Hatrack River
Home   |   About Orson Scott Card   |   News & Reviews   |   OSC Library   |   Forums   |   Contact   |   Links
Research Area   |   Writing Lessons   |   Writers Workshops   |   OSC at SVU   |   Calendar   |   Store
E-mail this page
Hatrack River Writers Workshop Post New Topic  Post A Reply
my profile login | register | search | faq | forum home

  next oldest topic   next newest topic
» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Fragments and Feedback for Short Works » Toka and Julie story, need readers

   
Author Topic: Toka and Julie story, need readers
Crystal Stevens
Member
Member # 8006

 - posted      Profile for Crystal Stevens   Email Crystal Stevens         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I've posted this one before I think at least two times, but I now have the first draft ready for readers. This story tells how Toka met Julie for the first time. The biggest problem with this story is the ending might not sound finished... and I'm sure there are some other problems too that my readers will find.

Anyway, here's the first 13, but I'm really looking for someone to read the whole thing (approximately 4700 words):

*****************************************************************
Toka tried not to squirm in the shallow pit. One jostle of the loose brush covering him and the dela herd would flee. He chanced a peek over the pit’s edge. Not one sign could be seen of his companions lying in similar pits with their kregas, just like he lay with Splendor.

About a dozen deer-like delas grazed on the sweet grass of the forest clearing. Their backs stood hip high to a man with tawny coats dotted white and black. They made the perfect bait to trap a prince.

Once more Toka studied a bush not far down the trail that led to the clearing. A hand popped out for maybe a second, but he saw no sign of the hunting party Cheemo’s signal announced.

Splendor absorbed Toka’s anticipation and moved enough to
*****************************************************************

Version 2:

Over a dozen deer-like delas grazed on sweet grass in the forest clearing. Hip high to a man with tawny coats dotted white and black, they made perfect bait to trap the royal hunting party.

Toka tried not to squirm in the shallow pit. One jostle of the brush-covered platform above him and the herd would flee. Splendor caught Toka’s anticipation and creaked the saddle strapped to his back. The herd sentry’s head swung about and then relaxed. Toka wished he could relax too and stroked Splendor’s lean-muscled blue-gray neck.

Another scan showed no sign of his companions lying in similar pits with their kregas, just like he did with Splendor. A hand popped out of a bush near the trailhead for maybe a

[ August 02, 2012, 10:48 AM: Message edited by: Crystal Stevens ]

Posts: 1299 | Registered: May 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
skadder
Member
Member # 6757

 - posted      Profile for skadder   Email skadder         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Feels a bit confusing, Crystal. In the first paragraph you introduce something called 'Dela', but you don't explain it then. I think the explanation should come with the introduction of the creature (especially in the intro)--this may mean your structure won't work.

This is mainly because a herd of dela could be anything of any size or configuration which leaves me nothing to grasp onto when I try and imagine the scene.

Of course you clear it up later--but you could have gone for '...jostle of the loose brush covering him and the herd of deer-like dela would flee.' Although I'd change the name of them as 'dela' and 'deer' are a bit similar in that sentence.

What or who is Splendor? What is a krega? Is it a type of servant--or a rank or a creature. What does it look like? Is big and fierce or small and cuddly? I have nothing to imagine and so the scene is just questions and fails to engage me.

You don't need to describe these things in detail--just give me a peg to hand something on...

Posts: 2987 | Registered: Oct 2007  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
mayflower988
Member
Member # 9858

 - posted      Profile for mayflower988   Email mayflower988         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
If he's trying to not jostle the loose brush, then how does he chance a peek over the edge?

When a story introduces this many terms of jargon in the first 13 lines, I think it sounds pretentious. I would advise taking your time introducing those things that are specific to your story world.

Posts: 284 | Registered: Jun 2012  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Crystal Stevens
Member
Member # 8006

 - posted      Profile for Crystal Stevens   Email Crystal Stevens         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Thank you for the comments and suggestions, and both of you have hit on my biggest fault. I get rushed when introducing the reader to an alien invironment. I'll see about rewriting this more slowly and post it again at a later date.

Do you think a simplistic description about the delas or what a krega is would be enough hook to interest the reader in reading the whole story? My main concern was letting my readers know that Toka and his fellow warriors are waiting to ambush the prince's hunting party.

Posts: 1299 | Registered: May 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
skadder
Member
Member # 6757

 - posted      Profile for skadder   Email skadder         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
No--I don't think it would be a 'hook' in and of itself. I think that you need 'simplistic' descriptions so that as a minimum people can begin to imagine the scene.

If you want a creature to be the hook, well, you'd have to re-do your intro with a greater focus on the creature and what makes it unique/what it is going to do that is interesting.

Your hook is currently structured around the ambush, yet you have created problems by introducing concepts that you haven't explained. A solution is to remove the offending items. If DELA are like DEER then call them deer--problem solved (see Turkey City Lexicon re: smeerps...or something like that).

Re: Kregas--Do they have to be present? I have no idea what they are so I can't help you with regard another way of doing it.

[ August 01, 2012, 02:40 PM: Message edited by: skadder ]

Posts: 2987 | Registered: Oct 2007  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Corky
Member
Member # 2714

 - posted      Profile for Corky   Email Corky         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Crystal Stevens:
My main concern was letting my readers know that Toka and his fellow warriors are waiting to ambush the prince's hunting party.

Then I'd recommend that you focus on that.

You may want to think about showing them arguing about how to do it. There's a dela herd that they don't want to spook, and how do they hide their mounts (the kregas, right?). There's also the concern about how much time they have before the prince and his hunting party arrive.

You could build a hook just focussing on setting up the ambush.

Posts: 603 | Registered: Jul 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Crystal Stevens
Member
Member # 8006

 - posted      Profile for Crystal Stevens   Email Crystal Stevens         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Okay, I've rewritten the first 13 and posted this newest version at the top of this thread. See what you think.

And thanks everyone for the healthy shove in the right direction. It seems I always have trouble getting my stories started right.

Posts: 1299 | Registered: May 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Crystal Stevens
Member
Member # 8006

 - posted      Profile for Crystal Stevens   Email Crystal Stevens         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
[/qb][/QUOTE]You may want to think about showing them arguing about how to do it. There's a dela herd that they don't want to spook, and how do they hide their mounts (the kregas, right?). There's also the concern about how much time they have before the prince and his hunting party arrive.

You could build a hook just focussing on setting up the ambush. [/QB][/QUOTE]

True, but I don't want to dwell too much on the ambush. The story's focal point is how Toka meets the woman who is to become the love of his life. The ambush leads up to that.

Thanks for the suggestion, though, and if I still can't get my intro to work, I might consider it.

Posts: 1299 | Registered: May 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
mayflower988
Member
Member # 9858

 - posted      Profile for mayflower988   Email mayflower988         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I think I've quoted all of your new opening:
Version 2:

Over a dozen deer-like delas grazed on sweet grass in the forest clearing. Hip high to a man with tawny coats dotted white and black, they made perfect bait to trap the royal hunting party.

Toka tried not to squirm in the shallow pit. One jostle of the brush-covered platform above him and the herd would flee. Splendor caught Toka’s anticipation and creaked the saddle strapped to his back. The herd sentry’s head swung about and then relaxed. Toka wished he could relax too and stroked Splendor’s lean-muscled blue-gray neck.

Another scan showed no sign of his companions lying in similar pits with their kregas, just like he did with Splendor. A hand popped out of a bush near the trailhead for maybe a [/QB][/QUOTE]

This is better. See if you can find other adjectives that don't use hyphens. I don't have anything against hyphens - I love them too. (See what I did there?) ;) But it occurred enough in your opening that it made me take notice.

Good clarification that there's a platform above him. Good job letting us know Splendour is a mount by the use of the saddle. I was a bit confused when you suddenly threw in "the herd sentry". I figured out that meant Splendour, but it would have helped if you'd put that at the beginning, "Splendour, the herd sentry". Now I'm interested to know if it looks like a horse, dragon, giant bird, dinosaur, etc. :)

Posts: 284 | Registered: Jun 2012  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
extrinsic
Member
Member # 8019

 - posted      Profile for extrinsic   Email extrinsic         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
You say the purpose of the ambush scene is to introduce how Toka meets the woman who will be his love. An ambush as a motif seems to me a contrary setting situation motif for lovers to meet. The symbolism is at odds on the face of it but not incredible.

How might the ambush scene artfully symbolize a first meeting of lovers? I think answering that question is crucial for developing the opening. Like Romeo and Juliet meet at a dance after a rumble between Capulets and Montagues, which is the precipitating cause of Romeo and Juliet meeting, falling in love, and the rest of the play's drama. Starcrossed lovers I'm sure.

[ August 04, 2012, 06:16 PM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

Posts: 2804 | Registered: Jun 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Crystal Stevens
Member
Member # 8006

 - posted      Profile for Crystal Stevens   Email Crystal Stevens         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by extrinsic:
You say the purpose of the ambush scene is to introduce how Toka meets the woman who will be his love. An ambush as a motif seems to me a contrary setting situation motif for lovers to meet. The symbolism is at odds on the face of it but not incredible.

How might the ambush scene artfully symbolize a first meeting of lovers? I think answering that question is crucial for developing the opening. Like Romeo and Juliet meet at a dance after a rumble between Plantagenets and Montagues, which is the precipitating cause of Romeo and Juliet meeting, falling in love, and the rest of the play's drama. Starcrossed lovers I'm sure.

Toka isn't just meeting Julie. It'll be the first time he's ever seen her or knows she even exists. She's part of the royal hunting party that's about to make their appearance. I hope this clears up the confusion.
Posts: 1299 | Registered: May 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Crystal Stevens
Member
Member # 8006

 - posted      Profile for Crystal Stevens   Email Crystal Stevens         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
<<Good clarification that there's a platform above him. Good job letting us know Splendour is a mount by the use of the saddle. I was a bit confused when you suddenly threw in "the herd sentry". I figured out that meant Splendour, but it would have helped if you'd put that at the beginning, "Splendour, the herd sentry". Now I'm interested to know if it looks like a horse, dragon, giant bird, dinosaur, etc.>>

I see I'm going to have to make things a bit clearer yet. The herd sentry is a dela, not Splendor [Big Grin] [Wink] .

Posts: 1299 | Registered: May 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
JoBird
Member
Member # 9883

 - posted      Profile for JoBird   Email JoBird         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Version 2:

Over a dozen deer-like delas grazed on sweet grass in the forest clearing. Hip high to a man with tawny coats dotted white and black, they made perfect bait to trap the royal hunting party.

Toka tried not to squirm in the shallow pit. One jostle of the brush-covered platform above him and the herd would flee. Splendor caught Toka’s anticipation and creaked the saddle strapped to his back. The herd sentry’s head swung about and then relaxed. Toka wished he could relax too and stroked Splendor’s lean-muscled blue-gray neck.

Another scan showed no sign of his companions lying in similar pits with their kregas, just like he did with Splendor. A hand popped out of a bush near the trailhead for maybe a

My advice: focus more tightly on Toka's perspective. To me, there's an issue with the omniscient view of the grazing delas coupled with Toka's lack of ability to poke his head up and look. Or maybe I'm misunderstanding. Can Toka see outside of his shallow pit? I think that's an important question. That's probably what created some confusion about the identity of the herd sentry.

Instead of starting with the overview maybe you could consider starting with Toka in the pit, with Splendor. It would give you time to explain that their mounts are kregas. If you start tight on Toka and stay limited in his third person perspective then you can tell us what he knows, like the information regarding his companions.

When I picture a shallow pit I don't imagine something large enough to hold a man and his mount. I imagine something just big enough for Toka to crouch in, or maybe even lay on his stomach. I think getting a description of the pit (through Toka's perspective) would help carry me into the scene.

I wouldn't start describing what's outside of the pit until Toka looks outside. Then we can get his full perspective of it, and it should feel natural.

Regarding kregas and delas -- I'll reference Orson Scott Card's book How to Write Science Fiction & Fantasy, page 54 -- "only use the made-up stuff when it is used for a concept for which there is no English word." Earlier, on that same page, OSC has this to say about it: "James Blish called such needlessly coined words "shmeerps." If it looks like a rabbit and acts like a rabbit, calling it a shmeerp doesn't make it alien."

Posts: 94 | Registered: Jul 2012  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
mayflower988
Member
Member # 9858

 - posted      Profile for mayflower988   Email mayflower988         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Also, the word "sentry" sounds like an official position, which makes me think that it's one of the people or their kregas.
About the lack of clarity, if it makes you feel any better - I had at least three critiquers get my main character's gender wrong! Talk about lack of clarity! :)

Posts: 284 | Registered: Jun 2012  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Crystal Stevens
Member
Member # 8006

 - posted      Profile for Crystal Stevens   Email Crystal Stevens         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
**My advice: focus more tightly on Toka's perspective. To me, there's an issue with the omniscient view of the grazing delas coupled with Toka's lack of ability to poke his head up and look. Or maybe I'm misunderstanding. Can Toka see outside of his shallow pit? I think that's an important question. That's probably what created some confusion about the identity of the herd sentry.**

I did have Toka's perspective at the beginning, but another person said to explain what a dela was right off the bat. I, toom, felt that the first paragraph should be more from Toka's POV as I'd done in the original version. I'll see what I can do to smooth that out.

I thought most people were versed on herd dynamics. Almost any animal herd will have one or two members acting as sentries so the rest of the herd can graze or browse at their leisure. Sometimes there will be a trade off so the sentries can eat too. I didn't want to go into detail on something like this because it's not important to the actual story. The dela herd is just a means to an end... trapping a prince to hold for a future prisoner exchange. This is all brought out later on in the story.

**Instead of starting with the overview maybe you could consider starting with Toka in the pit, with Splendor. It would give you time to explain that their mounts are kregas. If you start tight on Toka and stay limited in his third person perspective then you can tell us what he knows, like the information regarding his companions.**

Already know that. No problem.

**When I picture a shallow pit I don't imagine something large enough to hold a man and his mount. I imagine something just big enough for Toka to crouch in, or maybe even lay on his stomach. I think getting a description of the pit (through Toka's perspective) would help carry me into the scene.**

"Shallow" to me means a few feet deep, maybe 2 or 3. The krega is lying down too, not just Toka. Kregas are much more in tune to their partners than any horse. They're smarter too.

**I wouldn't start describing what's outside of the pit until Toka looks outside. Then we can get his full perspective of it, and it should feel natural.**

Again, I'm very much aware of this. No need to go overboard in driving your point. It was made two paragraphs ago.

**Regarding kregas and delas -- I'll reference Orson Scott Card's book How to Write Science Fiction & Fantasy, page 54 -- "only use the made-up stuff when it is used for a concept for which there is no English word." Earlier, on that same page, OSC has this to say about it: "James Blish called such needlessly coined words "shmeerps." If it looks like a rabbit and acts like a rabbit, calling it a shmeerp doesn't make it alien."**

I have the book you refer to and know it quite well. My mistake was to ever refer to delas as "deer-like". And need I point out that a deer is not always just a deer. Would you term an elk or a white tail as just a deer? So neither is a dela "just a deer". A dela is similar and somewhat like a deer from Earth, but to call it a "deer"? Nope, just won't work. Earth exists in my story. Noramus is not on an alternate Earth or a fantasy world like in the Lord of the Rings or Game of Thrones. It's someplace else entirely. I did not make them up strictly to stick them in for no reason at all.

And like I've already pointed out, a krega is not a horse, doesn't look like a horse, and doesn't remotely act like a horse except in the act as being a means of transportation. Heck, in my first 13 a krega could be anything... a dragon, a lizard, a dinosaur type animal... anything.

If I wanted a dela to be a deer, I would have called it such. Same thing about a krega being plugged in as a horse. I know better than to name something it isn't and my terms and descriptions of my Noramian animals will stand.

Posts: 1299 | Registered: May 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Crystal Stevens
Member
Member # 8006

 - posted      Profile for Crystal Stevens   Email Crystal Stevens         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by mayflower988:
Also, the word "sentry" sounds like an official position, which makes me think that it's one of the people or their kregas.
About the lack of clarity, if it makes you feel any better - I had at least three critiquers get my main character's gender wrong! Talk about lack of clarity! [Smile]

It is an official position in any animal herd. Almost any herd will post sentries to watch for danger while the rest of the herd grazes. I'm speaking of moderd day Earth. I thought this was common knowledge and not something to explain. But it does read odd, and I noticed it before I read your post.
Posts: 1299 | Registered: May 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
extrinsic
Member
Member # 8019

 - posted      Profile for extrinsic   Email extrinsic         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Crystal Stevens:
quote:
Originally posted by extrinsic:
You say the purpose of the ambush scene is to introduce how Toka meets the woman who will be his love. An ambush as a motif seems to me a contrary setting situation motif for lovers to meet. The symbolism is at odds on the face of it but not incredible.

How might the ambush scene artfully symbolize a first meeting of lovers? I think answering that question is crucial for developing the opening. Like Romeo and Juliet meet at a dance after a rumble between Plantagenets and Montagues, which is the precipitating cause of Romeo and Juliet meeting, falling in love, and the rest of the play's drama. Starcrossed lovers I'm sure.

Toka isn't just meeting Julie. It'll be the first time he's ever seen her or knows she even exists. She's part of the royal hunting party that's about to make their appearance. I hope this clears up the confusion.
I'm not confused, maybe perplexed by love interests meeting at an ambush. Comparing this to Romeo and Juliet's meeting at a dance after a two-family rumble, the rumble and the dance introductorily symbolizing the strife between the families and subsequently the rest of the drama, the outcome was, of course, tragic.

Meeting at the ambush is like stalking and taking down game, even if the game is not the intended target. Can good fortunes credibly result from an ambush? Maybe, maybe bad fortunes are more credible, but not necessarily incredible for good fortune outcomes.

Thematically, for connecting and unifying parts and a whole, symbolism and similarly imagery motifs set expectations. Portraying the ambush opening as a setup to the meeting might mean using amatory or similar diction for describing the setting, events, objects, and characters in the setting. Foreshadowing by using symbolism and imagery and amatory-like motifs sort of like Toka is experiencing an unaware prescience of the impending meeting event would add depth and develop unity and connections to the following action.

Posts: 2804 | Registered: Jun 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
skadder
Member
Member # 6757

 - posted      Profile for skadder   Email skadder         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I have no problem with love interests meeting in an ambush--they could even fight each other.

As far as I was aware stories about love are meant to have the lovers get together at the end of the story--the rest of the story is about them trying to get together and the obstacles that stand in their way (which may include them disliking each other at opposing times).

[ August 05, 2012, 04:56 AM: Message edited by: skadder ]

Posts: 2987 | Registered: Oct 2007  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
   

Quick Reply
Message:

HTML is not enabled.
UBB Code™ is enabled.
UBB Code™ Images not permitted.
Instant Graemlins
   


Post New Topic  Post A Reply Close Topic   Feature Topic   Move Topic   Delete Topic next oldest topic   next newest topic
 - Printer-friendly view of this topic
Hop To:


Contact Us | Hatrack River Home Page

Copyright © 2008 Hatrack River Enterprises Inc. All rights reserved.
Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.


Powered by Infopop Corporation
UBB.classic™ 6.7.2