Hatrack River Writers Workshop Post New Topic  Post A Reply
my profile login | register | search | faq | forum home

  next oldest topic   next newest topic
» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Fragments and Feedback for Short Works » Chapter One, Thirteen Lines

   
Author Topic: Chapter One, Thirteen Lines
theokaluza
Member
Member # 2315

 - posted      Profile for theokaluza   Email theokaluza         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
This is slightly more than thirteen lines, but considering it's only the first bit of a book I'm working on... well, who cares? If I don't get published for posting this here, I'll kick myself, but oh well.

It's science fiction.

By the way, I'm not too happy with the first two paragraphs

Anyway. I'm looking for one or two good readers to look at one or two chapters per month. I've got the first four chapters done, and I hammer a new one out about once every five weeks. Yes, I'm slow. No, I don't see this as a problem. This is my first serious attempt at completing a novel.

---

1
Marcus Greene slipped on his eyegear and tried to escape the human noise of the Procurement and Procreation Department office building. He’d been there for nearly four hours now, patiently waiting for his number to be called. He had an appointment, but the bureaucracy here was never very good at keeping appointments.

Someone tapped him on the shoulder and he turned around, startled out of his momentary trance.

“Happen to have a cigarette, chum?” came the scratchy, bubbling voice of somebody in the more advanced stages of generalized bronchial deterioration disease.

“No,” said Marcus without turning around, “I don’t smoke.” But he thought: unless you count the smog. It had been particularly bad over the last couple of days. Outside, if you didn't have your mask, it was thick enough to sting your eyes and make them water. In here, everybody freshly in off the street looked like they had been crying just a few moments before. Except for the ones who were smart enough to wear protective gear, and the few who had cybernetic eyeware.

An advertisement played on his gear. It was a flashy number with drums in the background and one of those tenor announcers who made everything sound significant. He turned the volume down. This one appeared, from the pictures, to be some kind of recruitment video for an off-world expedition that would be leaving in a couple of years. The fluorescent lights above gave the image an odd, streaked and ghostly greenish hue. It reminded him of grass stains on blue jeans. He always remembered grass stains now, mostly because he hadn’t actually seen any in real life for nearly a decade.


Posts: 54 | Registered: Jan 2005  | Report this post to a Moderator
AeroB1033
Member
Member # 1956

 - posted      Profile for AeroB1033   Email AeroB1033         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Interesting. I've always liked dystopia stories, so I like this opening, but I have a couple of quibbles.

Firstly, why is he at the Procurement & Procreation office (odd combination of titles--perhaps we're talking procurement as in adoption?)? I'd like to know why he's spent four hours of his day here. What's he waiting on?

Second, and this is minor, but the idea that, after a decade, he still always thinks of grass stains felt wrong to me. It makes it sound like this guy really dwells in--no, obsesses about--the past. I don't know, it might not bother anyone else at all, but the choice of wording bugged me a little bit.

[This message has been edited by AeroB1033 (edited February 18, 2005).]


Posts: 233 | Registered: Mar 2004  | Report this post to a Moderator
HSO
Member
Member # 2056

 - posted      Profile for HSO   Email HSO         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Since you're not happy with the first two paragraphs, I'll direct my attention solely to those.

You might consider consolidating the sentences somewhat, possibly re-ordering them for more impact.

For example:

quote:
Marcus Greene slipped on his eyegear and tried to escape the human noise of the Procurement and Procreation Department office building. He’d been there for nearly four hours now, patiently waiting for his number to be called. He had an appointment, but the bureaucracy here was never very good at keeping appointments.

Consolidated / reordered below(not necessarily good, mind you, but it gets the idea across -- just play around with the order until you get something you really like):

After four hours of waiting for his number to be called, Marcus Green slipped on his eyegear hoping that it would quell the noise within the waiting room. Of course he had an appointment with "whoever he wants to speak with" within the Procurement and Procreation department, but delays were common; the typical bureaucracy and inefficiency of any [government] institution prevailed. The eyegear lulled him into a peaceful trance.

***
The second paragraph is a bit awkward because you never told us he was in a trance after putting on his eyegear, which is what I assume must have happened.

quote:
Someone tapped him on the shoulder and he turned around, startled out of his momentary trance.

Below in the next reworked example, I would opt for what Marcus feels -- using his senses his far better than just telling us what happened:

Marcus felt a tap on his shoulder and it startled him out of his reverie. [Taking off his eyegear, he saw.....]

Hope this helps.

[This message has been edited by HSO (edited February 18, 2005).]


Posts: 1520 | Registered: Jun 2004  | Report this post to a Moderator
Survivor
Member
Member # 213

 - posted      Profile for Survivor   Email Survivor         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
It's a bit info-dumpy. There are also a few things I didn't really "buy" (like the fluorescent lights combined with grass-stains being a thing of the past). You also have some apparent consistency problems.

Overall the effect is of a story that isn't all there yet. You spend just enough time talking about minor things you've thought up and neglecting things you haven't considered to give the impression that there's not going to be a lot of substance to the story. That may or may not be the case, if not, then probably a solid reworking of the way you present the scene and action should bring this into focus.


Posts: 8322 | Registered: Aug 1999  | Report this post to a Moderator
theokaluza
Member
Member # 2315

 - posted      Profile for theokaluza   Email theokaluza         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Firstly, why is he at the Procurement & Procreation office (odd combination of titles--perhaps we're talking procurement as in adoption?)? I'd like to know why he's spent four hours of his day here. What's he waiting on?
You find that out one or two paragraphs later. And he's spent four hours there because it's like the DMV: they're fairly slow.
quote:
<use of the word "always"
Some people are taught never to use the word always. It's never bothered me, but maybe I'll switch it anyhow.

Thanks for the comments.

quote:
Since you're not happy with the first two paragraphs, I'll direct my attention solely to those.
HSO, you should know that I think you're one of the best writers on Hatrack. That being said, you need to work on your critiqueing style. Seriously. I didn't ask anybody to tell me how they would write it, I asked for an opinion on how I wrote it.

In a sense, you've done just that. You've taken what I wrote, and completely revamped it. You've made it your own. And in a round-about way, you've shown me what you see as being the problems. However, you've given me nothing useful to work with (that is, unless I want to just copy-paste your suggestions into my manuscript).

I don't mean to jump down your throat. I really don't. I'm disappointed, however, that I couldn't get something more useful out of somebody who is so clearly a great writer with a great future.

[This message has been edited by theokaluza (edited February 18, 2005).]

[This message has been edited by theokaluza (edited February 18, 2005).]


Posts: 54 | Registered: Jan 2005  | Report this post to a Moderator
theokaluza
Member
Member # 2315

 - posted      Profile for theokaluza   Email theokaluza         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Overall the effect is of a story that isn't all there yet. You spend just enough time talking about minor things you've thought up and neglecting things you haven't considered to give the impression that there's not going to be a lot of substance to the story.
That's basically my problem with the first couple of pages, too.

I'm still looking for a couple of dedicated readers. Just one chapter per month. That's all I ask.


Posts: 54 | Registered: Jan 2005  | Report this post to a Moderator
HSO
Member
Member # 2056

 - posted      Profile for HSO   Email HSO         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I'm sorry, theo. No offense meant. I usually get my thoughts out best by example, which is why I did that. I also said I was doing it to give you an idea where you could take it on your own. I didn't mean to suggest you should use it exactly as I wrote it, nor that my way is better... only to get you thinking about the two paragraphs you specifically stated you didn't like; to look at them another way using the same words you did -- roughly.

But I'll keep it in mind that this doesn't work for you. Also, keep in mind my comments before I reworked your words... those should have value.

Right. Let's see, I'll try another way:

1st sentence / 1st paragraph: a bit awkward (try speaking it aloud -- if it doesn't flow naturally with voice, it won't read easily, either.) or info-dumpish as Suvivor puts it. Consider revising... I stand by my previous comment that consolidation will get your point across less awkwardly.

2nd paragraph is telling not showing. Use your POV's senses to describe the other dude touching his shoulder. This puts us right into the POV character's perspective.

quote:
“No,” said Marcus without turning around, “I don’t smoke.”

Before this above quoted phrase, you state that Marcus turns around when he is touched. So, what exactly do you mean by part in bold? That he is or isn't facing smoking guy?

Everything beyond the above quoted part seems like a huge info-dump to me. You should consider finding a way to work these things in more gracefully. They may be important information, but during this scene, they aren't necessarily important. What is important, in my opinion, is the reason Marcus is at the P&P... that's where I feel you'll draw the reader in. He is there for a reason, right? So, show us the reason right at the beginning.

I hope this is more to you liking (not being facetious -- I feel bad that I pissed you off... not my intent, I assure you.)

PS: Thanks for the compliments about my writing.

[This message has been edited by HSO (edited February 18, 2005).]


Posts: 1520 | Registered: Jun 2004  | Report this post to a Moderator
theokaluza
Member
Member # 2315

 - posted      Profile for theokaluza   Email theokaluza         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
But I'll keep it in mind that this doesn't work for you. Also, keep in mind my comments before I reworked your words... those should have value.
You're right -- I shouldn't have said that you didn't give me anything useful at all... because you did give me some useful comments.

But now you've given me many more. I can't believe that I didn't catch the part where he turns around, and then I clearly state that he didn't turn around. Stupid error.

As for the rest of it -- yeah, I agree with nearly everything you said. The POV seems to change in a couple of spots, and I'm definetly slipping into the realm of 'telling' instead of 'showing'. It's a hard distinction for me to make a lot of the time.

But honestly, these problems become less as the story progresses. The first couple of pages are just hard for me, at this point.

And I am sorry if it seemed like I was yelling at you, or some such. I really didn't mean for it to come across as 'pissed off' as it seemed.

Still looking for a couple of readers.


Posts: 54 | Registered: Jan 2005  | Report this post to a Moderator
HSO
Member
Member # 2056

 - posted      Profile for HSO   Email HSO         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
No worries, theo. It's good you said what you said.

I would offer to read your story, by the way, but several things are lined up at the moment that is keeping me from doing that. I still owe someone a critique on the first part of their novel and I've not even started.

Second, all day tomorrow is essentially booked. Sunday will be needed for recovery, i.e., no thinking, possibly.

And the middle of next week I leave for Australia for a 16-day holiday, and I won't have much computer access... if any. Need to wrastle me a croc, I figure. "Crikey. Look at the size of that one!" I expect to be saying that at some point.

So, I'm out of the critiquing business until the middle of March... assuming I've still got fingers left after the croc wrastling.

[This message has been edited by HSO (edited February 18, 2005).]


Posts: 1520 | Registered: Jun 2004  | Report this post to a Moderator
Survivor
Member
Member # 213

 - posted      Profile for Survivor   Email Survivor         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I can't really commit to a chapter a month. I'll read the first four pages if you like.
Posts: 8322 | Registered: Aug 1999  | Report this post to a Moderator
rumi54
Member
Member # 2384

 - posted      Profile for rumi54   Email rumi54         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I liked the wordiness and abstract details. There better be a reason for the name of the office, procurement and procreation is some kind of cloning/reproduction division is what I guessed. I liked the advert being beamed directly to him, but drums? come on, something cooler than drums in the background.
Posts: 40 | Registered: Feb 2005  | Report this post to a Moderator
theokaluza
Member
Member # 2315

 - posted      Profile for theokaluza   Email theokaluza         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Ok. Look. Forget entirely about the whole 'one chapter a month' deal. All I want is a reader for the first chapter, and the first chapter alone. The first chapter is 3.4 thousand words.

I'd be happy if you could do half that. Hehe.

Anyhow, thanks. I'll send you an e-mail asking if it would be ok, Survivor.

There is a reason for the name of the department. The first 1/3rd of the novel revolves largely on that meaning.

Rumi, are you offering to critique it for me?

[This message has been edited by theokaluza (edited February 20, 2005).]


Posts: 54 | Registered: Jan 2005  | Report this post to a Moderator
wbriggs
Member
Member # 2267

 - posted      Profile for wbriggs   Email wbriggs         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
It hasn't hooked me, because I'm 5 paragraphs in and I still don't know why Marcus is at this place. If he knows, I want to know, as soon as it becomes relevant.

I'm also guessing that his reason for being there is crucial to this part of the story, so it's worth getting right into. The annoyance of the cigarette guy and the ad are interesting writing, but if the story isn't about these things, I'd dump 'em.


Posts: 2830 | Registered: Dec 2004  | Report this post to a Moderator
D_Allen
Member
Member # 2385

 - posted      Profile for D_Allen   Email D_Allen         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Hey, I'd like to read Chapter One. If you're still looking for readers. Send it to david_a_allen@yahoo.com.

[This message has been edited by D_Allen (edited February 21, 2005).]


Posts: 9 | Registered: Feb 2005  | Report this post to a Moderator
   

Quick Reply
Message:

HTML is not enabled.
UBB Code is enabled.
UBB Code™ Images not permitted.
Instant Graemlins
   


Post New Topic  Post A Reply Close Topic   Feature Topic   Move Topic   Delete Topic next oldest topic   next newest topic
 - Printer-friendly view of this topic
Hop To:


Contact Us | Hatrack River Home Page

Copyright © 2008 Hatrack River Enterprises Inc. All rights reserved.
Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.


Powered by Infopop Corporation
UBB.classic™ 6.7.2