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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Fragments and Feedback for Books » Ubiquity - Opening 13 lines

   
Author Topic: Ubiquity - Opening 13 lines
kmsf
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Hi, this is the opening 13 lines for a sci-fi/thriller I'm working on. I'm about 8,000 words in not including scene fragments. I have a fairly settled outline. Any feedback would be greatly appreciated. Then I will leave this beginning alone, yes I will, until the first draft is complete!

Stan and Muri had stretched their goodnight to nearly half an hour by the time she stopped at the kitchen side door to let him through. Hands in his pockets, he brushed past and stepped from the warmth of the house on to the covered porch. A light gust rolled down Amelia Street, and straight ahead in the failing light he could see the yellow leaves flicker on the lower bough of the sycamore.

“Shoe’s untied again,” she said.

He turned around, knelt and picked up his shoelaces with his fingers. “Thanks, I don’t know what it is with these.”

Muri cleared her throat. “I have to cover for David tomorrow while he’s at training, so wait until after lunch to come by the restaurant.” Then she made creepy hands. “That is, if Leo Clement doesn’t get you first.”

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Carl F
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"she stopped" Stopped doing what? Where had she been before getting to the kitchen door?
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kmsf
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They had been "stretching goodnight to nearly half an hour", so that indicates lingering conversation and flirtation, etc, as they made their way to the door from the living room, or wherever the reader's mind would comfortably place the beginning of "goodnight", the moment when either Stan or Muri says something along the lines of, "Well, I guess I better get home." "paused" might be a better word.
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kmsf
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Sorry Carl, forgot to thank you for responding!
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SASpencer
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Stan and Muri

I was confused about who was the viewpoint character, I like to know right away. Perhaps the beginning could start with "Stan had stretched their goodnight. . .that way I am invested in the story immediately.

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kmsf
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Thank you, SASpencer. Good point. I struggled with that point on the opening line but decided the first paragraph, or sentence is free. But POV confusion isn't necessarily worth the benefit. They both stretch the goodnight, so I'll try to find a way that retains that quality and establishes the POV immediately. I've thought about dropping the first sentence and modifying the second to use their names. I'll give it some thought. Again, good point.
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kmsf
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Revised. Thank you two again! So, helpful. I realized a crucial part of them having stretched out goodnight was their failure to track the time. And, if we're in Stan's POV, then there is no recognition of that... yet ;-)

Stan let go of Muri’s hand and watched her step aside on the threshold. Hands in pockets, he brushed past as he stepped from the warmth of the kitchen to the covered porch. A gust rolled down Amelia Street, and in the failing light of the yard ahead yellow leaves flickered on the sycamore.

“Shoe’s untied again,” she said.

He turned around and knelt. “Thanks.” Then pinched the remainder of the knot and pulled the laces apart. “I don’t know what it is with these.”

[ March 28, 2013, 06:33 PM: Message edited by: kmsf ]

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SASpencer
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Much better, however now I don't know what you mean by threshold. It sounds like they're on a platform. Maybe he could watch her step aside as she leaned against the stove. Not quite as romantic.
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Carl F
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SASp: and kmsf
"threshold" is a very good word. It is precise and in common usage.

I like the revised version. I expect you will tell me eventually what the significance of the shoe laces is. Is it important to the plot?

"pinching a knot" is not a way to untie laces in my experience. Is this a way to introduce alien vocabulary?

In trying to picture this scene, I put myself in Stan's shoes. If mine came untied, I would either put it up on something like the porch railing or sit down to relace it. Maybe he's more limber than I am.

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kmsf
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Hi SASp and Carl F:

Thanks for your feedback.

SASp, threshold is pretty commonly used in the US. It refers to the strip of wood or metal attached to the floor of a doorframe. Most often on older homes here, as I am sure in Oz, there is a metal strip attached on top of the wood piece for exterior doorways. Though it could easily be called something different.

Carl F, yes, the shoelaces come into play in the next little bit! Sometimes it's the little things [Smile] I think a better way to describe it would be to say he took a knee, hooked his finger under the crossed laces and pulled them apart.

Put yourself in Stan's shoes... lol

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SASpencer
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Since that's the very first sentence of your book, can we compromise and have you write door threshold? As I thought about it, grooms carry their brides over the threshold. But you may run into more readers like me who are very right brained and will think of a low threshold of pain, or the threshold of a new beginning, and not something concrete like a doorway. Just a thought. :-)
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kmsf
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SASp: good point. My original version included "doorway" in the first sentence. This drew a better picture at the outset. I'm going to have to give it some more thought and elbow grease. Thank you guys :-) I'm going to keep these lessons in mind for this excerpt and in general as I get the whole novel down in a first draft.
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