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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Fragments and Feedback for Short Works » Untitled

   
Author Topic: Untitled
Andrew Phillips
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Right here is the first post, a bit shorter then the last one!

Katie watched onwards as they lowered her mother into the grave beside her feet and then watched as her brother, Kevin, threw a handful of dirt on top of the glazed wooden coffin. Katie had seen her mother just four days before her death alive and well joking with the remainder of their family. No one had expected the death, no one had known of her intentions until it was too late.

Katie had glanced at the coffin hundreds of times but did not look directly at it, as the fear she had once felt as a child was now rushing through her body. The fear of death had tightened its grip around her to the point where she could no longer breath.

Kevin wrapped his arms around his sister and pulled her away from the hole in the ground where their mother laid. Kevin was strong but deep down he wept for their parents who now lay together, he could not show his fears to Katie for he feared to lose the small amount of control that he had.

Katie wasn’t interested in being comforted by anyone, she had a way of dealing with problems by herself and she continued with that motion even then. She was a strong willed individual with strong mental characteristics. Kevin on the other hand was quite weak mentally however he was physically stronger then her and much stronger then most of the people she had known in her life.

I think that is 14 lines but i thought i better finish the paragraph. Any comments?

[This message has been edited by Andrew Phillips (edited August 24, 2004).]


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shadowynd
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Andrew Phillips: We only post 13 lines of a work here. Please edit your post to limit it to that, then ask for volunteers to read more and crit for you.

If you don't edit your post down to 13 lines, the moderator will do so for you!

Not to worry, you'll have people who will gladly volunteer to read more!

Susan


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shadowynd
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LOL!! That was quick! Now I wish I'd read it before I commented on the length! *G*

Andrew Phillip, please do re-post part of your work. We really would like to read it and help!

Most folk here post the first 13 lines, but I believe it could be any 13 lines. There are several reasons to post the beginning, though. This is the very first thing a publisher will read of your story. It is also the make-it-or-break-it point for many readers.

After all, if the first page (generally about 13 lines) bores me to tears, it is highly unlikely that I, the reader, will continue with the story. It won't matter how brilliant the rest of the work is, if I never bother to read it!

So please do re-post for us, and... welcome!

Susan


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Edmund
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Andrew,

I think you've really caught the essence of the thing here. I would put a comma after the word 'sorry' in you first sentence. It should read "Sorry, will be posting soon!!" But I like the terse quality of that opening line. Almost Heminwayesque. I can't imagine why shadowwynd was complaining about the length.

The second line is a triumph of stylistic achievement as well. It's so bold of you to put the entire thing in brackets, then to have a paranthetical enclosure within the brackets. "(edited August 23, 2004)." -- Well, all I can say is Bravo! Indeed!

If the rest of your story has this kind of umph and bravado, I'll look forward to reading it as soon as possible.

Keep up the good work.

P.S. If you'll look below, you'll see that I liked your last line so much, I stole it for myself.

[This message has been edited by Edmund (edited August 23, 2004).]


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Phanto
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No.

I see genius here. This poster has broken the rules, and I think it works.

Sorry will be posting soon !!

Firstly, we must note that this sentence has a subtle variation in it -- it foreshadows that sorryiness will be coming ("Sorry" will be coming, as if Sorry were a noun.) as well as more posts.

Furthermore, the urgency of the exclamations bashes through the mind, inciting squeals of pleasure.


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Ferrus Magnate
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It's like Pollock.

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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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You all are going to completely discourage Andrew Phillips from posting anything.
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Edmund
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I started it (though Phanto's was funnier); my bad.

Just wanted Andrew to know we're anxious to get to work helping him.


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shadowynd
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Don't mind them, Andrew, that's just their way of saying "Welcome!"

Just pitch it right back at 'em! Don't be shy, just join right in. *G*

*takes pair of fuzzy dice from her Hatrack Utility Belt and bops the guys over the head with it, glaring at them* Now BEHAVE! Or I'll write you into the "Destination: Reykjavik" thread and sic MaryRobinette's vicious puppets on you!

Susan


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TruHero
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Man, I totally missed out! Kathleen has put a damper on the fun. Oh well...

Just to make nice, AP, if I may call you that. It is all of us who will be sorry if you don't re-post this soon. I am waiting in antici --(say it)-- pation.

OR, this is your hook! Just to build further tension. What evil genious! (that's ee-ville, like the frew-its of the De-ville). Sorry for the double movie referrences, it's late and I'm punchy. G'nite!


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Kolona
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Very tricky, Andrew -- posting the new version into your original post. Probably thought we'd miss that and keep waiting down below for it. Well, we don't wear Hatrack Utility Belts for nothing, my dear fellow.

In fact, not only did I catch the feint, I just now (no jesting whatsoever) finished the portion of Eats, Shoots & Leaves that addresses two (2!) items needing to be addressed in your thirteen lines. Namely:

quote:
No one had expected the death, no one had known of her intentions until it was too late.

According the learned Ms. Truss, you cannot separate these two thoughts with a comma unless you are famous. As a commoner, you must either add a proper conjunction or use a semicolon, or divide the thoughts into two sentences.

However, in the same bleeding vein:

quote:
Kevin on the other hand was quite weak mentally however he was physically stronger then her and much stronger then most of the people she had known in her life.

It's tempting to remark that you need a comma with 'however;' however, 'however' "must not be used to join two sentences together with [or without] a comma." Again, a semicolon is welcome here, or, I dare say (whether or not Ms. Truss would agree), divide the two thoughts into two different sentences.

Besides all that, 'onwards' seems superfluous in the first sentence, and I did wonder in that paragraph if Kevin was Katie's brother or Katie's mother's brother. A little rearranging with the 'her's' might be in order.

The 'had' in the second paragraph, coming, as it does, on the heels of the 'had' flashbacks in the first paragraph, seems to put Katie's glancing at the coffin into the flashback rather than into the tense of the story. You might strike that 'had.'

Although this may be omniscient POV, it was a little disconcerting to dabble into both Katie's and Kevin's heads, so keeping their individual POVs in separate scenes might work better. Even though I know doing both or all characters anywhere can be perfectly acceptable, it seems few writers can do it well.

Nit-picky: 'strong-willed.' I believe you need the dash, although 'strong-willed' and having 'strong mental characteristics' seems redundant.

The tone of the segment is somber enough to get a reader's attention, and a little attention to these and like details can hook a reader jolly well. (Sorry, too much Truss.)

You did well, Andrew Phillips, and I applaud your bravery, considering the circumstances.

[This message has been edited by Kolona (edited August 24, 2004).]


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Edmund
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No offense to Kolona (hey, K, surf's up), but Ms. Truss is an idiot. It's called style, and the day that famous people are the only ones allowed to have style is the day that I go live in my attic and never come out again. "No one had expected the death, no one had known of her intentions until it was too late." This sentence has a great flow, and if you mess with it, you're a fool. If I could get hold of this Truss wench, I'd smack her upside the head for writing such nonsense.

For the record, I agree with most of the rest of K's points.


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Christine
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Grammar is probably the biggest problem with this scene. Otherwise, it has some good elements of story including a compelling opening with a recent loss for the main character to draw us in emotionally and begin to engender sympathy. Still, Kolona is correct about the sentence with the comma splice. (I think that's the correst term for it, someone can yell at me if I'm wrong.) I would recommend making it a semi colon.

On the names of the two main characters: It is usually recommended that your main characters' names begin with different letters and have different sounds to them to avoid confusion. I didn't even notice the POV issue Kolona brought up at first because I somehow thought Katie was our eyes and ears the whole time. Even in the case of twins, which I know in real life people will name very similiar things to be cute (eck!), it can be confusing in literature to carry forward these traditions.

I was a little thrown by the POV as well (once I figured out the names ) because it seemed as if you had alternating deep penetrations rather than an omniscient narrator who happened to know what each character was thinking. Think of it this way...where's the camera? A good omniscient viewpoint sets the camera outside or above the characters somewhere and occassionally zooms in on one when necessary.

I hope these comments are useful and good luck with this piece.


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Phanto
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Comments in CAPS.
quote:

Katie watched onwards as they lowered her mother into the grave beside her feet and then watched as her brother, Kevin, threw a handful of dirt on top of the glazed wooden coffin. Katie had seen her mother just four days before her death[COMMA] alive and well[COMMA] joking with the remainder of their family. No one had expected the death, no one had known of her intentions until it was too late.
[STORY HAS STILL NOT GRIPPED ME]
Katie had glanced at the coffin hundreds of times but did not look directly at it, [THINK THE 'AS' SHOULD BE ELIMINATED, MAYBE A SEMICOLON USED INSTEAD]as the fear she had once felt as a child was now rushing through her body. [RIGHT HERE I AM INTERESTED IN YOUR STORY. YOU'RE PROMISING A LOT.]The fear of death had tightened its grip around her to the point where she could no longer breath. [MELODRAMATICALLY OVERDONE. SHE COULD NO LONGER BREATH? THEN WHY ISN'T SHE DEAD?]

Kevin wrapped his arms around his sister and pulled her away from the hole in the ground where their mother laid[SHOULD THIS BE 'LAY'?]. [This sentence tries to do far too much. You only switch to dump all this "Kevin is strong, not want show weakness, love Katie muchos" info at me.]Kevin was strong but deep down he wept for their parents who now lay together, he could not show his fears to Katie for he feared to lose the small amount of control that he had.
[THE SWITCH ALIENATES ME FROM THE LINKS I HAD MADE TO KATIE. FAIR ENOUGH. BUT THIS PARAGRAPH IS WEAK ON MANY LEVELS. IT IS FULL OF SIMPLE 'TELLING. YOU'RE NARRATING TOO MUCH INFORMATION.]
Katie wasn’t interested in being comforted by anyone, she had a way of dealing with problems by herself and she continued with that motion even then. [a) Motion? b) The switch back is a rapid jerk, and again, there's too much info being given.]She was a strong willed individual with strong mental characteristics. [Strong mental characteristics? Very awkward phrase. Also, the sentence tries to give too much.]Kevin on the other hand was quite weak mentally however he was physically stronger then her and much stronger then most of the people she had known in her life. [Again, bizzare amount of information. Also needs some punctuation.]


Initial thoughts on text after initial reading:

I thought it was going somewhere interesting after the second paragraph...then I get lost in annoying PoV switching and cumbersome text.

Second thoughts:

a) Your main problem seems to be that you just want to flat out stat the complexities of these two people. Unfortunatly, statements like "She was a strong willed individual with strong mental characteristics" are inadquate and very weak.


b) Your story idea is strong. It managed to catch me in the middle of the second paragraph, and to be honest, it takes VERY much to catch me.

c) Every sentence you use has the same structure. [NOUN] + [VERB] + [OTHER STUFF]. Kevin this, Katie that, Kevin this, Katie that, Katie that, and so on.

d) Good luck!

[This message has been edited by Phanto (edited August 24, 2004).]


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QuantumLogic
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I agree with most of the things above. In addition:
quote:
Katie watched onwards . . .
Onwards? What's this supposed to mean?
quote:
. . . where their mother laid.
Definitely "lay."

The last paragraph, starting with

quote:
. . . and she continued with that motion. . .
sounds awkward and is confusing.

Although, as far as I know, this doesn't violate any of the rules for omniscient POV, it doesn't feel like omniscient, and so the POV switches are jarring.


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NewsBys
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I agree the frag has some grammar issues, but I would rather comment on some of the scene action.
One thing that bothered me was the whole mention of Kevin wrapping his arms around her and pulling her away from the “hole in the ground”. It makes it sound as if she is planning to jump in and Kevin needs to restrain her. This seems at odds with her thoughts. Yes, she is distraught, but I never got the feeling she was out of control and was in need of restraint.

Might be better to say something like - Kevin took her hand and led her away from the hole in the ground. - OR - Kevin put his hand on her shoulder and she turned away from the hole in the ground.

The other thing that bothered me was that Katie and Kevin have such similar names, both start with a K and both have 5 letters. My eye often did not immediately recognize which one was being discussed. Consider changing one of the names.


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Survivor
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The first line should establish the POV. In this case, it establishes something other than omniscient.

Establishing omnicient is difficult. Basically, you want to notice physical objects and their relationships a lot, especially things that simply are not observable by any of the characters. You also need to establish quickly that you can see the internal state of the characters more clearly and dispassionately than they can see themselves.

Catching what QL calls the "feel" of omniscient is difficult, and I usually recommend that writers avoid it unless they are writing a story that demands the omniscient POV. Writing good omniscient takes tons of fact based research. If your story doesn't highlight lots of real life factual information as most of its raison d'etre (gotta have lots of raisins, Deet), then you shouldn't be writing in omniscient.


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tonyleehealey
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Maybe having their two names virtually identical is intended. Maybe there is no brother and sister.
Maybe they're the same person; only, two sides of a personality having to deal with this terrible, terrible thing.

Anyway, thats my little two-penneth.

TLH


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