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Author Topic: Steakworm (shorpiece, 800 words so far)t punkish SF
Feathersnow
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would like feedback on this, possibly full fragment. pardon typo in title, should read (short peice... far)


The restaurant is a noteworthy establishment only in historical context. Evan loved it only for he, too, is a product of history. It,a truly new thing. Everything, the steakworms, the saladflowers, the bubblenectar, the bread, is fresh, produced on site. Most of it grown and picked to order. He, a victim on the great and final cataclysm, left frozen until the not unimpressive science that made all these mundane miracles possible could perhaps fix him. For this world circa 2073 is one that has outlived much: nation, war, disease. But it did so at a price far beyond its value, and even now, more than thirty years later, all the survivors of the world labor to bind and disinfect the wounds.
Evan was tempted to order his usual, a white speckled

version three:

Sometimes Evan felt really alone in the future. He was a defrostee, a victim of the psi-bombs who was frozen and eventually healed in slow motion over the decades since the frost. It was the little things that really got him.
Take this restaurant. It was run by raptors. Evan liked it partly because the psychic, vulture-like proprietors were attentive and freindly, but more because everything in the nameless establishment was fresh: the steakworms, the saladflowers, the bubblenectar, even the mustard.
This last was a rare claim, most people these days used the sap from a condimentree, but not the pack of Keen Grass Day. They even baked real bread.
"tell me," Evan asked the server, "do raptors have comfort food?

[This message has been edited by Feathersnow (edited April 16, 2009).]


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BenM
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Hi Feathersnow,

unfortunately this didn't work for me. The combination of a lot of exposition and the terse, sometimes gramatically unfamiliar style pulled me up: It meant that I had to expend a lot more effort to get through this than I'd expected.

I needed a double-take on the first sentence, but at the same time I didn't really mind it - it was refreshing to think that this was going to somehow start out as a treatise on restaurants. Only, I'm not so sure that's what's happening, and therefore what the purpose of that first sentence is. When it says The restaurant is... does it mean *this* restaurant, the concept of a restaurant as if from an encyclopedia (my first assumption), or is this the only restaurant in the universe?

I'm also not sure about the tense; Is it present: Everything... is fresh, produced on site. or past Evan was tempted.

What is the 'It' subject of It,a truly new thing.?

Ultimately, what lets me down here is that nothing happens, there's just exposition: some description of the restaurant and a bit of backstory. This could be fine if it's a milieu story, but even then I expect to meet the characters that will be moving through the milieu a little earlier, and get a feel for that movement.

Maybe it's just me.


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Nick T
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Hi Feathersnow,

Welcome to Hatrack! (is this is your first post?)

BenM beat me to it, but the use of exposition and the shift of tenses made it a more difficult read than it needed to be. Katheen has some great advice in the open forum in stating “the story should start when something starts to happen.” In the case of this fragment, nothing has happened yet. If something happens in the restaurant, start with Evan and have it happen from his POV.

The most “invisible” writing is 3rd person past tense and that seems to be (from admittedly slim evidence) the best fit for this kind of story. The exposition didn’t really interest me (it didn’t actually say that much when you parse it) and I personally prefer exposition to be buried later in the story.

Regards,

Nick


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Feathersnow
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Criticism noted. I'm trying for a day-in-the-life in a post-apocalyptic world kind of thing. Ttell me if this is better, please:

Evan loves the nameless restaurant. Everything, the steakworms, the saladflowers, the bubblenectar, the bread, is fresh, produced on site. Most of it grown and picked to order. Truly it is a thing of newness. He is as near the opposite as possible, a victim of the Frost, the great and final cataclysm, left frozen until the not unimpressive science that made all these mundane miracles possible could perhaps fix him.
Evan is tempted to order his usual, a white speckled "bacon ranch" flavored 'flower and a steakworm served up like a bratwurst on a fresh bun with real mustard.

This restaurant is run by some of Shorpeice's few raptors, today the hostess was a kindly beta female named Tulip moment. This was


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Nick T
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Hi Feathersnow,

I think you’ve got the start of an interesting world, but you’re trying too hard to stuff in your world building instead of giving us a character and a hint of the story-conflict within the 1st 13. Good world building makes a story sing (there’s an interesting conversation on secondary world building in the open forum), but I think it should always lie underneath the plot. By putting exposition in the opening 13 (i.e. telling us about the Frost and the food types), you’re letting your world crush the plot. World building, IMO, becomes interesting when viewed through the POV of a fascinating protagonist. Right now, I know nothing about Evan apart from the fact that he loves the nameless restaurant (and it’s more effective to show how he loves the restaurant, rather than tell us).

Look at it this way; if you replaced the milieu names with everyday names (i.e. steak for steakwork, salad for saladflower, water for bubblenector, etc.), you’d have a fairly dull situation. If you want to have a “day-in-the-life in a post-apocalyptic world kind of thing”, what makes this day different from any other? What’s the conflict on this particular day? Start at the point where the event happens and then you can dribble in the world building as Evan deals with the conflict.

Keep at it. The world could be very interesting if you develop the plot.

Regards,

Nick

[This message has been edited by Nick T (edited April 16, 2009).]


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MrsBrown
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Version Three is a big improvement. (Note: after you edit your original post to add a new version, it would be helpful to add a new post at the bottom with something like “Please review Version Three” so we know where the comments shift from one version to the next.)

Evan’s situation is clearer and I care more about him now. At first the phrase “in the future” seemed unnecessary because this is obviously sci-fi; then I realized you meant he was in his personal future. It should be removed or clarified; perhaps mention that everyone he used to know is long dead (perhaps too cliché or morose). EDIT: you said its 30 years later. Would he cling to a community of other survivors, rather than be alone?

“He was a defrostee, a victim of the psi-bombs who was frozen and eventually healed in slow motion over the decades since the frost.” This feels like infodump. It’s important to know, but maybe break it up a bit: He was a defrostee, a victim of the psi-bombs. After the frost, it had taken decades to thaw and heal him (his frozen body? His frozen mind? Both?).

It was the little things that really got to him. [nice, but… see my last comment]

I love the punchiness of the next two quick sentences, followed by the longer set of excellent details. “Psychic” is dropped in without explanation; it could mean a lot of things, but I’m especially wondering if it means they are mind-readers or mind-speakers (gah, I forget the word!! Telepathic?). ….friendly… leave out “nameless” unless it is significant that establishments are not named; its unlikely he wouldn’t know the name.
Probably don't need the paragraph break here. … claim; most… OR … claim--most…
I was thrown by “the pack of Keen Grass Day”–huh? You could cut it.
“They even baked real bread.” [perfect!]

“Tell…” intriguing question. I wonder, are raptors some kind of alien or are they dinosaurs brought to life by science?

Even more, I’m wondering what Evan feels. He’s lonely; little things get to him; he likes the restaurant; there’s a sense of wonder. The emotional tone isn’t cohesive.

Overall, I liked it and would keep reading. Keep at it!

[This message has been edited by MrsBrown (edited April 17, 2009).]


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tchernabyelo
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The opening of v3 reads too much like an infodump backstory (which it is) - it's telling us the stuation but there's a distance that makes me feel you are telling this, not showing. I'm never happy with lines like "Evan felt really alone" - it's telling rather than showing, there's no conviction to it. Plus the cryogenic-thaw motif is horribly familiar, not least from Futurama, so I am not sure you want to make that the opening impression. Tell us about Evan being a misfot out of time through the story, not in the intro.

My other complaint is that amongst all the creativity (steakworms, bubblenectar, etc) you've got "raptors", horribly generic and overused in a post-Jurassic Park world.

But the creativity bodes well.


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JCarroll
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Your title intrigues me. I'll read the whole thing.

I agree with what's been said so far about the first thirteen. I did like the part about Evan being lonely in the future. The fact that he's been woken up after years in cryogenic stasis is a great piece of character info.


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Dame
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EDITED TO SAY: Oops, I'm suddenly unsure if I have critted the wrong version. This relates to version three.

Hi,

You say that Evan feels alone and that the little things got to him, but then you spend a para saying why he liked the restaurant, which doesn't seem right to me.

I like the first line. The second one is difficult though. I don't know your story, so I have no idea if you could introduce that info later - it doesn't seem the type of thing to come up in conversation! But here it is exposition and nothing more. It has little relation to Evan's immediate thoughts you present.

"and friendly" could go, to make the sentence snappier. I like this bit a lot.

Is it a nameless restaurant? What is Keen Grass Day, then? I'm not sure nameless is an adjective that works with your description so far.

Mustard and the condimentree is great. And his first question is intriguing too. Is the lack of capital letters part of the punk thing?

His question doesn't really develop the theme of his loneliness much though. It seems sarcastic or witty, rather than needy or lonely. It doesn't stand out as one of the little things that got to him either.

All in all, I really like the images and Evan's dilemma is interesting. I think it just needs tweaking to focus on what he hopes to acheive, as that isn't clear.

Hope some of this is interesting.

D

[This message has been edited by Dame (edited April 19, 2009).]


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