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Author Topic: First 13: The McLachlan Murders (resurrected)
Rob Roy
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Starts=====>
The young woman lay at the bottom of a deep gully, her blue eyes staring sightlessly at the remote, uncaring stars. Her blonde hair surrounded her head like a kind of perverse halo, partly covering the rock that had ended her life, and almost hiding the dark stain that was her blood upon the ground.

At the top of the slope a tree branch moved, but not with the night breeze. No-one else was there to see the dark figure that carefully moved the branch aside and gazed down upon the scene at the bottom. The figure’s gaze was as cold as the starlight as it waited for many minutes, looking for signs of movement.

The two figures remained thus, the one unmoving, and the other unmoved; then the second turned and walked stealthily back <=====Ends

Thoughts? Feedback?

Be brutal!

Ard-choille,
Rob Roy

[This message has been edited by Kathleen Dalton Woodbury (edited January 14, 2009).]


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Gan
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quote:
The young woman lay at the bottom of a deep gully, her blue eyes staring sightlessly at the remote, uncaring stars.

If the case here is that the woman is actually dead... Then this sentence kind of confused me. Even though she is staring sightlessly, it makes me think that she is still alive. This could be unique to me, but it had me thinking she was alive, until the "ended her life" down below.

Edit: Rereading it, this might not be a problem at all. I can't decide. See what others say.

quote:
The figure’s gaze was as cold as the starlight as it waited for many minutes, looking for signs of movement.

The bold here doesn't really paint a picture for me. I don't see starlight as cold, even though in a previous sentence you said they were 'uncaring'. Again, could be unique to me.

quote:
The two figures remained thus,

This kind of put me off for a bit.


Great stuff, and very hooky. I particularly love the way you described her hair. My comments may very well be personal opinion, so don't take them as fact.

Keep at it, its good.

[This message has been edited by Gan (edited January 14, 2009).]


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Rob Roy
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Gan, thanks for your feedback.

Query: do the blank lines I used as paragraph separators count as part of the 13? I thought I was pretty careful about the amount of text I included, and I never use full-block paragraphs in an actual manuscript.

Ard-choille,
Rob Roy.


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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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Rob Roy, I don't count the blank lines as part of the 13 lines. I look at the 13 lines in the edit box (which is set to hold exactly 13 lines), and if there are any blank lines, I make sure to include one line of text for each blank line, and then I cut everything else.

The 13 lines are what would be 13 lines of monospaced courier 12-point text, so that it's the same for everyone.

What you count as 13 lines may not be in that font, so that's why we use the reply or edit box.

There's a template in the Please Read Here First area as well as an explanation of the 13 lines.


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Yufae
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I like it! I would go with "dark stain of her blood" instead of "dark stain that was her blood." Smoother. I don't like the "remained thus" part either. There's just something about the word "thus." I don't know. I think it hooks as is. Are the black figures supernatural in any way? I got the impression that they might be.
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Rob Roy
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Kathleen,

thanks for the explanation. Next time I'll go with the edit box.

Yufae,

thanks for the feedback. So far that's two who didn't like "thus."

I have plans for several supernatural stories; this isn't one of them. I'm going to have another shot and see how it goes.

quote:
The young woman lay at the bottom of a deep gully, her dead blue eyes reflecting the cold light of remote stars. Her blonde hair surrounded her head like a kind of perverse halo, partly covering the rock that had ended her life, and almost hiding the dark stain of her blood upon the ground.
At the top of the slope a tree branch moved, but not with the night breeze. No-one else was there to see the dark figure that carefully moved the branch aside and gazed pitilessly down upon the body at the bottom, waiting for many minutes, looking for signs of movement.
The two figures remained for a moment, the one unmoving, and the other unmoved; then the second turned and walked stealthily back through the trees, taking the utmost care to leave no trace


Better? Worse? No different?

Ard-choille,
Rob Roy


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annepin
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I would definitely turn the page. I had to read it twice to get it, though. I love the imagery of the dead woman and the person at the top of the slope. What hung me up was the word "figure". I don't consider a corpse to be a figure. So when you said "two figures" I had to go back and reread to make sure I hadn't missed someone, or thought maybe someone new had appeared. That's likely just my peculiarity, however.

The other thing that strikes me as odd, though it doesn't bother me enough not to read on, is time. You paint a static image. You say the figure is in the tree for many minutes. Then you say they remain for a moment. I personally think it would work better to cut the "waiting for many minutes". When you say "remained for a moment" the reader will assume the figure has been looking pitilessly down at the body the entire time and perhaps looking for signs of movement.


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Rob Roy
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Annepin,

thanks for your feedback.

Yes, I'm definitely trying to show a frozen tableau, although I don't want to call it that. The idea is that the murderer is watching the victim from a distance, to make sure she's really dead. I'm also trying to show that there was no passion in the murder; it was completely cold. That, of course, is a matter of plot resolution, but I'm trying to portray it up front.

The story is a "mystery" in the Agatha Christie tradition; I want to give enough clues so that when the murderer is revealed in the last chapter, the readers will slap their foreheads and say, "of course!"

I'll take your suggestions on board and come back with an improved version.

Ard-choille,
Rob Roy.


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Rob Roy
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Version 3:

The young woman lay at the bottom of a deep gully, her blue eyes reflecting the cold light of remote stars. Her blonde hair surrounded her head like a kind of perverse halo, partly covering the rock that had ended her life, and almost hiding the dark stain that was her blood upon the ground.
At the top of the slope a tree branch moved, but not with the night breeze. No-one else was there to see the dark figure that carefully moved the branch aside and gazed pitilessly down upon the body at the bottom, waiting for signs of movement.
The two remained for a moment, the body unmoving, and the watching figure unmoved. Then it turned to go; an unexpected sound gave it a start, but it was only the mournful call of a morepork. Somewhere among the trees the owl was gliding,

Better?

Ard-choille,
Rob Roy


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honu
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hiyas Rob Roy//// great lead in///I prefer version 2///is the morepork a NZ night jar bird? threw me a sec//// I think you are probably going to be okay but if the young woman is dead would her pupils be fixed and dilated, not showing blue at all? I know this is grim, but maybe someone else can answer this that has a med background. I've only seen one dead person's eyes in my life and all I could remember was a black pupil and no outer ring...your lead in is a page turner for me too/// good job
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Rob Roy
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Hi Honu,

thanks for your feedback.

quote:
hiyas Rob Roy//// great lead in///I prefer version 2///is the morepork a NZ night jar bird? threw me a sec////

Close; it's actually an owl.

quote:
I think you are probably going to be okay but if the young woman is dead would her pupils be fixed and dilated, not showing blue at all? I know this is grim, but maybe someone else can answer this that has a med background. I've only seen one dead person's eyes in my life and all I could remember was a black pupil and no outer ring...

Yes they dilate, but the iris doesn't disappear completely.

quote:
your lead in is a page turner for me too/// good job

Thank you for that.

Ard-choille,
Rob Roy


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Rob Roy 99
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This thread is being brought back from the dead because I've finished the first draft. Here is the new first 13:

The first murder that was seen in the McLachlan district in over a decade had been a long time in the making; but it took shape in a corner of the bar of the Drover’s Arms hotel in Kinross, on a quiet evening.
Six men sat in a booth with their heads together, talking. Their discussion had started quietly enough about an hour before, but several jugs of beer later the voices began to be raised.
“I tell you, the whole country’s going to the dogs,” said Charlie Crocker. He had already told them this several times already, but no-one objected; as master-at-arms of the National Aryan Council, his views commanded respect. “Our grandfathers made this country by their own hard work. There was nothing


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mbwood
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Okay, Rob Roy, a little wordsmithing is needed:

“The first murder that was seen in the McLachlan district in over a decade had been a long time in the making; but it took shape in a corner of the bar of the Drover’s Arms hotel in Kinross, on a quiet evening.”

This is a little wordy; consider:

The first murder in the McLachlan district was a long time in making. It all started in the Drover’s Arms hotel in Kinross.

That has the needed info.


“Six men sat in a booth with their heads together, talking. Their discussion had started quietly enough about an hour before, but several jugs of beer later the voices began to be raised.”

Consider this:
Six men in a booth talked quietly for about an hour. Several jugs of beer later, their voices became louder.

The above could be considered back story, however, if it carries hints of trouble, it can engage the reader. The trick is to have a fast pace to the delivery of the information.

The dialogue could be tightened, but can stand on its own. What is needed are some words that raise the tension or imply a coming conflict (the essential ingredient of fiction). Make the reader concerned, worry or even frightened.

I hope this helps,
MBW


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Giasin Chasan
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Be brutal... I like your thinking patterns.

Commenting on the last take.

The first murder TO BE seen is better.

Murders don't take shape, or form , they take place, especially when you go on to elaborate on the PLACE it happened.

"...on a quiet evening" is an afterthought, inefficiently blended and superfluous, as far as information goes.

There is no possible justification for the use of the word "but" in the second sentence. What's the antithesis? There IS none.

"...the voices began to be raised". Don't know were to start. Replace entirely. I don't know, sth like:

"Their conversation had been steadily increasing in volume for about an hour, becoming louder with each jug of beer."

Use only one "already" per sentence, better yet, per page.

Replace "no-one" with "nobody".

I hope you don't take offense, these are just personal views, and there's no accounting for taste. You DID ask for brutality, though, so I may have been a bit too blunt.

Hope this helps.


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