This is topic "Jumper" (crappy working title), SF in forum Fragments and Feedback for Short Works at Hatrack River Writers Workshop.

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Posted by wetwilly (Member # 1818) on :
This one comes with a small qualifier: I hate the name "light bike" for this vehicle; I just haven't thought of a new name that's cool enough yet. Thoughts? Does this paint an interesting enough picture and give you interesting enough hints about the premise to catch your interest?

I hunched over the handlebars of my light bike and zipped through the night. The air slapped cold rain across my face and whipped the flaps of my long coat. Twin ion engines rumbled and hummed between my knees, blasting a trail of blue light out behind me. Other light bikes shot past in different directions, leaving their own trails of burning ions criss-crossing through the darkness.
I dipped and dived through the city, feeling more than seeing the shadows of buildings rushing past me. I had only been in this universe for a couple days, and this was the first time I had tried one of the light bikes they rode here. There was a small learning curve, but I got a feel for it pretty quickly. It was not so different from other vehicles I had ridden in other universes.
Posted by Denevius (Member # 9682) on :
Well, wetwilly, this would be a fantastic opening *if* there was at least some hint of conflict. And of course I don't mean opening on a combat scene. I just want a line somewhere that gives me a hint of what this guy wants and also what's potentially standing in his way of achieving his want.

My advice is to keep one or two of these cool descriptive sentences, keep a sentence about dropping into a strange universe, and then add several sentences that gives us an idea of potential want and conflict .

But the writing itself is superb. I clearly saw the scene as if it was a movie in my head (though of course the first movie I thought of was TRON).

If this is finished and you're looking for a reader, I'm game.

[ February 09, 2015, 12:55 AM: Message edited by: Denevius ]
Posted by Denevius (Member # 9682) on :
Oh, wait, I didn't answer your question. First, I like the phrase 'light bike'. Second, I guess there's a premise: a guy jumps through universes. Heck, it's in the title. Third, my interest is caught enough to sustain me reading the whole story.
Posted by Grumpy old guy (Member # 9922) on :
To be honest, I don't like first-person narratives, they are so limiting in narrative options. That said, I find the opening interesting enough to keep reading--for a little while. Also, I don't feel the need yet for conflict, just information as to who, where and how.

I had thought of I-Cycle, referred to colloquially as an Icicle. Ya gotta be cool to own one!

Posted by TaleSpinner (Member # 5638) on :
Well it hooks me; I like the milieu and the energy. I imagine he's going to get into an adventure on his visit and am curious to see what will happen.

Yeah, a light bike is for me a Honda 250 and "light bike" sounds too close in my mind to "light sabre", suggesting something derived from Star Wars; how about ion bike? Or photon bike?
Posted by wetwilly (Member # 1818) on :
Thanks for your thoughts, guys. They are encouraging. This story isn't coming out easily, so I'm glad to hear there is something positive in it.

I'm not ready for readers, yet, Denevius, but I'll probably hit you up when I am. Thanks for the offer. The Tron connection is pretty obvious, and I'm going to try to steer away from that as I work on it. The bikes aren't actually important to the plot, just set dressing. I'm imagining this setting as "Akira meets the roaring 20s, if the bikes in Akira could fly."

Phil: i-cycle. Lol.

Talespinner: I imagine he's going to get in an adventure, too, and am also curious to see what it will be. I like ion bike. I think Ion is an actual bicycle company, though, which could cause some confusion. Ion cycle? Ion chopper? Eh, it'll work itself out.
Posted by Bent Tree (Member # 7777) on :
If the tension is wrestling this new skill of Light Bike riding, I feel it could be a bit more imaginative. In first person we are offered many opportunities to see things, even something such as finding a way to laugh at oneself can be an interesting angle to demonstrate character and POV.

I felt the repetition and clunkiness of the word, "light bike" a bit uncomfortable. The voice and description seemed a bit off.

I have found myself in similar situations in trying to find a 1st person voice. Play with it. Write it from different angles see which you prefer. ont be afraid to waste words, because if they help us find our stride they are not wasted.

"Hunched over the handlebars" didn't seem to fit. something like "Pressed into the power of..." approach might better serve to make this seem sexier, less rigid prose?

I don't know. Just some thoughts. I don't feel you hit the voice yet and I think this leads to disinterest because I don't see enough tension or motive yet. Like, " Damn I better figure this out so I can go scoop up Terra. She is so hot" or whatever it may be that makes me want to take this ride with him.

I suppose the metaphor is I don't want to risk umping on this light bike that he can't even ride well yet.

Hope this helps.
Posted by extrinsic (Member # 8019) on :
The cue of this fragment that most appeals to me is from the first-person narrator-agonist's displacement to an exotic milieu. Patently a milieu narrative setup in our host Orson Scott Card's MICE criteria. The awe and wonder emotional cluster, a convention of milieu narratives, its emotional disequilibrium the fragment introduces is, for me, on the neutral side of emotional expression, though.

Perhaps, in order to develop that above emotional disequilibrium, a stronger and clearer awe and wonder introduction may entail an adversity event. The "light bike," for example, could be considered as a challenge from its perhaps difficult learning curve or as an expression of authority to be denied, hence, causing adversity and inherently implied urgency. Though, shown in scene mode, not told in narrator summary lecture mode.

Current Federal Aviation Administration regulations require personal aviation vehicles, like hovercars, hoverbikes, hovercraft generally, gliders, experimental aviation vehicles operated in public airspace, etc., to have a default fly-by-wire control system in the event of operator error or incapacity. Autonomous intelligence aboard that safely grounds personal aviation vehicles is one stipulation, or remote operator, or both. A ballistic parachute is another satisfaction of the regulation.

"Ion bike" and hoverbike are indeed someone else's motifs, tradenames, etc., as is "light bike;" however, so long as they are nominal uses, they are fair uses for prose.

I feel a fresh innovation, though, is warranted for at least effective awe and wonder development, if not stronger and clearer mythology and milieu development and originality's delightful surprise potentials. Hoverbikes offer comparable inspiration sources. Hoverbikes are at present proven practical vehicles in their ability to perform under manual control, though not yet up to FAA regulations for public use.

Hoverbikes require lift and propulsion thrust. They employ a plenum skirt that focuses ground effect's overpressure and underpressure forces for lift dynamics.

These above observations are offered for self-selected motif development brainstorming purposes, of note, as "nickname"-type potentials based on synecdoche or metonymy. Syncedoche nicknames an item based upon a pronounced feature of the item that encompasses the whole or or large parcel of the whole's sensory appearance: plenum or chamber, for examples. A plenum chamber is a pronounced physical, visual feature of hovercraft. Metonymy bases an item -- motif -- on an attribute of the item. For example, use of the term the White House as an attribute to mean the executive branch of U.S. government is metonymy, though also a synecdoche from the item's visual appearance.

Considering how to incorporate adversity and urgency into this fragment I feel is warranted, natural, and necessary. How to manage that mischief I can't say and, likewise, relabeling the "light bike" imaginatively. The cosmos is the limit of possibility.

[ February 09, 2015, 03:18 PM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]
Posted by wetwilly (Member # 1818) on :
Thanks extrinsic and bent tree. I appreciate the thoughts.

To tell you the truth, I'm sort of spinning my wheels on this story. I'm still pre-writing, really, rewriting this opening scene several times, making structural changes and introducing and tweaking elements of the milieu, circling closer and closer to being ready to write the actual story. Guess that's not spinning my wheels, since I'm making progress, just requiring more grit and grind in the early stages of writing than I'm used to.

Once I get it nailed down and write a draft, I'll have to go through the same process again when the narrator jumps to a new universe halfway through and gets an entirely new milieu to explore.

This is an ambitious story for me. Hopefully I can rise to the occasion and pull it off.
Posted by extrinsic (Member # 8019) on :
Perhaps Card's milieu convention motifs may focus the narrative's drama, which are arrival in an exotic milieu entails learning how to cope with the exotic features of the milieu: events, settings, and characters; while also discovering a way to return to a familiar milieu or at least establishing a new and comfortable familiarity with an exotic milieu.

Necessity of unified and completed action may lead to one exotic milieu's complication to manage, or three, which emerge as one complication wanting satisfaction, say, that wanderlust itself evolves into a familiar routine, a new-normal sanctuary, so to speak.

A basic convention for milieu-emphasis narratives is sanctuary lost and sanctuary restored; some stuff and junk happen in between.
Posted by wetwilly (Member # 1818) on :
Well, while the setting is important here, I'm not sure a milieu story is what I actually want to tell. Biggest problem is, I don't know what type of story I want to tell yet.
Posted by Grumpy old guy (Member # 9922) on :
If I may? You have a character that moves from one reality (universe) to another: does he do this voluntarily or is he accidentally stumbling through doors? Either complication will give rise to different dramatic wants requiring resolution. Each has its pitfalls and opportunities.

Posted by wetwilly (Member # 1818) on :
You may.

He jumps voluntarily, but doesn't get to choose where he's jumping to. So far. He needs to learn how to control it, though, at least to follow another jumper. I've got broad strokes of the story I want to tell, but am struggling to fill in the smaller events that lead there. But, nothing wrong with struggling, right?
Posted by InarticulateBabbler (Member # 4849) on :
It was my understanding that ionic engines didn't burn, but electrocuted, which expels gas but don't propel like like chemical-burning engines. I mention this, because it stopped me. Maybe I'm misreading, or misunderstanding ionic engines.

Other than that, nothing separates this milieu--as as written--from earth. That said, the adventure feeling in the ionic bike ride, and the mention of other planets is a hook, and I would read on.

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