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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Fragments and Feedback for Books » Hidden From the Sun

   
Author Topic: Hidden From the Sun
ars
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This is the begining of SF/Fantasy. I have about 10 pages. Let me know if it gets your attention.

I was drawing swirly designs in the dirt while I waited. The toe of my boot edged loops around a small lonely weed that had popped up between the cracks in the dry ground. Probably shouldn’t do that, it would only make my shoes wear out faster. And these took me forever to make.
There was a nudge in my back. That meant it was time to move up in line. I moved forward two steps but didn’t bother to look up. Only one person could draw water at a time, and most of the people around were very weak. It took them forever to pull a full bucket of water from the well. It didn’t take me long at all. I was strong still. I had offered to help before, but offers to help were usually taken with contempt and suspicion around here.

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MrsBrown
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I like how this starts. Immediate, immersive, and very human. Nice; yes, it gets my attention.

My impressions as I read: During the first two sentences I thought it was a kid all alone, perhaps sitting on a swing. Shoes wearing out sounds like something a poor kid's mom would have drilled into him. But then, he made them? Perhaps he's a teenager.
(Needs a para break, if that isn't one.)
Nudge, move up in line? Oh, there's other people all around, and he's standing.
Drawing water--fits with poverty or third-world life. (Don't need around.)
Contempt from very weak people? That didn't jive for me--I would expect their need to make them amenable to an offer of help.
I'm wondering why s/he is still strong, and why the others are weak.

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ars
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Thanks for the feed back. I can see that i need to make it clear that my main character is, in fact, a girl.
Also, Im glad the indications of the setting were clear. It is a poverty stricken area, post-apocalyptic actually. And it is true, in my story, that strangers are not trusted, even feared.
In summary, its about a girl who must struggle to overcome a prejudice and fear of a certain clan of people. By a twist of fate, she is stranded with a member of this clan, isolated from her family. He isolated from his as well, and must depend on one another for survival.

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Meredith
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My first comment is that if you only have 10 pages, don't start obsessing over the beginning. While good, this may not even be where your story actually starts--and you won't know that until you get to the end.

Second, change the first line to "I drew" rather than "I was drawing". It's not wrong and--in spite of what you may hear--it's not passive, but in general it's good to get rid of "to be" verbs if you can.

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Tryndakai
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I would cut the first line--because it's "telling" exactly what the very next line is "showing." Maybe changed "edged" to "drew" in that second line, to keep things clear . . . but beyond that there's no need to spell out what's going on there.

Apart from that, the prose is solid, and the character's voice seems to be coming through for me---the short, straightforward sentences work to make me feel that the character is bored, without making *me* feel bored . . . which is a good trick when you can pull it off. [Wink]

Also the character's personality is showing through--she seems very matter-of-fact and practical.

Just the last sentence broke the pattern a bit, and didn't sound like it was coming from the same person. It was more narrative/expository, where the other sentences were simply fact, as the char. is experiencing it. I'd like it if you mixed up the "I had offered to help" sentence with something more . . . character-driven? More embedded in her thought process? Add "I would help, just to get this over with . . ." or "I felt sorry for the old woman . . ." or something so I can get a feel for her, emotionally, and then a specific, like "but the last time I tried, the old bat screamed at me . . ." or some such. [Smile] So it's more immersive, and less simply narrative. That kind of thing.

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mobewan
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/*edited to remove examples/rewrites - sorry! */
Like the style and tone. Short, concise sentences work really well, and the character driven approach hooked me without there being an actual hook. Just to add to previous comments (and these are really picky and based on me wanting to visualise what you are doing/did rather than being told):

- Felt 3rd worldy (Arfica-esque) to me when reading, but then when you described the setting I realised the boot was a hint. The blurb on the book would give you that view I suppose but could there have been more hints??
- "...most of the people around were..." in my head I had a single line of people, are there supposed to be more milling around??
- taking that line further I'd rather you described the people around/in line so I can tell they are weak. Then the following line about how strong you are could have more impact.
- "...offered to help before, but offers to help were..." felt a bit clunky reading that bit due to repeated words. Something that explains what you did when offering help, then describing their reaction when you did so perhaps?

Good luck with the rest!

[ October 16, 2012, 11:26 AM: Message edited by: mobewan ]

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ars
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Thanks for all the feed back.
That last line had been bothering me, and I can see how I need to change it now. Love your suggestion Tryndakai, "the old bat" is much more in tune with my prose.
I agree with Meredith,however, in that I dont want to sweat it too much until I get a little further along.

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