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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Fragments and Feedback for Short Works » First 13 - More

   
Author Topic: First 13 - More
WakefieldMahon
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I suppose you would classify this story as a modern fable. I invite your input in any shape or form. As always, a full read would be most helpful. Thanks!

***
Tom Foole shared a lovely little house in the suburbs with his wife Tala. The house sat on the end of a quiet lane just across the street from the river. Rose bushes of scarlet, gold, and lavender lined the front of the house while gardenias set the driveway apart from a pristine emerald lawn.
Tala stood in the doorway staring across the street. "You know, we can hardly see the river since Cora Jones planted that tree. Why couldn't you get us a house on the other side of the street on the riverfront Tom?"
"Well I," he started.
"I don’t have anything to wear," Tala said. "I need to go shopping."
***

Revised Opening
***
A little owl sits in a tall poplar tree, looking down on Tom Foole's house.

"Hoot and hoo hoo,

Let me tell you

Here is the start of a sad silly fable

Learn the lesson if you can while you are still able."

Tom Foole shared a lovely little house in the suburbs with his wife Tala. The house sat on the end of a quiet lane just across the street from the river. Rose bushes of scarlet, gold, and lavender lined the front of the house while gardenias set the driveway apart from a pristine emerald lawn.

Tala stood in the doorway staring across the street. "You know, we can hardly see the river since Cora Jones planted that tree. ***

[ January 23, 2012, 12:57 PM: Message edited by: Kathleen Dalton Woodbury ]

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WakefieldMahon
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Sorry 1500 words
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Daniel_W
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Hey there [Smile] .

Just looking at this opening, I don't think there's anything wrong with the prose, but the content leaves me a little blank.

Your hooks seem to be 'Tom Foole', and 'who is Cora Jones?', but the bulk of the opening is just a standard description of a garden. Equally, Tala strikes me as a ditsy, rather discontented wife, and that puts me off a bit; I've no desire to read about a woman whining to her husband. There's also no indication of any fable elements (except possibly the name 'Tom Foole', which sounds deliberate, like Tom Riddle or Jack Frost) - that isn't necessarily a bad thing, but if all you've got in the opening is a garden and a wife, a little hint of the fable might help to raise the interest a bit.

For those reasons, I probably wouldn't read on - I think it needs a stronger hook first. Others may disagree, of course!

Hope this helps,
Daniel.

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WakefieldMahon
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Thank you Daniel. Excellent Points. The story is about the Toms attempt to satisfy his greedy wife thereby destroying himself.
The humor doesn't show in the first few paragraphs and that is after all the point of the first 13 isn't it?
Much to chew on. Thanks again

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LeetahWest
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I think perhaps you should start with "Tala stood in the doorway . . ." The description of the pristine house/garden seems too ho hum, average joe for me.

I don't mind the fact that the wife is discontented in such an obviously greedy way, you did say it was a fable after all. To me, fables tend towards exaggeration to get a point across. That said, knowing it's a fable makes me automatically curious as to where this discontentment will lead.

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CGreen
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First, you haven't grabbed the reader with these first lines. I'm not even sure what genre to expect. You need a better hook, but you may have that further into the story.
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OliverBuckram
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I agree that the entire first paragraph is too generic and could be cut. We could start right with the conflict instead of the gardening description.

I am also thinking the name "Tom Foole" is annoyingly cutsey. Then again I had a strong dislike for Professor Sprout on Harry Potter.

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WakefieldMahon
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Excellent notes. Thank you! I've changed the first 13 to let the reader know what to expect from the rest of the story and clarify that it's a fable.
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axeminister
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Wakefield,
BTW, is that really your first name? Awesome. Either way, that is what I shall call you.

Will you post your revision? I'm feeling the need to disseminate my opinion. Lucky you...

Axe

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WakefieldMahon
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Just for you axeminister I've posted the revision. And yes Wakefield is really my first name [Smile]
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Merlion-Emrys
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I think this is pretty nicely done. I'm assuming this is essentially "The Fisherman and his Wife" or something very similar. Does the owl serve any further role in the story beyond introducing things? I do basically like the owl. Unless their is some sort of arcane poetic reason I don't know about, I'd maybe remove the "and" from his hooting.
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axeminister
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Hmm.

The owl is looking down on the house. Did you mean to give the owl the connotation of contempt? That's what to look down on means. I can see this in context, just making sure. If not, perhaps he is *observing* Tom Foole's house, which is more neutral.

Also, after the start, I'm anticipating the language continuing in such a manner. Fairy tale like, and directly to the reader.

Did you want to do that? Or kick into standard storytelling mode? I'm detecting a mix of both.

You use the word house three times. River twice.

I think the sentences can be moved around a little and condensed.

I don't mind the descriptions of the flowers, they seem apropos to a fable, but if you're going for it, go all the way, make it flowery and exaggerated.

Lastly, could you change *stood in the doorway* to something more indicative of her character? Based on the next few lines, I think we'll have a pretty good idea, but this is a freebie, so go for it. Maybe she could sigh before speaking about the tree. Or open the door and sigh. Or place her ruby shades onto her head.

Axe

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annepin
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I think you're missing an opportunity for some symmetry in the owl's little poem. The first couplet is equal in syllables, but that pattern ends with the last two lines.

While you do get across the fact that it's a modern fairy tale quite effectively with the owl, I found the transition from that to the actual story to be a bit jarring. The tone and writing are so different.

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WakefieldMahon
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Great notes, I'm glad I checked back in. Thanks folks!
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