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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Fragments and Feedback for Books » Candle - First 13

   
Author Topic: Candle - First 13
JSchuler
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The first 13 from the prelude to a space opera.


The flickering blue green light told John that his pilot was misbehaving again. Without missing a step he reached into his jacket and procured a small bottle of aspirin. The tiny white pills he swallowed wouldn’t help, but John was a firm believer in the placebo effect.

John shielded his eyes and entered the cockpit. Beyond the window, tendrils of energy danced across the ship’s hull. They were the spectacular side-effect of the ship’s wake drive shifting the craft ever so slightly into the space between dimensions, hurtling it past the speed of light. Seen from the safety of a monitor, John had to admit it was one of the more beautiful sights in the universe. Watching it in person, however, was painful.

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Bruchar
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Hi J,
I like the scene you've created, but don't have any idea why I'm watching it. Aside from John having a headache and hurtling through space with a malfunctioning pilot and a bottle of placebo, what's happening here?

It might be interesting to tighten it up by eliminating the reflective sentences (The tiny... & Seen from...) and jumping to the next action, if it explains something about the story.

Oh yeah... and you might want to read some of extrinsic's posts on The Deer Thief (in this forum.) He has a lot of insight on why preludes should be avoided.

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JSchuler
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Hmm... Need more feedback before I can really alter anything or answer any questions. So right now the question is, would you continue reading?

I also would like to know, from your feedback, if you would feel misled in any way if you found out the pilot was, in fact, human.

I'm not too concerned about having a prelude. It's prefaces that are more of an issue, because they aren't written in the style of the rest of the story. This is. I'm just going to label it Chapter 0 instead of flagging it as something outside the story.

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enigmaticuser
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I liked this a lot. I would keep reading because the character and setting sounds interesting. I don't think anything more needs to be happening at the moment, but I could see some tightening that could be done.

In the second paragraph, the calling it the spectacular side-effect, and then later admitting it was one of the more beautiful things in the universe, seem redundant, for example.

You ask if someone would feel misled if the pilot was human (since that seems natural, I wonder if you meant non-human?). Either way I would not feel misled. It would be hard to feel that way this early on.

For me the first thirteen is simply a promise of the flavor and essence of a story, this promises a sci-fi with an acclimated protagonist which (since this is a story) makes me infer that he'll be thrown into something out of his league. Kind of an everyman hero?

So I'd keep reading.

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JSchuler
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The human question was mainly for Bruchar, as he referred to it as a "malfunctioning" pilot. And I know that advanced autopiloted ships are a thing in sci-fi. So, I was hoping I wasn't giving false signals.

Thank you for the feedback.

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Bruchar
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Hi J,

So the pilot's human, huh? Might just be my interpretation of "misbehaving" being a personification of machinery. You really didn't give me any reason to assume it was a mechanical pilot, but it does seem that John is in the ship alone, without a crew.

Okay. I think it's confusing. Maybe describing the misbehavior (The pilot's drunk, not paying attention, making out with the navigator, etc.) would help, unless you mean to keep it a surprise.

Honestly, I like the visuals you've created in this scene, but they're not unique enough to separate them from a Star Treck spin-off.

Also, I have no idea why John's in pain, and what it has to do with the story. Leaves me wondering if John's pain is more important than whatever happens hurtling through space. And there's not enough of either to keep me reading to the next page.

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JSchuler
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I hate to do this, Bruchar, but what if I added a single word to the opening:

"Without missing a step he reflexively reached into his jacket..."

Read it again with that, and tell me if the adverb does anything for you.

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Bruchar
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J,

Reflexively doesn't add much. I understand from the statements that the aspirins wouldn't help, and that he believes in the placebo effect, that he reaches for them quite a bit.

Are you trying to get across the idea that the pilot screws up often, and reaching for relief is John's normal reaction?

If so, maybe blending the cause and effect would be more illustrative. Something like John saw the light and reached for his pills. His pilot was screwing up again.

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JSchuler
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I have to dwell on this a bit, because you do say you like the visuals, and pretty much all the issues you have at this point can be addressed in the book's pitch or back cover. I might take that as a success.

But, you've given me some things to think about. Thank you.

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