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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Fragments and Feedback for Short Works » Re-write

Author Topic: Re-write
Gregg L
Member # 9970

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Short story (for now) long ago I posted the first 15 lines and received some good feed back. I have since thought I was finished with editing it. RIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIGHT!!

This is a new start to the story

Avery, though only four and half years old, is disappointed with her first day of school. Avery had been looking forward to this, the beginning of her formal education since the day, at age 18 months she learned Riley, her older brother, was going to school outside their home. She was devastated that she could not go too.
Avery, and all the children in the class, had been home schooled from the time she could string small sentences together, and could read simple words by the time they were potty trained. The genetics of the crew had been chosen with care to assure the highest possible chances of survival, once the Jules Verne arrived at their new home. The average age of this group of First Years, was not a month over five years, and the average IQ was well above genius.

[ March 15, 2014, 08:54 PM: Message edited by: Kathleen Dalton Woodbury ]

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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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It's 13 lines, not 15.
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First of all, I am interested by the idea of this story. My curiosity is piqued about what the deal is with these very young genius kids. I think that's an interesting hook into the story.

That being said this feels like a summary more than a story. I think we need to get a scene happening--in the present--immediately. I find myself skimming to get to the part where stuff starts happening, and by the end of this passage, I haven't hit it yet.

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The mission and destination of the genius kids is intriguing. However, I echo wetwilly on the summary and explanatory nature of this fragment. A scene opening instead of backstory development I think would be more appealing. Certainly work for me.

I think the chronology of the fragment is also confused and cluttered. A scene opening might begin with Avery acting out frustration and belligerence due to wanting to go to traditional school and not being allowed. That's a powerful enough want with potent problems in opposition. The scene could be aboard the Jules Verne outbound in a classroom more for teaching social skills development than per se education. One point though, education is enhanced by collaborative learning. Futuristic learning philosophies I feel would reflect the social contexts and textures of classroom interactions.

IQ testing is kind of a problematic metric for measuring five-year-olds' intelligence. IQ tests for that age group are generally about situational awareness--orientation to person, event, time, place, and circumstances (in other words, dramatic complication, event, setting, and character)--rather than per se educational development. Also, a futuristic milieu would probably have a more exacting metric for measuring child intelligence than the much criticized IQ testing methods of today.

Spatial awareness testing using two-dimesional representations of three-dimensional objects and three-dimensional puzzle solving are the general intelligence test types for five-year-olds. Word identification and similar testing doesn't measure intelligence in any age group, only educational attainment. Though verbal reasoning skills are an indirect measure of intelligence and cognitive capabilities.

The Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence (WPPSI) test is the primary child intelligence testing metric used in the Western world, including verbal reasoning skills, but it too is problematic from a number of widely variable results in younger children and from test administrator skewing.

Want to skew the results of any intelligence test? Mess with the test administrator's state of mind. Want higher scores? Fully cooperate with and subtly flatter the administrator. Want lower scores? Contend with and subtly offend the administrator.

Frankly, I'd like to see a scene where these gifted children's intelligence is evaluated as well as at the same time their social adaptation skill development. I'd love to see these gifted children run mischievious circles around their guardians and evaluators.

[ March 16, 2014, 12:51 PM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

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Gregg L
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Thanks. The start of this story is hair pulling crazy for me (and I don't have the hair to spare).

I read the original opening at our writer's group meeting and was rightfully hit no hook. Now is seems this hook to is too slow in developing too.

The IQ here is genetic. I believe that in the future it will be possible to isolate that segment of the gene in the DNA. Or not. Who knows and the story is Sci-Fi making it possible in that sense.

I must trust that the opening lines will come to me

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Four interrelated, basic features are the essence of fiction, as well as other prose: dramatic complication, event, setting, and character.

Dramatic complication is wants and problems wanting satisfaction. This is antagonism, causation, and tension. This is the so-called hook that starts plot movement and engages readers' interest, empathy, and curiosity and creative participation. Complication is directly related to event that happens in a setting to a character.

For example, Avery wants to attend traditional school. He's not allowed; that's a problem for Avery.

Event is an antagonizing circumstance that raises a nonroutine specter of wants and problems wanting satisfaction.

Setting is the dramatic moment, place, and situation of wants and problems raised by a character reacting to an event.

Character is a dramatic persona, be that a viewpoint character experiencing a dramatic complication inciting event within a narrative's setting. Or a narrator expressing an attitude about one or more viewpoint characters experiencing complications. The narrator's attitude toward the complication topic on point therein takes the place of the character's dramatic complication to varying degrees.

Fantastical fiction and convention-based fiction--science fiction, fantasy, horror, romance, mystery, thriller, western--in general place less emphasis on subtext than "literary" fiction, "commercial" fiction," and "mainstream" fiction. However, subtext is still a core feature of all dynamic dramatic writing. Subtext is often an intangible, parallel dramatic complication that relates to and is a consequence of a tangible dramatic complication.

For example, Avery wants to attend traditional school and is not allowed. That's a tangible dramatic complication. Developing an intangible dramatic complication parallel and relevant to that might orient around social skill complications. Avery is very bright though maybe socially inept even for his young age and among a group of equally socially inept children. He's isolated and alienated. Integrating his social identity matrix could be the transformation of the whole, all the while whatever direction his tangible complication unfolds toward. He finds out, for example, the schooling he gets is more fun than his older brother's.

Maybe, like Ender of Orson Scott Card's Ender's Game, he plays highly interactive video games in school. They further isolate him from social interaction, however. He intuitively strives, though, for more meaningful social interactions that satisfy his tangible and intangible wants and problems in unexpected ways.

This above is part of my thought process during writing planning phases and draft and rewriting and revision phases. All of fiction writing in my estimation pivots upon dramatic complication.

[ March 16, 2014, 12:55 PM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

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