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Author Topic: A World Without Children
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Chapter 1: “I wanted to Change all those stigmas in the beauty pageant world.”
I caress the pink bumps on her little chubby face. Mom hates them, but I think they make her look tender, agile, barely alive. I want mom to keep this one.
Only if she shows potential as a winner, Mom tells me. We have too many people in the world as it is. Mom’s tried a few times already, but I'm the only daughter she kept.
Not all children are as perfect as you are.
I ease Baby into her carrier, hoping she actually stays asleep. The pageant starts in less than an hour, and this is my third attempt to get ready. I dab my fingers into hair shining cream, rubbing the mixture through my waist-length red streaked curls.
Within seconds, Baby’s tiny blue eyes flutter open. She wails,

[ August 02, 2017, 09:19 PM: Message edited by: Kathleen Dalton Woodbury ]

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An individual meditates while she prepares for a beauty contest, accompanied by an infant sibling.

The fragment contains what I believe are essential features for a start: a complication, two that are unrelated to each other, actually, which is want-problem satisfaction crisis; a conflict, again, two, actually, though aptly related; and emotional equilibrium upset.

The two wants are, one, want for diminished beauty pageant negative "stigma," and two, want for to keep the infant sibling. The related conflicts are acceptance and rejection, of beauty pageants overall and of the infant, that is, polar opposite forces in contention. The emotional upset of the fragment derives from the mother's unexpected potential rejection of the infant.

Uncommonly do Hatrack draft fragments manage those three essentials. However, though artful in those regards, the fragment's organization is disjointed and remote due, in the main, to limited realized event and setting details. The first line, bracketed by quote marks, which signal dialogue, this one unattributed and a voice from a disembodied mind, is without context. Part of the consideration is whether the speech is aloud or to another or to the self or not speech at all.

Agonists by their lonesomes are invariably incapable of dramatic movement: They are stuck in a bathtub contemplating their navels. Agonists who interact dramatically, with others, reveal their true natures, their overt and covert agendas, regards want-problem contentions, their setting situations which influence their actions and reactions, and are fraught with dramatic events.

A dramatic setting detail is essential up front and immediately so that readers are grounded as much as practical to setting's time, place, and situation criteria. Context in the narrow sense, who, when, and where, plus texture's what, why, and how, develop event, setting, and characters for reader grounding, and best practice are "telling details," concise, inevitable, natural, surprise details that are unexpected. A detail itself is secondary to its influence on people's lives. Like, say, that this setting is of a beauty pageant held at a boot camp, or similar yet different, that nonetheless relates to the main complication-conflict. Like Your momma wears army boots kind of an undeclared, implied, ironic, perhaps sarcastic expression or implication.

The fragment develops none of the setting, which best practice comes first yet as well portrays an unfolding event and character interactions and who interact with the setting.

The title suggests that at some near time in the novel the world will be without children due to, perhaps, the unnamed first-person narrator-agonist's actions. Maybe she wishes for the elimination of children and the wish is granted, like, say, an It's a Wonderful Life tableau. Or maybe Frank Herbert's bio-terrorist novel The White Plague, 1982, which features sterilization of a half of all womankind.

The fragment is both first person and present tense, a great challenge to manage and maintain throughout a whole novel. That narrative point of view is common for first publication aspiration efforts and, consequently, an easy decline if poorly developed. The fragment contains that narrative point of view's greatest and most common shortfall, that is, extra lens filters. The like is I saw, I heard, I touched, I smelled, I tasted, I felt emotions, I did, too much of the perpendicular pronoun and its challenges that spoil willing suspension of disbelief due to being too self-centric, too insularly internalized, too much action and discourse filtered through the first-person's internal-centric lens.

Likewise, grammar errors challenge willing suspension of disbelief and are cause for easiest publication decline. "Change" capitalized is the first grammar error in order. That dialogue line also is simple past tense; the remainder is present tense, an unnecessary tense shift, common to raw draft present tense narratives. "Mom" used to name the mother is capitalized as a proper noun -- one instance is lower case, an error. Also "Baby" is a proper noun, aptly capped. Generally, screeners will overlook one or two subtle grammar errors per page, though balk at the first error that implies slackness of fundamental grammar principles.

I'm a little intrigued and creeped out about how casual the mom and the agonist approach conceiving and abandoning children, or worse, perhaps infanticide. I wonder right away if the milieu holds the same attitude. I'd be more intrigued, less creeped out, and downright hopelessly engaged if that feature were the main aspect of the novel, a satire about immoral justification for a world without children. To wit, a superficial rationale from overpopulation pressure for population control through elimination of most children by whatever of several variant means, and fraught with implied and denied shame and guilt for the horror of it.

At this time, though, I would not read on as an engaged reader, due most to the disjointed start.

[ August 03, 2017, 10:38 PM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

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