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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Fragments and Feedback for Books » The Heir's Hunt -- new opening strategy

   
Author Topic: The Heir's Hunt -- new opening strategy
arriki
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The window beside Sam in the aliens’ aircraft showed range after range of snow-covered mountains rushing past far below. High, rugged mountains. It could have been some part of the Rockies except for the odd lack of vegetation, Sam thought.

The cabin lurched to one side, then dropped hundreds of feet into a valley. By the time Sam’s heart stopped pounding, the craft had leveled off. He glimpsed a narrow break in the looming wall of mountains.

The alien voices sounded higher-pitched, as if they were talking themselves past some fright. Before--back on Earth--Sam remembered the same:people huddled together in the hospital basement during a bomb scare. Whispering. Afterwards,the corridors filled with victims. He always took a moment to brace himself before he started triage.

Comments, suggestions, please.

[ February 26, 2014, 10:35 AM: Message edited by: Kathleen Dalton Woodbury ]

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wetwilly
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Hey, Arriki. Long time no crit. Nice to talk with you again.

Some nits:

I like the first paragraph. Nice establishing shot. I think you can cut "Sam thought" at the end.

"The cabin lurched to one side, then dropped hundreds of feet into a valley." This seems like a very dramatic moment, but it feels rushed to me. Getting through all that drama in one sentence, and then moving on in the next sentence. By the time I process what is happening, it's already over.

In the final two paragraphs, I get a bit lost, to tell you the truth. Not sure what's going on. Where are the aliens. On the ship with Sam, apparently, but where specifically? They come across as disembodied voices.

I hope my comments are helpful. If not, feel free to disregard them.

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arriki
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Right, cut the "Sam thought."
Expand the drop? Considering that.
Thanks.

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extrinsic
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I've extensively sampled your writing. An overall sense I have is of being kept at a remote and inaccesible distance I'm uncomfortable with. I want to feel closer, part of, bystanding, participating in the action, at least as a supporter caring and curious about what's going on, more so as an emotional participant hating wicked personas, saddened by unfortunate circumstances and events, gladdened by fortunate circumstances, and hoping desperately for heroes and noble personas' favorable outcomes and villains' unfavorable outcomes.

This fragment to me is more of the same remote standoff distance as before. Reworking using the same lackluster methods as before doesn't work for me.

Consider narrative distance and character viewpoint, and aesthetic distance, as possible writing principles that could and would strengthen your writing and, more importantly, its appeals. Those first two topics Dave King surveys in the article linked below.

I disagree with King about first person having closest narrative distance. By default, yes; however, masterful third person I believe can at opportune times be ever so much more exquisitely close aesthetic distance than first person through close narrative distance. Aesthetic distance relates to narrative distance: how a receiver (reader or film or stage audience spectator) perceives her or his standing in relation to a narrative's internal reality viewpoint of events, moments, places, situations, settings, and personas.

Narrative distance is the degree of closeness between narrator voice and character voice. Close narrative distance estranges a narrator's viewpoint in favor of a character's viewpoint. Though King doesn't touch on aesthetic distance, he scratches at the edges of the principle. For a comprehensive discussion of aesthetic distance, Wayne Booth's The Rhetoric of Fiction and Seymour Chatman's Story and Discourse cover the territory.

"Decoding Narrative Distance"

[ February 25, 2014, 12:37 AM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

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arriki
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I'm not saying you are wrong. It's just I can't fit on the glasses through which you are seeing my writing. I have two friends to whom I have emailed your comments and the link to Dave King's article. I hope to gather some sense of what you are trying to say.
Could you possibly show me using my own 13 line excerpt?

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extrinsic
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First, e-mailing my comments posted on Hatrack to friends disrespects my intellectual property rights. You didn't ask me for permission. You could have included a link for the comments in the e-mail as well as the King article link so that the friends would be able to explore the context of the comment response in particular, the thread, the forum, and Hatrack workshop overall, and avoided infringing copying and publishing of my comments. Even private e-mail publication distribution is content-infringing publication and distribution, though not worth a fit and done all the time for anyone's whim without rights respect. Not by me anymore, however, and not for a long time.

I'll be prepared to discuss and demonstrate narrative distance, character viewpoint, and aeshthetic distance principles using your fragment when you let me know you've read and considered the King article. At the present, I'm working through a flurry of work and will be through at least the middle of the week.

[ February 25, 2014, 07:57 AM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

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MAP
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Hi Arriki,

I agree with extrinsic that there is a narrative distance that keeps me from connecting to Sam. Here are some specifics. I think this would be much stronger with a closer POV.

quote:
The window (From the start, you begin with the window instead of the character. Why not something like "Sam stared out the window watching the snow-covered mountains rush past..." Put the character first) beside Sam in the aliens’ aircraft showed range after range of snow-covered mountains rushing past far below. High, rugged mountains. (If you are in a deep POV, you could put some emotion into this description. How does Sam see the mountains? Do the Rocky Mountains mean anything to him? Do the make him feel homesick? Try to work in what the scene means to him by your description) It could have been some part of the Rockies except for the odd lack of vegetation, Sam thought. (when you are deep in a character's POV, you don't need to use "Sam thought." Tags like this show narrative distance. IF you are deep in a POV, everything is the character's thoughts, and you don't have to ever specify.)
I could go on, but hopefully you get the idea. Describe everything from your character's eyes so that the reader if fully immersed in the character's experience. That is what I do to deepen the POV.


Good luck!

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arriki
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Sorry. I tried to just give them the article but for some reason no matter how I tried, I couldn't manage to get it to work like that. What was I doing wrong?
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extrinsic
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A direct way to link to a single, recent Hatrack post is to click the member's profile button on the bar at the top of the post. The profile page will pop up in a new window. Click the view user's recent posts' link near the top left of the page. Right click with the cursor posed over the intended message, the message's link, and select copy shortcut. For Windows systems. I don't remember how to select and copy a link shortcut's url on Apple/MacIntosh systems. I don't have access to one at present.

Older posts' links likewise can be found through the general search routine page linked to on every Hatrack page near the top.

The url for the link to my comment post: http://www.hatrack.com/ubb/writers/ultimatebb.php?ubb=get_topic;f=26;t=001367;p=1#000003

I don't mean to be a petty nuisance about respecting property rights, nor to hurt feelings or make people angry. I strongly feel if we as writers don't respect the rights of others, we can't in good faith expect ours to be respected. That way lays a return to the rights piracy chaos of old.

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arriki
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was up all night trying to figure out what was wrong with my openings. It must be the reason that after that first sale, I never sold again. But I'm totally blind, I guess, to where I am failing -- always failing.
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extrinsic
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I feel your frustrations, and note your writing passions. I've been there in the dark abyss, was there for a long time, made slow and grueling progress moving along on the Poet's Journey. Working on character viewpoint and narrative and aesthetic distances will get your writing growth journey started moving forward again and get you off the close-bounded plateau you've been stuck on. King's article was the journey pivot for me, pointed me back out of the wilderness.

[ February 25, 2014, 02:09 PM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

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