This is topic Alt Hist Game Show in forum Fragments and Feedback for Short Works at Hatrack River Writers Workshop.

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Posted by OliverBuckram (Member # 9655) on :
New version:

We stood side by side facing Amanda. The surviving six contestants were the elite, and each of us had Nebula or Hugo awards in our trophy cases. Of course, I was the only one with three Hugo-winning novels, but who's counting?

The red "on air" light blinked on, and I straightened my back.

"Welcome back to Celebrity Scientifiction," chirped Amanda. "We're sponsored by Ethelred Galvanic Cells, available at ironmongers throughout the Empire. For reliable power, always be ready with Ethelred. Look for the red package. Because red means ready."

Amanda, a flaxen-haired actress currently engaged to the Duke of Philadelphia, was a fetching adornment to the show.

"Authors, here's your next assignment. Type: Young Adult Fantasy. Length: Novelette. Perspective: Third person. Special

Old version (ignore this):

We stood in a ragged line, waiting for the next round to begin. The six of us remaining were some of the Empire's top authors. Between us, we had written five Hugo-winning novels. Of course, two of those were mine, but who's counting?

Not every man deserved to be there. Frankly, Philip Landry should have been eliminated much earlier. His amateurish prose was a disgrace to scientification. And yet every round he had survived by writing stories that, while poorly crafted, contained astonishing twists and jaw-dropping feats of imagination.

The red "on air" light blinked on, and I straightened my back. You never know when you're on camera.

[ February 08, 2012, 09:28 AM: Message edited by: OliverBuckram ]
Posted by Bent Tree (Member # 7777) on :
This one didn't really grab me... the voice seems off. I expect Literary Elite to sound elite. This sounded a bit trite, but prose needs to really shine to carry this charter with any merit.

Just an opinion...
Posted by Uley Bone (Member # 9696) on :
Afraid that I am going to have to side with Bent Tree on the hook, though some tinkering at it might turn it around. Trust me, I have gone back to take a look at the first 13 lines of some of my own ramblings since I came here, and figure that they would likely miss the mark as well.

More specifically, the short and clipped off sentences are fine, if used for a specific effect. Yet, toward the end of trying to follow what is going on, which (in my opinion) is fairly much essential in an opening scene of anything (even if deliberately misleading)-- there is quite a bit of rush through here, and the opening line near seemed orphaned off from the rest of what is written here. It's a scene setter, which is left behind to go into, I assume, one of the main character's thoughts and opinions. And yeah, though I suspect it is deliberate, you didn't craft him out to be particularly likable.

However you want to go about the rework is fine, but as it stands for here-- I might go reread through my opening intro and figure out what "the carrot" is, and string that up under the reader's nose as soon as possible. It doesn't necessarily have to be a key plot point, just enough of something to get them on to line 14 and beyond. I also look to clean it up a little, which is to say, make your setting clear and distinct from the character's disposition (unless it is all clearly told from the character's POV). You may have other thoughts moving along the way, but make sure your reader has a fairly clear picture of what is happening.

Now, there is no way for me to say that you didn't do just that in line fourteen or fifteen-- which is to say I can only go by what I can read here. For something frantic, be it a character or situation-- short and choppy thoughts work (though that is still a tough play to make in an opening scene, while still conveying the ideas out enough for the reader to get a keen sense of what is happening.)

Good lick with this Oliver Buckram, and nice to meet you.

Posted by annepin (Member # 5952) on :
This didn't do a whole lot for me. The two elements I identified as potential hooks were the idea of "the first round" and the concept of "scientification". Maybe if you gave us a better hint of what is at stake here. As it stands, the voice and character is too distant and stuffy for me to really care what's going on.

Also, the last line really threw me. "You never know when you're on camera", except that presumably you do because the "on air" light goes on.
Posted by Merlion-Emrys (Member # 7912) on :
I agree with annepin about the last almost seems like it should make sense, but it doesn't.

Other than that, I like it pretty well. Of course, I dislike "hooks." But really, this reminds me a lot of the openings of stuff I've seen in publications like Fantasy Magazine, Clarksworld, Ideomancer. Everything is totally filtered through the character, and we're placed in the middle of something with little idea what's going on. That, in my experience, seems to be a pretty popular mode right now.
Posted by OliverBuckram (Member # 9655) on :
Thanks very much for this helpful feedback. I've added a revised version, removing the choppy sentences, the camera comment, and trying for a more informative opening.
Posted by Merlion-Emrys (Member # 7912) on :
This one is good too...I don't see it as an "improvement" over the first one, but it is different and also interesting.
Posted by CarolineShelly777 (Member # 9701) on :
I agree with Merlion, also noticed how in the second sentence it says "I was the only one with three Hugo-winning novels"and then later in the text it says "Between us, we had written five Hugo-winning novels. Of course, two of those were mine" so you basically said in one place that you have two Hugo-winning novels, and in another place that you have three Hugo-winning novels. [Smile]

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