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 Books » The King's Huntsman

   
Author Topic: The King's Huntsman
rabirch
Member
Member # 9832

 - posted      Profile for rabirch   Email rabirch         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Here's the first 13 for a WIP. I've been doing so much short story writing that I'm having trouble gauging if I'm setting an appropriate pace. My understanding is that you can take a longer time to build your hook, but I'm not sure if I'm stretching it too much.

Just looking for comments on these first 13 right now.

(Edit: MattLeo made a good point that I should give more information on genre to help in the reading. This is a fantasy set in a pseudo-medieval period. It's a coming of age/breaking of gender rules story.)

Thanks!

***

Tamlin Rhee crouched in the shelter of a pine tree, hidden in the snow that ringed its base. Her breath fogged in the early morning air. On the far side of the clearing, a rabbit, nearly invisible in its winter-white coat, nibbled at the leaves of a blueberry bush that poked up through the snow. Its whiskers twitched as it gnawed and it paused to listen every few bites, ears perked high, turning from side to side.

A little closer , Tamlin thought. The fingers of her right hand were nearly numb as she grasped her slingshot, already loaded with a river-smoothed pebble, but with her woolen gloves, she'd be too clumsy to hit the tree behind it, let alone the rabbit's small head.

[ July 06, 2012, 06:48 PM: Message edited by: rabirch ]

Posts: 205 | Registered: May 2012  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
MattLeo
Member
Member # 9331

 - posted      Profile for MattLeo   Email MattLeo         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Oh, I think the whole killer one-line hook business is overdone. If you've got a great one, and it doesn't feel like a foreign franken-graft, sure. Go for it. But what I want to see is confident, take-charge story telling. A little deliberate mystery is allowable (though not mandatory); confusion is not.

So here we have quite a nice little vignette; I'd read on, except for one point of confusion: I don't understand the setting. In part that's because you haven't told us stuff about the MS that we'd normally have, like the genre. So I don't know whether to picture this as a medieval setting, a modern one, a post-apocalyptic one, or some kind of alternate universe.

This makes "slingshot" problematic for me. Slingshots are modern weapons (as opposed to the sling used by David against Goliath, which is as ancient as ancient can be). You can't have an actual slingshot without vulcanized rubber, which rules out medieval settings.

The name makes it hard to place too. "Tamlin" is a Gaelic man's name; Rhee is a Korean family name (sometimes transliterated "Lee"). So I'm confused. Knowing the kind of blurb/query background would help me figure out how I feel about this opening.

The vignette is nice, although I think I'd like to know how Tamlin feels. Aside from her hands, is she cold? Hungry? I'm not saying over-do the melodrama.Far from it. In an opening, I think subtlety is more effective than bathos. Just give us some hints that leads us to guess exactly how interested Tamlin is in this rabbit. This accomplishes what writers often attempt to accomplish by going to far and being confusing: it makes us want to read on to find out.

Posts: 1154 | Registered: Dec 2010  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
rabirch
Member
Member # 9832

 - posted      Profile for rabirch   Email rabirch         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Good comments, MattLeo. I hadn't realized that slingshots can only exist in world with rubber. Definitely something to address! A sling would be a better choice here, clearly.

I appreciate your thoughts on the pacing of novel openings as well. It's foreign ground for me, and it makes me nervous.

Posts: 205 | Registered: May 2012  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
MattLeo
Member
Member # 9331

 - posted      Profile for MattLeo   Email MattLeo         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by rabirch:
I appreciate your thoughts on the pacing of novel openings as well. It's foreign ground for me, and it makes me nervous.

There's no reason to be nervous. We all want to write well, but don't be afraid of writing badly on the way to writing well. When you submit for critique is the best time to bend some rules, or break them good and hard (provided you know what you are trying to achieve by that). Listen to advice and critique, but don't be too eager to please. The best thing you can do in response to advice is something unexpected.

I think you've got the start of a very good "I don't need gimmicks because I know what I'm doing" style opening, there's just a few points of confusion to clear up. I think a little more hint of what the protagonist is up against would help.

As for the sling, it's quite effective on the open plains against the Philistines but may not be very practical in dense woods. Aside from the trees hindering you, you'd need to strike from close range and big movements would spook your game.

The most common low-tech way to take small game in the woods is to set snares. More opportunistic hunters might use a throwing stick, which can be very effective if you wait in ambush and have a good arm. I know somebody who joking threw a claw hammer at a rabbit some fifty feet away and killed it instantly. An improvised javelin might work well if you chose your ambush spot carefully.

Posts: 1154 | Registered: Dec 2010  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
rabirch
Member
Member # 9832

 - posted      Profile for rabirch   Email rabirch         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
As it happens, Tamlin is out in the woods checking her traps. =)

Again, thanks for your thoughts. Hunting is something I don't have much (any) experience with, and if I can get tripped up by it in the first 13 lines, I clearly need to do more research!

Posts: 205 | Registered: May 2012  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
JoBird
Member
Member # 9883

 - posted      Profile for JoBird   Email JoBird         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
To start, I like this. A lot. I want to read more.

But, for what it's worth, I don't like the title. It doesn't exactly strike me as inspired. In fairness, that may only be because I recently saw Snow White and the Huntsman. I haven't managed to get the bad taste of that movie out of my system.

Also, this might be a silly issue, but I'm not sure that blueberry bushes do all that well in the winter. I feel like they go dormant, and that wild rabbits typically have to rely on either burrowing for food, or eating bark.

A part of me wants to suggest that you split a couple of your sentences into smaller pieces, but that's probably not an appropriate suggestion. After all, your style is your own, your voice is your own, and I can appreciate that.

Which brings me to my last thought: there's something about your last line that sticks under my skin. It has to do with the numb hands, the woolen gloves, and the potential clumsiness.

See, the numb hands aren't what causes the concern about potential clumsiness, the woolen gloves are. But the woolen gloves aren't keeping the hands warm enough to not go numb.

Wouldn't the clumsiness have more to do with the numb hands? (Or numb right hand at least.)

My assumption is that the hand is numb because of the cold. Wouldn't the woolen gloves keep the hands warm enough to not go numb?

Is this a ridiculous nitpick? You bet. But it's the best I got considering I liked your thirteen lines so much.

Posts: 94 | Registered: Jul 2012  |  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