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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Fragments and Feedback for Short Works » Last Round for Neverking

   
Author Topic: Last Round for Neverking
djvdakota
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I've decided to take the plunge. I guess I'm going to enter WOTF with Neverking. <sigh> I figure if I'm going to enter it ought to be this year--before I blow my qualifications by publishing too many stories (guffaw!).

Anyway, now that we have all these newbies on board, I'd really like some very fresh eyes to take a look. It's about 5500 words, and you get a pretty good gist of what the story's about from the first thirteen lines below (take your pick).

For the rest of you, I'd like comments on these two openings. The first is the original that always bothered me. The second is the new one that I like better, but I'm still not sure it does the job.

#1.
Gramps had two obsessions: World War II and King Arthur. The War because he served in it. Arthur because he met him.

I had a half-day leave and wanted to see Gramps once more before shipping out to Afghanistan for eighteen months. That’s when he told me about Arthur.

“Morning, Gramps,” I said, like I did every time. I didn’t expect an answer. He was walled in by Alzheimer’s and hadn’t recognized me in more than a year. But that day he looked right at me--not through me like he usually did--and smiled.


#2
My grandfather knew King Arthur before I did.

Except that Gramps was no armored knight or denizen of Camelot's court. He was a veteran of World War II and a certified Arthur fanatic.

I had a half-day leave and wanted to see Gramps once more before shipping out to Afghanistan for eighteen months. That’s when he told me about Arthur.

“Morning, Gramps,” I said, like I did every time I went to the care center. I didn’t expect an answer. He was walled in by Alzheimer’s and hadn’t recognized me in more than a year. But that day he looked right at me--not through me like he usually did--and smiled.


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HSO
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I like opening #1 the best. It made me laugh when you said Gramps knew Arthur. It was the tone, the voice. Brilliant.

The second one was not as funny -- therefore I automatically discounted it. Getting a laugh in the first few sentences is huge bonus points. Usually impossible. You did, so stick with 1.

HSO

PS: looks like someone else resurrected me, beating you to it. Pish. I tried to kill myself off... Blasted POV issues! I died! I knew I should have written that the bullet entered my skull... dang. Dang it all!


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Beth
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I like the first one more, too, although I can't quite put my finger on why - it just sounds better. You convey all the same information, just more engagingly, I think. (aside from the sentence fragments, but you already know about my Issues with those.)
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Ray
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You should stick with the first one. With the second, I just got the impression that he was an Arthur nut who had a secret about the subject, and in the first, you said that the grandpa actually met him. That grabbed me more than anything else.

I'll read it if you want.


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Kolona
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Ditto on the first.
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Jaina
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Definitely liked the first one better. It gives the same information in one little paragraph and does it in a way that makes me want to read on. The second one sounds like it's trying too hard.

Oh, I forgot to say: I'll read it if you want me to! It just might take me a couple of weeks to get it back to you, since my computer has been acting up lately.

[This message has been edited by Jaina (edited March 28, 2005).]


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jimmyjazz951
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I also like the first opening better. I would be interested in reading the rest, having fresh eyes and all.
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MCameron
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Without looking at the other responses, I have to say that I like the first opening better. I loved the first paragraph. It immediately sets up the juxtaposition of King Arthur and modern times. The second opening just didn't grab me as well.

I would like to read the story. It looks interesting.

--Mel


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Beauregard Doumitt
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I'm piling on - I also prefer #1.

But what is it that you don't like about it?

Gard


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Rocklover
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First. Definitely. It has voice, clarity, and leaves me wondering.
The second is flat by comparison, too factual.
Good luck with WOTF. I'm rooting for ya.
Judith

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RFLong
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I'm going for the first too. But then I liked it when I read it before. Best of luck.

R


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djvdakota
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What don't I like about the first opening? I'll tell you. It misleads the reader. It makes you think that the story is going to be about grandpa and King Arthur. But it's not. It's about the grandson and King Arthur.

So, that said, any suggestions on how to fix it?

To those who've volunteered to read, it's on it's way--with the second opening.

HSO--I'm disappointed I didn't get a chance to use my Soap Opera Bomb--but Survivor's hand wavium pellets did the same thing. But MY Soap Opera Bomb would have resurrected us both and dropped us in a hospital covered head to toe in bandages. We would have regained consciousness, they would have taken off our bandages, and we would have looked completely different!

[This message has been edited by djvdakota (edited March 28, 2005).]


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NewsBys
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Number 1!


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Beauregard Doumitt
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I don't think you need to fix anything. For what it's worth - I never felt that the story was going to be about the grandfather, for 3 reasons:

. 1 - The story is 1st person, so I think it's going to be about the narrarator.

. 2 - I expect an introduction - to be finding my bearings in the first page or two, so at first I'm just taking things in, suspending my judgement on what the story is going to be about. I can't think of any examples right now, but I think if you watch for it you'll find a lot of writers mention things in the introduction that aren't necessarily a major part of the story. They do it to establish character, setting, etc. just as you are doing.

. 3 - When you say the grandfather has Alzheimer's, that's a strong hint that the story is about someone else.

Gard

---------------

OK - It wasn't hard to find examples. In fact, I think the first 2 items I looked at are like that.

. 1. What I'm currently reading - No One Rides For Free by Larry Beinhart (Author of How to Write A Mystery, which I recommend for a writer in any genre). The first _chapter_ is about the players in a court case. Of all those character, the judge is a very minor character in the rest of the story, and the defendant is a fairly minor one - he dies about 1/3 of the way through. (His conviction does set off the plot.) The protagonist doesn't even appear until the 2nd chapter.

. 2 The last novel I finished - Metro Girl by Janet Evanovich, an NYT best seller. The first page talks a lot about the female protagonist's father and working in his auto garage, but that's just backgound for her character. The father never appears again.

Novels do start slower that short stories, but in these examples there is more "irrelevant" material than you have. I think the principle is the same.

I hope this is helpful and of interest.

Gard


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djvdakota
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Thanks Gard! What you say makes a lot of sense.

[This message has been edited by djvdakota (edited March 28, 2005).]


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wbriggs
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I liked #1 best, too. One suggestion: you give us a powerful hook (that Gramps met King Arthur), then you go into a couple of paragraphs that aren't about Gramps meeting King Arthur. I'm tempted to skip.
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JBSkaggs
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I like #1 better, I am led to believe that the story will be about the grandson but that the grandpa will start it off.

I also like the voice and humor better.

JBSkaggs


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HSO
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quote:
HSO--I'm disappointed I didn't get a chance[...]

No worries, Dakota. There's always the next episode, tentatively titled: "The Betrayal of Christine." I'm sure we'll find a way to kill me off again and you can then resurrect me with the S.O.B.


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Shendülféa
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I'm with most everyone: I like the first the best and for the same reasons.
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djvdakota
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See. wbriggs, without even trying , brought up the VERY point that gives me the fantods over this opening. It seems he's saying that he expects the story to be about Gramps meeting King Arthur--the very thing I DO NOT want to happen.

And for that reason I STILL want to insert into that opening, somehow, that the grandson met Arthur as well.

And speaking of openings, I'm OPEN to suggestions. Some glimmer of inspiration from someone else might prevent me from tearing my hair out over this.


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HSO
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Simple fix, I think, Dakota. Here's some glimmers, I hope.

First sentences:

Gramps told me he had two obsessions:

I knew that Gramps had two obessions:

or... you could go the other way and at the end of the "knew Arthur" line:

I didn't believe him at first until I met Arthur, too.

You know... I hope this helps inspire you to write something you like better.

--HSO


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halvard
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A couple of days after the other replies, but still, here is my opinion.

Use;
My grandfather had two obsessions: World War II and King Arthur. The War because he served in it. Arthur because he met him.

That is a much better hook than #2.

BUT

What I find interesting is that nobody has commented on the following;

In the next paragraph you write;

... That's when he told me about Arthur.

This is a hook as well, but now the surprise is gone as Arthur has already been used in the first hook. It is a repeat.

I would write the entire thing like this (with just one hook);

My grandfather had two obsessions: World War II and King Arthur. The War because he served in it. Arthur because he met him.

I had a half-day leave and wanted to see him once more before shipping out to Afghanistan.

“Morning, Gramps,” I said, like I did every time.

I didn’t expect an answer. He was walled in by Alzheimer’s and hadn’t recognized me in more than a year. But that day he looked right at me--not through me like he usually did--and smiled.


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Mr_Megalomaniac
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I like the second one more, though I don't think it's neccesary to mention that the's an Arthur fantatic, since we already know the Gramps knows Arthur.
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TaShaJaRo
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Dakota - I like the first opening better because there is a nice "voice" to it. It flows and feels natural. Neither opening made me think that the story was not going to be about Grandpa meeting Arthur. Even with that leading first line, the rest still focused on Grandpa so I thought it was going to be about him. But I agree with Beauregard that having it as an introduction that lead into the events of the grandson meeting Arthur would not leave me feeling deceived or mislead.

I'd be willing to read it if you can wait until the weekend for me to get to it.


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NewsBys
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Do you still need another reader? I'm game.
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djvdakota
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Thanks for the offer, but I think I'm critiqued out on this one.

Thanks anyway, TaSha and NewsBys.


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