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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Fragments and Feedback for Short Works » Relief Duty

   
Author Topic: Relief Duty
RFLong
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Short story just under 5k words, very early draft. I'm not entirely sure of the genre - urban fantasy perhaps? I'm looking for people to read the whole thing as well as comments on the opening. In addition, where do you think its going from the beginning?
Thanks
R
---------------------
The library building was not what Sophie had expected. As she closed the car door and looked up the narrow path, it looked like nothing more than a Georgian town house, positioned incongruously in the middle of a twenty first-century city centre. The road between her parking space and her destination was jammed with traffic and she picked her way cautiously across. The name was interwoven with leaves in an arch above the wrought iron gates – Ayredale Special Collection. She stepped through its cool shadow, back into golden sunlight and the traffic sounds faded away, screened by high hedges of yew. She walked up the narrow path, past beds crowded with marigolds and geraniums, violent reds and golds.

The double doors were firmly closed, but she paused before ringing the bell. There was a green-tinged brass knocker, in the shape of a man’s face. But the face was formed by leaves – a Green Man, her memory dredged the name from somewhere. The panels in the doors were also ornate, carved with falling leaves, twisting and curling in a breeze she could not feel. For a moment Sophie thought she saw movement and pulled back. The light, she assured herself, or her mind playing tricks on her. She had set her alarm an hour earlier this morning to make it across the city in rush hour and so be on time. And she had not slept well last night. She clutched her bag a little closer and reached for the bell.


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MCameron
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Well, just critiquing the first paragraph (which is 13 lines all by itself), the only confusing point was this line:

quote:
The name was interwoven with leaves in an arch above the wrought iron gates

Were there real leaves growing through the name, or was it fancy metalworking?

I didn't read the second paragraph. Although I'm not exactly hooked, the writing is good enough that I would probably continue to read, at least for a while.

--Mel


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wbriggs
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I'm with Mel, pretty much. I'll add: what's the story about? I'd say, start there. You'll have plenty of opportunity to show us the interesting architecture while something's happening.

Would you mind terribly giving me a spoiler? I would like to know if the Green Man is part of the story. I know, I should just be looking at the first 13 lines, but I'm interested in that bit of folklore.


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MaryRobinette
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I'm intrigued, but also a little distanced from the character. The weight of the narrative thus far focuses on describing the building, but except in one instance, I don't know anything about how Sophie is feeling. I know that she was startled by thinking she saw movement and attributes it to light and to being tired.

I don't know why she pauses before she rings the bell, if it's because of the knocker or some other hesitation. I'm willing to trust that you will tell me soon about why she hadn't slept well, and why it was important to be on time. But you need to tell me soon, or I'll feel cheated that Sophie knows things that I don't.

I would keep reading though--but I can't. Let me know if you want a second string reader on this. I should be caught up by then.


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abby
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To me, it sounds like a great start. It sets up a lot of suspense that probably begins to be answered in the next few pages. You open the story up, leaveing lots of questions that will interest the reader, and make them read on to find the answers.

Of course, I like older books that start out that way. I may not be able to read Dickens anymore, but I do like description inmy sotries, not just action. There are so many different types of readers out there, it's not easy for me to know if I can reach my audience either. I would like to read more, if you need a reader.


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RFLong
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It's not a Green Man story, unfortunately. The Green Man is there as a guardian, a ward.

MCameron and wbriggs - i was a little confused - are you free to read? Thanks abby. I will send it on tonight.

Mary, I'll check back with you when I have a further draft, or alternatively, please let me know when you're free. I'd really appreciate the feedback.

Thanks
R

[This message has been edited by RFLong (edited June 29, 2005).]


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RFLong
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Hi abby

can you send me an email address where I can send the story? Thanks
R


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Kickle
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If you still need readers, I have free time next week.
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abby
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sure, my email is contact@writing.webdesigningabby.com. I'll see if I can get it turned on in my profile too. Thans.
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abby
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RFLong, thank you for sending the piece to me. I did an initial read through last night. I will make notes of what I think, and attempt to return to you by tommorrow afternoon. If not enough time, it may be Tuesday.

Abby


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RFLong
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Thanks abby

Talk to you soon
R


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Survivor
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I think that this is a sort of milieu story, and thus the library building (which presumably is going to be the entrance to the miliue) is important enough to deserve very careful description.

Not at the expense of good characterization, certainly. But some modest further revelations about Sophie's thoughts (like what she had expected, and why) should be enough for now.

There are some mild problems with the description. For instance, I didn't know that there was a wall enclosing a garden between the street and the library until you mentioned the gate. Perhaps I should have known, but that's not the point. More careful attention to what Sophie is seeing would serve both to enhance her POV and to detail the scene better.

I'll read, if you're okay with a bit of uncertainty about exactly when I'll get back to you.


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Kolona
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Belatedly, this caught my attention. My comments are in brackets:

The library building was not what Sophie had expected. As she closed the car door and looked up the narrow path, it looked like nothing more than a Georgian town house, positioned incongruously in the middle of a twenty first-century city centre. [There's an opening here to contrast the reality with her expectations.][This next could then probably be a new paragraph.] The road between her parking space and her destination was jammed with traffic and she picked her way cautiously across. The name [Of what? The road or her destination?] was interwoven with leaves [Real or metal or what?] in an arch above the wrought iron gates – Ayredale Special Collection. She stepped through its [Whose? The arch or the gate's shadow?] cool shadow, back into golden sunlight and the traffic sounds faded away, screened by high hedges of yew. She walked up the narrow path, past beds crowded with marigolds and geraniums, violent reds and golds.
The double doors were firmly closed, but she paused before ringing the bell. There was a green-tinged brass knocker, in the shape of a man’s face. But [Why 'but?'] the face was formed by leaves – a Green Man, her memory dredged the name from somewhere. The panels in the doors were also ornate, carved with falling leaves, twisting and curling in a breeze she could not feel. [I like that, but I'd wonder why she would expect to feel it.]For a moment Sophie thought she saw movement and pulled back. The light, she assured herself, or her mind playing tricks on her. She had set her alarm an hour earlier this morning to make it across the city in rush hour and so be on time. And she had not slept well last night. [This seems out of place.] She clutched her bag a little closer and reached for the bell.

Since I don't know what Sophie's feeling, I'm not sure what I'm supposed to be feeling. From the 'violent' colors of the flowers, I'm guessing there's something dastardly behind this quiet beginning. The Green Man seems to be the hook.

The writing is pleasant, coherent. I'd be willing to read, if you're still looking for readers.


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