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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Fragments and Feedback for Books » Time's Crossroads First 13 rewritten

   
Author Topic: Time's Crossroads First 13 rewritten
Gregg L
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I rewrote the the first part of Chapter 1, then edited the entire story. Total word count 86,900 words.

I hope this begining has a better hook and has the reader wanting to read more

The long drive home from school, is giving Caden too much time to think, and his imagination is getting the better of him, as all kinds' problems are filling his head. I am not ready for this, not yet, Caden thinks as he speeds home in an attempt to arrive before his father dies. He does not remember his mother Sarah, as she left when Caden was still a baby, and his father, Caden Senior, has always refused to discuss either why she left, or where she might be. Could mom still be alive, he wonders, and if so, Caden stops mid thought, my father is dying, I have no time now for side issues. He is faced with being alone, and is terrified. "This is not fair," he shouts at his snow-splattered windshield, and laughs as he hears his father's response in his head, "Who promised you a fair life?"

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SASpencer
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Caden drove x miles in x hours, plenty of time for his imagination to fill his head with problems that have yet to occur. At 75 miles per hour, will he see his father alive? His foot hits the pedal, 85 miles per hour. He's not ready, not ready at all.

That is an example of what you need to show, instead of tell. I know that because I just got the same criticism from someone else!

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Jed Anderson
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It feels stutterish. I know its not a word, but it's the best I can come up with. The flow is awkward. Shorten some of the sentences, the comma splicing is throwing of the rhythm. Also, in thirteen lines, you say his name four times.
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Gregg L
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Thanks. I had not noticed the over use of his name.

SA Spencer, while I never state what school Caden is attending, I always felt it was IU in Bloomington IN. 75 mph on IN 46 in winter makes the chances of getting killed before reaching home a slam dunk. However, I see your point. Showing instead of telling is my Achilles Heel. I hope I am learning.

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extrinsic
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Telling is many struggling writers' Achilles' heel. Since all writing to a degree is telling, in the sense telling is summarizing and explaining circumstances too grand for written word, how to manage showing's mischiefs challenges most writers. One challenging quality of this opening is Caden is alone with his thoughts, rushing along an interstate highway through a white-setting-syndrome scenario. Snowy conditions create a convenient white setting. The setting is a blank slate. He has no point of interaction with the moment and location and situation. Caden only thinks thoughts that directly tell readers the family crises he's coping with.

In terms of this opening's features that express a workable scenario, Caden's becoming isolated, which is a highly potent, common, and popular motif. A personal journey story shape begins with factors which isolate a protagonist.

Showing the isolating factors, though, is a matter of developing their in the persons in the moment and location and situation contexts and textures as they occur. This is showing. Try showing where, when, what, why, and how Mom died by portraying the scenario. The who and what are at least that she, Sarah died. Did she die alone? Tragic if she did. Someone must have discovered her if she did and Caden knows the circumstances. Caden must have experienced some grieving ritual, like a funeral, or circumstances kept him from the services and he contrived his own informal rites, like he visited the cemetery to pay his last respects. Again, portray Caden in the moment and location of his grief—the situation.

Similarly, show Caden in the moment and location of discovering his father's impending death—the situation. Create a sense of how Dad's death stands in relation to Mom's death—years later or within a short time span of Mom's passing and in the same community or a continent away.

Mom and Dad passing comprise two crises. A third is indicated, one that's immediately nonparentally personal to Caden. He is afraid he will be alone, orphaned by his parent's passing. However, unless he's suicidal, life must go on. One more isolation crisis would then compel him to dramatically attempt to reintegrate his identity fractured by parental abandonment.

That would be at least three scenes taking up appreciably more word-count real estate than thirteen lines, though. Discovering Mom's passing and discovering Dad's about to pass is at least two scenes. Further scenes within scenes might show times Caden recollects when he was happy being with Mom, with Dad, or upset, or both, or otherwise.

An opening should engage readers' empathy and curiosity. Empathy is somewhat developed here. Curiosity not much if any. That's why I suggest a third isolation crisis, one that makes Caden's dramatic complication specific to him and at the same time is larger than life and death. Personal loss is, tragically, all too common by itself. Isolation caused by family deaths is too.

Consider what else compels Caden to act dramatically, that arouses readers' curiosity, that's related to his parents' passing, and that matters to the target audience. Show Caden discovering that additional complusion in the persons and moment and location of the situation.

Setting, one of narrative's prime elements, has three principal attributes: time, place, and situation or the moment, the location, and the dramatic circumstances of a scene.

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Gregg L
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Extrinsic, you have given me much to think about. However I must point our that Caden's mother is not, to the best of Caden's knowledge, dead.

"He does not remember his mother Sarah, as she left when Caden was still a baby, and his father, Caden Senior, has always refused to discuss either why she left, or where she might be."

His fear of being alone is bringing the need to have many questions about her answered. If she has passed then this fear of being alone will take full root.

I have thought about showing in a flash back druing his drive home, his getting the newss about his father, and after reading you post, will give it more thought. I am sure I have a copy of that draft, or I can recreate it if need be.

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SASpencer
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If you imagined that in IA in winter it doesn't do me any good---CA girl here. I never thought show and tell in school would turn into this!
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Gregg L
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SA, I was born and raised in The People's Socialist Republic of California,(Simi Valley) moved to Indiana, where my wife is from 19 years ago. Except for recreational prospecting I don't miss CA. If the spot price for gold goes to 2k I might go baxk for a long visit.

Anyway my point is speed in winter during a snow storm is not a smart thing to do and Caden is clearly driving in snow.

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Gregg L
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Started rewriting this story again last weekend. I feel the first two chapters flow better and some the places I didn't like are better. Overall it is more show than tell. More of who Caden is and more into his view of what is happening to him. The word count is going to climb. Chapter one added about 800 words, Chapter two is headed in that direction too.
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Jed Anderson
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It's great when you have those kinds of break-throughs
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