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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Fragments and Feedback for Short Works » A Voluptuous Finish (WIP, approx. 4500)

   
Author Topic: A Voluptuous Finish (WIP, approx. 4500)
Igwiz
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One of the first stories I started working on, waaayyyy back when. Been re-tooling it and thought I'd get some insights. Still working on the middle and end, so not quite ready for readers, but any who want to volunteer for when it's done... well, that'd be just dandy...

*************************

“Who’s first? Who brought something special?” asked the oldest.
“I found a nice one, out near Mira system. A pleasure cruiser was viewing a trinary star set and misjudged the gravity well. Six hundred voices shrieking together in fear. It was such a tasty quaff.”
The sharer sent a replica of the draught. After savoring, the others sent back responses of delight and enjoyment – all, that is, except Lexha.
“It seems a bit… hollow” she replied. “There’s no middle to it.”
After an awkward silence from the rest, the next one shared. “I came across a fuelport meltdown. It took the whole station and twelve nearby ships. Searing pain was spread out like a nova.”
This one also sent a sample, and rapid thoughts came back, their

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babooher
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Words in a void and I'm imagining demonic Muppets (not a hyperbole). I think the scene needs to be more grounded. Give some details.
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Disgruntled Peony
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The lack of names aside from Lexha distances me as a reader. I'm guessing it's because you want to clarify that Lexha is the point of view character. However, without any description or differentiation I'm left with no context as to what the 'oldest' is (and considering the speakers are sharing anguish, it could be anything as well as anyone). The dialogue is interesting (I actually find it personally intriguing), but I'm nonetheless left uncertain as to what the setting is or who/what the speakers are.

I am interested enough that I'll be willing to critique the rest of the story once you've got it ready for readers, but due to the issues I've mentioned I do have some wariness as a reader.

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Grumpy old guy
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Enigmatic or confusing? I have nowhere to hang my hat and no reason to care about what is going on.

Give me some context, some setting, some dilemma to resolve, something, anything that will tell me what's going on.

Phil.

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Igwiz
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I agree with Peony (ooh! that rhymes) and Phil, that the context is a bit lacking. Of course, on line 15 that context begins to take shape, and by line 25 we are off to the races, but at this point, yes, enigmatic and demonic muppets are sitting in the dark.

I was hoping that the hook (like the way I started to reel in Peony) was in the intrigue. Why are these unknown creatures sitting around "drinking" in death experiences.

I'll keep working on it.

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Disgruntled Peony
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As long as you have the first experience in the first thirteen lines, I'm in. (Adding in a few lines for context and ending the first thirteen with the line that says there's no middle to it, for example, would be just fine.) I'd definitely be hooked, and I wouldn't feel as lost.
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Igwiz
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Here's my conundrum. I can provide immediate context... but it tips my hand. And I probably shouldn't feel like that, but I'm afraid that it tinges the story...

This used to be titled, "A Voluptuous Finish, with a Scythe of Reapers." But... I wasn't sure that an editor would just allow me to coin a collective noun (pod of whales, a sneak of weasels, a scythe of reapers). And, I was concerned that the "with a" pronoun construction is too close to a pun on a side order (some bangers with a side o' mash, eh guvnah?)

But, perhaps if I don't focus on the title, and instead just provide the newly minted first line of context, it will work...

*******

At every quarter turning, the Reapers came together so to share their choicest finds. “Who’s first?” asked the oldest. “Who brought something special?”
“I found a nice one, out near Mira system. A pleasure cruiser was viewing a trinary star set when the crew misjudged the gravity well. All told, over six hundred voices were shrieking together in fear. It was such a tasty quaff.”
The sharer sent a replica of the draught. After savoring the memory, the others sent back responses of delight and enjoyment – all, that is, except Lexha.
“It seems a bit… hollow” she replied. “There’s no middle to it.”
After an awkward silence from the rest, the next one

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extrinsic
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Disembodied voices share past experiences of mass deaths.

I can't help noting a metafictional ambiance from "Finish" and "middle": slanted allusion to start, middle, and finish acts.

A title with "with," to me, needs a stronger amplification to support it. "A Scythe of Reapers" by itself, to me, is stronger titling than a "A Voluptuous Finish." The former starts introduction development and, though "scythe" doesn't customarily label a group, is the kind of incongruous usage coining and titles want. That title evokes an image of reapers caught by a scythe's sweep. The tables turn on harvesters. Maybe not the intent of the story, though vivid and lively like a title should.

The first and second draft fragments, to me, are of equal types, mostly dialogue, talking heads and not even heads, just voices and narrator voice. Context in the usual sense may be inferred from content: who, when, and where to a lesser degree. Beings who relish mass deaths, who; now, when; where, at a gathering of their kind. The Reaper Scythe title implies stronger and clearer context. Reapers, who; now, when; where reapers socialize, where.

Texture though is a stronger narrative feature: what, why, and how, especially emotional texture.

Also, a natural sequence for in medias res narratives is sensation perceived followed by reaction, and in the moment of the action of substance. This is an after action report of a generic debriefing of a series of actions by several reapers. More immediate now moment accounts could show the sensation received of a sequence of mass deaths and by one individual foremost. The reaction to each could be how "voluptuous" the sensations are and eagerness to share them with the scythe.

By the way, voluptuous is, to me, a strained use. Additional to metafiction allusion, "finish" and "middle" allude to wine, beer, booze, food tastings. "Voluptuous" doesn't gibe. A beauty pageant maybe. The term confuses my sensory expectations. Tasting terms could be stronger motifs. Wine and beer flavors generally use terms like butter, raspberry, currant for wines -- earth and citrus for both -- vanilla, caramel, coffee, and chocolate for beer. Booze, matters of smoke and rye and corn and earth. Foods -- likewise use gustatory delight terms and span all of taste, well, smells' infinite range, actually.

A fully realized scene sequence's context and texture fully imitate reality, a Realism custom. In general, a segment includes sensation, emotion, action and reaction, description, dialogue, and thought. The fragments are dialogue and some narrator summary and explanation.

Also, per each clause or sentence fragment or sentence, in addition to a sensation-reaction sequence, a preparation-suspension-resolution sequence melds through the former. Like a taste of fine Chardonay wine, a buttery-oak note start, a nutmeg middle, and a black currant finish. The sequence is from mild to spicy to spicier. Spiced! And a natural, expected sequence of wine tastings.

The above matters of beverage tasting, these are a form of metalepsis, a common though challenging to compose rhetorical trope that transgresses figurative boundaries. Here, that boundary transgressed is the language of tasting events used, for example, to portray mass death sensation delights experienced by experienced grim reapers.

Lexha seems the viewpoint character of substance for the fragment, and possibly the whole. She seems so because she contradicts the others and is of a finer sensory aptitude, more critical, more sensorily acute. However, the narrator persona looks in on the scene from outside and reports from an objective journalistic approach. Stronger, to me, if a viewpoint persona looks out from inside. Lexha?

I might read on if the work were brief, though as an editor-writer interested in craft aspects, not as an engaged reader, mostly because of the few bumps I see and that disagree with my sensibilities and sentiments.

[ December 03, 2015, 04:38 PM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

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