Technically, this is a revision. It has I think three of the same characters, and some of the same setting, and the windwagons but that's about it. It has also ballooned to 12,000 words. I know it is long, but I can't figure out what to cut. Any help would be appreciated. Here is the revised beginning:
Quick Vandoleer leaned into a turn, lifting two of the windwagon’s wheels into the air only to slam them back down on the hardpan. He chased after Silas, his fae friend who piloted another windwagon. Little more than large, four-wheeled coffins fitted with a single mast and triangular sail of fae silk, the windwagons rattled along as they rolled across the desert. The white sails cut through the canyon-like path between the towering obsidian mesas of the God Graves. Quick and Silas brought their windwagons to a stop in the shadow of Sinners’ Spire on the western edge of the Graves. Silas stood triumphantly with his top arms held out in a V while he signed with his lower arms: I win; you get to set up camp. The road dust had given his alabaster skin a more human tint. His blue and black
Old Version: The windwagons sailed across the Pan chasing their shadows as the sun cleared the Ember Mountains. The three wagons were little more than large, four-wheeled coffins with triangular sails. Their wheels rattled against their frames as they rolled across the desert’s hardpan, their white sails contrasting sharply with the sky’s deep blue and the giant, obsidian mesas and buttes of the God Graves they passed.
Quick barely managed to steer his windwagon around a crater, but in doing so he ran over a small rock. He winced as the wagon jostled up and down. Cobb, Quick’s passenger and now sole cargo, cried out in pain. A jagged bone protruded from Cobb’s left leg and blood seeped around the wound. The makeshift splint made from the wrecked wagon could only do so much in the
I liked this. Here's a few things I noticed... might just be me.
Quick, since it's an odd name, might need to be followed by his last name.
I think I know what you're getting at with small rock, but the words are contrasting the feeling. Maybe just omit the word small.
Cobb could have a Firefly connotation.
I'm not sure I could pinpoint a hook, but the writing, the idea of four-wheeled coffins (will they make it?) and interest in Cobb's injury (will he make it?) and the genre/mood totally have me wanting to read more.
(To be honest, I wish I could right now, but with WotF crits and two deadlines of my own, I just couldn't fit it in right now. If you second draft down the road, before sending anywhere let me know.)
Do you have to say, The three 'wagons' because windwagins, (which is a better description) is already in the first sentence. Could it be instead? 'The three were little more than...
--Four wheeled coffin's with 'Triangular' sails, does the shape fit here better or below when you describe there color, or before the wheel line? I really don't like the word 'Triangular' even if it is proper it sounds odd. What might fit here better is something like--
...four wheeled coffins with a jibe, main, and aft sail or three main sails? Five? Two? then something like: There only redeeming quality, the triangle cut of sail, was good at harvesting the stiff wind, but this brought a continuous amount of abuse to the worn wheels as they rolled across the desert hardpan. The White of the sails...
In the next sentence you're describing color and you left out one. you might change to something like-- --The white of the sails contrasted sharply with the sky’s deep blue, the mesas dark obsidian, and the buttes (Color?) of the God Graves they passed.
And I agree with Axe that 'Quick' needs to stand out as a name.
I like it's overall descriptive quality, but you might need to work the sentences for flow and better hooking.
[This message has been edited by walexander (edited July 29, 2010).]
walexander, I get most of your ideas except one. --The white of the sails contrasted sharply with the sky’s deep blue, the mesas dark obsidian, and the buttes (Color?) of the God Graves they passed.
As I read the original, or at least as I intend the original to be read, the God Graves is the overall name for the obsidian mesas and buttes they passed. I don't think this is how you're reading it, and that bothers me because I want to be clear in my prose. If it isn't understandable, I need to really revise.
Everything else I think I can handle. Inserting Quick's last name is easy, explicitly saying how many masts and sails won't be hard, so thanks.
After looking over your comments, I realized I had missed something else in the intro. The original first draft had a character that I removed. So, now there are only 2 wagons so the first two lines will need some tweaking.
Axeminister, deleting small shall be done. As for the the Firefly connotation, I had to look that one up. I've seen the show but not enough to know their names. Cobb is an old name and appears here and there (in fact, it is the name of Brian Dennehy's character in Silverado). I think it has a good, American Wild West feel to it, so I understand why it was used in Firefly as a last name.
Take all my comments as IMHO (in my humble opinion).
The windwagons sailed across the Pan chasing their shadows as the sun cleared the Ember Mountains. The three wagons were little more than large, four-wheeled coffins with triangular sails. Their wheels rattled against their frames as they rolled across the desert’s hardpan, their white sails contrasting sharply with the sky’s deep blue and the giant, obsidian mesas and buttes of the God Graves they passed.<--[Most of this could be introduced through a character's observations and fed throughout the story, and would keep it in 3rdPL instead of Omniscient--which is a harder sell.]
Quick barely managed to steer his windwagon around a crater[Ending this sentence here makes for a shorter, more distinct sentence, and Quick would be unquestionable the "subject".][, but in doing so he ran over a small rock.<--it seems this would be common. maybe the sudden jerking motion might be enough to achieve what you want to.] He winced as the wagon jostled [up and down<--Don't think you need this.]. Cobb, Quick’s passenger and now sole cargo, cried out in pain[. A<--suggest cutting this and continuing: from a] jagged bone [which] protruded from [Cobb’s<--Replace with: his] left leg[.] [and b<--Cut. B]lood seeped around the wound. The makeshift splint made from [the wrecked wagon<--Huh?] could only do so much in the
I'd be willing to read more. Shoot it to me in an email, if your not on a time limit.
I liked this. I thought it was well written.
I agree with IB with regard the front-loaded description. Not a crime, but I think you can avoid it. I had a go at it--I'm not going to post mine--but managed to get description in amongst action. I'll describe my approach:
I had Quick (Quikk may be better) actually wrenching the steering (rather than your slightly removed description) to avoid the crater on the otherwise smooth Pan(Character-action/problem and location). The coffin-like windwagon lifts briefly onto two wheels (...so it has four. I have seen wind vehicles lift like this, I think, also, slight loss of control=exciting) as the wind suddenly catches the triangular sails (windwagons described by now). Quick then leans the other way as he makes it round the crater, and the wagon crashes down onto all four wheels and you have the opportunity to talk about the Cobb gasping in pain (for a real bone-crunching reason). Then you can have a sentence where Quick wonders as he peers across the Pan (describe poetically) if they will make it in time/escape (or whatever the pressure is).
I haven't changed much in my re-structure except to change the small rock to the wheels lifting off (magnifying the the avoiding the crater that you had) otherwise everything is there, just re-ordered.
No saying you have to do it this way--just giving you another point of view to ponder!
FYI--most sand yachts have three wheels, if I remember correctly and have a low centre of gravity--probably for good design reasons. Your coffin-shaped things don't offer--in my head at least--the required stability against the wind forces.
[This message has been edited by skadder (edited July 31, 2010).]
Skadder, I think most modern sand yachts are a bit more advanced than what I wanted. Also, a fourth wheel would add stability that might be lost by the higher center of gravity. Land yachts have been used for freight,albeit over ice if I remember correctly. In one draft, I even mentioned Silas being unable to call the wagons sand yachts because he thought it was disrespectful to the yachts. In the end, I simply could not use real sand yachts, but they are definately the inspiration for the wind wagons.
As for the front loaded description, I know you didn't say it had to be changed or that it was wrong, but saying I could avoid it implies you think I should. If I thought I could really cut the word count down, I'd agree. Your introduction, as you've described it, would have more energy, and I think I'm going to seriously look at how to integrate part of that, but the wondering protagonist is something I want to avoid. Maybe I'm wrong, but the wide description that is followed by a narrow focus seems more natural than a forced moment where the protagonist, who should be knowledgable abot the area and the conditions, has to wonder about something so the reader can get a clue. I think it also evokes something of the Western where the landscape is a character in and of itself.
Skadder, I've read some of your stuff, and I respect your opinions because of that. You've given me something to think about.
I have no knowledge of land yachts--just an observation of how the coffin-shapes (in my imagination) wouldn't appear to have the width to deal (provide the stability) with the forces involved. Obviously the craft you are picturing in your head offer this stability.
I said I liked it and that it was well written. Saying you can 'avoid it' implies only that there is another way. I didn't suggest it was better; that would depend--if you tried writing it both ways--which came out better from your pen.
I tried it and liked the result I got, but to compare what I write with what you write is a pointless exercise (hence why I didn't post an example). A comparison can only be drawn from examples produced by the imagination of a single author--by that author.
[This message has been edited by skadder (edited August 01, 2010).]
Still working on this. Wanted to let you know I hadn't forgotten about it. Life's slowing me down a bit--which is why I said, "If there's no rush."
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Let me digest the babbler's crit (which is really good btw) before I send this out again. If nothing else, I have to fix two stupid mistakes (one of which runs on for a bit with a switched letter).
What formats would you like it sent in? RTF, DOC, DOCX?
[This message has been edited by babooher (edited August 15, 2010).]
I have a soft spot for any sort of wind propelled vehicle. If you are still looking for readers I would love to take a crack at it. (rtf or doc, sadly no docx for me)
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I actually like the original first paragraph better. I'm not trying to provoke you. But I think you are putting too much detail up front. Maybe use the original first paragraph, then insert the info from revised first paragraph as a second one?
Basically, your original first paragraph did a good job of putting the reader into the setting. Just my opinion for whatever it might be worth.
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rcmann, I don't argue with crits. You offering your opinion is appreciated and I believe I understood what you wrote. You could tell me this was drivel and that you've had a bowel movement that was more intelligent and I'd still not feel provoked. Thanks for the feedback.
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