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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Fragments and Feedback for Short Works » Choosing the Mutah

   
Author Topic: Choosing the Mutah
rjzeller
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Here's one from an ongoing piece I'm working on. Just trying to get a sense for what you feel about it, any comments welcome. However, I'm primarily after what you 'feel' about the extract, since I plan to do a major edit of the entire scene eventually anyway:

***

People were not behaving the way Jared expected people should behave after a large explosion. People were supposed to scatter in panic, or stand paralyzed by shock. People were supposed to cry and scream, or gape in silence and fear. People were supposed to stare in awe at a crater where once a small building stood.

People were not supposed to park their cars, file into line, and purchase tickets to an amusement park, three hundred feet from the site of the bombing.

Jared, it seemed, was the only person who did not accept recent events as being perfectly common. Even Sam urged him forward as she gazed at the park, completely oblivious of the world that lay shattered and scarred behind them.

“Are we going in or not?” she asked.

Not. Most decidedly not. Sam may not remember, but Jared did. She could tug at his arm for an hour, but he had no intention of moving until he had his answer. It was their building, their gateway, and yet somehow the Farmers still maintained control.

***


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Survivor
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I presume that this is not the beginning, then?

I find these difficult to work with because usually they drop us into the text with no idea what came before (and is thus something we would know if we were actually reading the work in question.

But in this case, I suppose that I can posit that this POV has already introduced us to the idea of "the Farmers" and that Jared just witnessed a building blowing up, and is now taking a look around for the purpose of seeing the results.

In that assumed context, this works very well for me. I would change "park" to "continue parking" in the first sentence of the second paragraph, unless they all parked their cars after the bomb went off rather than it being an ongoing activity. I think that you also need to specify what was three hundred feet from the site of the bombing. A line of people trying to get into an amusement park can easily be a hundred feet long, the parked cars can easily be thousands of feet square, the park itself should usually be even larger. I don't really know how large the building was, but if it was worth blowing up I'll guess it was at least 50' in every dimension for now. Assuming that you established the sizes and relative positions of everything doesn't help me here, I probably would have already forgotten which exact thing was three hundred feet from the building.

The way that "their" is improperly referenced (twice) in the last sentence was also bothersome. I'm also a little skeptical that you set up a context for that reference to remembering something to unambiguously refer to one particular thing that Jared remembers and Sam does not. But that's just one of those difficulties with getting the fragment pulled out of context.


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wbriggs
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It's hard to judge w/o background. All I can say for sure is that I'm interested in the peoploe's strange reactions, too; and that Jared seems to have an academic interest in it. He doesn't seem stunned, either by the explosion, or the people's bizarre reaction. I'd be staring around with my jaw dropped, saying, are you people crazy?
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rumi54
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I agree that the reaction is interesting, but can you get some kind of animal type behavior. Instead of just saying people do this, people do that...perhaps some kind of swarm mentality, bees, minnows, birds...spontaneously flying away etc...it would be stronger than just saying people do this.

also, the wording of a building once stood is awkward.


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Jaina
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I'm intrigued, but I have to agree with Survivor that it's hard to get a feel for these things when they're out of context like this.

The first sentence is awkwardly worded, but it's really very nice, feeling-wise. You could, concievably, start a story with this, although it would take a bit of tweaking to make that work.

Most of the problems I'm having with this stem from the fact that I don't know enough about it. I don't know what Sam is supposed to be remembering, I don't know who "they" is referring to (although I'm assuming that Jared is among "them'), and I don't know what that "gateway" reference is about. But, of course, that's all something you're likely to explain either earlier in the story or later. Part of the context problem.

Overall, though, I really liked it, and I'd be happy to read more if you want me to.


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rjzeller
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Thanks everyone. Any other opinions are more than welcome. I do confess though, it relies heavily on prior knowledge about the story.

I see your point, survivor, regarding the last sentence. I'll work on that. The rest I think is a matter of context. The building was actually quite small.

The context was a problem for most of you, and I guess that was really unfair of me to expect much as a result. Just trying to see if the flow/feel seems alright. I don't expect it to make too much sense.

Z


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theokaluza
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Hehe. I posted a scene from one of my stories once, and it basically got comments like the ones you're getting.

If you're looking for a reader for this, I'd love to volunteer. I don't know what's going on, exactly, but I'd love to find out.


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Monolith
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RJZ,

If you are looking for more readers, then count me in. It might take a few days to get it back, but you will.

It feels, so far, like catching a movie in the middle and trying to figure things out.

"People were supposed to stare in awe at a crater where once a small building stood."
Like the others, that is worded awkwardly.

Also, I like how Jared is the only one concerned about the events that just unfolded.

Those are my thought.
-Bryan-


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Jsteg1210
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I understand that you're using repetition in the middle (People are supposed to...) to hammer home the point, but it seems distracting to me. Usually this works best when the phrase is only repeated twice, if it's much more than that then the reader begins to concentrate too much on the words and not enough on the story.
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