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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Fragments and Feedback for Short Works » The Copyist's Son 4500 word Fantasy

   
Author Topic: The Copyist's Son 4500 word Fantasy
Owasm
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Second try:

Amid wails of pain from Paal, Reech and his father helped the boy through the farming village. People had come out of their huts to see what caused the awful sounds. The scene reminded Reech of a parade he’d seen in Whitebanks, except this time the spectators were silent.

Paal’s face was white with agony. His arm was crooked and his purpled hand was swelling.

“Where are you taking my boy?” said Paal’s father confronting the trio in the center of the village.

“To the hedge-healer," Jaak, Reech’s father, said. “Your boy fell out of the old oak tree, broke his arm and badly damaged his hand.” Reech noted his father’s voice had now assumed an angry edge. They both knew what was going to happen.


First try:

The tree shook as a boy careened from branch to branch falling to Reech’s feet. His friend, Paal writhed on the soft dirt, clutching his hand.

Reech ran home to get aid. He and his father helped Paal to his feet and started to take the boy to the hedge-healer.

“The hedge-healer will get you right. His magic will take care of all the pain and you’ll be just fine.” Reech's father comforted Paal, as they made their way through the village to the healer's hut.

“Where are you taking my boy?” said Paal’s father, confronting them as they stood in the middle of the village.

[This message has been edited by Owasm (edited May 25, 2009).]


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Sixbells
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I would struggle to read on here as I don't understand what has happened. The rope has confused me; did the boy fall from the tree? I can’t picture the cause and effect. Also is the character Paal the boy? (I think you are jumping back and forth with Paal and boy?). Also new characters seem to jump in, giving me no time to visualize them . You introduce 6 characters without any description and this disorientates me. I would like to understand why the Boy is in the tree and have the scene set. I think there is nothing wrong with the writing itself, if the back story is already set and I know the world I’m entering into along with the characters. Why is the boy up the tree? Why are they using the rope? I feel no tension here as I do not understand any of the characters motives, so I doubt I would read on.

[This message has been edited by Sixbells (edited May 24, 2009).]


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monstewer
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Yeah, sixbells makes a lot of excellent points.

Quite a lot of confusion as to who is who. Is Paal the one who fell from the tree? If so, why not name him straight away?

I feel no tension here or any sense of urgency. Some lad has fallen and will apparently be healed easily so I don't feel any urge to read on.

Also, in this first 13 we have a boy falling from a tree, another boy running to get his dad, going back to pick up the boy and then taking him to the village...a lot of things to happen in 13 lines! And because of that, it feels so rushed and breathless I don't get the time to feel involved in any of it. I think that if you feel the need to rush like that, then you're probably starting the story in the wrong place. As an example, wouldn't it be easier and more natural to start as they're carrying the boy into the village? It would be easy to slip in that he has fallen from a tree and is in some pain.


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annepin
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The tree shook as a boy Paal? Why not just use his name?careened from branch to branch falling to Reech’s feet. His friend whose friend? Reech's? The boy's?, Paal writhed on the soft dirt, clutching his hand.

Reech ran home to get aid. He and his father helped Paal to his feet and started to take the boy to the hedge-healer Not sure whose story this is at this point. It could be any of the characters' because the story isn't really grounded in any one POV. It's hard for me to be sympathetic to the story because of that.

“The hedge-healer will get you right. His magic will take care of all the pain and you’ll be just fine.” Reech's father comforted Paal, as they made their way through the village to the healer's hut.

“Where are you taking my boy?” said Paal’s father, confronting them as they stood in the middle of the village.

My main impression is that you're moving way too fast. The description of the accident is almost perfunctory. It seems like you're rushing to get to "the point" of the story, whatever that may be. So far we've been told about the actions of all the characters, but not really given access to any of them. Hence it's lie watching a chess game unfold. The pieces are doing this and that, but I'm not engaged.

I suggest slowing down, focusing on the main POV character, whomever that might be, and letting us get into his head.


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Sixbells
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I like the second version it now has coherence but still lacks in my view real tension for an opening. As a suggestion how about looking at if from another view point, focus on the boy falling. For example his thoughts as he feels his grip loosening as he looks down to a drop that invites certain death. Perhaps he starts crying for his father, as he slowly slips from the branches his only thought to accompany him is how much will it hurt? Will he die quickly?
I mention this because this happened to me climbing, I can think of nothing more terrifying than your grip slipping knowing you have a fatal drop below. Just another potential angle to think about.

[This message has been edited by Sixbells (edited May 25, 2009).]


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Kaz
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Sixbells is right. Falling from great heights can be a pretty terrifying experience. You should capitalize on that. You could also use that opening to start with less characters. As it is, you're introducing four people in the first 13 lines, and I can't keep with all the names. The best short stories I've read always work with two [important] characters at a time, and the more characters you have, the more complicated the exposition. Start with Paal falling, and slowly introduce the characters.

There's still the problem that as it is, I'm not very interested in the story. This kid fell and broke his arm and somebody is getting angry over it. You hint that something, possibly something bad, might happen. While a kid can be terrified of his father's wrath, I'm not very intrigued by what's going on. So what if he broke his arm? I might be more interested if the fate of the village depended on Paal's ability to shoot arrows, or if he broke something very important or very valuable when he fell, other than his arm, that is. Then, I might want to know what happens next.


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Owasm
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Thanks for the input. The major problem with the opening is Paal's friend Reech is the main character and Paal disappears in a few sentences only to reappear years later.

I may have to eliminate Paal (it's so easy to do that in fiction) and start later when Reech and his father get kicked out of the village.


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NoTimeToThink
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Like the picture you're painting so far - suggested changes <bracketed> (I need to learn to do this neater). I also reduced Jack's decription of how hurt Paal is - your description of his arm makes it redundant:

Amid wails of pain from Paal, Reech and his father <Jaak> helped the boy through the farming village. People had come out of their huts to see what <was making> the awful sounds. The scene reminded Reech of a parade he’d seen in Whitebanks, except this time the spectators were silent.

Paal’s face was white with agony. His arm was crooked and his <hand was purple with swelling>.

“Where are you taking my boy?” said Paal’s father confronting the <pair> in the center of the village.

“To the hedge-healer," Jaak said. “Your boy fell out of the old oak tree.” Reech noted his father’s voice had now assumed an angry edge. They both knew what was going to happen.


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