A Prologue I've Written for a Book I'm Writing. Opinions?

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EverybodyLies_
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10 Oct 2009, 6:55 am

I'm writing a book and I want your opinions on the prologue I've written for it. According to my friends, it's a good beginning and they want to hear updates but I want to see what your honest opinion is. It's below:

Two men stood side-by-side in an almost completely empty room. To the man on the left’s left stood a metal office desk and upon that sat a clipboard and a pen. The man standing beside the clipboard picked it up and turned to the other man, and began to speak whilst reading over the notes.
“Patient 113, Corporal Jack Ryder, he served under you in the Marines... lost two friends and was tortured for three weeks until he was eventually rescued. He suffered a psychotic break, post-traumatic stress disorder and now psychosis. What can I say? He’s broken,” said the smaller of the men, looking over notes on a clipboard that were in his hand and thought aloud: “Twenty three months of service, a fair amount of time for a Marine.”
With a nod to the Doctor, the Colonel acknowledged this: “A well-seasoned troop.” They were both very different men; one wore black, the other wore white. One had black eyes, the other had green. One’s job to kill, the other’s to heal. He spoke with a gruff voice, a hint of charisma that assisted him in his line of work: “Any hope of recovery?”
“Not for the foreseeable future, I believe. He is in a very delicate state, Colonel...?”
“Stryker.”
“Well, Colonel Stryker, if you are suggesting he returns to service then he would be more likely dissolve in his sleep. Not only is he most likely going to be little more than a shell – an echo – of his former self, but the delusions he will experience will vary in extremity. I recommend he remains in the asylum for eighteen months and then the Board will review his status and take action accordingly. I would bet my career that the man on the other side of this glass will never be the same again. That man died with his teammates in Iraq.”
The Colonel did not immediately reply. He looked through the one-way-glass, observing the sedated man lying on a bed on the other side. It would be several hours before he regained consciousness. “And how do you plan on bringing him back into society?”
“We will begin treatment – medications to reduce and eventually stop the delusions – along with therapy treatments; behavioural and numerous others. His perspective of the rights and wrongs of society have been ‘warped’.”
“What about his memory? Will he remember the events of his service?” asked the Colonel, watching the Doctor carefully, almost as though looking for something.
“It is possible he will have flashbacks. But due to his psychosis the delusions will make it almost impossible to differentiate between fact and fiction. For now he is unable to grasp the small sense of reality that he has.
“When will he awaken?”
“In around three hours. He has been given,” he began, pouring over the second page of the notes on his clipboard for information on the medication that the Corporal had been given, “three-hundred and fifty milligrams of methaqualone. We can’t do anything at the moment, we must give him a few weeks to settle into this new location; let him adjust. We will avoid sedatives for now... antipsychotics are what must be used to tackle his delusions. The delusions must be controlled before they can be stopped.”
“Will you arrange a –”
“I’d rather you did not, Colonel. Let’s not stir up that which we wish to settle.”
The refusal to allow the Colonel to visit the Corporal was also a refusal for the Colonel to dictate the terms of the patient’s stay. Both men were quite aware of this.
“Your judgement, of course, is paramount,” replied the Colonel, making no attempts to conceal his patronization.
“If you think that would be best... but you do not feel that –” began Colonel Stryker.
“I do not.” He interrupted to the Colonel’s dismay.
For several seconds the black and green eyes watched each another; Stryker gave another sharp nod, and then he was gone.



lelia
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10 Oct 2009, 11:52 am

One wonders what the Colonel has planned for the poor soldier. Good suspenseful beginning.

Some word choices: never use "almost completely" again, or I'll have to come after you. Use nearly or bare of any human touch or typical, worn-out, military or leave out that detail altogether.
Poring instead of pouring. Spellcheck never catches those homonyms.

Why is Colonel Stryker not wearing his namebadge? The doctor would not be talking to him unless he knew why he was there and who he was. He might not anyway because of confidentiality rules. Oh, and wait, which service wears black? My first read I skipped over those details, but now they are beginning to bother me. Which country are these service people in? I don't know how many countries have marines. So at first, I thought the US. Now I don't know. I love the word whilst, but that is British. So where is the setting? And then later there is one-way glass..... You are usually standing in the dark when you look through one-way glass.

Okay. How about something like Two men stood looking through a one-way-glass at a patient, who even in his sleep managed to look agonized. The doctor picked up a clipboard and penlight from a banged-up metal desk and began to speak etc

All in all, a very good opening. My only advice is that you spend more time making sure the reader can see what you see.



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10 Oct 2009, 4:55 pm

Before I actually read your response a friend pointed out to me that I need the entire beginning changed. I did, and I included the men entering the room and a description of them. I later included that the Doctor glanced to the man's nametag (upper right hand flap of his right pocket).

Quote:
Two men entered a small, office room. One wore a knee-length laboratory coat, black dress-trousers and black shoes. The other was fitted with military clothes; green service uniform and decorations that the Doctor could not quite understand and a name-tag on the upper-right flap of the pocket. His shoes were large boots; polished to such a level that any light would reflect off it and give a rainbow effect.
“Patient One-Zero-Five... One-Zero-Six...” he began. He did not seem to remember the exact number he was looking for. “Ah, yes, Patient One-One-Three, Corporal Jack Ryder of the 17th Marine Expeditionary Unit... lost five teammates and was tortured for three weeks until he was rescued by the rest of his Unit. He then suffered a psychotic break, post-traumatic stress disorder and now psychosis. He’s broken,” said the smaller of the men, looking over notes on a clipboard that were in his hand and thought aloud: “Twenty three months of service, a fair amount of time for a Marine.”
With a nod to the Doctor, the General acknowledged this whilst watching a man that lay on the other side of a one-way-mirror strapped down to a stretcher that sat on a table: “A well-seasoned troop.” They were both very different men; one wore green, the other wore white. One had black eyes, the other had green. One’s job to kill, the other’s to heal. He spoke with a gruff voice, a hint of natural charisma that assisted him in his line of work: “Any hope of recovery?”
“Not for the foreseeable future, I believe. He is in a very delicate state, General...?” he said, glancing at the nametag, “Stryker. If you are suggesting he returns to service then he would be more likely dissolve in his sleep. Not only is he most likely going to be little more than a shell – an echo – of his former self, but the delusions he will experience will vary in extremity. I recommend he remains in the asylum for eighteen months and then the Board will review his status and take action accordingly. I would bet my career that the man on the other side of this glass will never be the same again. That man died with his teammates in Iraq.”
The General did not immediately reply. He continued looking through the one-way-glass. It would be several hours before the sedated man regained consciousness. “And how do you plan on bringing him back into society if he ‘died’ in Iraq with his teammates?”
“We will begin treatment – medications to reduce and eventually stop the delusions – along with therapy treatments; behavioural and numerous others. His perspective of the rights and wrongs of society have been warped... I do not know if he will ever truly be the same person again.”
“Your conjecture?”
The Doctor was not the type of man to tell a lie simply to preserve the feelings of another, yet he doubted that telling the truth would affect this man anyway. “That he won’t be.”
“What about his memory? Will he remember the events of his service?” asked the General, watching the Doctor carefully, almost as though looking for something. The answer to his previous question had not visibly shaken him in any way, shape or form. He remained straight in his posture, putting him at least an inch over the Doctor.
“It is possible he will have flashbacks. But due to his psychosis the delusions will make it almost impossible to differentiate between fact and fiction. For now he is unable to grasp the small sense of reality that he has.
“When will he awaken?”
“In around three hours. He has been given,” he began, pouring over the second page of the notes on his clipboard for information on the medication that the Corporal had been given, “three-hundred and fifty milligrams of methaqualone. We can’t do anything at the moment, we must give him a few weeks to settle into this new location; let him adjust. We will avoid sedatives for now... antipsychotics are what must be used to tackle his delusions. The delusions must be controlled before they can be stopped.”
“Will you arrange a –”
“I’d rather you did not, General. Let’s not stir up that which we wish to settle.”
The refusal to allow the General to visit the Corporal was also a refusal for the General to dictate the terms of the patient’s stay; both men were quite aware of this.
“Your judgement, of course, is paramount,” replied the General, making no attempts to conceal his patronization. “But do you not think that –?“
“I do not.” He interrupted to the General’s dismay.
The General’s eyes narrowed; it was rare that someone would disobey his ‘requests’. His requests weren’t often requests, they were rhetorical requests. He did not want anything said back; the task would be done with minimal or no fuss.
“And that would be your final decision, Doctor?”
“I’m afraid so.”
“So be it... Good day,” he concluded. Their eyes met briefly, and he was gone.



pakled
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10 Oct 2009, 7:17 pm

Marines are in any country that has a Navy..there's probably over a hundred different kinds...

Good start. Hope it goes well.


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10 Oct 2009, 8:11 pm

pakled wrote:
Marines are in any country that has a Navy..there's probably over a hundred different kinds...

Good start. Hope it goes well.


Thanks.