeling a bit better!


Again, new line for speech.

The conclusion is very intriguing. I'd read more.
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Old 08-20-2012, 04:51 PM
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I don't really know how to use the quote function, so I'm going to try my best to keep this all straight.

-I'm going through fixing the past tenses as I come across them.

-I've gotten a lot of comments (not just here) about Charlie's name, but as I was writing, it just seemed to fit her. I'm working now to fit in an explanation for it since so many people are startled by it.

-I'm actually considering using something like "creeping" instead of "boiling."

-The trip description is basic and forced. It just seemed weird to me to have them in one place and then immediately the next. I'll work on a better description and I'm open to any ideas for it.

-Just fixed the "teeth" hyperbole, now that you pointed out it's kinda silly without other context clues.

-Callous and callus are both right.

-I changed "followed" to "watched" in my last revision because I realized that sounded like she was actually walking behind the cab. I'm glad you noticed it, though, so I didn't feel like I was over analyzing!

You have no idea how much this helps! Thank you so much!
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Old 08-21-2012, 04:02 PM
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Callous is a personality trait, calluses are skin.
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