This is topic The Ravens, 6830 words in forum Fragments and Feedback for Short Works at Hatrack River Writers Workshop.

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Posted by ricco (Member # 10985) on :
Before he saw the ravens Dickie heard them: clucking – chuckling – in some recess of the barn. He proceeded past the litter of farm tools, a broken-down harvester, a Model A Grandpa had promised he would rebuild, some day (abandoned, tires flat, a scattering of hay and dust over all, fouled by birds). With Grandpa dead, it would likely stay that way.
The ever-present dust glowed in the sunlight filtering between the the planks. Dickie slipped among the shadows to reach the source of the sound, a pile of cast-offs from generations of farm life, in the farthest corner. There, before an old, broken console radio, a pair of ravens worked.
Posted by extrinsic (Member # 8019) on :
An individual stalks ravens.

Ravens represent death and omens thereof. Some dramatic promise therefrom, or whatever similar or other symbolism, say, a repudiation or rehabilitation of ravens' reputations, or for strongest satire expression, both; undeveloped, though. And a specific proactive dramatic impetus undeveloped. Sixty-eight hundred words' greater word count latitude allows for more leisurely developments than two thousand words, still, wants rapid though not rushed or forced up-front developments.

Two relatable representations for ravens; the one, death omens; two, imperious, devious, and sinister, from traditional beliefs about ravens.

Sensory perceptions, like the barn interior and derelict vehicles, lend reality imitation verisimilitude, though without strong commentary are dead-lump still lifes, undeveloped. For example, this is personal and emotional commentary though weakened by the hedge word "likely": "With Grandpa dead, it would _likely_ stay that way." (Artful subjunctive mood use, too, "would", that itself intimates an undecided, future outcome for the Model A.)

Narrative point of view:
Third person semi-detached, somewhat superficial omniscient limited to one persona
Simple past, present progressive, and past perfect mixed tenses
Indicative grammatical mood, some subjunctive mood
Greater narrator summary tell emphasis to agonist-contestant personal sensory and emotional experience show

Event, physical movement toward ravens
Setting, barn for dead farm equipment, underdeveloped from low-strength commentary expressed
Characters, raven stalker and ravens
Conflict, undeveloped [stakes risked forces]
Complication, curiosity want and uncertainty problem [motivation forces]
Tone, underdeveloped [attitude commentary]
Message and moral, undeveloped

The title's "The Ravens" offers little dramatic development, does not work for me, could add context, like, imply the dramatic situation of the whole or a bridge dramatic development that spans into the main dramatic movement, and undeveloped within the start's eleven lines. A raw and tiny engagement feature there, though I would not read further as an engaged reader due most to undeveloped dramatic movement and shy commentary developments. Several punctuation strays and unnecessary tense shifts. Overall, doesn't work for me.

[ August 29, 2018, 07:51 AM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]
Posted by drworm (Member # 10803) on :
I found as I read this one that I had a hard time following as I felt thrown our of the flow. It may have been the fact that I just couldn't connect with the situation. I don't know what else to say. Looks like I have some work to do to give meaningful feedback.
Posted by ricco (Member # 10985) on :
Thanks again.
extrinsic - does this methodology have a name? I could benefit from reading about it.
drworm - your feeling IS the feedback, quite meaningful, in this case, the fragment left you confused.
Posted by extrinsic (Member # 8019) on :
Originally posted by ricco:
Thanks again.
extrinsic - does this methodology have a name? I could benefit from reading about it.

Narratology's language arts and sciences is a broad and deep field. The Poetics of Aristotle is an early first explication of the discipline, oriented around causality, 350 BCE. Gustav Freytag, Technique of the Drama, 1863, extended narrative theory to include tension as a second dramatic dimension.

A third dimension emerged from recent analyses and studies, generally labeled "conflict" and synonyms "stakes" and "motivations", that is, "complication." From Webster's, "Denouement, 1: the final outcome of a main dramatic complication in a literary work".

Aristotle and Freytag explain conflict's stakes risked forces and complication's motivation forces by other labels, and tone, also by other labels. Those labels are contemporary labels for prose writing culture: conflict or stakes, complication or motivation, and tone or attitude. Causation and tension, too, antagonism is a -- or the third dramatic dimension, melds complication, conflict, and tone. Conveniently, a mnemonic acronym derives from Antagonism, Causation, and Tension -- ACT, dramatic action.

Seymour Chatman, Story and Discourse, 1978, details "existents" event, setting, and character, plus, touches around conflict and complication, much detail about narrative point of view mechanics and aesthetics. Wayne Booth, The Rhetoric of Fiction, 1961, plus A Rhetoric of Irony, 1974 -- oh my! -- those above narratology topics and much more, oriented around prose's irony and satire arts. Other writers writing about creative prose writing expression abound.

My critical analysis methodology is a conflation of many and part inspired by years of writing workshop experience, exhaustive study, online and in person. The many include our host Orson Scott Card, L. Rust Hills, Robin Lakoff, a linguist, C.J. Cherryh, Edgar Allan Poe, Vladimir Propp, a folklorist, György Lukács, a critic and historical fiction narratolgist best known as a Western Marxist philosopher at the height of Soviet social-political propaganda, E.M. Forster, several examples from a decade-plus and abundance of narratology study.

No one convenient place or text contains the expansive and ever expanded narratology gamut. Damon Knight's Creating Short Fiction, 1981, somewhat captures broad-brush basics in a more reader-accessible text than the above cited texts.

The grammar field, a relevant complement to narratology, craft, expression, and appeal, a -- if not the most -- comprehensive text for U.S. composition is The Little, Brown Handbook, 13th edition, 2016. Plus, a comprehensive discussion of rhetoric's mechanics, sciences, and arts at, Silva Rhetoricae, Gideon Burton, updated 2016.

No writer's toolkit is ample, either, without a realization sample of numinous workshop luminaries: "Being a Glossary of Terms Useful in Critiquing Science Fiction," edited by Clarion workshops' David Smith, SFWA hosted, and
"Turkey City Lexicon – A Primer for SF Workshops," Edited by Lewis Shiner, Second Edition by Bruce Sterling, SFWA hosted.

[ August 31, 2018, 09:29 AM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]
Posted by Grumpy old guy (Member # 9922) on :
This opening does not work for me. Unlike your other submission, the opening paragraph in this example seems rambling and irrelevant to the story. To me, this indicates a problem with how the story starts. Specifically: The writer is not certain this is the right place to start the story.

To my mind, the correct place to start the story, despite only having this fragment to work from, would appear to be the two ravens. If done elegantly, this would make the first paragraph redundant and initiate character movement at the earliest possible moment.

As extrinsic says, ravens are regarded as representing both carriers of omens and portents, as well as being sly, devious and tricky. However, in this instance, with the inclusion of a radio, I made an instantaneous connection with Huginn and Murinn, the ravens who brought Odin news from every corner of the earth. If this is intentional, well done. If it isn’t, and the connection to Odin is simply coincidental, I’d consider making that clear early on.

Hope this helps.

Posted by ricco (Member # 10985) on :
Thanks for the run-down, extrinsic. Familiar with some but new resources to explore.
Posted by ricco (Member # 10985) on :
GOG - ravens for omens and portents, yes; just not thinking of Norse mythology. But I'll take it if it works.

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