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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Fragments and Feedback for Books » Natural Police: Chapter 1 - Duty

   
Author Topic: Natural Police: Chapter 1 - Duty
Denevius
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[ March 21, 2014, 12:08 AM: Message edited by: Denevius ]

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Denevius
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So, I just finished the prologue of a novel I've started. Any comments on these first lines are appreciated, as well as anyone interested in reading the prologue, which is 2433 words. The novel itself is speculative fiction/urban horror.
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Grumpy old guy
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Okaaaaay, first off; you lost me in the first sentence. Reasons? The names and this; friend's girlfriend-- the words are too similar.

I plowed on regardless and, for me, it didn't get any easier. I feel swamped with unfamiliar names and a whole lot of information I don't understand. My personal opinion is that you should try and slow down and focus on one thing that will ease readers unfamiliar with Korean names, in particular, and society in general, into the story.

You may know what you're talking about, but I don't. And, as the reader, you're supposed to be pandering to me so I'll buy your story. You're not sucking up enough and making my life easy so I don't have to work hard to understand. Sorry, no sale.

Just my $0.02

Phil.

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Denevius
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Hey, thanks for taking the time to read and comment.
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Gregg L
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I must agree with Grumpy old guy. The Asian Cultures are dificult to understand and follow unless you have lived there long enough to speak the language and can, at least at times think in it. English has much in common with Europe and very little the Asia. At one time I spoke both Thai and Lao, trying to explain the actions of a Thai to a fellow American was crazy making for me, at times a catch 22. I could not explain because I could not explain it in English and if the person spoke Thai they would ALREADY understand so...

As for story. Too much is going on. I lost track of who is who and had to re read it.

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Denevius
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Thanks for the feedback, Gregg.
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Jed Anderson
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Definitely need to slow it down. Stretch out these thirteen lines into another thirty. You've got friend's girlfriend with a secret society involved with the mortal world in a foreign that not too many people know about, centuries old people on a council, and a "seonsaengnim"(which is hard enough to say, and carries no meaning to a person who can't even say it).

All that is enough to fill a couple of pages breaking it down "barney style"(not barney stintson style, the purple dino type) for the reader to understand and not feel overwhelmed.

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Denevius
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Thanks for the feedback.
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extrinsic
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This reads to me like backstory again and in a prologue's conventional narrator voice and largely a summary and explanation tell. The narrator voice is neutral, bland, too; that is, lacking in attitude.

I think the thirteen lines contain through summary several scenes that would appeal more to me if they were portrayed in scene mode. For example, the Gwanylo's mission to and subsequent rejection of killing Nan Am Nan's best friend's girlfriend might as a best practice be portrayed in scenes rather than summary. Setup of or introductions of who the protagonist is and what's the protagonist's dramatic complication could be developed in such a scene. The names and titles can be given by the characters in the scene's moment and location and gently ease readers into their meanings.

"The candidate" seems to be the protagonist. I'm not sure who that is. I'm inclined to think he's Michael or Micheal.

A fully realized and fully developed scene incorporates action, both physical and dramatic (in other words, related to a dramatic complication's want and problem wanting satisfaction); dramatic sensations perceived by an observing persona, be the persona a narrator or objective character (camera-like), conversation; in other words, dialogue; introspection: objective persona's thoughts and perceptions of other personas' thoughts; and emotional clusters.

Emotional clusters are challenging when they're not efficiently expressed for readers' comprehension ease. Pity and fear are the most common and appealing emotional cluster. Pity and sympathy if not empathy for a dramatic persona's wants and problems. And fear for the dramatic conflict facing the persona; for example, life or death stakes and outcomes. However, for a well-rounded scene, other emotional clusters are a best practice; for example, science fiction's awe and wonder, psychological thriller's horror and revulsion. And so on. Primal emotions are tangible. Secondary emotions are less so to the point of being abstract.

When I read the term "urban horror," I question whether the horror is psychological, visceral, or both. Urban thriller? Convention-based genre horror? Contemporary horror? Contemporary fantasy thriller? I understand the intent, the meaning is a little vague to me.

I'm hung up by the term "urban" too. Urban means metropolitan, meaning within developed community settings like towns and cities. Hinterland or rural settings are often included in so-called urban fantasies. They are not urban. Urban legends are an example of a similar misnomer, that are not limited to urban settings.

"Speculative" is a term also misused by writers, meaning intellectual theorizing, kind of what if there be monsters there. Speculative fiction is a narrow genre involving fantastical motifs that are extrinsic to a plot. Alfred Hitchock's The Birds is a prime example of a speculative fiction work, for its Nature gone awry motifs.

Anyway, a "speculative fiction/urban horror" leaves me adrift as to genre and, hence, its conventions.

I see this narrative as a contemporary fantasy thriller. Contemporary in the sense its within the otherwise real-world settings of the time and place's milieu. Fantasy in the sense impossible motifs are part of the dramatic action. And thriller in the sense psychological horrors blend with occasional visceral horrors.

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Denevius
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Hey extrinsic, thanks for the feedback.
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Denevius
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[ March 21, 2014, 12:08 AM: Message edited by: Denevius ]

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Jed Anderson
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Get rid of the whole "killing the girlfriend" thing. It's distracting. I understand that you want to start of with suspense, but it can wait.

“Our senior members making this decision are old. Centuries maybe, if not more."

This is a very awkward line.
"The senior members have spent centuries on this decision. They will frown heavily upon any changes to their schedule concerning the candidate.“
Something like this.

Seonsaengnim should be held off until you have the reader hooked and invested into story. Throwing that term in right at the beginning is like throwing stick in wheel spokes.

Find a better word for "organization." It doesn't work with you following it with "mortal world."

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Grumpy old guy
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I agree that the first sentence is a distraction. The reason is that I now want to know why Nam An Nam wants to kill her. You've thrown out a great hook, I've bitten, then you've cut me loose; all within 13 words.

And, yes, I'd get rid of the honorific(?) seonsaengnim for now.

Phil.

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Denevius
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Thanks again for the comments.
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