This is topic Chapter 1 for 2094 in forum Fragments and Feedback for Books at Hatrack River Writers Workshop.

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Posted by Burton Leed (Member # 10504) on :
2094 Chapter 1.

The Star Fighter Escort quickly descended onto the runway of the Spaceport of San Francisco International with little fanfare. In the air above, all eyes were transfixed by the sight of a much larger vessel. More immense than anyone had ever seen—a hundred meters in diameter—the circular hull glowed, hummed musically, and descended with grace out of proportion to size.

Some in the crowd of tens of thousands carried signs proclaiming the “end of days,” yet others bore signs heralding a “new age,” and still others carried banners welcoming the “visitors” without the slightest notion of what great or small things were about to occur.

The landing had caused a stir for days across Earth, and the

[ May 13, 2016, 11:45 AM: Message edited by: Kathleen Dalton Woodbury ]
Posted by Denevius (Member # 9682) on :
I'll wait to comment until Kathleen cuts this down to 13 lines. As is, it's way too long at 4 whole paragraphs.
Posted by Kathleen Dalton Woodbury (Member # 59) on :
Down to 13 lines now.
Posted by rabirch (Member # 9832) on :
Hello, Burton. Welcome to Hatrack.

From some of your other posts, it looks like this novel is already published. Are you planning to revise and re-publish?

The opening sentences leave some confusion in this reader. The first is clear, but the second reads as if people are watching from the sky. Is this accurate? If not, consider rearranging so that instead of the eyes being referenced as being in the air above, the vessel is what is being referenced.

The sentence that forms the second paragraph is quite long and could probably be broken up.

The biggest issue I see is that in the first thirteen (and since I saw what was posted before it was truncated) and beyond, there is no indication of a viewpoint character. In terms of grabbing a reader's attention, it is often easiest to do so by presenting a character who the reader can develop an attachment to. By letting the reader experience the story through that character's eyes.

As it stands now, I would not be inclined to read on, specifically because of the non-character-centered opening. Note that I am only one reader, and others may have differing opinions, but I offer it up for your consideration.
Posted by Grumpy old guy (Member # 9922) on :
This opening reminds me of the 'Golden Age' of science fiction and E.E. 'Doc' Smith. If this is a deliberate choice, and why not just for ironic value, then I say go for it. If irony/parody isn't intended then I would not read on. The simple reason is that personally I find this opening too cliché.


PS. I also second rabirch's observations.
Posted by Denevius (Member # 9682) on :
Hey Burton, the writing is smooth enough that it'll carry me on a little further before I'd make a final decision on whether to continue reading or not.

If you're looking for a chapter reader, I'm willing to swap 5 or so thousand words with you. Just email me.
Posted by wetwilly (Member # 1818) on :
The lack of POV character doesn't bother me. I assume I'll get one soon. Personally, I think this is a pretty cool opening. The part that got my attention was the doomsdayers. To me, that is the cool part that hints at some interesting conflict. The first paragraph is just a spaceship landing. Not exactly a novel image in sf.

A language suggestion: the ship "hummed musically." This is a vague descriptor. I don't know what it sounds like. Be more specific about what it sounds like so I can actually imagine the sound. Or, maybe cut that descriptor if it's not important, because it very much makes me think of Close Encounters; it may make your opening feel derivative.

I would read on, though, and give this a chance, based on the doomsdayers intriguing me.
Posted by Burton Leed (Member # 10504) on :
Ok, Willy, let me give you the rest of the fragment, and answer the "harmonic" question.
I should add that characters and dialog will ensue a few lines after.

Note from Kathleen:

13 lines only, please.

[ May 16, 2016, 05:56 PM: Message edited by: Kathleen Dalton Woodbury ]
Posted by NORWEGIAN (Member # 10507) on :
I agree with most of the comments above. I would infer this is not the first landing of these aliens since people were already there with banners, but I wasn't sure if this landing was first, second, or a hundredth.
Posted by Disgruntled Peony (Member # 10416) on :
This opening didn't hook me, simply because it reminds me of similar things I've seen in film or read about in other stories without having much that makes it stand out as something new and original. All I get from the first thirteen lines is that aliens exist and the people of Earth don't know how to feel about it (which is realistic, but not particularly attention-grabbing from a personal standpoint).

To be fair, I'm sure the story continues on to elaborate further. It's also true that novels tend to need less of an opening hook than short fiction. However, without a viewpoint character, a clear setting or anything else to latch onto in the first thirteen lines, I'm left with vague mental images of spaceships and pandemonium.

(Also, if you want to show wetwilly those continuing lines, it would be best to e-mail them to him. We're only supposed to post the first thirteen lines of a story fragment for reasons of copyright protection and the like.)

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