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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Fragments and Feedback for Short Works » Up From the Fallen Sky (WIP)

   
Author Topic: Up From the Fallen Sky (WIP)
Bent Tree
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I am interested in feedback on how this serves as a hook. Thanks.


Tika knelt over the fallen man, extended her hands, preparing to reach into him with her empathic bond.
"Tika!" her master's shout and staff strike to her back jolted her from meditation. Sounds of the raging battle in the sky above returned her senses to the present.
"Master, will he live?" She felt terror and panic.
"Calm yourself. Can you not see the danger in what you attempt?"
Tika connected to her breath, calming herself as her master prescribed. She could not understand the situation. She did not see the danger.
"He is an Elemental bondsman. His bond is broken. He is broken, an energy void. If you reach into him, it would consume you." Her master's voice was soft like rain, contrasting the explosive concussions above.

[ August 07, 2013, 10:20 AM: Message edited by: Kathleen Dalton Woodbury ]

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extrinsic
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A strength I see in this opening is it gets right into the action without any pump priming, buildup, or backstory.

While the mechanical style is refined, this opening feels rushed to me and the rapid pace obscures the tension of the scene. It is largely a sterile summary of action.

For example, the first sentence summarizes Tika's action but doesn't give how the bondsman looks to her--distressed, peaceful, unconscious, alert, paralyzed but aware or not, though those descriptions also summarize. Nor does the sentence give the immediate setting Tika sees the fallen man lies in--dry ground, turf, cornfield, ice, blood and gore, scuffed linoleum.

Giving Tika's perception of the man and the immediate setting would potentially engage me more strongly. Other areas: Why Tika attempts to bond with the man. Questions unanswered before moving on to Master disrupting Tika: context's who is somewhat developed--Tika and a fallen man. When and where are not, though where is summarized later that she's on a battlefield. Texture's what, why, and how Tika does what she does also are not given.

To me, the shortcoming is largely a matter of narrative distance, which is to a degree largely a voice feature but also craft. The summarizing voice feels more like narrator voice than character voice. Emotionally neutral voice keeps me at arm's length from immersing in this narrative. If narrator voice predominates, then the narrator's emotional attitude wants development. If character voice predominates, then Tika's emotional attitude ought as a best practice be developed to an engaging degree.

If the opening began with Tika's visual and aural sensations of and emotional attitude toward the man and the immediate setting, the context and texture of the scene would be developed before Master disrupts her trance.

[ August 07, 2013, 12:50 PM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

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babooher
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I think we have an interesting situation here. Several questions are raised which can be good, but some of the questions are there because of a lack of sensory details. There is little context. I'm not saying we need a bunch of back story, but why the man has fallen could be explained if the context was there. Is he wounded or did he really fall (the battle seems to be above them so I don't know)? Are Tika and the fallen man on a battlefield or under an aerial battle? Is the fight above with dragons, big kites, biplanes, jet planes, or flying saucers? What sounds are around her? Just explosions? Roaring engines? Screaming birds? Is anyone advancing toward her, shooting at her?
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Denevius
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I'm also not much of a fan for stories that open on almost all dialog. I easily become lost and disinterested. I almost feel that there was a paragraph before this one explaining the situation that was edited out in order to begin the story in a more gripping way.

Your title is pretty cool, though borders slightly on the melodramatic.

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History
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quote:
Originally posted by Denevius:
I'm also not much of a fan for stories that open on almost all dialog. I easily become lost and disinterested. I almost feel that there was a paragraph before this one explaining the situation that was edited out in order to begin the story in a more gripping way.

Your title is pretty cool, though borders slightly on the melodramatic.

I'll humbly disagree with Denevius on both points.

I love the title, and find no problem with opening a story with dialog (and in this case your first sentence is actually descriptive action).

But I agree that you require a bit more sensory and descriptive data to ground your reader in the story, and the rhythm of your sentence flow could be smoother for my tastes. Try not to overstuff them, perhaps, or break them up.

E.g.
Tika knelt over the fallen man preparing to reach into him with her empathic bond.

"Tika!"

Her master's staff struck her back and jolted her from her meditation.

Raging battle thundered and screamed in the sky above her. [Is this a battlefield? Insert more setting: the moaning of wounded and dying men, the smell of blood and burnt flesh, etc.] She felt terror and panic.

"Master, will he live?" [Insert brief description of her master]

"Calm yourself. Can you not see the danger in what you attempt?"

Tika did as Master _____ (name him) prescribed.

"He is an Elemental bondsman," he continued, (small description of him examining the man) "His bond is broken. He is broken, an energy void." His voice softened with concern even as the sky reverberated with the concussions of energy weapons. "If you reach into him, it would consume you."


Just my two shekels.

Respectfully,
Dr. Bob

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alliedfive
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It is a lot to take in so quickly. I feel somewhat adrift. It's possible you started the story just a tad too late.

An opening sentence just quickly setting the scene (battle raging above, etc.) would help.

Picking nits, you could probably do without the "and staff strike to her back", because you don't really need it and the alliteration made it a little awkward.

I would read on as it is.

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