Final Opening Version: Francisco stepped through The Doors, and almost stumbled back out when Wabi pounced from around the bar, bright smile splitting his mustached face, wiry arms opened wide in a hug that pulled Francisco into intimate contact with him. “My man!” The words vibrated in Wabi’s chest, and if possible, he pulled Francisco closer, their thin frames pressed flat together threatening to become one. Francisco peered past Wabi’s shoulders to the windows at the other end of The Doors, and contemplated breaking the bar owner’s hold and pushing, sprinting him through the tinted glass to the ground five stories below. “My band’s been practicing that song you wrote for me last month, and it’s going awesome!”
It's a third person close unreliable narrator (a singer) with psychopathic tendencies. Whats real and what he convinces himself to be real to justify his actions will be at odds in the narrative.
But it's a good warning, and one to keep in mind. Thanks!
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quote:Originally posted by babooher: Could you explain that warning, Ms. Kathleen Dalton Woodbury?
The fragment talks of lies like stones in his gut. In an as-yet-undefined speculative fiction world, there could be magic that makes that actually happen (just as Pinocchio's lies made his nose grow).
The "like" in the sentence mitigates the possibility, but there is still a risk of the image entering the reader's mind and staying there, leading to confusion later when it turns out that there really are no stones.
OSC talks about metaphors in speculative fiction is his book on writing science fiction and fantasy, and how what would be figurative prose in mundane fiction may actually be literal in speculative fiction. Those who read speculative fiction are open to such possibilities, and writers who write it need to be careful not to confuse such readers.
Just think, what if a lie really did create a stone inside a particular character (cursed that way, perhaps?). Passing lie stones could be a consequence imposed by a magic worker, and a strong deterrent - and could be an interesting idea for a story (though, not, I suspect, this one).
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The revised version grabbed my attention quite thoroughly. A few points of note:
There are a lot of 'ing' words, although it didn't pull me out of the original read-through.
The last sentence in the first paragraph is a bit of a run-on. If you separate it into two sentences where that comma and 'and' are, it will flow a little better and still keep all the flavor of the sentence(s).
The last sentence in paragraph two feels a touch awkward; I feel like it's missing a word or clause, for some reason.
Overall, though, this strikes me as an interesting opening. I would definitely read further based on what I've seen.
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I meant deserting.Thanks for the catch, IRWhite! Also, thanks for the comments. I'm about five pages into this piece, and figure I'll have the first draft done in four weeks. I'll keep your comments in mind once I start typing it up.
So I finally finished the first draft of this and will be typing it up soon. Probably be done at the end of this month, if anyone is looking to swap pieces around then.
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A character simply contemplating is a weak start is an astute insight. However, each of the three opening sentences evince identical structures, somewhat formulaic, and that tell a subject's action in an inert summary and explanation mode.
quote: ...and that tell a subject's action in an inert summary and explanation mode.
Ok, but if you will, I'd like to challenge you on this notion. Here's three opening sentences from published works, and then here's my three opening sentences. How are the first three sentences not inert summary, but mine are?
And Extrinsic, if your answer will be that all six are inert summary and explanation mode, then that'll mean that this particular critique isn't all that helpful in the actual act of getting a story published.
quote: Before Dad left, it was easy to get away from the parties my mother held at our house.
quote:To prepare for SpringFest, Shainey cut the bottom of her men's exta-large T-shirt into a fringe with a pair of scissors.
quote: When October is almost dead in the ground, Pilar texts me, asking me to dinner at a trendy place two bus transfers away from my apartment.
And now the opening drafts of my first sentences:
quote:Lies collected in Francisco’s stomach like stones and left his guts distended with bloat.
quote: Francisco twirled the pale cigarette in slender fingers that hadn’t written a lyric in weeks.
quote:Francisco stepped through The Doors, and almost stumbled back out when Wabi pounced from around the bar, bright smile splitting his mustached face, wiry arms opened wide in a hug that pulled Franciso into intimate contact with him.
quote:1) Before Dad left, it was easy to get away from the parties my mother held at our house.
quote:2) To prepare for SpringFest, Shainey cut the bottom of her men's [extra]-large T-shirt into a fringe with a pair of scissors.
quote:3) When October is almost dead in the ground, Pilar texts me, asking me to dinner at a trendy place two bus transfers away from my apartment.
1, 2, & 3 use prefatory dependent subordination clauses identically structured in relation to their main clauses; they hold open their main ideas' surprises; likewise, the 1 & 3 subject persons of the sentences' predicates are in their sentence object positions -- surprise, who this is about.
1 & 3 include more than one person's actions. 2 is a single person's action though implies a second person has or has had some influence upon the subject person's movement, a man perhaps. Each sentence describes tangible physical movement and implies moral, character, emotion, story, and dramatic movement overall. None of them are pedal to the metal movement, though move dramatically to a degree more than inert. They are emotive and emotional by small degrees.
Their predicates aren't static verbs, either; they express definite immediate now time movement. Nor are they exclusive of external narrator observation of sensory perceptions or internal viewpoint sensory perceptions.
The 1st & 3rd are first person, though that doesn't preclude or exclude inert narrator tell, are not inert narrator tell; they entail emotional charge and dynamic movement situations.
The 2nd is third person, though contains a more dynamic content movement than the 1st & 3rd, and a curious emotional implication about the T-shirt. Plus, the de re implications of pronoun phrase "her men's T-Shirt" signal narrator estrangement in favor of Shainey's viewpoint.
The 3rd entails a strong curiosity arousing feature; that is, thus far, an invitation is extended, to a trendy place two whole bus transfers far away -- implied want and problem in artful opposition and unsatisfied at the moment. Does Shainey or won't Shainey accept and go, go, go!
The "it" syntax expletive subject of 1 is usually a speed bump for me; however, the stream-of-consciousness emotive expression implies character development, emotional development, and movement. The sentence's subjunctive mood also does the same; that is, unconventionally expresses a past tense in the present emotional charge of the moment -- voice movement too.
The 2nd is equivocally past tense, though uses prose's artful present tense sense. Just this present moment has passed past.
The 3rd is unequivocally present tense and a perhaps tense use most dynamically moving of the three.
Each sets up preparation's function for suspension's functions and suspends satisfaction until later about equally. 3 leads a small degree. No instant satisfaction defuses of dynamic preparation and suspension movement.
Dynamic voice-wise, I favor 1; dynamic content-wise, I favor 2; overall dynamic movement-wise, I favor 3. Robustness: all are about equal, somewhat dynamic, somewhat non-inert. I feel they all have movement room to spare, mostly in terms of shown emotional charge movement and enhancement.